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The Greater Evil Book Cover & Blurb

Hello Everyone,

So, my new book cover is here! I’m excited about how it turned out. I set the book in my old stomping grounds, the great city of Detroit! I hope you enjoy it! Get caught up on my first two stories (The Vampire Conspiracy [book 1] and Shadows & Nightmares [book 1.5]).

Here’s the blurb (the info on the back cover):

It’s just Corinne’s luck. The Hunters Council has summoned her family to Detroit for judgment, a relentless assassin is stalking them, the Chief Assessor is out to get them, and an evil sorceress plans to awaken a dark horror from the beyond. What’s a girl to do?

Meanwhile, John’s life is getting complicated. His secretive father is researching his Gift, and terrifying dreams are haunting him, ones where he’s the monster! Could this be related to his best-friend-turned-evil-vampire Donovan? What sinister plan could Donovan and his girlfriend Emilee be plotting?

The stakes are raised in this exciting new entry of The Giftless Chronicles!

The #1 Rule for Making Art, Part 1

The time has come. My  2nd, full-length novel is soon to be published. I’m currently waiting on some last-minute fixes to my cover. Formatting is not always my friend, alas…Anyway, if you want to get caught up before the next one drops, just click on these links and buy my first two stories (The Vampire Conspiracy [Book 1]; Shadows & Nightmares [book 1.5]). I highly recommend it as my books are part of a series, The Giftless Chronicles.

As I approach publishing this story, I’ve been pondering what makes art meaningful and enjoyable. What principle can I apply to my art, regardless of what it is, that will make it profound and moving? Is there even a unifying principle?

I believe that there is, at least for me. I use this principle when I sing, conduct, write, and teach. Abandoning this principle creates boring, insipid art. Following this principle will create, at least for them, meaningful art.

Are you ready? Here it is:

Say something interesting, or say something interestingly.

Now, you might say that this is too simple or a pedantic playing on words. I say that you’re wrong. Let me explain by breaking the principle into its two parts.

#1 Say something interesting.

By this, I mean that the artist should tell me something I haven’t heard before, something original. This might be a new idea, or a new twist on an art form, or a new blending of an art form. Something that makes me pause and consider and say, “Wow, I’ve never thought of that before.” Whether it’s synthesizing information in a new way or forging a completely new path, this kind of creation is exhilarating.

Out of the two parts of my rule, many creators want this one the most. It’s flashier to be Debussy, Tesla, Steve Jobs, or Picasso rather than Mendelssohn, Edison, Bill Gates, or Rubens. That’s pride. We want to think of ourselves as our own people. There’s also more forgiveness for mistakes. We forgive someone’s clunky writing or sloppy artistic execution if they’re charting a new path.

Unfortunately, saying something interesting is the harder one to do.  So often people try to be original and come off sounding like they are trying too hard. There are only so many original ideas that people come up with at any given time. Even brilliant, original thinkers only come up with a handful of truly revolutionary ideas.

It is a dangerous thing to pursue originality too much. Too many people obsess over it as if it’s the be-all end-all. Instead, obsessive pursuit of originality can freeze an artist, creating the dreaded artist’s block. They’ll throw away a perfectly good piece of art because it’s not “original enough.”

And, sometimes people think that they’re saying something original when they’re not. They think that they’re profound when they’re actually spouting nonsense. All too often, writers mask lack of profundity with excessive verbosity. To quote the great philosopher Bane from The Dark Knight Rises, “Theatricality and deception are powerful agents to the uninitiated.” Blathering on and on doesn’t mean that you are smart or creative. It means that you can’t communicate clearly and concisely.

All of this leads me into the 2nd half of my rule. Unfortunately, we’re out of space for today, so I will continue this thought in my next post.

Life Update June 2020

Hello Everyone,

It’s been a while since I’ve posted one of these, but I blame 2020. It has certainly made things “interesting.” Most of us would prefer this year end now, but that is not the case. When life becomes difficult, we must rise and adapt to meet it. Bruce Lee once said that we need to be like water—formless, adaptive, unpredictable, etc.

That’s what I’ve been trying to do. Like most musicians, the pandemic knocked out all my music gigs and my voice studio suffered. (Seriously, if anyone wants to take some online voice lessons over Zoom, I am available for a reasonable price 🙂 ; just contact me). I’ve got a 4 lesson package for beginning singers that is popular!

