Saturday, October 18, 2014

Curriculum comments

In general, I am exceedingly happy with my education at Longy.  A year in to my two years here,  I have enough experience to say that choosing Longy was one of the best choices I have ever made.

If pressed, though, one can find flaws with even the most exquisite of diamonds.  In the spirit of nit-picking, there are a few things I wish were slightly different about the education here.

Addition to the curriculum
We students are currently not trained to be musical entrepreneurs. It is not glamorous to talk about how to pay the bills with our music, or about how to market our art.  Bits of this information and training does filter through to students via departmental seminar or studio teachers, but it is not done in a a systematic way.  

Were I to suddenly and inexplicably be in charge of the Longy curriculum committee, I would insist on a required one-term survey course that details how to be a professional musician away from the stage or the practice room.  Topics covered would include: marketing, budgeting (personal and professional), basics of recording, how to network, etc. Students would not leave that course without a functioning web presence that they control, as well as a basic plan of how he or she will balance making rent and making art in the 5, 10 and 20 years beyond Longy.  They will leave that course with a head-shot and up-to-date recordings.  Each student will have been matched with at least one mentor who is creating the kind of art that each student ultimately wants to create.  Students will understand how to deal with the IRS, and what counts as a valid deduction or not.  They will have been coached on body language - particularly anyone who sings.  They will be trained in the art of selling themselves as classical (or MAM) musicians, rather than just advocating for the broader role of classical music in today's society.

Remove from the curriculum
Instead of a "remove" option, I will instead make two points under "change the curriculum."

Change the curriculum
1) I enjoyed Research and Materials, but felt that the first half of the class was fairly redundant with what I had learned as an undergraduate.  (Who gets out of a liberal arts undergraduate education without knowing how to construct a bibliography?)

The curriculum might better serve the students if they had a choice of research-oriented class.  On one hand, students who did not have to author many research papers during their undergraduate degree could take Research and Materials as it currently stands.  Those who felt like more of a challenge could instead opt for the "Published Research and Materials" class, and spend a term creating a paper that will be submitted for publication.

2) I am currently enrolled in term 1 of TAP, and do enjoy it.  The experience of becoming an artist who is able to be a "teaching artist" is a useful mental exercise, though I'm personally doubtful that I'll work in this precise capacity upon graduation.

I would greatly appreciate it if TAP was expanded out to include general arts advocacy training.   I'm not sure what exactly this would look like in practice, but of all the courses at Longy, TAP seems like the best place for this sort of training.

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