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Class Planning, Entrepreneurship in Music and the Arts

I’m working on the course outline for my upcoming course, Entrepreneurship in Music and the Arts, at Ithaca College. I have 31 students enrolled – the limit according to fire laws for the assigned classroom. I’ve never taught entrepreneurship to this large a class, in such a cramped space, so I have been focused more on issues of classroom management than course content. And, although the course was made available to students across the campus, it filled up entirely with music students. This may make matters easier at first, and more challenging later on.

I plan to blog before and after each class, reporting and critiquing their and my work. I may blog several times before the first class. This will depend on information I receive from students as I correspond with them before the first class meeting. The class meets once weekly for 2 hours, a challenge in itself.

Since I will be working entirely with music students, my experience with them tells me that I will need to open their thinking about music in the current world before I can get them to brainstorming, or imagining new and innovative ways of thinking and/or doing things. After a conventional class introduction, I plan to move them immediately into 6 working groups. I will give 3 problems, so that 2 groups each will work on the same problem. Since these music students come from all walks of their professions, I will develop wide-ranging problems. It almost doesn’t matter what the problems are. The goal is to get students thinking about challenges and solutions.

Here are some possibilities:

Why are so many American orchestras experiencing financial difficulties? What are some solutions to the reasons you define?

Why are audiences for new music so small? What are some strategies to increase their size?

When in financial stress, why do school districts look to the music (and visual arts) budgets for cutting and/or elimination? What are some strategies for changing this?

We will reassemble, then share, compare and discuss. I will then give them the assignment to identify the most knotty problem that faces their particular area (and assumed passion) in music. They will then asked to perform the same exercise alone, or with a small group of friends, and email me with their thinking/findings.


  1. Jim,
    Love the idea of this course! Bravo to you. I do a “What Makes it Great” series for Washington Performing Arts Society 4 times a year and some programs use Curtis students as performers which requires rehearsal in Philadelphia. If there’s ever anything I can do to help out what you’re trying to accomplish, let me know. The next generation (including my son–a composer at Swarthmore!) must have a completely new entrepreneurial approach to things and they need all the help they can get. Good for you!
    All best,

  2. Though the fact is they’re already converted! Help them with the how-to, but the basic premise is already there. The musicians of the new generation ARE ENTREPRENEURS.

  3. Jim, Congratulations on running this course. This is a challenging topic and I believe that many arts colleges universities etc need to look at the area of how do you develop new audiences to music. As a former professional flautist who is now in the arts management coaching world I believe that musicians have so much to offer in ways of attracting new young vibrant audiences, making music accessible and also looking at ways to leverage the world of classical music in particular. I look forward to hearing more of your development of this course. From this side of the world have found that the challenge can be with the musicians themselves to think out of the square. And ah ha this comes from an older muse…
    Go well Jim , Sally

  4. Phil Richardson says:


    I am really looking forward to taking this course! Thanks for directing the class to this blog in your last email, as these prospective questions have given me a good idea of what to expect and whet my appetite for the potential discussions to come. See you in a week!

    Best, Phil

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