Editorial practice in music lexicography

Course Director, ‘The New Grove: Editorial Practice in Music Lexicography’

In 1990, 1993 and again in 1995 as a senior editor at Macmillan, I was course director and trainer for a five-week writing and editing seminar. The sessions were designed for graduate music students at King's College London (KCL), Royal Holloway, and Goldsmiths, all constituents of the University of London, as well as for new 'Grove' editors at Macmillan Publishers.

At that time the Grove office, located near KCL, was completing production work on The New Grove Dictionary of Opera and starting preliminary work on future large projects. Because we would soon be hiring talented music graduates, the opportunity for Macmillan and the University of London to share resources seemed too good to miss.

Students would benefit from learning professional skills tailored to the publishing industry, and a potential employer would gain by scouting out possible new colleagues through a controlled learning environment. New editors were expected to integrate prior knowledge with project-specific lexicography as the course progressed.

All sessions involved practical assignments for each class member, marked weekly. Learning sessions included these topics:

Putting a music dictionary together

Good writing, good editing: marking up copy

Grove house style

Work-lists and Bibliographies

Editing a complete Grove article

Not every good editor makes a good writer, and vice-versa. Musicological research has its own complex conventions. But from whatever angle the class members came, they stretched their competency by learning new skills.

'our students say splendid things - you are a great hit!'

'so glad to hear you're running this course again: the last one got rave reviews'

Prof. Tim Carter, Royal Holloway, University of London

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