If a student wants to study bassoon, who am I to stop him, discourage her, or say to someone else that they will never get a job? In the end, students are usually bright individuals who learn very quickly whether or not they will ever work in the field. And in the end, usually that musical education that they receive will be used somewhere down the line. I am one of the many who started in a music program, and then realized that I could never be a professional musician. However, I, like many thousands of others, play and sing and perform in many many different ensembles, and I do not regret either the time or the money that I invested in my musical education. It has served me very well.
I believe that if a student is registered in a school, it is the responsibility of that school to prepare him or her for the real world with all of its problems and pitfalls. If a student is still willing to continue in the program even though they know that their chances of getting a job are slim to none, it is their choice. As a professor, it is your job to prepare them as well as they possibly can be prepared. Unfortunately, many people seem to believe that a university degree, even in music, is a guarantee of a job. It is not, and it never has been, and if students are prepared for that reality, you have done your job.
The only problem that I have seen is the money. University tuitions in the US are incredibly high, and I believe that this leads many people to believe that major investment and received degree = successful career. At 20,000 to 50,000 dollars, it's easy to understand why people do think that. But if you were to stand at the doors with a crystal ball and tell each student their future, stating baldy that only three of the 120 students that entered in that year would get jobs in music, do you know what would happen? The other 117 would still walk into the door. They'll take their chances. They will spend huge amounts of money, US and UK students spending far more than Canadians and other Europeans, but it is their choice and I will respect it. If either of my kids wants to go to school in music, I will encourage them, and yes, I will pay for it. It is an honourable profession, and they will learn about dedication, teamwork, how to deal with stress, how to deal with people, and so many other things that will make them very employable. Your students are no different. Is it ethical to ask for that tuition and not be able to assure a job? To me, the answer is neither yes nor no. Simply put, it is not your decision to make. The parents and students must make that call.
To recruit students, you have to let them and their parents know exactly what they will learn. I believe that you have to get into the high schools and local music schools, so that when a parent asks a high school teacher about prospective universities, that teacher will immediately and unequivocally answer with the name of your university. You have to build a relationship, so that both the teachers and the students know you and what you have to offer. If the students and the teachers know and trust you, their choice of a university becomes very easy.
However, I have to admit that around here, it's a moot point. With one English language university in the city, guess where most kids go. The French speaking students have a better choice, with a university and a conservatory, but usually, the choice usually rests on who your teacher will be. If you pass the auditions, and you have already worked with a given teacher, you can be very sure that you will be well served. That is why it is so important to get into the high schools and know the people who are playing the instruments that you want to recruit. You have to make their choice easy.
As for re-examining the curricula, it should be done as a matter of course, but in the end, any given curriculum in a music school is designed to produce top-notch professional musicians. That is how it should be. Before changing or even re-examining the curriculum of a school, you have to define the goals of the school. This is both easier and harder than it appears, as you have to question the very relevance of the institution that you value so highly. Are you doing justice to the students by educating them in this manner at this time? Should we teach something else? Can we prepare them better by forcing students to take more courses in other subjects? (a double major) The answer to each of the questions requires a change at a different level, and none of the changes are easy. Some institutions have to do it, and will be better for it, but it is a very painful process, especially if the changes end up being major.
Last edited by Dean (2014-06-12 17:33:53)
Bassoonist Ordinaire, all around nice guy.
If anyone needs a damn fool, I'm your man!