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A Life In Music

January 4, 2016

 

Entrepreneurship is a term that’s become something of a buzzword in the 21st century. It seems everywhere you look, people are identifying themselves as entrepreneurs. But what is an entrepreneur? How might entrepreneurship be applied to a music career? Is it needed? I asked these very questions in my research on entrepreneurship instruction in college jazz programs and its impact on graduates’ careers. Here’s what I discovered.

 

The term entrepreneur originated in 1734 to “describe a person who bears the risk of profit or loss” (Moreland, 2006, p.4). More recently in 2003, the National Commission on Entrepreneurship (NCE) defined entrepreneurship as “the process of uncovering and developing an opportunity to create value through innovation” and noted that “we are living in an ‘Entrepreneurial Age’” (p. 4). 

 

In NCE’s definition of entrepreneurship, innovation is a key term. For example, the...

November 30, 2015

 

So I’m taking a slightly different approach with this post, as suggested by my good friend, John Castleman, a fabulous jazz trumpet player. John and I got into a conversation one day about my escapades as an aspiring teenage rock star growing up in New Jersey in the 1980’s. To me, my experiences seem ordinary. Apparently, though, the stories, and the way I tell them, evoke a certain nostalgia and rekindle the feelings of those carefree days of youth. And, according to John, they also give hope and inspiration to the younger generation. So a big thanks to John for his encouragement to tell these stories. I hope you will find joy and meaning in this first and others that come.

 

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After my first electric guitar, there was no turning back. I had been taking guitar lessons for 5 years, three spent intensely studying classical guitar. It was fine, great actually. I could read music ve...

November 23, 2015

 

​During my first year as an undergraduate music major, my jazz ensemble professor gave me some invaluable advice: save everything. What he meant was that I should keep any physical item(s) associated with an accomplishment. 

 

Up to that point, I had been sort of doing this already. My mom, a well-organized person, had been saving all my achievements and compiling them into a scrapbook. When I got married and moved out of my parents’ house, my mom bestowed this book to me, and I have it now. It goes as far back as third grade— when I was in the newspaper for the first time for cleaning up a local reservoir with my Cub Scout den— to the end of my first year of college, the point at which my wise professor encouraged me to keep the saving tradition alive.

 

I listened and obeyed. And I’m glad I did, because now I have hundreds of individual pieces of memorabilia that document nearly every musical...

November 16, 2015

 

Performing and composing music have been at the nucleus of my musical activity since I was a kid. I eventually began teaching when I was in high school, mostly giving private lessons, but I always conceived of teaching as a financial means to an artistic end— I taught to support my performance habit. Moreover, as I reflect on my early college years, I realize I was somewhat of a snobbish undergraduate performance major, looking down my nose at the non-performance majors, especially the music education majors. My view was, if you’re not performing (or at least composing), then you’re not really doing the thing that music is all about: you’re not creating.

 

Boy, was I wrong. 

 

When I became an education major as a doctoral student, I saw things from the other side. I realized that teaching isn’t merely a means to subsidize a performance career. It is an art in itself and a critical profession,...

February 21, 2015

 

In the spring of 2014, a 17-year old from Long Island named Kwasi Enin did something no one had ever done before: he got accepted to all eight Ivy League schools at once. While it appears unprecedented that Master Enin was simultaneously accepted to Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, U. Penn, and Yale, and that he deserves all the credit for achieving such a distinction, this is not really what I’m writing about. I am writing about what got him in. 

 

Yes, he had top grades and a phenomenal SAT score. No doubt, you’d likely have to have those two things minimum to get into all 8 Ivies. What really caught my eye was his essay. It’s all about music. Music is Kwasi’s passion. He played violin in the orchestra, sang in the choir, and acted in the school musical. He described these activities as having a profound effect on his development and achievement. In Kwasi’s own words...

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