“Any time that you have the opportunity to lead, you have the opportunity to listen and learn,” says Dr. Charles Young, Director of UNC Greensboro’s School of Music.
Serving in this role since July, Dr. Young has a clear vision of the impact he hopes the School of Music can make on campus and in the community at large, and he’s enlisting others’ perspectives to help build the pathway to achieve it.
A Collaborative Effort
Dr. Young says he’s excited to be in a position to help people: “I view the role of the director as one who serves the interests of the students, faculty, staff, and alumni. No one is working for me; I look at it as the other way around. I’m working for them.”
This mindset has led Dr. Young to engage in one-on-one conversations with faculty members. “UNCG has had, in my estimation, one of the top music schools around for a long time,” he says. “It has overperformed in leveraging its resources to create meaningful impact. Our people are tremendous.”
He plans to identify future goals and initiatives by asking some of the hard questions and seeing what themes emerge. “They won’t be coming from me alone,” he says. “We’ll be arriving at them together.”
Expanding the Bubble for an Expanding World
Dr. Young explains that a decade ago, very few schools questioned that they were teaching almost exclusively classical music. However, “the schools that are thoughtful are now exploring what we’re teaching, who we’re teaching, and what type of career training our student musicians need,” he says.
One of the challenges facing Dr. Young and the School of Music is how to teach many types of music alongside one another. He believes the first step is looking at music in a broader cultural landscape.
“One emerging theme from our conversations is to offer more student choice in the curriculum,” he shares, “and be more flexible and adaptable in how and what we present to our students and the public. We can also expand our bubble beyond one corner of campus to invest more in the campus and community. Music can play a unique role in getting UNCG out into the community and bringing the community into UNCG.”
Music’s Far-Reaching Impact
“Perhaps more than ever before, people seek healthy balance in their lives,” Dr. Young says. “The UNCG music school can play a role in individual wellness since we provide an inward exploration as much as an outward exploration of what it means to be human. Music can provide meaning to people’s lives, awakening – or reawakening – powerful inner resources beyond intellect alone.”
Dr. Young views the School of Music as a learning community, and as the world continues to evolve rapidly, he understands the importance of remaining responsive, flexible, and adaptable.
“The world demands that we learn new ways to engage with people and new types of music beyond what we’ve traditionally done well. It’s a challenge, and I’m asking everyone around me to learn with me.”
He adds, “We can make a lasting impact on the world. To master our musical craft is only part of the journey. We should increasingly consider our craft as a means to enrich the lives of others.”
Feels Like Home
So far, UNCG and Greensboro have exceeded Dr. Young’s expectations: “Our neighbors and our colleagues here on campus have all been incredibly supportive.”
With Greensboro’s diverse restaurants, beautiful landscape, and outdoor-friendly climate, he and his wife have found plenty of opportunities to do the things they enjoy when they aren’t working. “We can get up in the morning and hike with our dog, go out on weekends to farmer’s markets, or find time for biking or paddling.”
Dr. Young says Greensboro is very similar to where he grew up in northwest Arkansas, and “in a strange way after not even being here for two months, it feels like home.”
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Story by AMBCopy, University Communications
Photography provided by Dr. Charles Young, Martin Kane