From Mozart to Marsalis –
From Baroque to Bebop –
Mini-Music 2006





Mini-Music  Q & A

A View From the Pit: Introduction to Life
as a Professional Musician
Prof. Abe Kestenberg

1 – What level of skill do students have when they begin their studies at the Schulich School of Music?

Students who want to enter the Schulich School of Music must audition for a panel of judges on their instrument, take tests to determine their musicianship skills and go through an interview process in some of the areas (composition, education etc.). Then we look at their past academic levels. We have over one thousand students who apply for entrance and we can, depending on the openings available, accept about one hundred and eighty students. There are more Masters and Doctoral students every year. The short answer is that the entering students already have quite a good musical and academic ability.

2 – What level of work opportunities exist for students today?

For performers, there is less work than there used to be. However, in large cities like Montreal, Toronto or New York, there is still performing to be done. Students must develop their own groups, play in public, develop their identity (style of music, type of group, dress) and they will have a following. As well, when they start performing in public, they will also be noticed by other musicians and this will enhance their work opportunities. Teaching is usually a large part of a performer’s career. Also, young musicians must develop their own media, which they can then disseminate around the world.

There is also good work to be had as a high school or university teacher. Because of all the television shows that proliferate in endless TV channels, there is a definite need for musicians who can write music for corporate films or commercial films and television.

3 – Some conductors can be quite difficult. At times, has a section ever given a conductor a “hard time” during rehearsals?

Yes, but the conductor will always come out ahead. However, salvation for an orchestral musician is to always do their best, which I believe they do, and to enjoy the incredibly great music that they play. 

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