Sunday, February 18, 2007

Reality for career pianists

An article by Ingrid Jacobson Clarfield in the June/July 2004 American Music Teacher, entitled ''Preparing our students for reality: should we really be encouraging so many performance degrees'' should be required reading for all students and teachers at the collegiate level. What are these performance graduates going to be doing when they graduate in order to make a living? Shouldn't post-graduate institutions be doing more to turn out students that have a more realistic idea of how to make a living in the profession? Here's an excerpt:

I believe we need to change the emphasis of the undergraduate music student to incorporate courses that will enable them to be a successful musician, not just a performer. We need to include in our courses topics that will help students with the numerous aspects of earning a living as a musician--be it as a solo performer, collaborative artist, member of an orchestra, teacher of all levels (preschool through adult), arts management positions and so forth. Students also must be given some knowledge of the business and marketing aspects of being a musician. What will they be doing when they graduate? Will pianists really be performing their standard jury of a Bach Prelude and Fugue, Beethoven Sonata, Chopin Ballade and Prokofiev Sonata every semester of their lives? Highly unlikely, but even those top performers, probably one day, will perform in community concert series, teach students of all ages in groups or private lessons, accompany, adjudicate, play chamber music, belong to teacher organizations and present workshops. They maybe even will write books and, perhaps, be asked to write articles for music journals.

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