Session Reports (2006)

Session Reports (2006)

. . . NETMCDO is dedicated to enhancing and promoting career services for musicians . . .


Found below are report summaries for 12 break-out session that occurred during our 2006 conference at Manhattan School of Music. These sessions were suggested, organized, and convened by the participants themselves through the use of “open space technology.”

Agents and Managers

Convener’s Name: Ann Summers-Dossena
Participants: Warren, Lynn, Erin, Janet, Joe and Gabriella

Discussion and recommendations:

  • Discussed the differences in activities between an agent and a manager
    • Managers create careers in a partnership with the artist.
    • Agents book concerts and events for artists
  • If you see a listing of management and you see many artists names on it, it is probably a company acting as an agent.
  • There are 3 important parts of a career.
    • Entry: the manager invests in and develops the artist’s career
    • High earning: the artist pays back the manager
    • Retirement: the manager takes care of the artist
  • The partnership concept is a key idea when working with a manager.
  • A 3 year cycle: goes from June to June to cover 2 concert seasons and includes one year for the manger to get to know the artist, they work out a strategy together.
  • Resources for artists include:
    • Musical America
    • PAYE
    • IAM (monthly publication)
    • Music, Opera and Dance (targets Asian market)
  • How and when should a young artist contact a manager?
    • Send a biography (one page with one definitive statement about the artist, what they are doing and what is coming up) –information about the artist’s teacher is not necessary or recommended.
    • Include a Fact Sheet: a one page paper listing (chronologically backwards) debuts, premieres, highlights with name people or conductors.
    • Include a repertoire list ---depending the discipline, for the future
    • When? The best time to approach a management is between March and July.
    • Agreements should be completed by August ready for the sales period to begin Labor Day Weekend.
  • The industry is based on trust: ticket buyer trusts the presenter, the presenter trusts the manager, the manager trusts the artist. Everyone must be truthful, including relationships with the critics.

Best practices in a career development office

Convener’s Name: Janet Rarick
Participants: Janet, Warren, Gabriella, Yunny

Discussion and recommendations:

  • overall mission as a center of knowledge providing students tools for research
  • required or elective career development courses
    • taught by faculty or career development
  • job fairs
  • press kit workshops
  • databases
    • internships
    • festivals
    • scholarship & grants
    • mentoring & alumni
  • technology
    • computers
    • databases
    • CD editing & burning technology
    • E-recruiting
  • online resources & subscriptions
    • job listings: Juilliard, NEC, CMA, Opera America, Backstage, Teaching Artists Journal
    • not-for-profit/grant: Foundation Center
    • regional and state based resources
    • funding and financing resources
  • resource library
  • conference rooms

Buy-in from senior management and external employers

Convener’s Name: Liam Abramson
Participants: Sara Adams, Gretchen Amussen

Discussion and recommendations:

  • Have meetings that revolve around food – maybe 3 times per year and invite a member of senior management to a meeting (with food) where they can speak to and hear from Alumni or students who have gained from all forms of Professional Development offered by the institution
  • Get buy-in first from members of management or faculty who already support what you do and get them to be advocates for you
  • Create a competency analysis of all management and faculty in order to assess there expertise in subjects that they may be able to facilitate or organize
  • Investigate faculty exchange schemes so that faculty can witness what else other people are doing at other institutions
  • Get alumni to talk directly to decision makers as often as possible

Career planning: students dealing with their “investors” and spheres of influence

Convener’s Name: Janet Rarick
Participants: Kelland, Gretchen, Harriet, Haley, Peter

Discussion and recommendations:

  • Students have a rigid and limited view of “successful” careers in music. This can limit career planning for some, especially those who may not be suited for “traditional career paths”. Students often feel constrained by the perceived expectations of various “investors” in their education such as family, teachers, schools and especially their own peers. We discussed several strategies for helping students to be more confident when thinking about their future.
  • Other challenges identified by the group were a fear of failure and the identity crisis that might result from an unexpected shift in career goals. Pressure by fellow students to follow certain career paths is identified as a very strong force in career direction.
  • One quote favored by the group: “Go to college to study what you love to do and then learn to take care of you own business” — Centering around this idea were several recommendations:
    • Special career orientation sessions can help to plant seeds for opening up thinking—Harriet has had success with this and you can contact her for more information.
    • New career models can help. It was suggested that our members could send some of their students’ own creative career-related projects to the list serve and we could start building a list of creative career thinking for all to see.
    • When students understand that no career path has guarantees and that the creative thinking that they already have is a great resource, they can relax a bit when thinking about the future. We all know that being a musician is often full of surprises and challenges, so knowing this from the start is actually an asset.
    • Encouraging students to get out of the music environment from time to time. Spending a day with a friend or family member who works in another profession can help to open up thinking.
    • Helping students to understand that transferable skills such as writing, research and problem solving are important needs for a career in music, as well as other parallel careers

