We bring together and engage musicians, researchers, educators, arts leaders, students and partner organizations to envision, experiment, and explore the future of arts careers across the lifespan.

Housed at NYU Steinhardt’s Department of Music and Performing Arts Professions, the FAI offers educational and professional development workshops, courses, consulting, and contract research services to non-profit and industry partners sharing our expertise in arts education, entrepreneurship, technology, research and design. We implement a collaborative design process, engaging stakeholders and commissioning partners throughout from problem scoping, research and learning design, through to reporting, dissemination and evaluation.

Alex Ruthmann

Alex Ruthmann

S. Alex Ruthmann is Area Head and Associate Professor of Interactive Media and Business at NYU Shanghai, and Associate Professor of Music Education and Music Technology at NYU Steinhardt (dual appointment). He is the Founder/Director of the NYU Music Experience Design Lab (MusEDLab), and core faculty in the Music and Audio Research Lab (MARL) at NYU Steinhardt. He also serves as an affiliate faculty member in the NYU Shanghai Program on Creativity and Innovation and the Educational Communication Technology/Digital Media Design for Learning Program in NYU Steinhardt.

The MusEDLab research team researches and designs new technologies and experiences for music-making, learning, and engagement together with industry and community partners including the New York Philharmonic, Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, Shanghai Traditional Chinese Orchestra, Carnegie Hall, Peter Gabriel, Herbie Hancock, Yungu School, Portfolio School, Tinkamo, UNESCO, Peer 2 Peer University, League of American Orchestras, and the Rock and Roll Forever Foundation. He and his Lab collaborators are the recipients of major National Endowment for the Arts and National Science Foundation grants exploring innovation and entrepreneurship in the arts, the interdisciplinary teaching of computational and musical thinking, arts and educational product commercialization strategies, and creative learning through music and media education technologies.

Ruthmann's current research centers on the launch of a new research lab focused on researching sustainable entrepreneurship practices in classical music training programs in collaboration with the New World Symphony. This work is funded by a recent 5-year award from the National Endowment of the Arts. Ruthmann's research portfolio also includes collaborations with colleagues in Norway on a project titled Building Sustainable Digital Practices in Kindergarten Literacy and Arts Programmes (DigiSus). DigiSus is a participatory design research project focused on the design and development of interactive arts spaces infused with non-screen-based digital technologies for creative play, music-making, design, and story creation. Working with colleagues in Finland on the Notio Project, Ruthmann is researching new approaches to the teaching of music theorizing with students, educators, and researchers in Finnish high schools and universities through songwriting and interactive technologies. Through the NYU Creative Experience Design Lab (CXD Lab) at NYU Shanghai, Ruthmann recently launched a research group focused on creative learning in China. The CXD Lab hosts regular meetups, and collaborates with educational and cultural institutions in China, as well as creative technology startups focused on education, the arts, coding, and AI.

Since launching in 2013, the MusEDLab creative learning and software projects are in active use by over 5,500,000 people in over 150 countries across the world and include the aQWERTYonGroove PizzaMathScienceMusic.orgPlayWithYourMusic.org, and Music Playgrounds, among others. The Groove Pizza app recently crossed the milestone of 5,000,000 original grooves created since launch in 2016. In 2018, the MusEDLab opened a branch at NYU's Shanghai campus as part of the Program on Creativity and Innovation. The MusEDLab is a collaborative of over 25 NYU students and program affiliates in New York City and Shanghai.

