Music students often hear talk of the staggering difference between conservatory life and the life they will face in the “real world” after they graduate. Some of these tales have been blown out of proportion, while others are completely factual.

Luckily, the Eastman School of Music offers students a new way to decipher the myths from the truths in the orchestral workplace by taking advantage of the Arts Leadership Program Internships with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra.

Since 1996, the Catherine Filene Shouse Arts Leadership Program has been committed to expanding the conservatory curriculum to include courses and programs aimed at providing Eastman students with real-life job experience.

The program offers classes for both graduate and undergraduate students in four specific areas — Arts Administration/Music in Society, Career Development, Performance/Outreach Seminars and Emerging Technologies. Students who complete the ALP requirements of six credits in ALP designated classes and a career counseling or internship component receive a certificate.

The idea of a career-training program is not unique to Eastman. Several music schools around the country have programs with a similar goal. However, Eastman’s ALP is the most comprehensive of these programs, offering more behind-the-scenes knowledge and showing a wider array of careers involving music.

The greatest benefits of the ALP program come through its internship program. The ALP offers a variety of internship opportunities to certificate students, including Amy Blum Publicity, Eastman Wellness Initiatives, East End Studios, Young Audiences of Rochester and the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. This year, the majority of ALP interns are employed by the RPO.

ALP students who are interesting in becoming an intern generally apply during their junior year for an internship that they will have for both semesters of their senior year. In most cases, every intern who wants an internship is placed in one, although it may not be their first choice. Potential interns apply for the internship of their choice, and then go through an interview process to determine their placement. The process mirrors a job application process. The internships are paid positions and most interns work about 10 hours a week.

The RPO offers internships in four specific areas — Artisitic Operations, Public Relations and Marketing, Special Events and Education and Outreach. Artistic Operations involves tasks such as preparing the stage for concerts and performances, working with the music librarian and proofreading contracts.

Senior pianist Michelle Lin is an intern in this department. “I have been fortunate enough to be able to have hands-on experiences as part of my internship,” she said. “For instance, I was put in charge of one RPO concert, in which there were student soloists from Eastman. I had to communicate with the students and [conductor] Jeff Tyzik, in order to set up rehearsals, recordings, etc.”

Public Relations and Marketing includes grant writing. Senior bassist Jessica Powell is currently involved in writing grant proposals. She feels that the experience that she is receiving through her internship will expand her career to include “something more interesting than just performing.”

Special Events planning includes fundraisers. The RPO holds a number of fundraisers each year and, in their preparation, interns often go beyond their call of duty.

Manager of Volunteers and Special Events Marilyn Merrigan recalled one time when a student created a new fundraiser for the RPO. “He was in charge of every aspect — putting together the committee, doing all the paperwork. It was impressive.”

Education and Outreach involves the educational concerts and programs that are public services of the RPO. Take-Five scholar and oboist Emily Caltvedt especially enjoys her internship because she can “really see the results of [her] work.”

“My favorite concert experience was the most recent kids’ concert, the Primary Concert,” Caltvedt said. “I was very vocal in the planning of the production and participated in running a microphone to various musicians, so I felt a personal stake in the performance. I was also excited to see the children react to the music so enthusiastically, as well as orchestra members willing to speak to the audience for the sake of the kids.”

Merrigan is confident of the skills the interns acquire during their term at the RPO. “This is not just an internship, it’s more like a job. They will have real job experience when they are finished. I would be confident to leave them in charge if I had to be gone for a week,” she said.

The interns are unanimous in their praise of the program, and are quick to recommend it to all those who are interested. “I would definitely recommend this internship to anyone interested in broadening their musical experience while at Eastman,” senior clarinetist Lisa Dixon said.

“These types of music business skills are difficult to learn from a textbook, and the ALP internship program is a wonderful hands-on introduction into some new areas of the music industry,” she said.

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