Membership Impacts the Entire Field

by David McCormick
Published May 20, 2024

This column was first published in the May 2024 issue of EMAg, the Magazine of Early Music America

The phrase “members only” can conjure up some uncomfortable imagery: an exclusive private club for the wealthy, a society for only the top professionals in a field, and, in our not-so-distant past, a way to bar women and minorities from seemingly public spaces. One of the things I love about Early Music America is that membership is open to everyone, whether you’re one of the top harpsichord soloists in the world or just a fan of harpsichord music.

David McCormick: ‘I saw another, even greater, value of membership.’ (Photo by David Perry)

I suppose it would be easier for EMA to cater to just professional musicians or only arts administrators. But there’s a vitality to the rich tapestry of our membership that allows for a collaborative spirit between professional performers, amateur players, scholars, luthiers, and listeners, to name a few. Thanks to our free and low-cost membership options for students, we have more young members than ever before, and our Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access (IDEA) Task Force has helped make EMA a more welcoming space for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) early musicians.

Of course, there are some “members only” perks at EMA that help make those yearly dues worth it: free access to Grove Music Online and the Naxos Music Library, a discount on registration for the 2024 EMA Summit, and, not least, an EMAg subscription that keeps you in the loop on all things early music in the Americas. But there are also plenty of resources and opportunities for non-members. No stuffy private club here!

For me, long before I was a board or staff member of EMA, I saw another, even greater, value of membership. Your membership dollars directly impact the entire field through scholarships, visibility initiatives, and resources. Over the last 25 years, EMA has given out nearly 150 Workshop Scholarships. Just imagine how many of those young students wouldn’t have been able to afford those opportunities without your help.

Our Engagement Awards and Early Music Month Mini-Grants provide funding for local initiatives that bring early music to every corner of the Americas. Mexico City, Nashville, San Francisco, Sheridan (Wyo.), and Tijuana are just a few of the cities impacted by this award.

The announcements of your events and big news that appear in EMA’s E-Notes newsletter reach over 4,000 early-music lovers every week. And whether you’re shopping for a new vielle or trying to find a place to study the lute, EMA’s resource pages are the place to go for the latest information. These resources might seem like they cost nothing, but the technology and staff hours needed to keep things up to date are actually quite expensive.

If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’re already a member. Thanks for being part of this awesome community of intrepid historical performance explorers. If you’re not a member yet, or you’ve let your membership lapse, I hope we’ll see you on our member roster soon. All are welcome and celebrated — even if you’re making frightful noises on a dusty sackbut!

Not a current member? Join or renew today!

David McCormick, a Baroque violinist, is the executive director of Early Music America, artistic director of Early Music Access Project (Charlottesville, Va.), and a founding member of medieval ensemble Alkemie.

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