Anyway, I adapted by going back to work on other projects that I’d been interested in starting or finishing. Here are some of them:

#1—My 2nd, Full-length Novel in The Giftless Chronicles Series

I’d long been wanting to finish my second novel in my young adult series, but life had gotten very busy with music stuff. Once all of that disappeared, I had the opportunity to work on it. I cranked it out, and currently I’m in my 2nd round of editing. It turned out to be a fun to book to write. The characters are developed from my first book and the sequel novella, and the plot THICKENS. (dum dum dum!) Click on the links above to get caught up before the novel comes out!

#2—Songwriting

The secret to a good collaboration is this: Find a talented person who says “yes” to your crazy ideas and  follows through, then you do the same. Over the past couple years, I’ve had the wonderful opportunity of working with Evgeniya “Jane” Kozhevnikova on musical projects. She’s the Celebris Ensemble’s composer-in-residence. She and I have been working on a musical (or lyric opera, whatever you want to call it) on the book of Ruth from the Bible. It has been an awesome collaboration. So far, we’ve written 7 songs together! Here is one song that is sung by Ruth to Naomi, Ask Me Not to Leave You.

#3—Celebris Ensemble

Like most ensembles, our season was cut short. We even had a really cool collaboration planned with WMU that was canceled. But we’ve been able to post some recordings from our February (Valentine’s Day Concert).

Follow us on Facebook for updates on what this next year looks like and how the pandemic affects our concerts.

#4—West Michigan Homeschool Fine Arts Received a First Rating at MSVMA

Three years ago, I started WMHFA’s secondary choir in Kalamazoo from scratch. I’m pleased to say that they received a first rating at MSVMA’s choral festival! So proud of them! Unfortunately, COVID-19 shut down all of the schools here in MI, and so we didn’t get a chance to go on to the state level. We sang Ave Verum Corpus (W. A. Mozart) and Hine ma tov (arr. Neil Ginsberg).

I’m sure that there are other things that I am forgetting, but these are things I am currently working on!

Five Struggles of the INTJ Musician

Understanding yourself can go a long way towards your success.  When I first started out as a musician, I definitely didn’t understand myself. This had a direct impact on my initial effectiveness, because what works for many other personality types didn’t work for me. But, if you can play to your strengths and work around/strengthen your weaknesses, then you can succeed.

As an INTJ-A (Enneagram 5w4), here are five struggles that have presented themselves.

#1—Being visible in your industry.

As INTJs, we sometimes think that being seen is a bad thing. Moreover, the introvert within us doesn’t really want to be seen. We often wait until other people fail to lead before we step up to take the reins.

This mentality may not suit you well. Unless all the doors open for you in your career (which sometimes happens), then you are going to need to step out in front of others. You must not only be excellent, competent, and collegial, but people must see you as being those things. Once this happens enough times, word of mouth spreads, and more work comes your way.

When I first started out, I failed to grasp the importance of promotion and marketing. My assumption was that success happened magically after working hard enough. That wasn’t the case. I realized that I needed to treat my music career like a business, and part of any good business is visibility.

#2—Letting people in on your plans and ideas.

As an INTJ, you keep much of your life private. You do not like to show much of your inner thoughts. This is often because what is going on inside your head is very individualized, and you’ve found that people have a hard time following the connections that you’ve made.

When I was a young person, I would make observations or come up with ideas that I thought were perfectly obvious. I remember being shocked that people would stare at me as if I’d said something they’d never heard before. This wasn’t because what I’d said was weird (I would turn out to be correct). It was because my brain operated differently than others.

You are an idea and thought factory. Own that creativity. It is a valuable way that you can contribute and excel in your craft.  Additionally, people need to sign on to your artistic plans for them to come to fruition.

#3—Realizing that, sometimes, conventional is best.

INTJs like to do things their own way. This works well when they are working by themselves, but more difficult when working with others. INTJs might think that rules are made to be broken, but most people do not like to stray out of their comfort zone. And traditions/conventions often exist for one major reason: they’ve been proven to work.

I remember feeling liberated when I understood that I was free to operate inside or outside the conventional. Now, I work with long-established organizations and I do my own stuff. It’s so much more enjoyable. Although, I will say that there are few things more fun than collaborating with a dynamic, motivated group of outside-the-box thinkers!

#4—Giving positive feedback.

INTJs don’t need a lot of praise.  We are a very independent group. This can be a strength, as it can enable us to doggedly move forward with an idea when others might give up. Unfortunately, this mindset doesn’t work when dealing with others. Many people desire a significant amount of encouragement. It is good to give it.

