by Charles A. McAdams
As a graduate student at the University of Illinois in the 1980s, I found myself surrounded by technology. The U of I was the site of a Cray Supercomputer, the Plato Computer Project, the National Center for Computer Applications, and the home of very progressive composers using computers to write and perform music. Consequently, I, along with many other students on the Urbana-Champaign campus, was predisposed to look for the benefits of new technologies in the teaching, performing, or conducting research in music.
As a young tuba/euphonium instructor at Central Missouri State University (now the University of Central Missouri, Warrensburg, Missouri), I would often attend presentations by the “tech” staff regarding computer resources and their use in research. I learned in the early 1990s about computer networks such as MOREnet. The Missouri Research and Education Network (MOREnet) is in essence the “backbone” or “on ramp” for higher education institutions in Missouri to the Internet. Universities like CMSU that utilized an IBM VM mainframe were also connected to BITNET. Originally referred to as “Because It’s There Net” when it started in 1982, it later became known as “Because It’s Time Net” in the early 1990s. By 1992 there were thousands of computers at universities and research centers connected to each other across the United States and Europe through BITNET. In 1991, I learned I could go to a computer lab on campus and access the catalogs of academic libraries across the United States. I also learned that I could create a personalized electronic mail account and send text messages to colleagues on other campuses if they had an electronic mail account.
In 1992 I was invited by Winston Morris to join the team writing and editing The Tuba Source Book (IU Press, 1995). I wrote the chapters on music for multiple tubas and served as one of the editors of the text. I soon found myself facing two daunting tasks. First, how could I search the catalogs of major libraries across the country in search of published works for multiple tubas while living in Warrensburg, Missouri? Second, how could the editors share multiple-page drafts of chapters with each other to edit in a timely and inexpensive manner? Email and ftp (file transfer protocol) provided the answers we needed.
The February 9, 1994 issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education contained a small article in their Information Technology section featuring my efforts to use the Internet and electronic mail as a research and communication tool for seven individuals living in different parts of the country all working on the same book. As far as the Chronicle for Higher Education was concerned, this was “news.”
During my research for the TSB using the Internet I learned about Internet discussion groups. The thought quickly occurred to me to start a list for tuba and euphonium players, teachers, and students to communicate and learn from each other. In fall 1993 with the help of the library staff at Central Missouri State University, I started the “TUBAEUPH” tuba and euphonium Internet discussion list. Around the same, I also started an Internet discussion list called “MUSPERF-L” a “musical performance and pedagogy” Internet discussion list with a music colleague from CMSU. One only needed to send a message of “Sub TUBAEUPH” to email@example.com to subscribe to the TUBAEUPH discussion list. By fall 1995 there were 440 subscribers to the TUBAEUPH list from 12 different countries. List members would post questions or answers to other subscriber’s questions, along with equipment recommendations or music reviews. It was not uncommon for high profile members of the tuba and euphonium community, such as Abe Torchinsky or Brian Bowman, to answer questions posed by other members.
In July 1995, Steven Sobol, administrator of the Canadian Brass web page, asked me to write an article about the use of the Internet in music. The article, “Innovation and the World Wide Web” was subsequently published on their web page beginning in September 1995. To my knowledge this was one of the first, perhaps the very first, articles about the use of the Internet in a specific discipline, published exclusively on the Internet.
- Mark Nelson and I were both co-editors of the TSB, and we had both been graduate students at the University of Illinois. In the mid-1990s Dr. Nelson was the tuba professor at Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois. We used the Internet and email for research and to send copies of our chapters to each other to edit the manuscript during the three years from original research to publication. Because of our experience, and perhaps because of our common experiences as graduate students at the University of Illinois, we decided to co-author an article about the potential of the Internet for music teachers. The article, “A Beginners Guide to the Internet,” was published by the MENCJournal in July 1995. We subsequently wrote an article titled “Speeding Down The Information Highway: The Making of The Tuba Source Book” published in the Tubists Universal Brotherhood AssociationJournal, in 1995 (Volume 23, number 1).
