DEIB Actions

A summary, by category, of actions taken by the College of Music to enhance diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging.


Areas: Curriculum and other activities  |  Events  |  Outreach  


Choral Commission
(announced September 14, 2020)
  • Liza Maidens, a DMA student in choral conducting, along with her colleague, Katy Lushman, have had a research session accepted for the (virtual) National Conference of the American Choral Directors Association in March 2021. The session is entitled “(re)Consider the Canon: bringing the past into the present. Its goal is to present a wide variety of more approachable and adaptable choral works by well-known composers of the Renaissance and Baroque eras, and also highlight lesser known composers whose voices have often been excluded from the history of choral music. As part of their research, they learned about Na Castelloza, a 13th century trobairitz from Occitan. Based on her depictions in the Chansonnier Provençale Codex, she is thought to have been a woman of color. Only some of her poetry – but none of her music – survives. In their efforts to “bring the past to the present,” they’ve commissioned Brittney Boykin—composer, woman of color and a faculty member at Spelman College—to compose a work using one of Na Castelloza’s texts and musical conventions of the Renaissance and Baroque eras. The commission fee is being paid by Dr. Don Anderson, one of the College’s patrons, to honor his father, who was the long-time choral director at Colorado State. A small choir of MSU graduate students will pre-record the work to be shared within the context of the presentation for the national conference.
Appointment of Damien Sneed as Artist-In-Residence
(announced August 31, 2020)
  • Wharton Center for Performing Arts and the MSU College of Music announced the appointment of Damien Sneed as Artist-In-Residence at Michigan State University (see press release). DMA candidate Jadrian Tarver has been engaged to be co-leader and project manager of this initiative “to develop relationships across campus, cultivate programming and activities important to MSU students and other stakeholders, incorporate student voices into music programming, and unleash the power of music as an ally of Black Lives Matter, advancing progress in diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging.”

Freshman Seminar
(announced July 27, 2020)
  • Christine Beamer and Talitha Wimberly have revised the Freshman seminar curriculum to include a conversation around issues of DEIB. Weston Sprott, Metropolitan Opera Trombonist and Dean of the Juilliard School Preparatory Division, who has been invited as a guest speaker in the College of Music this fall by Rodney Whitaker, will be a visiting presenter in this seminar at the end of September.

Historical Musicology and Ethnomusicology
(announced July 27, 2020)
  • MUS 211-212: These survey courses have been revised for 2020-21 to have an increased focus on colonization, cross-cultural contact, indigenous music, non-canonic institutions, race, sexuality, and disability. The courses will remain under review with consideration to replacing these survey courses with a much broader introduction to music studies.
  • Guest Scholars: Hollander lecture and guest speakers will consist of African-American speakers.
  • GA training: all musicology graduate assistants will be attending an August anti-racist teaching training.

Music Theory
(announced July 27, 2020)
  • Repertoire:
    • Working to expand the role played by music of Black composers and artists and others of color
    • Continuing work to include music composed by women
    • Collecting scores and recordings of hundreds of pieces by Black composers and other composers of color to establish a shared digital library for including this music in theory courses across the board (special purchase funding secured)
  • Music Theory Colloquium: Adding analytical roundtables focused on music by Black composers and other composers of color
  • GA Training: Orientation for music theory, musicology, and other MUS GAs in August will include a workshop on anti-racist teaching practices that will be led by Lynnette Lammers, MSU Office of Inclusion. Currently 33 are enrolled for this training.
  • Readings: Lending library of important books on social justice available to faculty and graduate students
  • Guest Scholars: Guest theory scholars in 2020-21 will be those who are underrepresented in the theory field inclusive of race, gender, and sexuality and by scholars whose research focuses on music by persons of color. Invitations will be widely disseminated.
  • Peer Mentors: the area is working to identify potential peer tutors selected from among jazz students of color, to work alongside graduate tutors in the Music Theory Learning Center. 

University Bands
(announced July 27, 2020)
  • Ongoing conversations with SMB alumni of color:
    • Recruiting/enrolling a greater number of SMB members of color
    • Developing an ongoing partnership with key alumni in this effort
    • Focusing first on Detroit and surrounding area 
  • Create a director's informational meeting with Detroit area band directors; develop ongoing monthly sessions.
  • Create short videos from our alumni from the Detroit area about their experiences in SMB and the COM. 
  • Performances in Detroit:
    • Bring Spartan Spectacular to Detroit on an every other year basis. 
    • Invite area high schools to be part of a special Detroit concert featuring Wind Symphony or Symphony Band, faculty artists, jazz octet and SMB. 
    • Send the SMB every other year to do an exhibition at a Marching Showcase held in Detroit.
  • SMB Repertoire: invite more different kinds of music into the repertoire list that reflects what all students listen to.
  • Scholarships: Focus initially on Detroit area schools with criteria that includes the strength and value of building diversity within our student body and ensembles.