#5—Smiling more.

As I am writing this, the world is locked in the COVID-19 pandemic. Musicians and others have been forced to move online via video conferencing. I’ve noticed that, particularly in large group video chats, I don’t show much emotion on my face. In fact, I can look downright scary! This is known as the INTJ death stare.

INTJs are not known for their effusive faces, and this can come back to haunt us. Your students and collaborators need encouragement, and your face is an effective tool to do it. In my last master’s program, my conducting professor would tell me to smile more because the singers in the choir rehearsal would respond. It was true.

Well, that sums up a few of the things that INTJs struggle with. There are many others, but these came to my mind. If you think that I missed some, feel free to contact me. I would be happy to speak with you!

G. K. Chesterton, Social Media, and the Golden Rule

When the quarantine first started, I was amazed at the posts online. People were actually being nice to one another! They were posting positive things rather than posting the outrage du jour. It gave me some hope for humanity. It’s always nice to see people uplifting each other.

However, it didn’t take long before the initial shock of the quarantine wore off, and people reverted back to their cantankerous ways. They couldn’t graciously disagree. They created straw-men or caricatures of the opposite sides in debates. Those who disagreed with them were evil, crazy, stupid, or even that favorite bogeyman of the internet, Hitler.

Moreover, they only concerned themselves with winning the online discussion. They reacted competitively rather than relationally. To that end, they used scorn and ridicule to “win” their debates, not caring that this didn’t actually make them more persuasive. “You attract more flies with honey than with vinegar,” my father once told me. Being a mean girl is never a pretty look.

I forget when exactly I first read British essayist G. K. Chesterton, but I think it was from an old anthology of British literature (picture below). I have learned much from old books. I bought this one for $6.50 at a used book store!

12 centuries

Anyway, Chesterton has that rare ability—one that I’ve only seen in a couple people in my entire life—to make you laugh and think at the same time. He even seemed to have that reputation in his own day. He would call out leading intellectuals in his essays and debate them publicly, but they would still be friends afterward.

So what have we lost from that time to this? Have we progressed or regressed in this regard? I would submit to you that we have lost the fine art of disagreeing. We have done this by forgetting who we are and who we are debating. To quote Chesterton (and forgive me because this will be a longer quote. I promise that it will be worth it.):

Unless people are near in soul they had better not be near in neighborhood. The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because they are generally the same people. And there is a real human reason for this. You think of a remote man merely as a man; that is, you think of him the right way. Suppose I say to you suddenly—”Oblige me by brooding on the soul of the man who lives at 351 High Street, Islington.” Perhaps (now I come to think of it) you are the man who lives at 351 High Street, Islington. In that case substitute some other unknown address and pursue the intellectual sport. Now you will probably be broadly right about the man in Islington whom you have never seen or heard of, because you will begin at the right end—the human end. The man in Islington is at least a man. The soul of the man in Islington is certainly a soul. He also has been bewildered and broadened by youth; he also has been tortured and intoxicated by love; he also is sublimely doubtful about death. You can think about the soul of that nameless man who is a mere number in Islington High Street. But you do not think about the soul of your next-door neighbor. He is not a man; he is an environment. He is the barking of a dog; he is the noise of a pianola; he is a dispute about a party wall; he is drains that are worse than yours, or roses that are better than yours. Now, all these are the wrong ends of a man; and a man, like many other things in this world, such as a cat-o-nine-tails, has a large number of wrong ends, and only one right one.

All of this brings me to my final point. Our social media posts must be guided by principles, else we will find ourselves in a place where we do not want to be.

  1. The person who you are debating is a person just like you, and should be treated as such. This includes giving them the benefit of the doubt. This includes treating them and their arguments with respect and kindness. Snide remarks, name-calling, and condescending memes have no place in loving discourse.
  2. The Golden Rule exists for a reason. As Jesus said, “[W]hatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them[.]” (Mt. 7:12). If you wish to be respected online, then you need to show respect to others. Conversely, if you treat others in a belittling fashion online, do not be surprised if no one takes your arguments seriously.

I will leave you with this quote by the apostle Paul. In context, he is talking to people who loved to show their superiority over each other. 1 Cor. 13:1-8 (ESV):

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.

4 Ways Not to Waste Your Quarantine

Hard times tend to bring out the best or the worst in people. This is because hard times force people to make decisions, whether that is positive change, negative habits, or pathetic stagnation.