Careers course curricula

Convener’s Name: Kelland Thomas
Participants: Liam Abramson, Sara Adams, Gretchen Amussen, Angela Beeching, John Blanchard, Hayley Clements, Shasa Dobrow, Keith Hatscheck, Erin Kaser, Elizabeth Ransom, Harriet Schwartz, Kelland Thomas, Kevin Woelfel, Yunni Yip

Discussion and recommendations:

Participants who teach Music Careers courses at their respective institutions discussed their course structure:

  • NCSA – 1 course for undergraduates, required for all seniors – 1hr./week for 1 year. 5 courses offered for graduate students – grad students must take 3 of the 5 – courses are titled “Career Enhancement Strategies” – courses offered include Concert Programming, Community Outreach, Audition Preparation, Recording Technology, and Entrepreneurship.
  • UC Boulder – 1 Graduate Course – Arts Entrepreneurship. 2 Undergrad courses – Your Music Career and Performance in the Community.
  • Carnegie-Mellon University – 2 mini courses offered (each 7 weeks, elective credit) – 1) for Juniors – Grad School Application preparation, resumes, essays, visit recording studio, PHONE SKILLS. 2) For Seniors and Grad Students – Business Cards, Press Kits, Resumes, Unions, Budgeting, Taxes, Insurance, Public Speaking and presentations.
  • Manhattan School of Music – 3 courses for Business in Music 1) General Music Business 2) For Jazz students (required). 3) Orchestral Performance (required)
  • Royal Academy of Music – 20 Lectures entitled Business for Musicians –All students must pass this course to graduate.
  • New England Conservatory – 4 courses, 1 semester each. 1) Orchestral 2) Solo/Chamber Music 3) Classical Voice 4) Jazz and Composition

Discussion topics:

  • These courses are offered in the last years of undergraduate study, but there was some discussion about whether some younger students (freshmen) would benefit from having this material early on – Kevin Woelfel mentioned that freshmen who were concerned about their careers did very well in his classes when allowed to take them.
  • Angela Beeching mentioned that project assignments work better when they are made REAL enough that students can imagine their use and value to them in their career.
  • There was some discussion about determining course direction by asking students what THEY want to get out of the course as the basis for curriculum – Kevin Woelfel is trying that in Spring 2006 with one of his courses.
  • Liam Abramson discussed the first project in his course at the Royal Academy – students create groups of 5 and respond to a 15-year old article by Norman Lebrecht (“Death foretold…”) and must agree or disagree in a written response, with reason why.
  • There was some discussion about the phone interview project – at NEC students must do a phone interview with alumni, at University of Arizona students call someone whose career they want to emulate and interview them.

Following is a menu of different course assignments / projects that were mentioned in the course of the session (thanks to Elizabeth Ransom for compiling):

  • Graduate School Planning and Preparation
  • Resume
  • Cover Letter
  • Repertoire List
  • Long and Short BIO
  • Personal Action Plan
  • Professional Etiquette and Behavior
  • Personal Statement/Mission Statement
  • Designing effective recital programs and program notes
  • Arts-in-Education Programs
  • Informance, [NB: combination of “performance” and “informational lecture”] (Adult Outreach) programs
  • Grant writing
  • Recording and Producing CDs
  • Organizing a Private Teaching Studio
  • Arts Administration overview
  • PR and Marketing
  • Media Relations
  • Entrepreneurship and Self-Promotion
  • Taxes and Personal Financial Planning
  • Health Insurance
  • Photos
  • Press Kits
  • Web site development
  • Business Plans to raise money
  • Mock Interviews
  • Mock Auditions
  • Business Cards

The most important suggestion and outcome from this session was that NETMCDO establish over the listserv a discussion thread dedicated to curriculum and specific LEARNING OUTCOMES that we would like to see from Music Career Development courses, and topics and projects that are designed to achieve these outcomes, and working toward a standardization of desired learning outcomes for development courses.

