Eastman hosts music school leaders for workshop on place of entrepreneurship in musical higher education

By Helene Snihur

Musicians have always had to be innovative, creating careers that combine performance, teaching, administration, and business. The entrepreneurial skills to support those diverse demands—from writing grant proposals to protecting intellectual property—were developed on the job, though, not taught in school.

In January, Eastman School of Music will host the leaders of nearly 50 higher ed music schools for a workshop on incorporating entrepreneurship into their curriculums. The event builds on a workshop led by Eastman at last year’s National Association of Schools of Music annual conference, where participants were asked to come up with and then implement an entrepreneurial idea at their institutions.

Eastman has been a leader in educating students about musical entrepreneurship since the mid-1990s, when the Eastman Initiatives were launched. The groundbreaking series of programs and partnerships was designed to give students the skills and experience needed in the changing music world and to encourage them to think entrepreneurially about their careers by reaching out to new audiences and creating new performance opportunities. Today, those and other innovative programs are part of Eastman’s Institute for Music Leadership. Created in 2001, the Institute is the first center of its kind in the country, serving as a hub for creating, sharing, and implementing cutting-edge ideas for Eastman students, alumni and professional musicians.

“Most people think of business start-ups when they think of entrepreneurship,” said Ramon Ricker, senior associate dean and director of the Institute for Music Leadership. “In the arts, entrepreneurship is about being pro-active; it’s about thinking ahead and looking for and recognizing opportunities. We have to prepare students for the musical landscape of today and the future, and that has to be different from the way we prepared students in the 1950s.”

Heidi Neck
Heidi Neck (Photo courtesy of Babson College)

Heidi Neck, Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship at Babson College and a renowned expert on entrepreneurship education, will facilitate the Jan. 22-24 workshop. Titled “Preparing the Generation-E Musician... The Place of Entrepreneurship in the Higher Education Music School Curriculum,” the workshop will also involve students selected to attend by their deans in discussions on such topics as the difference between teaching entrepreneurially and teaching entrepreneurship. Groups will be asked to come up with additional ideas for integrating entrepreneurship into music curriculums.

Illustrating the entrepreneurship promoted by the Institute for Musical Leadership, Eastman has partnered with the Rochester International Jazz Festival to present Grammy Award-winner Maria Schneider for a ticketed concert that will be open to the public. In 2005, Schneider, an Eastman alumna and composer-performer, became the first artist to win a Grammy Award for an album distributed entirely over the Internet. Additionally, Schneider will be a guest speaker for the workshop.