Results of the Poll

Dear Esteemed Colleagues,

I’m writing to announce the results of our online poll for the AMS Music and Disability Study Group (AMS MDSG). Thank you to everyone who voted.

Firstly, our by-laws were passed unanimously. Thank you. These are always view them on the MDSG WordPress blog, on the left-hand column.

Secondly, the theme of next year’s special session at AMS Rochester will be on the intersections of music, disability, race, gender, and other related studies. This was overwhelmingly the most-requested focus. Other suggestions include to hire a guest speaker, and to have a poster session. I will be discussing these suggestions and any others you would like to send my way with my new co-chair and the other new leadership members.

Thirdly, I am happy to announce the new leadership joining myself, Jeannette Jones, and Michael Accinno this year. Jessica Holmes will be joining me as fellow co-chair, Beth Keyes will join as Secretary/Treasurer, and Michael will remain as social media officer. There were no additional nominations that were accepted, so these are the results of our election. Additionally, James Deaville has volunteered to assist Michael with the blog as Blog Editor and to help us solicit regular blog posts. Jeannette Jones will stay on as chair of the ad-hoc accessibility committee, but is working to transition this committee to be under the umbrella of the official AMS Board rather than just the study group. The terms will for leadership will continue to be for three years, and there will be new votes as needed. We encourage other members of the study groups to volunteer their services. The next votes will be in 2018, when I will transition off as chair, and Michael will transition off as social media officer.

We will publish bios for the returning and new officers of the MDSG, and would also like to publish bios for the returning and new officers of the MDIG (Music and Disability Interest Group of the SMT).

Thank you so much for your contributions to the poll, and for your continued work in our shared fields of interest within music studies. Please do not hesitate to e-mail me with any questions or concerns.

Very Best,

Samantha Bassler, Co-Chair, AMS Music and Disability Study Group,

with the leadership:

Jessica Holmes, Co-Chair

Michael Accinno, Social Media Officer

Beth Keyes, Secretary and Treasurer

James Deaville, Blog Editor

Jeannette Jones, Chair of the Ad-Hoc Accessibility Committee

CFP: Cripping the Music Theory/Music History Curriculum at AMS/SMT in Vancouver

CFP: Cripping the Music Theory/Music History Curriculum
Special session of the AMS and SMT groups on Music and Disability, AMS and SMT Joint Conference in Vancouver, 3–6 November 2016

The Oxford Handbook on Music and Disability Studies (2015) demonstrates how disability studies is a lens to understand music and cultural studies throughout music history, and how music and disability informs analyses of music. The book brings music and disability studies to a wider audience of music scholarship, and many contributors have entertained questions from peers who wish to bring music and disability into general music courses.

The AMS Study Group and SMT Interest Group on Music and Disability will sponsor a special session on music pedagogy and disability at the 2016 joint conference in Vancouver. We seek proposals on new ways to integrate music and disability as a common perspective within the standard core curriculum in music history and music theory, rather than relegate music and disability to special topics and seminar courses. We seek presentations from colleagues who already utilize this perspective in their routine teaching responsibilities, and we welcome submissions from younger scholars who would like to workshop their ideas for syllabi. We encourage submissions in a variety of formats, including duo presentations, short position papers, longer research papers, workshops, interviews, demonstrations, testimonials, videos, Skype presentations, surveys, and more.

Proposals should clearly describe (1) the argument you will make or the information you will convey, (2) the format you will use, and (3) the estimated duration of your presentation. Please limit proposals to 250 words. Send proposals to disability.and.music@gmail.com no later than 4 April 2016. Submissions (with identifying information removed) will be read by the organizers and chairs of the AMS and SMT music and disability study group and interest group: Samantha Bassler and Bruce Quaglia.

On Diagnosis and Invisible Illness

The following link is shared with permission from the author, Katherine Meizel, who is an assistant professor of ethnomusicology at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. Katherine recently gave a paper at AMS Louisville (2015) on music and deafness, “Two Voices: Singers in the Hearing/ Deaf Borderlands”, and is the author of  Idolized: Music, Media, and Identity in American Idol. In the article linked below, Katherine writes for Scope, the Stanford medical blog, about her experience obtaining diagnoses of invisible illnesses. Although this is not a musical article, it furthers important work in disability activism, and disability awareness, which are important goals of the Music and Disability Study Group and the Society for Music Theory Interest Group.

