Category Archives: University Music Programs

Why Your Worst Music and Band Students Might be Your Program’s Best Assets

Bus Flip ChrtMusic Educators do a great job of tracking and celebrating their most successful artists. High School Band Directors invite their former student band members to come back as a featured guest performers. University music programs bring back their most successful performing graduates to lecture students, give concerts, or hire them as adjunct professors.

I overheard a private piano teacher proudly boasting that one of her former students performed on a nationally televised show recently. I’m sure she knew at every step of his career where he was studying, who his influences were, where he had performed, and what he had recorded. She was beaming with pride as she spoke, and she had every reason and right to do so.

Yet what about those former students who only continued to play music recreationally or for relaxation? What about those who quit playing music altogether after they left school? Do you know where they are today?

Your music advocacy efforts will have limited impact if you can only demonstrate that you were able to nurture the talents of the gifted artist. The success of your efforts to provide broader funding of music education programs for all students will require testimonials from successes of a different kind.

How about the doctors, engineers, and sales professionals who point to performing in front of a live audience, learning rhythm/timing, or collaborating with other members of an ensemble as building blocks for their future careers outside of music? Where are they, and what do they have to say about that experience? Sure, you believe in the universal benefits of music education and you tell anyone who asks how beneficial that exposure can be, but are you engaging those who can tell that story in a personal and objective way?

Biz-Music_1in-w

From a career in sales and sales management primarily outside of the music business, I can tell you that a salesperson’s assertions are not nearly as effective as a reference or testimonial from a satisfied customer. When I hear a customer telling a friend or colleague in casual conversation what a pleasure it is doing business with my organization,  I know that my job of winning over that prospect just became easier by leaps and bounds.

I know that keeping track of former students is difficult. So is making a living as music educator these days, so you get my point.

My high school alma mater picks one football game a year and invites band alums to come back for a few rehearsals, then they perform with current students at halftime. What a great idea.

Keep a directory, invite music alums to your concerts and events, and let them share their story – regardless of whether or not they can still carry a tune!

List of Articles on the Correlation Between Music Education and Success

FROM THE BAND ROOM TO THE BOARDROOM…The 9 Common Lessons of Music Education that Translate Into Success

The Continuum of Jazz: Article/Profile of Ellis Marsalis, Harold Battiste, and Irvin Mayfield, Jr.

This week my cover story for local entertainment publication Where Y’at magazine’s  New Orleans Jazz Fest issue: Interview/profile of legendary jazz musicians/educators Ellis Marsalis, Harold Battiste, and Irvin Mayfield.

Read “The Continuum of Jazz” from Where Y’at magazine

Thanks again to Laura Tennyson, Communications Strategist for the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra for arranging this interview and to Josh Danzig and the staff at Where Y’at magazine for the assignment. Photo credits: Romney Photography

(From left to right: Ed Petersen (standing – recent performance paying tribute to the music of Harold Battiste), Harold Battiste, Irvin Mayfield, Jr., Victor Atkins (standing – recent performance paying tribute to the music of Ellis Marsalis, Jr.), and Ellis Marsalis, Jr.

My profile of Irvin Mayfield, A Golden Trumpet and a Midas Touch (2010)
My profile of Ellis Marsalis Encouragement, Support, & Exposure: The Lessons of Ellis Marsalis, Jr. (2007)

Ellis Marsalis, Harold Battiste, and Irvin Mayfield: Interview/Article Preview

If those of you living outside of New Orleans want to know why natives like me love it here, one reason is the plethora of and accessibility to great artists. The artistic ability per square mile in this city is astounding. I wrote an article that will appear in local entertainment publication Where Y’at magazine during New Orleans Jazz Fest in late April/Early May, and had a chance to interview legendary jazz musicians/educators Ellis Marsalis, Harold Battiste, and Irvin Mayfield.

I never get tired of speaking to great musicians and artists, particularly about the creative process and the courageous nature of developing your artistic gift in the face of daunting challenges. Here’s an excerpt from my interview – a quote from Irvin Mayfield, Artistic Director of the GRAMMY Award-winning New Orleans Jazz Orchestra and of the New Orleans Jazz Institute at the University of New Orleans, regarding his esteemed predecessors in jazz and music education:

“Nobody starts to play basketball because they had a great coach. They play basketball because they saw Michael Jordan. As much as I have respect for all of the classroom time that these gentlemen (Marsalis and Battiste) have spent, I would never have been interested in them if they couldn’t play. We call these guys educators, but was Louis Armstrong any less of an educator? Was Cannonball Adderley any less of an educator? Was Miles Davis?”

– Irvin Mayfield

(Pictured left to right, Myself, Irvin Mayfield, and Ellis Marsalis)

My profile of Irvin Mayfield, A Golden Trumpet and a Midas Touch (2010)
My profile of Ellis Marsalis Encouragement, Support, & Exposure: The Lessons of Ellis Marsalis, Jr. (2007)

Thanks to Laura Tennyson, Communications Strategist for the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra for arranging this interview and to Josh Danzig and the staff at Where Y’at magazine for the assignment.

Resources and Links for Jazz Artists and PR Personnel, Fans, Students, and Educators

Here are a couple of promotional resources for Jazz artists, followed by a lengthy list of general jazz resources for jazz musicians, students, educators, and aficionados.
Most fans of internet streaming audio are familiar with Pandora. Accujazz.com is an internet jazz radio site that allows you to segregate by instrument, styles, eras, etc. The site claims 400,000 unique listeners per month.

