Thursday, July 18, 2013

Music-Student Insecurity Round-Up

Seems as if everyone wants to know how all those music students are going to support themselves when they get out of school.

In next month's Opera News, Allan Kozinn writes about how conservatories are incorporating career training into their curriculums, and News Hour ran its own report a few weeks ago on the travails of fine-arts students.

Jon Marcus of the Times Higher Education Supplement (UK) put the focus on the new Paul R. Judy Center at Eastman (disclaimer: my employer), which will be dedicated to helping students create their own ensembles, as did Rochester's own Democrat and Chronicle and RBJ

There's a lot of optimism surrounding new groups like Alarm Will Sound and the International Contemporary Ensemble, but so far the work they create doesn't pay nearly as well as a even a third-tier orchestra job (granted, there are few of those). More and more, musicians are surviving by piecing together a living from playing a little, teaching a lot, and taking on a part-time job outside of music. 

There's also a danger with career courses that students might interpret the message as this: if we  write a good resume and find the right photographer for headshots, we can get those few high-paying gigs--or shine brightly enough to be a rich and famous star.

That said, when people ask me what you can do with a music degree, I respond, What can't you do? Never underestimate the power of intelligent people who love what they do to survive and thrive.