Great stuff here from the Huffington Post about recent articles defending the Liberal Arts Education by Michael Roth, President of Weslyan University in CT. What may be lacking in traditional music school study is the liberal arts. I think there's the assumption that if a Music Conservatory or school of Music is located within a larger university then the liberal arts are taken care of just fine.
But I think we need to go beyond that and strive to make the liberal arts offerings work with the standard music curriculum. Like the New England Conservatory's Liberal arts offerings. Make them relevant and interesting. Link the context of Beethoven's music to Napoleon's wars.
Being close to the Liberal Arts isn't enough to make sure musicians are reaping the benefits. Students come to school to be guided and to learn. (There's a whole other blog post about the student who feels 'entitled' to a degree just for showing up, I'll write it eventually). One possible solution to improving the way we educate musicians is to really look closely at the non-music classes we're requiring students to take so that they have a degree, and not just a performer's certificate.
The context needs to be there. Because understanding how the arts fit in society and what environment led to their creation is crucial to keeping the arts relevant to our current society and environment now.