Ruthmann currently serves as Co-Editor of the International Journal of Music Education and is co-author of the new book Scratch Music Projects, an introduction to creative music coding projects in MIT's Scratch. He serves as a member of the editorial/advisory boards of the British Journal of Music EducationJournal of Popular Music EducationResearch Studies in Music Education, and the Journal of Music and Meaning. Ruthmann recently co-edited major research handbooks including the Oxford Handbook of Technology and Music Education, and the Routledge Companion to Music, Technology and EducationIn prior years he has served as President of the Association for Technology in Music Instruction, Chair of the Creativity special research interest group of the Society for Research in Music Education, Co-Editor and Managing Editor of the International Journal of Education & the Arts, Associate Editor of the Journal of Music, Technology, and Education, and Program Director for Music Education at NYU Steinhardt. Ruthmann received an interdisciplinary B.Mus. degree from the University of Michigan in Music and Technology, and M.Mus. and Ph.D. degrees in Music Education (cognate in Educational Leadership) from Oakland University.

Selected Publications

Tanya Kalmanovitch

Tanya Kalmanovitch

Tanya Kalmanovitch is a Canadian violist, ethnomusicologist, and author known for her breadth of inquiry and restless sense of adventure. Her uncommonly diverse interests converge in the fields of improvisation, social entrepreneurship, and social action with projects that explore the provocative cultural geography of locations around the world. Based in Brooklyn, Kalmanovitch’s layered artistic research practice has rewarded her with extended residencies in India, Ireland, Afghanistan, Turkey, and Siberia.

Named “Best New Talent” by All About Jazz when she emerged from New York’s vibrant downtown scene, Kalmanovitch has continually stretched the boundaries between classical, jazz and improvised music. The Irish Times called her “an exceptional musician,” writing that her music possesses “austere beauty and remarkable unity between the written and the improvised.” She completed her conservatory training at the prestigious Juilliard School only to debut as a jazz violist with the Turtle Island String Quartet soon after. Her stylistically fluid recordings have garnered critical acclaim. Hut Five (2003) was hailed by the Montreal Gazette as “an exceptional recording.” Heart Mountain (2007) with venerated pianist Myra Melford won France’s “Choc” award and topped many critics’ year-end “Best of” lists. Pianist Ethan Iverson (Do The Math) praised her most recent release Magic Mountain (2016) with fellow violist Mat Maneri as “an exceptionally surreal and beautiful performance.”

Kalmanovitch’s career has become a broad platform for artistry and advocacy. She has been an invited speaker at the Society for Ethnomusicology, Carnegie Hall, the Initiative to Educate Afghan Women at Georgetown University, Columbia University, and National YoungArts Week, among others. She was drawn to ethnomusicology as a way to explore the ways in which music can speak to the world’s biggest problems and earned her doctorate at the University of Alberta. Kalmanovitch’s fieldwork on the globalization of Carnatic traditions in Chennai, Dublin, and Amsterdam has been published in World of Music and New Sound. In Istanbul, she reworked themes in Song Books for the John Cage centenary to reflect growing resistance movements. Her two residences at the Afghanistan National Institute of Music in Kabul resulted in at total of 15 public performances, panel discussions, workshops, master classes, collaborative rehearsals and a student exchange with the United States. Her work has been featured in numerous publications including Canada’s Globe and Mail, the Irish Times, the Boston Globe, Time Out New York, Jazz Times, and DownBeat, as well as on air for the Canadian Broadcasting Company.

Kalmanovitch has shown her commitment to education through her dedicated teaching practice for over a decade. She has given master classes at Woodstock’s Creative Music Studios, the Banff Centre for the Arts, London’s Guildhall School of Music & Drama, the Estonian Academy of Music, the Royal Conservatory of The Hague, the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin, and the Helsinki Pop & Jazz Conservatory. As a faculty member at the New England Conservatory since 2006, she played a leading role in new initiatives in the school’s departments of Contemporary Improvisation and Entrepreneurial Musicianship. In 2013, she joined the faculty at Mannes School of Music at The New School New York City, where she is an Associate Professor, Affiliated Faculty with the Tishman Environment and Design Centre, and a fellow of the Graduate Institute of Design, Ethnography and Social Thought.

Kalmanovitch is currently performing in duo settings with pianist Marilyn Crispell as well as in a collaborative trio with pianist Anthony Coleman and accordionist Ted Reichman. She is developing the Tar Sands Songbook, a documentary theater play that tells the stories of people whose lives been shaped by living in close proximity to oil development and its effects.

