KU School of Music strengthens ties with Chinese music institutions

Shanghai Normal UniversityLAWRENCE — With membership in a global music education organization and a new partnership with Shanghai Normal University, the University of Kansas School of Music continues to strengthen its relationships with Chinese music institutions.

In December, the school was invited to join the Global Music Education League, a global nongovernmental, nonprofit academic organization that was established in 2017 to increase coordination among international music education institutions.

The organization, which was inspired by and headquartered at the China Conservatory of Music in Beijing, includes more than 30 world-class music institutions from 14 countries in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia. The KU School of Music membership is alongside other top international music schools, such as Stanford University, Peabody Institute at Johns Hopkins University, Northwestern University, Eastman School of Music, Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Berklee College of Music, Cleveland Institute, China Conservatory of Music, Sydney Conservatorium of Music and Sibelius Academy at the University of the Arts Helsinki.

“Membership in the Global Music Education League gives us a prominent place among the leading international music schools that are working to promote the highest standards of excellence and achievement with one of China’s leading conservatories,” School of Music Dean Robert Walzel said.

The School of Music also recently formalized an agreement with Shanghai Normal University that creates a program for fourth-year students at Shanghai Normal to come to KU to earn a master’s degree. Currently, the program is centered on piano students, but it has potential to expand to other performance areas.

“We see this as an opportunity to expand our footprint in a part of the world where the study of classical music is flourishing,” Walzel said. “This will be attractive to Chinese piano students and teachers and will lead to students pursuing advanced graduate work at KU.”

Beginning in the fall, faculty at Shanghai Normal University with the assistance of KU faculty will recruit and audition first-year students in China to participate in the program. Following successful completion of their third academic year, these students will qualify for enrollment in graduate-level courses at the KU School of Music. The students will then study one year at KU to complete their undergraduate degree from Shanghai Normal University and study a second year at KU to earn a Master of Music degree.

Over the past few years, the KU School of Music and Shanghai Normal University, a major public university in one of the largest cities in the world, have built a fruitful relationship. Scott McBride Smith, the Cordelia Brown Murphy Professor of Piano Pedagogy at KU, is a visiting professor at Shanghai Normal University.

“Shanghai Normal University is a highly ranked teacher training institution in China as well as having one of the top-ranked schools of music. Working together will help us take another big step in building an innovative and internationally recognized pedagogy program,” McBride Smith said. 

McBride Smith is a recognized leader in worldwide music education and is currently president of the Music Teachers National Association of the United States, an organization that is also working to establish connections with music programs throughout China. In recent years, four KU School of Music doctoral graduates have received faculty positions at prestigious Chinese universities and conservatories. Those schools include Hainan University, Guangzhou University, Chengdu University and the Wuhan Conservatory of Music.