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Music Schools in Transition, VI, ii

I am frequently asked if a school should add co-curricular programs, and if so, of what nature. To work toward an answer to this question, let me go through a process. To my way of thinking there are 4 factors that influence students' choices about admissions: faculty, core curriculum, price and location/facilities. Depending on each student's needs the priority order of these factors can change.   As you read this, remember that I'm only focusing on performance majors in the BMus. While faculty will likely always be the leading factor … [Read more...]

Music Schools in Transition, VI.i

There's a bit of a scramble on: to create co-curricular programs and to add value to the BMus by facilitating double (even triple) majors and double degrees.  Part of the reason for these developments results from the undergraduate degree in performance being so tightly packed, and with so many other needs have been identified, that the only way to address the situation is with these options. And the old "sell points" of faculty, location, price, core curriculum and alumni network are not enough anymore.  Competition demands that even more … [Read more...]

Music Schools in Transition, Part VI

Many music schools have added valuable co-curricular programs. A working definition of co-curricular would be that these programs offer non-required credit for courses, a certificate for participation and completion of a set of expectations, or experiences or courses that significantly pair with a curricular requirement (and designed as such).   The latest spate of these programs focus on entrepreneurship (a field that I have concentrated on heavily over the past 5 years). Programs of this type range from offering enhanced career … [Read more...]

Music Schools in Transition, Part V

The term, professional school, has always puzzled me. Taken literally, it must mean that the school prepares you for a defined profession. And when there were, more or less, stable professional opportunities for musicians, the idea of strong, focused professional training combined with substantial courses in the liberal arts made sense. Now, however, with music professions in flux, and in a process of redefinition, and creation, the curriculum in the B.M in Performance doesn't meet students' needs. The basic components of the current degree … [Read more...]

Music Schools in Transition, IV.i

First in this post, I must let NASM (National Association of Schools of Music), the accrediting organization off the hook.  I suggested that they need to change their guidelines to allow for necessary changes in the bachelor of music in performance.  I reread my NASM Handbook and was pleased to find that there is considerable flexibility within accreditation guidelines.  Sadly I realized that the reason almost all U.S. degrees programs look alike redounds to the faculty and leaders who created them.  I suppose it's understandable that over time … [Read more...]

Music Schools in Transition, Part IV

In this post I want to begin to delve into the full educational program that music schools offer.  To do so requires some definition. There are the degree programs with their requirements; various co-curricular programs, such as internships and courses offered for credit (but not required for the degree); and extra curricular learning opportunities. I will concentrate in this post on degree programs, specifically the Bachelor of Music degree in Performance.  This particular degree of 120 required credits generally allows 8 liberal arts … [Read more...]

Music Schools in Transition, Pt. III

Most music schools look alike.  It's quite amazing, that once inside a school, you can quickly forget where you are geographically.  Standardization resulting from accreditation requirements means that student experience from one school to another changes only slightly.  Curriculum is locked in (more on this in future posts). Some schools are located in dense urban areas, while others are in isolated regions; some are housed within a university or college while others are independent.  Those within a university or college may be closely … [Read more...]

Music Schools in Transition, Pt. II, i

A number of people have asked me to be more specific about ensembles, so here I will elaborate. Just to keep interest in future blog posts, I will be focusing next on maximizing configuration, e.g. free-standing school within an urban area, school within a university, and so forth. Maintaining a full-sized symphony orchestra is strangling a number of smaller music schools.  The human effort and amount of scholarship money dedicated to enroll oboists, bassoonist, violists (violists, too) and bass players are substantially taking away from … [Read more...]

Music Schools in Transition, Part II

Below I've copied my post from last week, as then I was not connected to Facebook and Linkedin, but now am. There are short-term approaches to present challenges to music schools, and long-term, more radical ones.  For now I will concentrate on short-term ones, then later on the others.  Also to note: I will not address the question of supply and demand, as I lean toward a free market philosophy.  And in any case, if oversupply is the issue, what agency or body of individuals could decide which schools deserved to live or die? I believe … [Read more...]

Music Schools, in Transition…

Over the past several months I have received a number of calls - for assistance from higher ed music school leaders, to help them with their admissions issues and challenges.  The repeating theme centers around declining undergraduate admissions numbers, and among applicants, declining preparedness (or quality, as it is referred to inside). There are a number of factors at play: a demographic dip among graduating high school seniors (and juniors, etc. to come), declining numbers of students who choose to seriously study an instrument or … [Read more...]

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