M.A. Degree in Music LeadershipOctober 23, 2018
Meet the students in the first cohort of the newly offered M.A. Degree in Music Leadership! This degree is designed for musicians who seek to lead traditional and/or non-traditional musical arts organizations. This 14-month degree program uses an integrated approach to develop and hone both artistic and managerial skills for the next generation of music leaders. Because these combined skills are essential for the music leaders of today and tomorrow, this degree combines intense classroom study, courses from Eastman’s rich performance and scholarly offerings, and hands-on experiences through internships and mentorships.
Students pictured clockwise from upper left: D’Jean Vasciannie, Georgia Mills, Mimi Harding, Janette LaBarre
Why did you apply to the M.A. Degree in Music Leadership (MAML) Program?
Janette: I applied to the MAML program because I thought it would provide the necessary training I would need to further my career, and that it would strengthen my career opportunities. I thought it was a great way to further my musical education at one of the best music schools in the country while also pursuing leadership and entrepreneurship training. The combination of the two elements was irresistible!
Georgia: I was interested in pursuing a program that would sharpen my executive skills along with my development as a performer. The MAML program caught my eye right away, because it targets musicians who want to gain insight about how best to run a successful performing organization one day.
What experience/musical or performance background did you have prior to applying for this program?
D’Jean: My experience with music performance has been somewhat limited in a traditional music student sense. I’ve always played for fun, but didn’t really take it seriously until my last years of undergrad. I took drum lessons and theory classes while playing at venues in the Hudson Valley region. To me that was my music school, because of the influx of artists that would either come up from New York City to perform new works or just to live. After undergrad, I did some short stints in NYC to absorb everything the city has to offer. That was invaluable because I learn a lot by watching and listening, so being able to watch not just the master musicians, but the culture down there interact day by day was key for me to grow as an artist and a human. Now at Eastman, I am learning more traditional academic musical concepts which is just as valuable for my growth.
Georgia: I received my Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance at New York University in 2017, and perform regularly in chamber ensembles and at summer festivals each year. Along with my solo piano endeavors, I’ve performed in the Bang on a Can Summer Marathon, Nief Norf Summer Festivals, with NYU Contemporary Music Ensemble, NYU Percussion Ensemble, and Ensemble Signal.
Janette: Like many musicians, I have had a variety of jobs! I joined the work force right when the recession occurred, which meant that I had to get very creative in terms of finding work. For several years, I pieced together teaching in schools, teaching privately and gigging. I landed my first college teaching job three years ago. My main musical area of interest is conducting, so I also pursued education in that area. Each year I form a chamber orchestra which performs in various places around the Rochester area.
Mimi: I applied to the MAML during the senior year of my Bachelor’s of Music in Flute Performance. Although I had taken one music entrepreneurship class my freshman year, entrepreneurial and leadership were not my focus during my undergraduate schooling.
How has your experience been thus far?
Georgia: Amazing so far! I’m learning crucial executive skills that I think every musician should know in today’s industry. We have tackled concepts about music administration and governance, law in music, marketing musical enterprises, and economics of musical arts organizations. I’m also enjoying performing with three Eastman ensembles, taking private piano lessons, and conducting and theory courses.
Mimi: After completing just one semester of the MAML, my entire perspective of arts organizations, music education, and music’s purpose in our modern world has changed. I consider possibilities as a “we” instead of an “I”. My reading comprehension, writing, and public speaking have all improved. I have expanded my personal network from interacting with other Eastman students, faculty, and the many inspiring guests that the MAML introduces us to and allows us to work with.
What are your professional goals/where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Janette: I haven’t completely ironed out my professional goals yet, but in general, I would say that I would like to develop my chamber orchestra into a truly unique ensemble that serves the community of Rochester in a completely new way. I can also see myself working in administration for an existing arts organization, or continuing the path I have been on as a college professor. Perhaps it will be some combination of all three!
Georgia: My biggest goal is to lead and perform in my own major ensemble. I see myself doing many musical things at once, such as running my ensemble, performing in chamber groups, having a piano studio, helping create new opportunities for concert music, and advocating for contemporary chamber music.
Who should apply to the MAML degree?
Mimi: The MAML degree is for students who recognize music’s potential and essential purpose to our world. It doesn’t matter if you have a strong performing, academic, or teaching background, the MAML degree is what you make of it and doesn’t seek to define what success should mean to you; it is the support, resource, and catalyst for your own musical vision.
D’Jean: I think that anyone who is passionate about music and who wants to further the art form on both the performance and administrative levels. Creating accessibility and value to music is key for the world so we need leaders to do that. I always like to reference my heroes, Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock with two quotes from, “Open Letter To The Next Generation Of Artists” and if these quotes speak to you both as a musician and a human I think you should apply,
“Each of us has a unique mission. We are all pieces in a giant, fluid puzzle, where the smallest of actions by one puzzle piece profoundly affects each of the others. You matter, your actions matter, your art matters.”
To me, this means that as an applicant you know that your musicianship is not only special and valid, but also that your actions inside and outside of performance matter and you should care about who is around you and who can access you, your peers’ or the world’s music. Find new ways to fit music into the world’s giant complex puzzle!
“It begins with a cause. Your causes create the effects that shape your future and the future of all those around you. Be the leaders in the movie of your life. You are the director, producer, and actor. Be bold and tirelessly compassionate as you dance through the voyage that is this lifetime. “
I believe that in today’s society, people care about your causes just as much as your music. There are millions of people who can play proficiently, so you need to find new ways to address the issues that go along with the world and how your music can go along with it. That, to me, is what a good Music Leadership candidate should be about.