Founded in 1929 as the Music Team of School of Education Huazhong University, the School of Music of Central China Normal University enjoys a long history. It marked its debut annual concert with wonderful performance in April, 1932.
Before the founding of PRC in 1949, cultural and artistic activities organized here became distinctive features of Huazhong University and earned the university considerable reputation in Wuhan and even the entire central China region. Organized by the professors from the Music Team, the chorus not only attracted students majored in music, but also students and faculties from other departments. Thus, it was no exaggeration to say that it was one of the most dynamic and energetic students’ clubs on campus. The chorus staged several performances in Victoria Theatre in Hankou and hosted concerts on campus every year.
Regular meetings for music appreciation were held by the Music Team. At 8:00 o’clock every Thursday night, the Gongshulin Hall was packed with audience and filled with songs and dances. Musicals from various countries around the world were played, and sometimes, accompanied by the piano, violin or other musical solos or ensembles performed by the professors or students. Renowned musicians as well as music fans in Wuhan were also invited here. Each week witnessed different yet wonderful performance and programmes. Performance from the teachers and students was such a highlight: Mrs. Anderson’s vocal solo, Mrs. Constantine’s vocal solo, Mrs. Taylor’s piano and vocal solo, Miss Venetia Cox’s piano solo, to name just a few. More importantly, explanations were made every time before the performance of famous opera or musicals. Consequently, the audience’s ability to appreciate music was improved.
Besides, the choir of Huazhong University achieved considerable fame in Wuhan before the war. Their performance of sacred choral music was broadcasted via Hankou Broadcasting Station. With dozens of members, the choir boasted of a complete range of vocal types for both male and female. Conducted by Professor Anderson, the choir was trained with the help of the faculty. They presented the chorus, Messiah, on campus from December 20th to 21st, 1947 and later were invited to perform in Hubei Christian Association and Hankou Broadcasting Station.
Jiangfeng Dancing Society, the most popular club on campus, excelled in borderland dancing and folk dancing. The society designed more than ten programs, among which “Farm Dance” and “Miao Dance” were well-received by foreign faculties due to its exotic flavor, local feature and vivid presentation of folk life.
In 1952, higher institutions readjusted their disciplines and schools. As a result, Department of Music of CCNU came into being in 1953 after the Department of Music of Hubei Pedagogical College merged with Music Major of Zhonghua University. Headed by Professor Lu Huabai, the department sat in Tanhualin, Wuchang district (where the current Hubei Institute of Fine Arts is located). Five years later (in 1958), the department moved to Jiefang Road (where the current Wuhan Conservatory of Music sits) and merged with Zhongnan Music College. Thus, Hubei Academy of Arts was founded and the Music Department decoupled with CCNU.
Lu Huabai(1914-1994), composer and music educator, was born in Jingmen, Hubei (hometown: Wujin, Jiangsu). In 1931, he was enrolled in Wuchang College of Fine Arts and pursued his study in art and music. Upon graduation, he was involved in music teaching in Wuchang, Guilin and other cities in China. In 1941, he was appointed as the Director of Music Department of Guangxi Art Museum, and in 1943 he became the professor in Fujian Music College. Later, he served as professor in the Central Academy of Drama, Huazhong Teachers College, and Hubei Academy of Arts in the 1950s. In 1950, he was appointed as Director of Music Department of Huazhong Teachers College and in 1979, Director of Music Department of Guangxi Arts Institute. His major works included songs like Guxiang (literally: Hometown ) and Youngshi Gu (literally: Bone of Warrior), oratorios like Miluojiangbian (literally: On the Bank of Miluo River), orchestras like Kangzang Zuqu (literally: Kangzang Suite ), piano music like Xunyang Gudiao (literally: Ancient Melody in Xunyang) and Donglan Tongguwu (literally: Bronze Drum Dance of Donglan). Professor Lu composed his masterpiece Guxiang (lyricist: Zhang Fan) in the winter of 1937. With the successful debut in the spring of 1938, the song was soon spread all over the country. It was a very unique and representative vocal solo in the early period of Anti-Japanese War. In 1942, it was awarded the Cultural Innovation Prize by the Department of Education in Chongqing.
