David Kjar: Empowering the Portfolio Musician: Innovative Chamber Music Pedagogy for a 21st-century Artist 

David Kjar: Empowering the Portfolio Musician: Innovative Chamber Music Pedagogy for a 21st-century Artist 

This project explores, within the context of conservatory training, the “psychological, cultural, historical, and artistic issues in the practice of chamber music in the twenty-first century” (Dogantan-Dack 2019). Building on a formulation of educational modes for training portfolio musicians, this research investigates what constitutes chamber music in the 21st century. How does repertoire, personnel, venue, and listener-performer-composer agency define it? Most importantly, how do or can conservatory curriculums deliver such a new definition for their emerging professionals? The findings serve the larger purpose of understanding the innovative role chamber music plays in contemporary collaborative music-making and listening, responding to current hypotheses and discourses on the empathic nature of music.

This research had two intertwined goals for findings: first, to understand pedagogy regarding the empathic nature of chamber music, focusing on musical collaboration in 21st-century portfolio contexts; and second, to articulate how conservatories, in an increasingly gig-driven economy, are and might better prepare students for a portfolio career. The findings were published in the “The Chamber Musician in the Twenty-First Century,” edited by Mine Dogantan-Dack at the University of Cambridge (Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute: Basel).

An essential element in this research was to gather comparative data from institutions committed to innovative chamber music training in this century. One goal was to interview faculty, students, and staff at two such institutions: New England Conservatory (NEC) and the Berklee College of Music. Both of these institutions provide exemplary chamber music training for their students. NEC underscores community engagement, while Berklee prioritizes the contemporary and music industry.

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