Iowa School of Music 2021-22 Magazine

University of Iowa School of Music 2021-2022 Magazine

FACULTY PERSPECTIVE DR. DAMANI PHILLIPS Director of Jazz Studies and Associate Professor of African American Studies

C ollege music programs justifiably receive criticism for their heavy European focus of curricula, performance focus, and demonstrated cultural priorities. Under the leadership of Dr. Tammie Walker, director of the School of Music and professor of piano, we are finding our stride in reversing these problematic trends. As institutions nationwide grapple with issues related to equity, diversity, inclusion, and belonging (EDIB), I’m truly encouraged by the initial progress made here. While many find contentment in the mere act of discussing these pressing issues, we’re demonstrating a willingness to address them. The last three years allowed the hire of three new (and exceptional) colleagues of color: • Dr. William Menefield (piano)

Our world, and the reality of being a musician within it, is evolving rapidly. The Jazz Studies program is actively working to reflect this changing reality in what we do, what and how we teach, and how we prepare our students for life as a modern musician. The possibility of these new ideas represents a growing spirit of open- mindedness and, more importantly, the School of Music’s willingness to invest in the atypical. Though we still have much work to do, we’re inching closer to a more thoughtful School of Music that reflects the people, sounds, and cultural reality of our world—musical or otherwise. We’re currently at the most difficult of junctures: Our talk must now become tangible action. It’s quite easy to point to conversations, documents, committees, and hires as tokenistic symbols of “mission accomplished,” but the truly difficult work of bringing our vision of a diverse, equitable, and inclusive music school to fruition is still ahead of us. We know there’s a real danger in stopping short of seeing legitimate and meaningful change, but I’m optimistic that we’re up to the challenge and anxiously await our community’s next steps as we convert talk into action.

With the support of the School of Music, the Jazz Studies program proudly contributes to EDIB efforts in a variety of ways.

– Dr. Damani Phillips

• Curtis Taylor (trumpet) • Angelo Stokes (drums)

These hires not only help the School of Music diversify its faculty, but also position the Jazz Studies program as a national leader in the hire of URM (underrepresented minority) faculty. We’re also working hard to diversify the curriculum taught and music regularly performed within our walls. Our updated philosophy fully embraces the connectivity between jazz musicianship and a variety of relevant popular music styles.


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