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Jazz Education? Are You Kidding Me?

06 Jun

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I live in a city with two significant Jazz Studies programs at major universities, and have customers and friends who are either faculty members or students at major Jazz Studies programs at universities around the world. I’m often brought in to lecture at these programs, and I think I am as familiar as anyone with what they are teaching and where their alumni are working. Many of the graduates of these programs develop absolutely amazing musical skills, but there’s a REAL problem: there simply aren’t nearly enough paying jobs for the number of graduates, so they end up unemployed or taking work in other fields. If they take work in other fields, they are generally unqualified, so advancement is difficult.

The universities know all of this, of course, and they continue to perpetuate the fraud so, I believe, the faculty can maintain their OWN jobs, which would of course be unnecessary if the number of students were adjusted to a realistic number reflecting the actual number of jobs which would allow someone to support themselves and maybe even a family. They could adjust admissions to these programs, but they don’t, and I think it borders on being criminal.

All we’re doing in most (granted, not all) cases, is turning out some overeducated listeners.

Don’t get me wrong: I made a rather handsome living for many years as a simple saxophone player, and am pleased to be able to say that a number of my private students have gone on to meet with considerable success. However, I think the universities are misleading these young players, and they should reduce admissions to reflect the real job market. I further believe the universities could do a far better job of preparing their graduates for the REAL job market, but that’s a topic for another day……


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