In accordance with the guidelines set up in the National Education Working Conference and adhering to the principles of “Readjustment, Reform, Reorganization, and Improvement”, Huazhong Teachers College began its preparation to reestablish Department of Music and Department of Art. Vice President Yao Jun headed this work; Director Yang Hongyi of General Education Division of Office of Academic Affairs was mainly in charge of organization; and Li Yingming, who was the faculty member of the former Music Department, was also recalled to assist their work. On November 21st, 1985, the Preparatory Group for Establishing Music Major was officially set up with Yan Guoyi as the group leader and Sun Qibiao, Director of Office of Academic Affairs, as the entrusted executive. In March, 1986, Music Department of CCNU (the university was renamed in 1985), which had been interrupted for 28 years, was set up and began to enroll new students.
In 2000, in addition to Music Education, the Music Department expanded its disciplinary programme to Musical Performance. Since 1997, the department has been attached to School of Chinese Language and Literature and enrolled postgraduates in the field of music. In 2001, it was entitled to grant Master Degree in Music. With the approval from CCNU, the department set up Music Institute in 2002 and launched the preparatory work for the application of post-doctoral programme. In June, 2004, School of Music was officially founded. In December, 2004, the school discussed with leaders and PhD tutors from Graduate Office, School of Education, School of History and Culture, School of Chinese Language and Literature on the application of post-doctoral programmes and prepared relevant documents and materials.
From May, 1985 to December, 1991 (including the preparatory period from 1985 to1986), Professor Yan Guoyi served as the Dean of the Music Department. Since 1986, it has enrolled students from Hubei, Hunan, Henan, Guangdong, Guangxi, Hainan, Jiangxi, Anhui, Chongqing, Sichuan, Yunnan, Guizhou and Shandong. Home to two Bachelor’s degree programmes (Music Education and Music Performance) and one disciplinary orientation (Dance), it also granted Master’s Degree in Music. In 2012, Music Dance evolved into the national first-class discipline and Dance became an independent major in performance. The growth of the School of Music attracted the attention from the leaders as well: the number of teachers increased from 10 to 89; the annual enrollment climbed from 16 students in 1986 to 180 undergraduates and 52 postgraduates in 2013. Currently, there are more than 800 students pursuing their Bachelor’s or Master’s degree here. Furthermore, the School is proud of its faculty team featuring wide range of research areas, reasonable age structure, strong commitment to work and significant academic influence. Among them, there are 12 professors, 28 associate professors and 40 lecturers. Now, the School is comprised of five departments (Piano, Instrumental Music, Voice, Music Theory and Composition, Dance), one music institute, one research center of choral art (China Research Center of Choral Art), one provincial-level teaching demonstration center and one department for social education and art practice.
In recent years, the School has built Music Building and standard concert hall with a total area of over 10,000m2. Multimedia classrooms are built and 121 pianos (including Steinway piano and Boston Piano, which are worth of millions of yuan ) are bought for teachers and students. Digital pianos, which are quite useful in piano teaching, are also in use. The new Music Building is a modern building with multiple functions: teaching, research, and administrative work are carried out here. It is wired with Internet and TV signals and all the classrooms and offices are equipped with air conditioner. At the same time, the School pays attention to the development of its reference room: reading room is expanding; bookshelves are bought; written, audio and video materials are increasing; and professional staff is employed. These measures not only provide convenience for the faculty, but also lay the foundation work for the future function of the room—to serve the students. In order to ensure the smooth teaching process, the School also set up a special room for piano tuning and maintenance with experienced tuner.
The increasing input in hardware and the deepening of education reform bring new opportunities for the School of Music. It keeps abreast of the time, adjusts itself to the changing environment, scale up efforts in talent training and improves teaching quality. As a result, almost 100% of the students here can find a job upon graduation. In the past two decades, the School has trained a large number of talents in music education and music performance. They have won major prizes in contests in different areas and of different levels. Currently, the graduates are engaged in varies occupations (such as teacher, performer, music director and host), and in a wide range of institutions (such as in junior college, troupes, cultural institutions, press and media). Their distinguished achievement adds glory to the School.