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A Life In Music

December 28, 2015

 The second in a seven-part series on applying to academic music positions



Where are academic music jobs listed? 


Not in the newspaper. 


It used to be that when you thought of finding a job, the classic image of scanning the newspaper’s classifieds came to mind. But technology has changed all that.


Colleges and universities tend to announce their faculty vacancies on one or more online job sites that specialize in higher education or in a particular field. Following is a list of sites that academic job seekers in music may find useful. Most are updated weekly, some daily. There is some overlap among sites, but many jobs are unique to each service. Therefore, it’s worth it to scour each carefully. You’ll need to visit each site to sign up for their job alerts.


  • College Music Society’s Music Vacancy List (http://www.music.org). The Music Vacancy List (MVL) is a paid service that is likely...

December 21, 2015

A few weeks back, I posted about my first audition for the first band I was in, Silent Fury. I got lots of positive feedback about that post and requests for more like it. So here's the next installment.




Silent Fury had been faithfully rehearsing every week for about a year. We had a lot of songs on deck, mostly Kiss and Def Leppard covers, but we had no gigs. Where does a group of 13-14 year old kids perform? Not in the clubs. We were too young. And how would we get there anyway? We didn't have cars. Heck, we didn't even drive yet. Our moms would have to drive us. I can just imagine a caravan of station wagons pulling up in front of the club and a group of acne-embattled teens jumping out, unloading gear, and then giving their moms a kiss goodbye before heading in to play a set of hard rock music for a bar crowd. Nope. Not gonna happen. So we had...

December 14, 2015

During my first year in the West Point Band, a colleague advised me to keep a running tally of everything I was doing in the band. He called it an “I’m Great List.” This was sage advice, because when it came time for my annual job performance evaluation, I would simply copy and paste the year’s accomplishments from my I’m Great List into an email to my supervisor. This made it very easy for him to see what I had done and for him to create the “bullet points” that were at the heart of the evaluations. When I became a supervisor myself, I kept an I’m Great List for each of the musicians I supervised, and it was similarly easy to craft the bullet points for their evaluations. 


When I concluded my tenure with the West Point Band, I had amassed a five-page I’m Great List of about 300 individual accomplishments (including date) organized into six categories:




Publicity Proje...

December 7, 2015


I won’t sugar coat it: the academic job market is tough. Statistically, most musicians seeking a position in academia won't find one. The problem has nothing to do with the quality of the applicants. The problem is that there are exponentially more graduates coming out of masters and doctoral programs than there are jobs for them. Heated words fly on every side of the issue about how to fix a system that is perceived as broken. There appears to be no solution in sight for now, maybe ever. In the meantime, despite the bleak prospects, vacancies continue to arise (though in smaller numbers), and people are needed to fill them. Thus, those intent on pursuing an academic career path need guidance and resources. In the end, they may still not find a position, but at least they can say they did everything within their control, a philosophy consistent with being an entrepreneurial musician.


When I...

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April 17, 2017

January 30, 2017

January 11, 2016

December 21, 2015

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