Saturday, May 29, 2010

A thought about numbers

So in my last post I mentioned that the number of Music Grads each year could be 6k-30k. A new friend, Dr. Dave (trombone) mentioned that those numbers are probably smaller due to some of us getting multiple degrees in music. Another friend, Paul, brought up there are more opportunities for professional musicians and it's been growing (6 professional orchestras in 1950, vs. more than 200 now), but have the expanded opportunities kept up with the increase in well trained musicians graduating?

I work in Admissions and Financial aid. When Parents and students ask me what the graduates do after graduation, the message that gets passed around my school is 1/3 go on to grad school (mostly in music), 1/3 go to work as a musician, and 1/3 leave the music world completely. But I have no way of knowing if this is actually true. My institution struggles to accurately track alumni. So another research project to figure out a way to accurately track what happens after graduation? Perhaps that will provide a clue as to what the schools are preparing students for.

Another reason for this blog/writing project is I want to know that my career is more than just convincing students that this is a possible path for them, and not just a way to make sure I make my bottom line, keep my budget in check and keep the business of the school running. Am I really helping students to achieve their dreams? And are their dreams actually attainable? And do they even understand what a life as a professional musician is like?

More questions!

I do want to mention that with the Stanley cup finals starting tonight, I may not write as much as I'd like. I'll be back after the Hawks hoist the cup. . . Go Blackhawks!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Just how many are we talking about?

There are 625 Music schools, departments, conservatories in the U.S. who are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music. (and not every school is a member school. Juilliard is not a member of NASM. And we all know Juilliard trains musicians). Entering class sizes vary, and the number of graduates are less than the number we accept in to these programs, however, if you figure that a graduating class can graduate anywhere between 10-60 students every year, that puts the graduating number of music students at between 6,000 to 30,000 new music graduates every year. So the question that I see before me, is this- because of the specialized nature of music training, are these skills transferable? In our efforts to prepare our music students for the highest level of music study, are we omitting other skills that they can use to support themselves? And are we preparing musicians for the realities of the music world? The music world today?

Perhaps the place to start is to get a realistic sense of how many music students we really are turning out- a 24,000 possible difference in numbers is a big one. I think that will be an ongoing research project. . .

All college graduates must face the question of what to do next. And there are plenty of arguments against the philosophy major, or the ubiquitous English major for the very reason that there are few professional philosophers out there. But I'm thinking there is enough room in the English major or philosophy major curricula for a broader based liberal arts education, and the nature of music study leaves little room for that.

I see this post has more questions than answers. Seems to be time for some research. . .

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


There are over 600 music schools, departments, and conservatories cranking out music students each year, primarily in the genre of classical music. Yet we see symphonies continue to fight for a share of the discretionary income of music lovers. Perhaps we need to examine how we train these future artists and what role music plays in a cultured society? And when symphony musicians get criticized for not smiling on stage, we may want to ask why, or why not? This blog seeks to explore these issues and find a better way to train our young artists for the future.