New music dean looks to future of school

Photo by Jill Power | The Duquesne Duke. Music school dean Seth Beckman speaks at a welcome reception Sept. 2.

Photo by Jill Power | The Duquesne Duke. Music school dean Seth Beckman speaks at a welcome reception Sept. 2.

By Jill Power | The Duquesne Duke

The new dean of the Mary Pappert School of Music wants to expand the opportunity for higher music education to other schools at the University.

Seth Beckman, who started in the position on Aug. 18, proposed a music minor, which is due for review by the University’s academic board this fall.

Currently, a student can be dual-enrolled in the music school and an additional Duquesne school. However, this requires completion of the curricula independently from each other. Minors in music are not available to students because of the complications regarding documentation, according to Beckman.

With Beckman’s proposed minor, students from all schools will be able to take a minor in music while also completing courses within their school’s major. Classes would include performance and ensemble opportunities, music history and theory.

In addition to the creation of a minor, Beckman is investigating the possibility of a Bachelor of Arts program in the music school.

Music students can currently pursue a Bachelor of Music degree, which, Beckman said, prepares them for “certain technical evaluations and certifications.” For example, a Bachelor of Music prepares a music education student for state teaching certification.

A Bachelor of Arts degree would allow students to incorporate the liberal arts into their music studies. Students would take performance and theory courses simultaneously with courses from the liberal arts school. It would provide “more flexibility to adapt to students,” Beckman said.

Such a degree would prepare students for a career in industries such as music criticism and music journalism, he said.

These students would still be students of the Pappert school, but Beckman said this distinction would have no influence over the relationship between the two schools.

“This is not about territory,” Beckman said. “This is a way we open our doors.”

The new dean is open to any and all commentary or suggestions on the music school. Beginning this year, the Dean’s Student Advisory Council will be an outlet for music students to propose changes and express ideas about the music school.

Professors have been asked to nominate students with leadership qualities, and who express an interest in the “greater good” of the school.

“It’s important to listen and learn about the community I’ve just joined … I care about what [students] think,” Beckman said.

Beckman is also entertaining the idea of expanding the number of ensembles for students to participate in. Traditional African and Asian music are two examples of possible ensembles.

Although the dean cannot promise that these goals will be met soon, he said he is optimistic that the Duquesne community can work together to achieve them.

Beckman was welcomed at an open reception on Sept. 22.

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