Some Follow-up From Northwestern Plus Odds & Ends

Yesterday’s seminar at Northwestern University School of Music on discussing the realities of orchestra life went very well…

Adaptistration People 146To begin with, the turnout was splendid, over 30 students after hearing from a Northwestern rep the count was actually over 50, faculty, and administrators attended the seminar. Given the fact that this was entirely optional and scheduled immediately before a large ensemble rehearsal, this was a good sign that today’s music students have a sincere interest in learning more about the realities that await them in the orchestra business.

Although most of the students attending the seminar had to rush off for a rehearsal, a few were able to stay afterward and talk. It would be nice to have some more time in the future to have some more of that type of interaction. And as I’ve mentioned before,
Having conservatories and schools of music offer courses designed to expand on the information I provided in today’s seminar at Northwestern (as well as similar exercises at Eastman) will only serve to produce better orchestral environments.

The Northwestern students had a great deal of information presented to them in a period of 110 minutes and most of them took fastidious notes during the entire workshop. Nevertheless, I couldn’t help but wonder in the back of my mind how much more could be accomplished with a handful of regular classes.

In the end, the afternoon was a real success and I am grateful to the dean and faculty at Northwestern University School of Music for inviting me into their institution for the afternoon. The students were among the most polite and well behaved students I’ve ever encountered (and regardless of a cold and rainy day, the view of Lake Michigan from Northwestern’s Regenstein Hall is still quite beautiful).

Odds & Ends
In case you haven’t been following the entire series of articles featured at on the economics of new music, you’re missing out. You were clued into Part 1 in the series be Marc Geelhoed this past Monday, but now Part 2 and Part 3 are both available and worth your time:

Part 1: New Music Economics (Part 1): Free to Compete – By Marc Geelhoed
Part 2: New Music Economics (Part 2): The Malady Lingers On – By Matthew Guerrieri
Part 3: New Music Economics (Part 3): Keeping Up With the Rent – By Vivien Schweitzer

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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1 thought on “Some Follow-up From Northwestern Plus Odds & Ends”

  1. Hello Drew,

    I’m happy to hear that your presentation at Northwestern was well received.

    Along similar lines, I’d like to recommend another article (with which you may already be familiar) about the urgency for music students to understand the variety of skills required for a “successful” and rewarding career as performers.

    Besides mentoring from an amazingly (and rarely) forthright trumpet teacher, a similar class was one of the more valuable experiences I had at my school of music–especially in hindsight.

    This article, from Business Week and listed on ArtsJournal can be found here:

    Thanks and best wishes,

    Jon Weber,
    Education Manager,
    Chicago Symphony Orchestra

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