Inspiring students to take career development responsibility

Convener’s Name: Erin K. and Gabriela Camacho
Participants: Angela Beeching, Gabriela Camacho, Erin K., Jean Falvo,

Discussion and recommendations:

  • Success factor: What constitutes success?
  • Big picture/small picture: faculty necessarily has to have a narrow focus, career services offices try ties to prepare students for larger picture.
  • How do you create awareness, plant a seed?
    • Meeting one on one: provides more familiarity with students, promote drop-ins
    • Visibility: walk around! Tell people where your office is! Know what your students are doing!
    • Relationships: develop and show interest, ask what the students are doing?
  • Programming/workshops: create faculty-led and alumni workshops, piggy-back on existing projects to increase attendance
  • Provide informational table in student lobby - have candy! And student workers!
  • There is too much information – streamline information for student
  • Map-out to-do list on what has been discussed: use comparisons with artistic process, use mini-goals and equate those to current career development skills
  • Provide more information to students regarding the use of career resources – there is a larger percentage of success for student if they use more resources (i.e. career services). Students who have the easiest transition off college are the ones that have experience off-campus.
  • Success factor: expose students early on about parallel career paths
  • Relationships with faculty:
    • Have clear mission statement of career services with faculty to increase awareness and knowledge on their part, it will trickle down to students.
    • Career center: provide “sit-in” services in alternative to class cancellation to teach career-related subjects
    • Choose your battles! Check what your priorities are and develop relationships with those that are receptive to you! “Word gets out!”
  • Realize that it’s all about “delayed gratification” – you cannot know what kind of impact you will be creating or what it’s going to be.
  • Partnerships with another department in your school

International employability

Convener’s Name: Gretchen Amussen
Participants: Hayley Clements, Harriet Schwarz, Janet Ranick, Kelland Thomas

Discussion and recommendations:

  • We focused on opportunities to engage in international projects.
  • Importance of learning languages
  • For US & European students:
    • USB Verbier Festival (orchestra + tour) – Switzerland
    • Lucerne Festival – contemporary music with Ensemble Intercontemporain, late August
    • Pacific Music Festival (Japan) – summer orchestral session
    • Schleswig Holstein Festival (Germany) – festival and orchestra in the summer
    • Attergau Institut (Austria) – with members of Vienna Philharmonic, orchestral session late August
  • Opportunities for young professionals:
    • Orchestra developed in Japan (Kobe)
    • Encouraging students to engage in exchanges as a way to get your feet wet and creating a network in the country in question (taking into account difficulties in obtaining visas otherwise):
    • For European students, Erasmus/Socrates – EU scheme
    • For Americans, participating in graduate programs abroad (comparability and validation of studies often possible thanks to reforms linked to Bologna Declaration)
  • Teaching abroad:
    • Most European conservatoires accept candidates from all over the world, talent and skills are first and foremost. They then deal with visa requirements for the person who has been hired.
    • For Europeans wishing to teach in the US: CMS and Chronicle of Higher Education as resources – nationality of origin is rarely an issue.
  • Many professional orchestras hiring foreign nationals will take care of visa issues
  • Other resources on line:
    • Cite de la Musique (Paris): has complete list (English and French) of international competitions, also job possibilities in France, masterclasses in France and abroad.