Oboe Studio Lecture
(announced September 28, 2020)
  • Lani Kelly, MSU College of Music alumna, oboist, and University Distinguished Fellow, will give a virtual lecture on Monday, November 2 and monitor a D2L Oboe Studio Discussion Board from November 2 to 9, to open awareness of DEIB issues surrounding the classical oboe audition and job market. Kelly has been a finalist in several orchestral auditions and is a recipient of a Sphinx Orchestral grant.

Music Theory Lectures
(announced September 21, 2020)
  • The Music Theory area will welcome guest lecturers, Dr. Cynthia I. Gonzales on Tuesday, September 29, and Dr. Braxton Shelley on Tuesday, October 6 both at 12:45 p.m. via Zoom. Dr. Gonzales is Associate Professor of Music Theory at Texas State University, and Dr. Shelley is Assistant Professor in the Department of Music and Stanley A. Marks and William H. Marks Assistant Professor in the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. Please see attached flyers for lecture and bio information.
  • Prof. Lenora Helm Hammonds, Associate Professor of Vocal Jazz, Director of NCCU Vocal Jazz Ensemble, and Coordinator of Vocal Jazz activities at North Carolina Central University, will present vocal training workshops in October and November, open to all students, faculty and staff. She is scheduled to visit the College of Music virtually during the following schedule:

    • Monday, 10/19 - 7-9:00 PM

    • Monday, 11/9 - 7-9:00 PM

Musicology Lectures
(announced September 14, 2020)

The Musicology Area will be presenting two lectures in Fall Semester:

  • 2020 Hollander Distinguished Lecture in Musicology, Friday, October 2, 4:00-5:15
    Naomi André, Professor in the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies, Women’s Studies, and the Residential College at the University of Michigan, will be speaking on Activist Operatic Spaces in Puccini’s La Bohème with South Africa’s Breathe Umphefumlo and Larson’s Rent. Her research focuses on opera and issues surrounding gender, voice, and race in the US, Europe, and South Africa.
  • Cobb Lecture in Musicology, Friday, November 20, 4:00-5:15
    Kira Thurman will be speaking on Singing in the Promised Land: Black Musicians in Communist East Germany. Dr. Thurman is an assistant professor of Germanic Languages and Literatures and History at the University of Michigan.

Dr. Tammy Kernodle to present at two events
(announced September 8, 2020)
  • Dr. Tammy Kernodle, Professor of Musicology at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, will present Troublin’ the Water: Black Music and the Mythology of Post Racial America in a session with Color Me Music Session on Sunday, January 31, 2021 from 7-9 p.m. and in a Faculty Diversity Session on Tuesday, February 2, 2021 from 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. 
  • In the wake of Barack Obama's election in 2008 cultural critics and political pundits began exclaiming that America was becoming post racial. However, as Obama prepared for his re-election campaign a series of violent events began to disrupt this narrative. Most notable were the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Sandra Brown as well as the shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC. As a result, artistic communities sparked a wave of protest/resistance culture. While the hip hop community reacted almost immediately, artists reflecting the spectrum of American popular and concert music also entered this soundscape. Women's voices were very evident providing some of the most angry and explicit musical reactions.
  • In this presentation, Dr. Kernodle will historicize the role black women musicians in framing the sonic contexts of civil rights or protest music. Specific emphasis will be placed on contemporary artists who have shaped the current context of protest culture that extends through various contemporary social movements.
  • Dr. Kernodle's complete schedule:
    • Monday, 1/11/21 - 7-9:00 PM - College of Music Jazz Studies Area (Jazz History Seminar: Civil Rights Movement and Black Music)

    • Sunday, 1/31/21 - 7-9:00 PM - Color Me Music Organization Diversity Session

    • Tuesday, 2/2/21 - 11:30 AM - College of Music Faculty/Staff Diversity Session

    • Monday, 2/22/21 - 7-9:00 PM - College of Music Jazz Studies Area (Jazz History Seminar: Civil Rights Movement and Black Music)

    • Monday, 3/29/21 - 7-9:00 PM - College of Music Jazz Studies Area (Jazz History Seminar: Civil Rights Movement and Black Music)

MSU Opera Theatre
(announced August 24, 2020)
  • Melanie Helton, Director of MSU Opera Theatre, has engaged the American Bass-Baritone Ryan Speedo Green as a virtual lecturer for MSU Opera Theatre on Friday, November 6 from 3-6pm. Mr. Green has been profiled on 60 minutes for his amazing life journey from juvenile prison to the MET. Sadie Rucker has graciously facilitated his appearance, funded by the Worthington Foundation. This session will be open to all students, faculty, and staff, as well as interested donors and friends of the College.