“Belief brings relief — and sadness — after decades of doubt”

News from the AMS Music and Disability Study Group

Greetings and Happy New Year!

I write to share some news from the AMS Music and Disability Study Group (MSDG), especially to those who weren’t able to attend AMS Louisville and our events there.

Firstly, as of 2016, I (Samantha Bassler) am now the chair of the study group. Jeannette DiBernardo Jones continues as the chair of the ad-hoc committee on accessibility and as our accessibility liaison with the AMS, and Michael Accinno has graciously agreed to serve as the social media officer. He and I will be updating the blog together this year, and next year he will take over the main duties.

Secondly, the MSDG introduced by-laws at our November 2015 meeting at the annual AMS conference. The By-Laws are available online here — DisMusBylaws — and we will also post another link that is easily accessible from the main page. We will leave them up for every member to review, and then conduct a vote at the AMS meeting in 2016 to either adopt or amend the by-laws. We will also provide a way for members who cannot attend to submit their vote online.

Thirdly, the MSDG has a very successful AMS conference this past year, with a well-attended panel on accessibility (many thanks to our panelists: Daniel Barolsky, William Cheng, James Deaville, Andrew Dell’Antonio, and Meghan Schrader), a panel on music and deafness (congratulations to Jeannette DiBernardo Jones, Anabel Maher, Jessica Holmes, and Katherine Meizel), and a lively breakfast business meeting. At the meeting, we discussed the new appointed officers, as well as the work accomplished in 2014-2015, which included the updated accessibility guidelines for the AMS, the publication of the Oxford Handbook on Music and Disability Studies, and new ventures in music and disability pedagogy.

On the topic of pedagogy, the MSDG is working closely with the Society for Music Theory Interest Group on Music and Disability (chair, Bruce Quaglia) to produce a panel on music, disability, and pedagogy for the AMS/SMT 2016. A full announcement and a CFP will be available on this web site and circulated widely in the next few weeks.

Please continue to check the blog regularly, and send myself (s.e.bassler at merton dot oxon dot org) any ideas for our on-going guest blog series on projects in music and disability studies.

Very best wishes, Samantha Bassler

Chair, AMS Study Group on Music and Disability Studies

Agenda and Program for the Music and Disability Study Group events at AMS 2015

Greetings! The annual AMS conference is nearly upon us, and it promises to be a stimulating and exciting event. Please find attached the program for the evening session, “What is Accessible Musicology?” (on Thursday, 12 November, from 8–11pm), and the agenda for the business meeting (on Saturday, 14 November, from 7:30–8:45am).

Safe travels to everyone attending the conference, and we will see you in Louisville!

2015 Program and Business Meeting Agenda

Music and Disability Events at AMS in Louisville,

The Music and Disability Study Group (MDSG) is pleased to announce the following papers and meetings at the American Musicological Society annual meeting in Louisville (12–15 November), which will be of interest to scholars of music and disability.

  1. The MDSG is sponsoring a session, “What Is Accessible Musicology?”, which will be held during the Thursday evening session, from 811pm in the Laffoon room. In this session, musicologists will present their unique perspectives on the intersections between disability, accessibility, and musicology.
    • James Deaville (Carleton University): “A Matter of Class? Musicology and Us”
    • William Cheng (Dartmouth College): “Sounding Good: Musicology, Rhetoric, and Repair”
    • Meghan Schrader (University of New Hampshire): “Tasting the Forbidden Fruit: Verbal Learners and the Construction of New Music Pedagogy at the Crossroads of Music History and Theory”
    • Daniel Barolsky (Beloit College): “Excluding Audiences: The Pedagogy of Inclusive Listening”
    • Andrew Dell’Antonio (University of Texas at Austin): “Public Musicology as Accessible Musicology: Reflections on The Avid Listener’s First Year”
  2. The MDSG business meeting will be held on the Saturday morning of the conference, from 7:30-8:45am (McCreary Room). An agenda will be posted prior to the start of the conference. Please e-mail Samantha (s.e.bassler at merton dot oxon dot org) if you have an item of business for the meeting.
  3. There are a number of other sessions and panels featured on the AMS program, which pertain to music and disability studies.
  • During the Thursday afternoon session (Breathitt Room, 2-5pm), there will be a panel, “Listening beyond Hearing: Music and Deafness,” chaired by Andrew Dell’Antonio (University of Texas at Austin), and featuring the following papers:
    • Anabel Maler (University of Chicago), “Music and the Deaf Experience in Nineteenth-Century America”
    • Jessica Holmes (McGill University), “‘How to Truly Listen’? Resisting an Idealized Sense of the Deaf Body”
    • Katherine Meizel (Bowling Green State University), “Two Voices: Singers in the Hearing/ Deaf Borderlands”
    • Jeannette Jones (Boston University), “‘Hearing Deafly’: Reshaping the Geography of Sound in the Body”
  • On the Friday afternoon of the conference, J. Griffith Rollefson (University College Cork, National University of Ireland) will present a paper entitled, “‘Got a Freaky, Freaky, Freaky, Freaky Flow’: Theorizing ‘Illness’ in Hip Hop” (2-3:30pm, Coombs Chandler Room).
  • During the evening session on the Saturday of the conference (Breathitt Room, 7:30-9:30pm), the Ludomusicology Study Group Inaugural Meeting will include a paper by Dana Plank-Blasko (Ohio State University), entitled “Paging Dr. Mario: Physical Impairment, Illness, and Disability in the Video Game Soundscape”.

