Category Archives: Piano Pedagogy

Entrepreneurship in Music

“How in good conscience can we continue to graduate thousands of students a year who have no hope of getting a job in the field that they were trained for?”

- Michael Drapkin, clarinetist (from Business Week, 2007)

In the past 10 years there has been a slow shift within music schools across the nation. Most music schools now have an Entrepreneurship program within their music program.  Pamela and I were fortunate to attend a grad school that had one of the first programs of its kind, the ECM here in Boulder, headed by the knowledgeable Jeff Nytch.  Music schools have realized that the landscape of Classical Music and careers has drastically changed. It is important to help prepare music grads for success within the field today.

These Entrepreneurship centers are just the beginning of a sea change that is happening within music education. While it is important to recognize and appreciate the progress, it is also important to realize that simply creating a “center” at a school does not solve the problem of music graduate employment issues. It’s a start, but much more can and should be done to ensure that music schools are not churning out more and more graduates that the market cannot realistically support. Curriculums must adjust to embody the same principles taught in the Entrepreneurship programs.  As long as these programs are separate and not integrated into existing music school curriculums, their true benefit cannot be realized.

The macro-topic of Entrepreneurship in music schools is a vast one.  For now, I want to drill down into the field of Piano Pedagogy, within music schools.  I am a firm believer that these same entrepreneurial concepts that are taking hold within music schools nationally would be game-changing within the field of Piano Pedagogy, but only if they become integrated into the existing curriculums.  Piano Pedagogy is a rich field with an unbelievable number of gifted and talented pianists and academics.  More and more pianists are getting piano pedagogy degrees today than ever before.

Many pianists earn advanced degrees in Pedagogy with the goal of teaching at a University or College; a worthy goal that they are absolutely well-qualified for.  These teaching jobs are extremely competitive with more than 100 fully-qualified pianists applying to any single posting.  With this discrepancy between available jobs and sheer quantity of applicants, it is inevitable that most piano pedagogy graduates will at some point in their career manage a teaching studio in order to cover their living expenses.

Piano Pedagogy programs must integrate modern, practical, tangible business concepts into their existing curriculums to properly prepare their graduates for the reality of the job market.

Piano Pedagogy is a field that has experienced unbelievable developments in the past 30 years, and so have the fields of Entrepreneurship, Business, and Marketing.  There are simple, intuitive frameworks that can drastically improve piano teacher income, perceptions of the profession, and financial success.

Digital marketing, website development, modern accounting tools, and other automated resources can drastically improve your efficiency.  Simple and thoughtful market research can help you effectively position yourself within a community. Basic understanding of Search Engine Optimization and keywords can help you advertise for and fill your studio in a matter of weeks, with minimal investment in marketing. Knowledge on pricing can ensure that you are earning what you are truly worth.  Personal branding tips can help you gain respect among your peers and clients.  Automated payment collection can make sure you get paid for each and every lesson you teach in a timely manner.  We will be addressing all of these concepts and tools so that you can spend less time on them in your own studios, and focus your energy on what piano pedagogues were meant to do: teach!

We are curious to hear your thoughts regarding these subjects and your experiences in programs that you think have successfully integrated Entrepreneurship into existing Pedagogy curriculums. We love comments!