Weston Sprott to visit College of Music
(announced August 17, 2020)
  • The College of Music Committee on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging, led by Rodney Whitaker, announced the engagement of Weston Sprott as a guest visitor to the College of Music. Weston Sprott is Dean of the Preparatory Division at the Juilliard School and a trombonist in the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. He will meet in an online format during the last week in September with several groups including members of student group Color Me Music, faculty and staff, in a Running Start workshop, and in Freshman Seminar.
  • The complete schedule of his visit is includes:
    • Sunday, September 27, 7 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.: Color Me Music (Diversity Workshop)
    • Tuesday, September 29, 11:30 a.m.: Faculty/Staff (Diversity Workshop)
    • Tuesday, September 29, 7 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.: Running Start (Careers in Music)
    • Friday, October 2, 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.: Freshman Seminar (Diversity Workshop)

Color Me Music
(announced July 27, 2020)
  • The dean and associate deans of the College of Music have met weekly with Rodney Whitaker and leaders of Color Me Music, Jordyn Davis and Jadrian Tarver about issues of concern.

Joanne and Bill Church West Circle Series
(announced July 27, 2020)
  • The first Joanne and Bill Church West Circle Series concert of the season is Lift Every Voice: Celebrating Composers of Color.
  • During times of civil discourse, music can play a vital role to enlighten our minds and open our hearts to the beauty in diversity. Join us for an evening of insightful music that celebrates a variety of music penned by American and international composers of color.
  • Dr. Stephanie Anthony, director of MSU Upward Bound, will serve as the concert’s story guide to share contextual tales of inspiration.
  • Monday, October 12, 7:30 p.m.
  • Watch online: Free event, donations accepted.

Music for Social Justice
(announced July 27, 2020)
  • The College of Music at Michigan State University is pleased to announce a new video series, Music for Social Justice.
  • In the midst of the movement that began following the senseless deaths of George Floyd, Breona Tayor, and many others, faculty members in the college felt the need to speak out on issues of inequality, and what better way to do so than through music.
  • Currently nine episodes of the series have been filmed, all featuring new performances by MSU artists with brief commentary on why the music they chose is important to them. 
  • Videos, as they are released, can be viewed on the College of Music YouTube channel
  • This video series is sponsored by the MSU Federal Credit Union.


Gifts for DEIB work through the Community Music School-Detroit
(announced September 21, 2020)
  • Congratulations to CMS-D Director Jill Woodward and College of Music Development colleagues on recent progress:
    • A two-year, $30,000 Detroit Arts Support grant for general operating
    • A $100,000 private gift split between expendable program and endowment funding
    • Notification that CMS-D has moved to the second round (2 of 3) for Lewis Prize for the Music. This 500K accelerator grant Accelerator Awards funds Creative Youth Development (CYD) music organizations seeking to influence youth-serving systems so all young people have access to learning, creating, and performing experiences that reflect their culture and identity.
Michigan College Access Network (MCAN Grant)
(announced August 31, 2020)
  • Ben Ebener, Rodney Whitaker, and Jill Woodward, in a collaborative effort, recently won a $2,000 grant from the Michigan College Access Network (MCAN). A pilot project will support Detroit-area minority, low-income students applying to music colleges during COVID-19. Twenty students will receive admissions counseling, peer mentoring/1 private lesson with an MSU Color Me Music student, and access to a professional studio/engineer to make a high-quality audition recording.
Funds and Scholarships
(announced August 31, 2020)
  • Diversity & Inclusion Outreach in Music - AE060909
    Gifts to this fund may be used to support efforts to recruit highly talented students to the College of Music from diverse backgrounds who will contribute to the intellectual and cultural enrichment of the College. Funds may also be used to foster collaboration, engage in training sessions, bring guest speakers/lecturers, and build diversity, equity and inclusion efforts/opportunities in the College of Music.
  • The Venice L. Peek Scholarship in Music - AE0644
    This expendable fund is awarded to highly talented undergraduate or graduate students who will contribute to the intellectual and cultural enrichment of the College of Music because of life experiences and those who have exhibited leadership skills, faced adversity and shown an interest in multiculturalism and diversity. 

Community Music School - Detroit
(announced August 24, 2020)
  • Jill Woodward, Director of Community Music School-Detroit, has just submitted a compelling grant to the Lewis Prize for Music Accelerator Awards. Accelerator Awards were open to Creative Youth Development (CYD) music organizations seeking to influence youth-serving systems so all young people have access to learning, creating, and performing experiences that reflect their culture and identity.