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?
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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