Similar for many graduating seniors and graduate students this upcoming May, bassist Miles Brown stepped out of the Eastman School of Music on graduation day five years ago and wondered where his music degree might take him. After a semester of teaching and a subsequent masters degree, he has become a successful teacher and performer in the New York City area.
As graduation rolls closer, graduating students wonder if a music degree is enough in today’s world and if Eastman is doing anything special to prepare students. Looking at the statistics of graduating students and following the life of a member of the class of 2000, it seems Eastman is doing something right.
From the undergraduate class of 2000, only 1.72 percent of those who have reported their career placement since graduation are employed in a non-music related field. For all graduates, reported and non-reported, the non-music employment totals to 0.96 percent.
The rest, from those who have supplied their information, are still in music. For such a tough, competitive world, this doesn’t sound so bad.
Unfortunately, about half of the undergraduate class of 2000 has yet to supply the alumni services with their career info – an unusually low percentage. Of the 72 percent of masters degree graduates who supplied information, none are reported to have veered from an involvement in music of some form.
Of course, not everyone in a music-related field is doing exactly what they’ve dreamt of. The musical careers span from orchestral performers to teachers, arts administration, publishing and printing, military ensemble players and even music sales, just to name a few. Perhaps not everyone has landed first chair in a major symphony, but they are making a living, surprisingly enough, in music.
Assistant Director of Development and Alumni Relations Christine Corrado thinks that there isn’t another music school in this country that can compete with the career statistics of Eastman.
“I think it says a lot about who is coming here in the first place,” Corrado said.
As for Brown, Eastman has given him the skills to make it as a performer and teacher in New York City. He came to Eastman as a jazz player with little experience playing classical music. He owes his private teacher at Eastman, James VanDemark, for providing him with the tools to be a versatile musician in both disciplines.
In addition, he uses the knowledge gained from his music education degree every day as a high school orchestral teacher at Kings Park High School.
Brown has made the most of his student contacts. In New York City, there is a professional ensemble formed by Eastman students as a shoot-off of the new music ensembles at Eastman, Musica Nova and Ossia.
This group, named Alarm Will Sound, has garnered high praise from critics, has recorded on Cantelope Records and is scheduled to perform at Lincoln Center this summer and twice at Carnegie Hall next year. Brown, in addition to his own freelancing and recording projects, is a member of this extraordinary group.
When he thinks of his classmates from Eastman, he is hard pressed to remember anyone who isn’t still involved in the music world.
“A lot of [my] friends are still involved in music,” Brown said.
Eastman and the real world are two very different places, and the switch can be tough for the unprepared.
Brown is adamant that even though you can learn a lot in school, living in the professional world is different, and it’s something that school doesn’t teach you.
You learn by being there and taking the step, which another year of graduates will do in only a few short weeks.
Taking advantage of all that Eastman has offered, these graduates will surely walk out of Eastman with the ability to succeed.
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