Dear UCLA Music Community,

Given the recent news about declining state support for education, I know many of you are concerned about the future of music study here at UCLA. Certainly we have had to tighten our belts in certain aspects of our operations, and none of us is pleased by the prospect of fee increases for students and furloughs for staff and faculty.


But the maintenance of the quality and quantity of instruction has been one of our goals, and I am pleased to report that, while there has been some attrition, the well-publicized cuts to the budget of the University of California from state sources have not had a strongly negative effect on our courses and degree programs in music for the coming academic year, 2009-2010.


In fact, when you return to school in the fall, or if you are entering one of our undergraduate or graduate programs next year, you will find that our course schedules are intact, many new courses will be offered, and some aspects of our infrastructure will have been improved. Our ability to stave off more serious reductions in our teaching power is due to the thoughtful planning of the department chairs and the generous endowment provided by the Herb Alpert Foundation.


Here are some of the new and positive developments in courses, infrastructure, and student support.


First, in the coming year we can anticipate some exciting new, and recently new, courses.


  •  "Contempo Flux," our contemporary music ensemble directed by Grammy-award-winning pianist Gloria Cheng, will be taught for the first time in all three quarters.

  •  The UCLA "Early Music Ensemble" will be offered for credit after a multi-year hiatus, led by Elisabeth Le Guin, a distinguished musicologist, Baroque cellist, and expert in historical performance practice from our Musicology Department.

  •  "Alexander Technique," taught for the first time last year under Hasom sponsorshop by Jean-Louis Rodrique, will return for all three quarters.

  •  "Music and Law" will be expanded to include both undergraduate and graduate students; it will be taught by attorney Don Franzen, whose clients include leading performers in opera, orchestral music, film, and the recording industries.

  •  Award-winning music documentary film producer David Leaf will be joining us to teach "Docs that Rock" in winter quarter and "Songwriters and Songwriting" in spring quarter.

  •  "Internet Marketing and Publishing for Musicians," a course in web-based journalism, public relations, and marketing to prepare our students for life in music after graduation, will be offered all three quarters.

  •  Tamir Hendelman, our outstanding teacher of jazz theory, will be offering two new courses in winter and spring quarters: "Pathways to Improvisation" for classical, popular, and world music players interested in developing this skill; and "Pathways to Composition" for students who would like to challenge their creativity in this way.

  •  "Introduction to Studio Sound Engineering," co-sponsored by us and taught for the first time last spring quarter by staff in the Department of Film, Television, and Digital Media," will be repeated in fall quarter.

  •  Dr. Mark Tramo, director of the Institute for Music and Brain Science, will teach a course on "Music, Mind, and Brain" in spring quarter.

Our first-year core curriculum has been modified, and all entering undergraduate students, no matter their major, will take the year-long sequence "Music History, Culture, and Creativity." Team-taught by some of our finest senior faculty, it represents both our commitment to high-quality undergraduate education and to an innovative, universal embrace of music from all periods of time and all places and communities around the world.


Second, we can also look forward to two significant improvements in our ability to deliver instruction.


We are doubling our keyboard/computer lab space by creating two new laboratories. One will be dedicated to piano instruction and contain 19 high-quality digital pianos arranged in a way suitable for instruction. The other will focus on computer training in composition, film scoring, sound mixing, and music education. Beyond the teaching in music theory that we already do in the piano lab, the new lab will enable us to introduce new courses in piano pedagogy, improvisation, accompaniment, sight-reading, and other keyboard skills relevant to a professional career in music. The new computer lab, with its vastly improved and up-to-date equipment and programs, will support our recent initiatives in music technology and composition for film and visual media.


We are installing projectors and screens in seven additional classrooms so that teachers and students can take full advantage throughout the Schoenberg Music Building of computer-based instruction using presentation software, digitized music and video files, and educational resources on the internet.


Third, the endowment from the Herb Alpert Foundation has allowed us to increase our scholarship support for students. For the coming year, we awarded more money in scholarships than at any time in our history, increasing our ability to recruit outstanding students. In addition, we subsidized more than thirty students doing summer study and research.


Clearly our ability to weather the storm of budget cuts as well as we have is a testament to the powerful effect private giving can have on a public research university. Music instruction is one of the most costly areas in any university due to one-on-one private instruction and the cost of instrument and equipment purchases and maintenance. Unlike the sciences, we do not have federal research funding to keep us afloat. We hope that the Herb Alpert Foundation's generosity will inspire others in our community to support us as well. Helping our outstanding students gain a high-quality education is certainly money well spent.


In sum, our prospects for next year are very good, and I am very optimistic about our short- and long-term future. Despite the downturn in state funding, the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music continues to develop along a very positive trajectory. The coming academic year is shaping up very well. I am sure you are looking forward to it, and I look forward to seeing you on campus very soon.


Best wishes,


rice signature

Timothy Rice, Director


The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music

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