Please e-mail Samantha (s.e.bassler at merton dot oxon dot org) to publicize any other details about music and disability events at AMS.

Conference Report: Music and Disability at the Society for American Music 2015

The next feature in our series of guest blog posts is by Michael Accinno, a doctoral candidate in musicology at the University of California at Davis. His previous studies include a bachelor’s degree in voice from Rice University, and a master’s in musicology from the University of Iowa. Accinno’s research focuses on music and politics, the reconstruction era, and disability studies, and has given papers on such topics at the Society for American Music, the CUNY Graduate Center Symposium on Music and Disability, and the UC Davis Interdisciplinary Graduate Student Symposium.

Is disability studies still an “emerging” area of research within musicology? At what point do we get to take the training wheels off and acknowledge that critical discussions of disability—like gender, sexuality, and race—are simply part of what we do as scholars? I often find myself renewing these questions whenever I attend academic conferences, and this month’s annual meeting of the Society for American Music (SAM) was no exception.

Encompassing the study of the music of the Americas, SAM has always included a dizzying array of places, styles, and peoples. Reflecting this eclecticism, papers at this year’s conference attended to disability in in varying guises, with stops along the way in film music (Neil Lerner’s discussion of “overcoming” in the 1945 film “Pride of the Marines”); jazz (Eduardo López-Dabdoub on the blind saxophonist Rahsaan Roland Kirk and the performance of disability); musical theater; hip-hop (Elyse Marrero’s engaging presentation on ASL interpreters and Hip Hop); and New England psalmody (my own paper on music at the Perkins School for the Blind).

A special seminar on disability and musical theater opened the door to a rich new potential area for further research. Organized by James Leve (Northern Arizona University), the seminar format included several long-established scholars who—in an important step forward for our subfield—contributed position papers about disability for the first time. Paul Laird (University of Kansas) provided a compelling critique of Nessarose and Elphaba, the two disabled female characters in Stephen Schwartz’s musical Wicked; Raymond Knapp (UCLA) reflected on a symposium he organized on Deaf West [link: http://www.deafwest.org/%5D Theatre’s production of Big River; Lauren Acton (York University) discussed representations of mental illness at the 2014 Stratford Festival in Canada; Steve Swayne (Dartmouth) explored Lucy Barker’s poisoning in Sweeney Todd; Last but not least, James Leve discussed Charlie and Algernon, a 1970s-era musical in which the title character Charlie (a man with down syndrome) is juxtaposed troublingly with Algernon (a laboratory mouse).

In an extended conversation period that followed the papers, several discussants encouraged the presenters to consider critiques raised within disability studies: what role (or lack thereof) do disability activists and actors play in theatrical representations of disability? To what extent do musical theater narratives, like literary narratives, function as a form of prosthesis? Finally, how can scholars, activists, and audiences use musical theater to imagine an inclusive future with disabled people rather than an ableist future without them?

The conversation sparked by these questions is still “emerging” for music theater scholars (let’s not shed the label just yet!). Nevertheless, musicals—Broadway, fringe, regional, and otherwise—have the promise to enliven and inform critiques of staged representations of disability for years to come.