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Music Schools in Transition, Pt. III

bookMost 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 aligned, or even located within, while others are geographically separated.  The variations of location and configuration make an amazing array

So, in order to individualize a school, leaders must maximize the offerings available to them.

What matters?  –for musicians facing today’s professions and for musicians looking to create new opportunities:

  • Internships
  • Playing or singing opportunities with professional and semi-professional musicians
  • Interdisciplinary learning experiences with substance
  • Exposure to high-level performances and teaching
  • Meaningful involvement in the community.

Now match a few music schools from differing locations and configurations and imagine a bar graph that ranks each of these learning experiences.  The graphic displays will vary significantly.

Independent Urban School “A” may be strong in opportunities to play or sing, exposure to high-level performances, and internships, but may be challenged to provide interdisciplinary learning and meaningful involvement in the community.

Regional School in University “B” may be strong in providing interdisciplinary learning, exposure to high level performances, internships, etc., but challenged to provide gigs and internships.

What’s important is for schools to maximize the opportunities they have, not provide weak ones across the board in order to look like another school.  School “A” should provide the highest quality of what they can offer, and School “B” must do the same.

An example:  some schools offer a full-time performance faculty, while others provide all part-time ones.  The reasons for these differences usually have to do with geographic location, e.g. it’s not possible to provide a part-time tuba teacher when you are over 200 miles from the nearest city.  There are enormous benefits to studying with full-time performance faculty, as they are truly there for students all the time, but there are also significant benefits to studying with part-time faculty, who are also usually heavily involved in performance careers.

Schools must emphasize and maximize what they have – and be honest about it.







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