Our final roundtable discussions examined the music performance degree and its curriculum––a topic that was not wanting in impassioned opinions from the fellows (myself included). Taking Michelle Jones’s didactic and arguably naïve column as our basis, the fellows suggested modifications to the “traditional” music performance curriculum. Some proposed the inclusion of courses in performance anxiety and health/preventative medicine, as well as a mandatory language requirement.
Mike (horn) provided a radical alternative to our current educational system; he envisioned a structure that distinguishes “orchestral track” musicians from “freelance track” or entrepreneurial-minded ones. Such a system would prepare aspiring artists to creatively approach an oversaturated marketplace with a variety of skills (both musical and non-musical), while maintaining the traditional curriculum for those who prefer a hyper-focused study of their craft. Some fellows grumbled at the notion, and one musician smartly pointed to the Manhattan School of Music as a less-than-successful prototype for a segregated and thus tension-ridden institution.
Our final roundtables did not present any decisive conclusions. Still, I am left invigorated and inspired to continue the dialogue about music education.