All of last week, I had the wonderful pleasure of playing with the Bay Street Brassworks, a brass quintet based out of Indianapolis, Indiana. They were down in North Carolina performing educational concerts in schools in the Wake County School District. It was so great to see the support for the arts in schools, as we never talk about the good that is going on in the world of arts funding. The group is really amazing and was great fun to play and talk about life with.
In the conversations we had around our performances, one of the messages that was repeated over and over again was:
"Great playing just isn't good enough anymore."
During these shows, which were mostly at Elementary and Middle Schools, each member of the group had to talk about music, and engage a large audience of young people. Performing on our instruments was important, but we had to do so much more.
I can't think of a job in music today where playing is the only thing that you will be asked to do. In your career in music, you will have to speak to an audience about a piece, propose a plan to increase funding for your band program, or recruit students to join your new orchestra program. But where is the training in communication, marketing, promotion, and other critical aspects outside of playing the right notes and rhythms in our collegiate music programs? Some schools are recognizing this and are working on implementing curriculum, but there is just so much more that can be done.
If you are a collegiate student, I strongly encourage you to take a course in business management or marketing outside of the school of music. While there are examples of musicians that are successful in promoting themselves, the fact truly remains that collectively, musicians aren't the best resource for this information.
In upcoming posts, I will share with you my collective thoughts on how to improve in these areas.
Andrew Smith currently serves as the Director of Athletic Bands at and Assistant Professor of Low Brass at Campbell University and is Principal Tuba of the Fayetteville Symphony. Andrew also maintains a low brass teaching studio in the Triangle region of North Carolina.