All posts filed under: education

The reason why higher education values time served rather than competency.

I remember vividly, my undergraduate degree. Semester after semester, I took 20+ credits, balancing private lessons with ensemble work, education courses, and my general studies. On top of that, I worked as an RA and held a few odd jobs over my time in school in order to make ends meet. The accumulation of work often buried me so deeply that I remember finishing each semester feeling like I had made it through the race but didn’t really have anything of quality to show for the work. One of the biggest reasons many of us are over stretched during college is that higher education values the amount of time we are physically in a classroom, rather than our ability to show competency. In Cracking The Credit Hour, Amy Laitinen takes an objective look at the state of higher education. This is a must read for all and here are a few takeaways from the report: The Credit Hour—the unit of measurement that determines competency for college students—was developed in 1906 by Andrew Carnegie. The reason for this …

Hack Music LA, The LA Phil, and Finding Relevance

Over the weekend, I had the pleasure of mentoring students and serving as a fist round judge for Hack Music LA, a Los Angeles Philharmonic sponsored event that brought students from a multitude of backgrounds together for 48 hours of work to compete for prizes through a new venture competition. The weekend was filled with talks, workshops, mentorship and ultimately, a chance to pitch an idea to a panel of judges. Students self-selected into inter-disciplinary teams, based on their particular interest. From there, they were given time to quickly develop their ideas. It was incredible to see the diversity of thought that came when musicians, entrepreneurs, gamers and coders mixed together to work on a common goal. Lead by Kathleen Stetson, a graduate of the New England Conservatory and MIT, and Shana Mathur, Chief Marketing Officer at Los Angeles Philharmonic, the event was another effort in a long line of amazing initiatives pushed forward by the Phil in order to allow them to continue to be at the forefront of influence, innovation and relevance. In a field …

Thoughts on Why Music Schools Must Embed Context into the Curriculum

Yesterday, I wrote this post, which discusses the role of arts entrepreneurship in higher education. After the post, I started thinking more deeply about the role that context plays in the process of educating our arts students. Higher education helps students go deep in a few subject areas, but mostly, the courses students take provide a big picture overview of many subjects. The odd thing is that the professors teaching the big picture overview courses most likely got their teaching positions because they went incredibly deep in a very specific subject area. Teaching a big picture class is antithetical to the depth of work and research most professors conducted in their studies in order to get the position they have teaching their general studies courses. Instead of big picture classes, our current college students need depth classes with less content so they can take the information learned and connect it to the broader context of our 21st century world. Here are a few additional thoughts on the value of context: We now have unlimited access …

What is the point of Arts Entrepreneurship?

Over the past decade, I think Schools of Music have answered that question in this way: Arts Entrepreneurship helps our students find success in the field. Academia has long placed an emphasis on outcomes based learning that prepares students for success. But what if those proposed outcomes aren’t preparing students for the field, or worse, they’re preparing students for a field that doesn’t exist? Since the economic downturn in the mid-2000’s (and probably longer), defining student success has been plaguing institutions of higher education because the degrees offered don’t necessarily accommodate the available jobs in the field. This is particularly true in the arts, where over-saturation is rampant and even those who manage to find work find themselves underpaid, and often undervalued. In an effort to counterbalance this trend, a large number of institutions have adopted arts entrepreneurship programming, rooted in the idea that if students can use their talents as a force to generate wealth on an individualized basis, they will dramatically improve their chances of landing a job when they graduate. I believe …

Climbing the Ladder: Majoring in Music As A Pathway To College and Upward Mobility.

A couple of weeks ago, I published this post, which encourages applied university teachers to broaden the definition of success for their students. It is our responsibility to redefine success for all of our students at the earliest age. If you are part of a middle or high school based music program, an El Sistema inspired program or have a private studio, you have likely been approached by students or their parents about whether or not majoring in music is a good idea. I believe we should encourage any student who is interested in dedicating themselves deeply to the art form to major in music. The value of their degree is not necessarily in earning a specific major, it’s in earning a degree itself.  My argument is that ANY degree helps a student become upwardly mobile in our society. Here’s a quick video that discusses upward mobility in this country. The entire video is mind-blowing but in particular check out the 2:52 mark. Who goes to college: I did some quick (Google) research on our population …