If you are an artist (or represent a record label) and you’d like them to play your music on the site, here is the contact information for AccuJazz:
Lucas Gillan
Brand Director
lucas@accuradio.com

Or you can mail your CDs and promotional material to:
AccuJazz.com
c/o AccuRadio
400 N. Wells St., Suite 408
Chicago, IL 60654
Phone: 1-312-527-3879

AllAboutJazz.com is a leading website for jazz articles, CD reviews, profiles, events calendars, etc. Musicians can create profiles, events calendars, and post videos to the site. This site is one of the most popular jazz sites on the web, with over 800,000 unique visitors per month.

Here’s the link to the musician profile start page at AAJ

You might even find a few articles there contributed by a certain music education advocacy author and blogger

MENC: The National Association for Music Education is the leading arts education organizations, working to ensure that every student has access to a well-balanced, comprehensive, and high-quality program of music instruction taught by qualified teachers. MENC has a jazz education website with a number of links

Jamey Aebersold Jazz. Educational products and links.

Jazz improvisation resources Univ. of Wisconsin.

The National Jazz Museum in Harlem. Numerous online resources.

The Stan Getz Library at the Berklee College of Music.

Jazz Corner. News, resources, forums.

JazzBeat.org. Links and resources.

Jazz.com. Articles, reviews, more.

Rifftides. “Doug Ramsey on jazz and other matters.” A blog.

RedHotJazz.com. Essays on jazz before 1930.

Jazz Review online magazine. Reviews and news.

And finally, credit and thanks to MusiciansWay.com for the heads up on a number of these sites. The website is the companion site to the book The Musician’s Way: A Guide to Practice, Performance, and Wellness by Gerald Klickstein, published by Oxford University Press.



Tavis Smiley Examines Gustavo Dudamel and the Role and State of Music Education

Tonight I watched the PBS Special Dudamel: Conducting a Life in which Tavis Smiley profiled the young, charismatic Los Angeles Philharmonic conductor Gustavo Dudamel, a product of the very successful Venezuelan program “El Sistema” which exposes impoverished children to classical music. The program looked at the broader issue of music education and its role in education reform.

It’s always great to hear confirmation of the concepts and opinions expressed in this forum regarding the benefits of music and music education. Here are a few of the notable excerpts (paraphrasing) from the discussion that I found noteworthy:

  • “It’s not about creating musicians. It’s about creating the sensibilities of an artist that can be used in any vocation.” (Dudamel) 
  • “Sometimes we focus on physical poverty. There’s also a poverty of hope and of dreams. That’s what music involvement gives low-income children.” (Dudamel) 
  • “There are benefits of music education and of sports. In sports, however, a lot of kids sit on the bench. Music programs tend to be more inclusive and more participative.” (Berklee Fellow participating in the program designed to replicate El Sistema) 
  • “I feel like the doors of heaven have just opened up to me. I’ll let out all of my emotions in those drums.” (Young boy involved in a program in the U.S. modeled after the El Sistema program) 
  • “Kids are like a Polaroid. They just need exposure to develop. And they should be exposed to the best in order to develop into complete adults.” (Smiley) 
  • “It’s going to take something radical to reform education. Shouldn’t something so universally accepted as music be a part of that education reform equation.” (Educator)

Play on!

Berklee Career Development Center Releases U.S. Salaries for Music Positions Report

Survey data regarding salaries for musicians is difficult to ascertain. Many musicians and artists in general are reluctant to respond to survey data if they are not making it full-time in the arts, and often income is sporadic. While this report regarding U.S. Salaries for Music Positions contains wide ranges in salaries, Berklee should be commended for compiling this report and providing some information and benchmarks as a starting point.

Link to Berklee Music Salaries Report

Choral Director Magazine

A brief word of thanks to Choral Director magazine for a mention of my book Everything We Needed to Know About Business, We Learned Playing Music in their July 2010 issue. The website and magazine has a number of great resources for Choral Directors and for music education advocates.

Link to Choral Director magazine’s website.

The Music of NFL Films: Sam Spence

You may not know the name Sam Spence, but I’d bet you know his music. Spence has written over 700 songs for NFL Films, and if you’ve ever seen highlight reels of NFL football games from 1966-2001, you’ve heard his music.

When I was a boy, there was a weekly syndicated show called NFL Game of the Week. NFL Films would pick the best game of the previous week of football (hence the name), and compile a 30 minute compilation narrated by the legendary voice of the early days of NFL Films, John Facenda. If you watch Chris Berman on ESPN, he often channels the voice of Facenda as a tribute when he begins his own recap of the week’s games.

The synergy of that music combined with the film and narration took the sport to another level. It was iconic. This was more than a sport. It was gridiron theater, and the music still sends chills down my spine. In this video clip, Spence talks about his music and conducts a group of students:

Music Education Advocacy Quick Links

I’ve posted these before, but for quick reference:

“Why Music Education Continues to Lose the Funding Battle” (and why sports programs win)
https://bizmusician.wordpress.com/2010/03/17/why-music-education-continues-to-lose-the-funding-battle-part-i/

“FROM THE BAND ROOM TO THE BOARDROOM…The 9 Common Lessons of Music Education That Translate into Success”
https://bizmusician.wordpress.com/2010/04/06/435/

“CEOs and Business Leaders Interviewed on the importance of music education”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BquzvlLmMYA

Link to Free E-book Everything We Needed to Know About Business, We Learned Playing Music at Google Docs (view or download)

Link to purchase hard copy of Everything We Needed to Know About Business, We Learned Playing Music at Amazon.com

1500 More CEOs Demand Creativity in the Workplace

Here’s another tool in the arsenal of music and arts education advocacy efforts. The recognition of the importance of creativity in the 21st century workplace continues to escalate. This BusinessWeek article discusses survey results of 1,500 chief executives identifies creativity as the number one leadership competency of the future.

What are we doing to demand that educational institutions align with this trend by prioritizing music and arts education?

Link to Bloomberg BusinessWeek article entitled “What Chief Executives Really Want.”