I had been talking with Jeff Funderburk, another U of I alumnus and past president of the International Tuba Euphonium Association, about my desire to create a web page for the organization to take advantage of the new “information superhighway.” Jeff was one of the editors of The Tuba Source Book and was aware of our recently published articles on the use of the Internet by musicians in the Music Educators Journal and the TUBAJournal. In June 1995 during the International Tuba Euphonium Conference at Northwestern University, President Funderburk asked me and Mark Nelson to develop a web page for TUBA. Ryan Thomas from the University of Illinois was part of our team and put many of the original documents and ideas in HTML language. The time between July 1995 and March 1996 was spent creating linked documents for the Home Page and looking for a permanent site for the page. The first three years the TUBA Home Page was located on a server on my home campus (CMSU) (http://libserv.cmsu/tuba/tuba.htm, no longer in service).
The years between 1995–98 witnessed an explosion in the use of the Internet by education and commercial interests. As the “list owner” of the TUBAEUPH I had to answer subscriber’s questions and moderate the discussion. These were truly the “wild west” days of the Internet. There were few rules or common etiquette in practice we perceive as commonplace today. The term “flame” was generated around this time to describe an individual whose response to a question, an answer, or a review, seemed extremely harsh, rude, or inflammatory. There were times when I had to ask people to “play nice” or remove them from the list if they did not. This happened infrequently as most of the time the list served the subscribers as a great resource to post questions about instruments, mouthpieces, music, teaching techniques, etc.
As the traffic on the TUBAEUPH site became more diverse, some participants saw a need to branch out to embrace broader interests and tastes of subscribers. Consequently, other brass and tuba listserv groups, or Internet bulletin boards (BBS) started during this time period. The two most successful discussion lists or blogs “spun off” of the original TUBAEUPH are TubeNet (www.chisham.com) and Tuba-Euphonium Blog (www.dwerden.com/blog3/).
In 1996, Mark Nelson and I wrote a second article on the use of the Internet for the TUBAJournal (Volume 24, Number 1) primarily to announce and promote the new TUBA web page.
In 1998 I became chair of the Department of Music at Central Missouri State University, and I no longer had the time to devote to the growing demands of this emerging technology. I served as list owner of TUBAEUPH discussion list and webmaster of the TUBA web page until 1998. During the International Tuba Euphonium Conference (ITEC) in Minneapolis, Minn., I informed Sam Pilafian, president of TUBA/ITEA at the time, that due to the time demands and duties as department chair, I was unable to continue to serve as webmaster for the organization or administrator of the TUBAEUPH discussion list. I knew the time had come to find someone else to shepherd these young tools to make the web presence grow into what I knew it could be. I asked Sam to find a replacement for me that would have the time to help both projects grow and take advantage of rapidly expanding and improving technology to better serve low brass players, teachers, and students. The original TUBAEUPH discussion list is still active today and can be subscribed to at http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/TubaEuph/.
I believed at the time the Internet held great potential for TUBA, its members, and all music teachers. My goal for the TUBAEUPH discussion list was to create free and unfettered access to information about our instruments, music, recordings, and teaching materials, and advice. I wanted the world of tuba and euphonium players, teachers, and students to become just a little smaller and create an environment where we could share ideas and opinions and learn from each other. If I hadn’t started the TUBAEUPH discussion list or the TUBA web page, someone else would have done so eventually. It is hard to believe it has been over 15 years since those first steps for TUBA to enter the world of the Internet were taken.
My latest book is a collaboration with Dr. Richard Perry, associate professor of tuba/euphonium at the University of Southern Mississippi, titled The Tennessee Tech Tuba Ensemble and R. Winston Morris: A 40th Anniversary Retrospective (Scarecrow Press, forthcoming 2010). Using the web for research and email to communicate is second nature. In fact, one can hardly imagine any project of substance occurring without this ubiquitous and essential resource. It is with some pride that I see the ITEA web page today and appreciate how far it has come in the last fifteen years and how much it can continue to grow to serve the needs of its members.
Charles McAdams is the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville, Missouri.