Parallel/alternative career paths in music

Convener’s Name: Erin Kaser
Participants: Jean Falvo, Gabriela Camacho, Ann Summers Dossena, Kathleen Chastain, Tadd Sipes, Harriet Schmaartz, Yunny Yip, Lisa Ramsom, Kevin Woelfel, Ar Adler, Harriet Schwartz

Discussion and recommendations:

  • start with skills that student already has (accounting, writing, etc)
  • common skills that music students posses; organization, listening, intelligence, discipline
  • transferable skills (research, writing, accounting, financial) are often taken seriously by employers
  • some recruiters from outside the field request music students (Carnegie)
  • might be helpful to think of these three categories…careers right out of undergrad, careers that require more training, temporary service experiences/careers (Teach America, Peace Corps)
  • try to counsel the students not to think of choosing non-performance as failure, rather “choosing to diversify”
    “Portfolio Career” – Kevin
  • Kevin suggests having students look through lists of possible careers and then helping them with information about things in which they are interested
  • good to bring in alumni to illustrate benefits of parallel paths
  • brainstorming of possible alternative and/or parallel careers
    • teaching:
      • private studio
      • teaching for a music store
      • public schools (market yourself as an expert in a certain area, e.g. – jazz)
      • private schools (usually require no certification)
      • private schools abroad
      • kindermusik
      • churches/community schools/continuing ed.
      • Special education
    • arts administration:
      • Scholarship development
      • Administrative support
      • Grant writer
      • Fundraiser
      • Accounting
      • Promotions
      • Development
      • Internship resources
        • America Symphony Orchestra League
        • International Society of Performing Artists
        • Opera America
    • Cultural tourism
    • Curator
    • Concert organizer
    • Presenter
    • Instrument repair
    • Public radio
    • Management services (different than a manager)
    • Manager
    • Agent
    • Artistic secretary
    • Recording/audio engineer
    • Entertainment law
    • Piano tuning
    • Music software development
    • Culinary professions
    • Music consulting
    • Arts advocacy (lobbying)
    • Home entertainment installation
    • Music librarian
    • Motivational speaker
    • Freelance musician (alternative to steady orchestral job, etc.)
    • In general, fields of creativity are a potential for any musician


  • Getting It All Together” by Ann Summers-Dossena
  • (from Kevin for list of books)
  • (for arts administration jobs)
  • many books listing possible career choices could be found at Borders, etc

Passionate performance & outreach

Convener’s Name: Leslie Scatterday & Hayley Clements
Participants: Angela Beeching, Keith Hatschek, Erin Tchoukaleff, Lyn Liston

Original premise for session:

  • How can students be responsible for nurturing passion in others?
  • How can we nurture passion in students?
  • Connect to real life audiences?

Discussion & Recommendations:

  • Avoid the “squashing”
  • Provide outreach programs to schools, nursing homes, etc, in a non-critiqued way (and away from professors’ eyes (out of the classroom) and in the community.
  • Allow students to have a chance to write & reflect on their performance experience and then discuss it with others.
  • Would working on performance anxiety/stress issues help?
  • Set goals for the performance—what would you like the audience to get out of this?
  • Faculty & conductors set the example—enthusiastic role models are needed and should be celebrated.
  • Good examples in the professional world & others:
    • San Francisco & New World Symphony—Tilson Thomas fosters enthusiasm and sense of community, creating connections to the community. Extensive outreach.
    • Oberlin students—community oriented, winter term experiences in the community
    • Set an example ourselves as career professionals—why are we passionate about what we do? And let the students know!
  • The word passionate is over-used and also not demonstrated. Needs to be demonstrable!
  • Some cultures have a built in background not to show passion (ex: Asian)
  • Ask faculty, guest speakers (informational)
  • What is it you love about music?
    • Where does your creativity come from?
    • Why is your art alive for you?
    • And then communicate it somehow – web, information sheets, word of mouth, etc.
  • Get to the freshmen early—these things might happen, but don’t ever forget about your original love of music and why you’re in this.
  • Teach a sense of reality.
  • Students should define yourself in addition to ways of your role in the school/conservatory—they end up being the happiest.
  • Somehow we have to be able to teach that you need more than technical skills to succeed as a musician in the future, without “squashing”.


  • Philadelphia Orchestra documentary on orchestra member passions: “Inside the Music”
  • John Steinmetz article: “Resuscitating Art Music” (you can google this)
  • Eric Booth article in Chamber Music America: How things they learned made them better musicians.