Bruce Carter

Bruce Carter

Bruce Carter believes playing music should be accessible to all, so he invented a tool to help others learn to be musicians.

His invention, an affordable 3D-printable violin trainer, harkens back to a gift he received after being accepted into Virginia Tech’s music program. Knowing Carter needed a better trumpet, David McKee, then a music professor and the legendary director of The Marching Virginians, sent him as a scholarship a Bach Stradivarius trumpet, which Carter calls the Maserati of brass instruments.

“The gift was powerful because when I started at Virginia Tech, I wasn’t ashamed of my instrument,” says Carter, who graduated in 1995 with a bachelor’s degree in music and went on to earn a doctorate in music education from Northwestern University. “The college took a chance on an average kid from a tobacco farm in Halifax, Virginia. That’s what a great institution does.”

While at Virginia Tech, Carter discovered a passion for the violin. The trainer was born out of both this passion and a desire to pay Virginia Tech’s generosity forward.

“My interest is at the intersection of social justice, technology, and the arts,” says Carter, most recently a visiting research professor at New York University and now a lecturer at Northwestern University. “These first-year trainers cost pennies compared to a real instrument, which can cost hundreds, thousands, or even tens of thousands. The trainers also help more people learn to play.”

The tool looks like a plastic, futuristic violin without strings, and running a bow across its bridge generates a vibration rather than a sound. This approach helps students learn how to hold the violin and use a bow properly through physical sensations.

Carter, who received a presidential appointment to the National Council on the Arts in 2013, did add one sound to the trainer. The bridge can pull out and transform the trainer into a recorder, which plays an A — the note used for tuning a violin.

“The violin was perfected hundreds of years ago,” Carter says, “but we still haven’t perfected how we teach it. The trainer is one way we can use technology to enhance the learning experience and make mastering the violin affordable to all.”

About the NEA Research Lab

The NYU Future Arts Initiative collaborates with the NEA Research Lab on Sustainable Entrepreneurship in the Performing Arts researching methods and practices of sustainable entrepreneurship and innovation within the classical music ecosystem in the United States as the field responds and evolves in the post-COVID19 world. This Lab is funded by the NEA’s Research Labs program, specifically under their priority area on Arts, Entrepreneurship, and Innovation.

Our initial studies investigate and map the entrepreneurial mindsets, attitudes, and attributes of early-career musicians and alumni from the New World Symphony (NWS) Fellowship Program, and their impact on their partner community organizations as they experience a new entrepreneurial training curriculum and respond to a post-COVID19 world. Our future studies will extend our understandings to classical music training and the professional musician ecosystem to investigate the successful entrepreneurial and intrapreneurial mindsets, organizational characteristics, and practices of NWS program alumni, the organizations and communities in which they work, as well as the feeder educational organizations whose graduates become future NWS Fellows. Vital to understanding entrepreneurial mindsets and practices of sustainability, cultural relevance, and creative place-making within and through the classical music field is a trans-disciplinary approach to research, integrating strategies drawn from the disciplines of education, psychology, artistic practice, and critical theory. Our research methods utilize quantitative, qualitative, and artistic research methods for data collection, analysis, and dissemination. 

Our 5-year research agenda will address the following two research questions:

  1. What individual and organizational characteristics and practices best support sustainable, culturally- and locally-relevant entrepreneurial activity and innovation among current and former NWS Fellows, their employers, and feeder organizations and schools?
  2. What role might performing arts training organizations such as the NWS play in promoting artistic and civic innovation among early-career musician artists within their communities and feeder organizations?

The opinions expressed in materials on this website are those of the author(s) and do not represent the views of the National Endowment for the Arts. The NEA does not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information included in these materials and is not responsible for any consequences of its use. This NEA Research Lab is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts (Award #: 1879471-38-C-21).