Sunday, May 20, 2007

Non-Musical Skills for the Modern Orchestral Musician

Very often, I have conversations with my colleagues about what is wrong with the current landscape of professional orchestras today. Many musicians complain about "management", conductors, declining or undereducated audiences, not enough pay or benefits, etc. While these are all valid concerns, I don't hear too many musicians having conversations about what we, as individuals or collectively, can do better.

This morning, I ran across two very intriguing articles that deal with this very subject matter. Ironically, both articles are concerned with pedagogy, both institutional and individual.

Bassist, Jason Heath, has an excellent ongoing series, entitled Road Warrior without an Expense Account. This post, Rethinking Music Performance Degrees, is about how music schools leave modern musicians woefully unprepared for the "real world".

Read article here

In the article,
Do As I Say: Music Conservatory Culture and its Contribution to Discontentment Among Professional Orchestral Musicians, Sloan Hoffman has some interesting ideas about music schools, college orchestra conductors and applied music faculty. She proposes that all of these factors shape the professional musician's attitude and ability to deal with life in an orchestra.

Read article here

There are some very good and useful ideas in both of these articles. I hope that many musicians, both professional and student, get to read these. There needs to be more of an intelligent discussion about the ever evolving music business. Notice that I used the word business. Too often, "classical" musicians have this fantasized vision of what we are doing. We are all trying to make a living performing music. In any profession, the most successful look at their occupation as business people and entrepreneurs. A lot of our current attitude is not our fault. We are trained as artists, not business people. Now, I am not offering any real solutions myself. But the longer I am in this business, the more I have learned how to rethink my general attitude towards being a professional trombonist.

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