Saturday, September 4, 2010

Labor Day, School is back in session and I'm writing more stuff


 One of the blogs I follow is Artful Manager, through the arts journal digest, and if you have an interest in the arts and how they are managed, run, conducted (small, slight intentional pun there), it's well worth following.  Recently this post caught my eye.

A new book by Bill Sharpe discusses the concept of multiple economies, and how the arts are the "currency" of the Life experience economy.  Also is the art for art's sake concept validated in a way I've not heard before.  I plan on checking it out.

Having lived in and around academia for most of my adult life (let's just skip over the 3 year stock broker period shall we?  Thanks.), I am once again at my professional "new year", and it the words of Matt McConahey in Dazed and Confused "I keep getting older, but they just stay the same" Matt meant the high school girls, I mean the college students I deal with.

One recent conversation with a well meaning, yet slightly irate 2nd year grad student who was ranting to me about the new, stricter attendance policies in the school orchestra got me thinking.  His argument was "THEY want us to get jobs, but then don't let us out of orchestra to take the audition!"  I gently (and with no smirk, HONEST!) explained to him that the point of a degree was not a job.  It was to get an education.  The point of a master's degree is a mastery of research and applying the knowledge of a particular subject.  Sure, the classes provided in score analysis, music history and theory, performance practice and research AS A BONUS help with a music job.  However, if your only goal was to get a job in an orchestra full time (which the numbers that I've always heard, but haven't had time to actually research is less than 3% of our music majors will actually get that full time job within 5 years of graduation) then you could just as easily take lessons and stay home and practice every day.

This, quite frankly, rocked this student's world.  "You mean, it's not to get a job?"  nope, it's not.  It helps, and employers of musicians like to see that you've studied with some good teachers, at good schools, as you PROBABLY have then been instructed on how to act in the orchestra, and being taught professionalism, but as it's the audition that determines who gets in the orchestra, then well, a degree doesn't really matter.  (Check the roster of the CSO, of the bios that list degrees, there are a few who didn't study anything close to music performance).

It was a complete revelation to this student.  And it's a conversation I have every year at least once.  The funny part to me, was that by holding this student accountable to the school orchestra's rehearsal schedule, we were teaching him the professionalism he was trying so hard to demonstrate through going to an outside audition.

I THINK he got it, but it may take a few more times of him and his fellow grad students bumping up against the wall before they really take it to heart.

Perhaps one of the things we need to be teaching is exactly what this expensive master of music (or mfa or whatever) is for.  It's not needed to be a performer (necessarily), it IS needed as a credential to teach.  Funny, that never occurred to this student either. . .

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