Stress management for musicians

Convener’s Name: Kathleen Chastain
Participants: Leslie Scatterday, Angela Beeching, Tadd Sipes, Julian Ross, Kathy Covert, John Steinmetz

Discussion and recommendations:

  • Ways to reduce stress:
    • Aquiring experience
    • Knowing yourself well
    • Gaining self-confidence through performing often
    • Yoga Breathing exercises
  • Ways to deal with stress:
    • Work on stage presence
    • Better not to take beta blockers
    • We need adrenaline
    • Bananas can work
  • Audition stress:
    • Do them often
    • Practice mock auditions
    • Work on your brain thoughts for positive thinking
    • Prepare well
    • Learn how to accept rejection
  • Interviews:
    • Mock interviews
    • Study frequently-asked questions
    • Practice showing self-confidence
    • Research about the position ahead of time
    • Prepare question to ask yourself

Suggested Books:

  • “Performance Success”, “Audition Success” and “Fight Your Fear and Win” author Dr. Don Greene
  • “Power Performance for Singers”

Tangible ideas for performance

Convener’s Name: Kathy Covert
Participants: Kathleen, Julian, Warren, Jane, Lyn

Discussion and recommendations:

  • Encourage students to be creative and original in their projects.
  • Faculty must facilitate for students.
  • Student organizations should be encouraged to support projects.
  • Encourage combinations of disciplines.
  • Caution the faculty to watch for student burnout.
  • Ideas:
    • Explore ethnic music
    • Interesting instrument combinations
    • Multimedia applications
    • Community outreach, working with art galleries, hospitals, youth
    • Partnering with professionals
    • Partner non-music students with music students
    • Employ choreography
    • “Break it up” i.e. Do something unexpected or fun in the middle of a concert
    • Identify individual gifts and tailor ideas in community

Teaching networking

Convener’s Name: Kevin Woelfel
Participants: a few very talented participants

Discussion and recommendations:

  • Collaborative nature of networking- it is a two way street, open up your resources to the other party
  • There are two forms of networking- professional support and psycho-social support
  • Mentoring is a good way to look at it: like with a Professor or your peers
  • Subordinates can be a good source of info.
  • Asking questions of the person and determining how you relate to one another is important.
  • People types to network with:
    • People you know
    • People you know people
    • People you don’t know who know people
  • Encode and decode the message so both people can understand the subject and discussion
  • Virtual vs. literal networks
  • Inner and outer orbit of participants
    • Thinking more inclusively about both participants
    • Thinking in pairs about things that interest both parties
  • Learning technique: Baptism by fire! One program discussed was where a few select undergraduates go to a board meeting and mingle with School of music board members. Students learn to network and board sees who they are helping.
  • Sunday Salons at potential donors houses: students play and mingle with donors
  • Offsite parties hosted by faculty: Students are curious about faculty homes so they attend- very casual atmosphere.
  • How do you get students to see the value of a network meeting? One program uses student drivers in vans from the airport- the students want the job because they get to spend two hours talking with the big name guest artist.
  • Mtgs with alumni (8 ½ minutes to talk to each other) great peer mentoring situation
  • To get student interest in networking: have guest artists point out the importance and build stories on how they networked.
  • Have students set specific goals: meet 6 contacts and write short description of the person: have sample questions for the students to use since 19 year olds may be scared and intimidated.
  • Technique to get started: Have every on in the room rub elbows (the only way you can communicate): then have people carry on a conversation with non-word sounds; then have them talk. The talking will seem easy after all the nonverbal stuff. (Good Icebreaker)
  • It is more important to be interested in the other person than being interesting
  • “Never Eat Alone”- a book on networking
  • Think of networking as an extension of the way you deal with people normally
  • Get students involved with a service organization or fraternity, they have programs already developed.
  • Musicians need to develop skills to talk with non musicians. Non-musicians know a little about a lot of things so you have a basis for conversation. Musicians are at an advantage because everyone has an interest in music. Musicians need to know how to engage other people.
  • Don’t shut down a conversation – you never know where it will lead.
  • Maybe a lot about networking can’t be taught, it comes with maturity
  • Set long term goals, or a milestone to see how many relationships are built in a given period of time.
  • Getting name is first, then you develop the relationship. Send a correspondence every quarter.
  • Creating a selective list vs. a game of numbers. Keep the door open and engage the person.
  • Students want an easy bullet but it’s better to be selective.
  • Building relationships is most important.
  • “Networking is a term my father would use.” Perhaps there is a better way to phrase it.
  • It takes time to build a network and it takes time to learn to communicate. View networking as making friends.