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Next entry: The robot babysitters are coming
Previous entry: Bairn minding
Thursday March 27 2008

Some words of wisdom from Greg Sandow, in a email he sent to the dean of a major music school:

Students should be trained in entrepreneurship, or at least should have the opportunity to be trained. Classical musicians will, increasingly, be finding new career paths, and students should prepare themselves.

Music history needs to be rethought. Students now are taught (as I was [and I suspect many of my blog readers were] the history of music as if it was essentially the history of composition. That fits the standard emphasis on masterworks, and on the musician’s expected role as the servant of the composer. But this doesn’t entirely fit historical reality, and also doesn’t help prepare students for the contemporary world. I’d like much more emphasis on entrepreneurship in the past (it certainly existed), on the role of the audience, and on the role of performing musicians.

Students should be encouraged to find their own musical paths. In classical music, students typically learn the repertoire for their instrument. “I’m a clarinetist, so I’ll play the clarinet repertoire.” In other musical genres, a musician will far more likely say, “I play the clarinet. What music do I want to play on my clarinet?” Yo-Yo Ma is an outstanding example of a current classical music star who takes this not very classical approach. I’d like to see students take it, too, looking into their hearts to find out what kind of music is important to them, and then finding ways to make that music (or, more likely, all those many kinds of musics) part of their professional lives. (And of course I strongly believe that all students should compose. If that’s not going to be a requirement, it should at least be strongly encouraged.)

The entrepreneurship thing is especially interesting.  But, can it be taught?