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My name is Avior Byron and I am a musicologist, blogger and composer. I write books, articles and a blog about music, performance, research, and theory. Read more at my about page

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Fair notification of music jobs in higher education

On rabbits and pigs

When did you see for the last time a job post from the music departments in Bar-Ilan, Haifa, the Academie in Jerusalem or Tel-Aviv and the various music colleges in Israel? Nevertheless, the staff there is changing from time to time. On what criteria? On what basis?

After reading this post please read this:

Second thoughts: the higher education jobs situation in Israel

 
 
Lately a small but significant debate is emerging in the Israeli Musicology Google group, concerning fair notification of music jobs in higher education. I started the conversation with the following post:
 
“In a personal conversation with one of the important musicologist in Israel,
she told me that lately there were two music jobs openings in the department
that she teaches and that she did not know about it until they were
occupied.
Since I am looking for a music job (as many others these days in Israel), an
absence of such information is very troubling.
It seems to me very important that the Israel Music Society will request from
all the music institutes (especially those of higher education) to publish
information about such jobs in our website and Google group.
This could help giving a fair chance to everyone in our society to apply for
such jobs.“
 
There were only two publically written reactions so far to my post and only one of them acknowledged the problem. Elisheva Rigby, bravely enough, confirmed that there is a feeling of secrecy surrounding the publication of music jobs in Israel. Too bad that there are no other voices such as hers.
 

Rabbits

 
I must add that I have received many emails and telephone calls from people who acknoledged the problem but did not want to write about it in public. Some of them even feared that it might harm them in the future.
 
Another senior musicologist told me privately that she was surprised that last year a certain higher education institution in Israel even bothered publishing information about a job post, implying, if I understood her correctly, that they knew who they wanted even before they published the job “opportunity”.
 
Perhaps this is only harming gossip that should not be wise spread around. Yet, when I applied to the job I was asked to send not less than twenty (20!) hard copies of articles of mine. When I asked on the phone why they need so many copies, the secretary said that sometimes they need even more than that, and they will photocopy the rest themselves.
 
I thought to myself: “Wow, they are so serious in the way they choose people. So many people will read my work and consider it!”. However, when I received my mail back several months later, I saw that only one copy was out of the large group of copies that were attached together with a rubber. It was quite clear that if they read anything at all, it was only one copy (perhaps they moved this one copy between all 20 people before making their vote?).
 
I would think that this is all my imagination and that I am being paranoid, however, the emails and phone calls that I have received show me that this is not only my perspective. Furthermore, the silence in the Google group conversation mentioned above, by all those who do have a permanent job, is troubling. Please correct me if I am wrong.
 
It is true that there is no hard evidence that something wrong happend there. Yet all these small details gather up to an unpleasent picture.
 
I must stress that such things are not only a problem of our little country in the middle east. I just had a conversation with a musicologist in England who told me that when a job opportunity was published in his University, he called a friend and told him about it. Unsurprisingly, that person got the job. Who knows what happened there?
 
 
 

The big problem

 
Yet, the pig (sorry, I meant to say BIG) problem is that departments are often not even considering other people when the job is not posted to the public. When did you see for the last time a job post from the music departments in Bar-Ilan, Haifa, the Academie in Jerusalem or Tel-Aviv and the various music colleges in Israel? Nevertheless, the staff there is changing from time to time. On what criteria? On what basis?
 
All this gives to the young people in the Israel Musicology Society a very bad feeling. It also gives these deparments less people to choose from. At the end everybody looses from this situation: young scholars, people who have jobs already, but most importantly - the students.
 
I know several people who are not returning to Israel since they know that they have no future there as scholars. Publishing ALL music jobs on the internet could help being some of them home.
 

Possible solution

 
I have no intention to attack this or that music department. We are all in the same boat and suffering from the same problems.
 
I think that the Israel Musicology Society should aim to change this situation. Perhaps there should be a person in the society who will systematicaly contact various departments in universities, academies and colleges, and request that such information will be provided to us. Moreover, anyone in the society that will hear about such job opportunities, should write about it in our Israel Musicology Google group.
 
If we teach young students music, we should at least give the more talented a fair change to make a career as scholars and teachers in higher education.
 

Comment if you dare

 
Use the form below to comment on this post and do not forget to subscribe to the blog
 

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One Response to “Fair notification of music jobs in higher education”

  • Yossi Maurey responded:

    Hi Byron,

    I am the other person you mentioned alongside Elisheva Rigbi’s, the one who reportedly did not acknowledge the problem. I have no idea why you chose not to mention my name, as if my post to you was anonymous or secretive, whereas it was, in fact, public and open. Was this to enhance the “feeling of secrecy” you talked about?

    I will speak only about the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, which I know the best. As for tenure-track positions - announcements are published not only in the newspapers, but also on the university’s web-site, and perhaps in other venues that I am not aware of. True, there are almost no such positions in Musicology in recent years, but when there are, they are announced fairly and squarely. Since you yourself claim to have applied for one, you surely got notice of it somehow (indeed, how?), so I am not sure what veil of secrecy you wish to get rid of. As for the review process itself - it may be shrouded in secrecy, but the time-table is always provided, and you get notifications if you made it to the next stage or not. Was this not the case with you? We all want to know more about such processes, but I don’t know a single place in the world that would share such information with applicants, really. You are trying to paint a picture of a horrified community of scholars too afraid of voicing its true complaints in public, preferring, instead, to call you. Without giving out their names, of course, I wonder if you can share some of the concerns and experience they shared with you, if you can.

    As it pertains to non tenure-track positions, and to colleges and high-schools (about which I know virtually nothing), there may indeed be a problem. Does your musicologist source who told you about recent hirings in her department refer to tenure-track faculty members? I find this impossible to believe, to be honest. If, however, we are talking about adjunct positions, this may well be the case. Yet, I am not sure that there is an obligation to have an official search for an adjunct position at a university, for instance. We can all picture the following: a PhD candidate is asked to teach a course in the area of his/her expertise for a year or two, such a student asked to TA, and so forth and so on. Whereas there is a legal (or institutional decree) obligation to make an official search for a tenure-track position, I am not sure there is one when it comes to adjunct positions - is this where the problem lies? Maybe some one else can answer this question.

    I do agree that we need to have a central place (maybe the Iggud’s web-site?) where all such positioned will be made public. I wonder if such a list can be obtained by the ministry of education? just a thought.

    In sum, I do not subscribe to the attempt to conjure up conspiracy theories when it comes to universities in Israel. I have made my claims public and I stand behind what I wrote here disclosing my identity (contrary to what you implied in the opening of your blog, Byron). In order for the discussion to be serious and trust-worthy, those who believe otherwise should step forward using their true identities, and put their money where their mouth is.

    Yossi

    You can read Avior Byron’s response here: http://www.bymusic.org/blog/2009/08/Open-letter-to-Yossi-Maurey.html

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