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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 services to courses and direct coaching in new program or entity creation. There’s a noticeable lack of definition from schools in the description of these programs. I’m not sure whether this is intentional (keeping programs ill-defined allows for student and parents to ‘fill in the blanks,’ so to speak), or because school leaders simply don’t understand the scope of possibilities in this field.


When I was at Eastman we believed that leadership development to be most important. We defined it broadly as being able to see opportunities and act on them. A strong community development element ran through the concept of leadership. As we built what is now called the Institute for Music Leadership, we recognized that entrepreneurship, the act of creating entities that add value to one’s community or to society, was the next step.


Other co-curricular programs include internships and certificate programs. There’s no doubt that internships, if properly constructed, can provide invaluable education and professional experience to students. Again, location may make it more possible to offer a rich internship program. Drexel University in Philadelphia requires an internship of all undergraduates. And from personal experience, I know that this aspect of the BS degree is a huge draw for students and parents looking for this type of in-depth work experience. To successfully offer this program, Drexel has developed, and maintains hundreds of valid relationships with area businesses and not-for-profits. There’s every reason for some music schools to offer required internships within the BMus performance major.


Certificate programs are growing in number. Those that I know of enhance a particular ‘vocational’ aspect of a student’s curricular focus. Often between 6-12 credits, these programs usually include a guided internship and related courses in direct vocational skills.


I have not mentioned minor areas of study because they are curricular, not co-curricular. This being said, the option to minor in an area of study that compliments one’s major, can be very attractive to students.


Next up: double majors, double and triple

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