Message from the Dean: Spring 2017 v1

In keeping with MSU’s land-grant mission, we recognize the remarkable ways we engage our local communities and beyond.

Our faculty, students and alumni strive to make a difference in the communities they serve by leveraging the power of music to build vibrant connections for people of all walks of life.

Honoring this key principle, we are excited to announce an outstanding alumna as our commencement speaker this spring. Jenny Heemstra, (BMUS ’00) honors graduate in music performance, will address the outgoing graduates at the 2017 College of Music Spring Commencement. She recently received the Secretary of State Award for Outstanding Volunteerism Abroad through her extraordinary work in India, organizing “Kolkata Classics,” a social outreach program and concert series. Jenny’s successful focus using music to engage communities shows how one individual with a great idea and passion for helping others can have a major impact. All of us, here at the College of Music, look forward to Jenny sharing her inspirational story and reflecting upon her experience at MSU.

We are also proud to share some recent work in the College of Music that reflects our ongoing commitment to community engagement. Thanks to the giving support of Kristine Steensma, we were able to provide memory care for senior citizen residents through Musical Memories, a specialized program that incorporates specially designed student chamber music performances.

We also strive to make music accessible within our communities. The intriguing research coming from a group of our doctoral students, guided by Assistant Professor of Musicology Marcie Ray, explores the symbiotic relationship of music by examining the point-of-view of non-musicians in the community. Thanks to the work of Professor of Music Education Cindy Taggart, the Community Music School in Detroit’s Early Music, Early Learning program has brought impactful learning to youth in Detroit communities lacking access to music and early education.

We also look to share ideas and broaden perspectives on how music can increasingly impact communities. Thanks to the support of the Withrow Endowment for Career Readiness, the MSU Federal Credit Union and other donors, the Running Start Competition inspires the entrepreneurial spirit of our music students through a unique competition that engages community partners and presents ideas at a special live-pitch event. We are also able to engage local communities through our MSU Federal Credit Union Jazz Artists in Residence program that brings renowned jazz musicians like the recent visit of Rufus Reid to MSU and school communities across Michigan.

We are grateful for our partners and donors who help support our commitment to reach out to the community. Their generosity is a testament to the ever-present and meaningful work of our faculty, students and alumni.


James Forger
Dean, MSU College of Music

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