Some double down on their predilection for politics. They post online about their favorite politician or against their hated politician, trying to score political points for their side. As I write, my governor and our president are currently in a spat. Such fighting helps no one during a crisis, and I would love both groups to stop the Twitter barbs and get to work. It’s been said that it takes two to tango. It also takes two to tangle.

So really, what can be done about this virus? For most of us, all we can do is sit in quarantine in our houses. Others of us go to work, helping at the hospital, police department, or grocery store. What all of us can do is use this to change in positive ways. It would be a shame if you leave your quarantine the same person that you were when you entered it.

Accordingly, I am going to list 4 things that you can do to use this time wisely.

#1 Choose something productive to do for others.

The lazy person claims, “There is a lion outside! If I go outside, I might be killed!” (Prov. 22:13-NLT)

Some folks use any disruption as an excuse. “Oh well,” some say, “I guess I’ll sit and watch Netflix.” Others might say, “Well, I can’t work. I guess I’ll play video games until 4 o’clock in the morning.” While TV and video games have their time and place, they should not occupy your whole life.

What can you do for others? Do you have a skill that others need? Some of you are skilled at sewing. Can you make masks for folks who are working in health care? I work at a local hospital, and I am very thankful for those who have donated masks.

If you are not good at sewing, perhaps you can help in other ways. Perhaps you are not an at-risk age/health group. Could you help someone who is—maybe get them groceries, or run errands? Maybe you can share beautiful music. I know that I have been comforted by the outpouring of music over social media. Other than the people who are still promoting politics 24/7, I have been amazed at the love and care people are showing to each other online. Let’s do even more.

#2 Find some time to create.

Do you have a book you’ve always wanted to write? Then write it! Write that book, compose that song, knit that blanket, construct that puzzle. There are few things more fulfilling than creating.

#3 Get some exercise.

I’ve seen too many memes about people gaining weight during this shut-in. You have more time, why not add a 30 minute exercise routine or go outside for a walk? The one bright side to a lot of my gigs being cancelled is that I’ve been able to work out more consistently. There are soooooo many resources online for this. Don’t waste all of your time.

#4 Find a way to personally grow.

Lastly, use this time as an opportunity for growth. Start learning a new language. Take up a hobby. Learn a new skill. Create a method to grow spiritually. Whatever it is you want to be better at, take some of this time to concentrate on it. To paraphrase a song, “If you want to change the world, start with the man in the mirror.”

“Physician, heal thyself” (Lk. 4:23-KJV)

A few of you might ask me if I’m doing these things. All I can tell you is that I’m trying. I’m learning Spanish, working out consistently, going to the hospital and helping out there. Could I do better? Short answer: Yes. One of the reasons I’m writing this post is to remind myself of these principles. So I ask you, what are you doing with your time?

3 Tips for Saving Money as a Musician

The prudent see danger and take refuge,

but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.—Prov. 22:3 (NIV)

As I write this post, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) has placed much of the world on lockdown. Schools have shuttered, concerts have been cancelled, and folks have been told to go out only for essentials. This came at one of the busiest times for musicians. For classical musicians, this is the build-up to Easter, with its plethora of cantatas and oratorios. Those of us going from gig to gig were especially hard hit. I personally have lost the majority of my performing gigs for the next few months. Even some of my voice lessons cannot be made up.
Why am I not freaking out, you may ask? I have learned through trial and error how to save up during the times of plenty for the times of scarcity. The past few months have been good ones for me economically, and I’ve been scrimping and saving. I want to share with you 3 steps that I’ve taken in this post. Please bear in mind that I am not a money professional nor a superb mathematician. If you’re like me and have a non-STEM brain, this might be the post for you.

#1—Make sure you have multiple streams of income.

This might seem obvious for some, but it is usually a bad idea to put all of your eggs in one basket. I like to have as many ways to make income as I can reasonably do. In my case, I not only sing for gigs but I conduct, teach voice lessons, write, and even work a part-time job at one of the hospitals in town. This hospital job allows me to increase shifts or decrease shifts as my musical life gets busy or less busy. In this way, I can maintain a certain amount of income stability while I make my musician life a priority.  You don’t have to work at hospital, but it might be a good idea to find a flexible yet consistent job that you can fall back on when the unforeseen happens.

#2—Make sure your housing situation is secure.

There are few things more terrifying than not knowing where you are going to sleep. Paying rent, utilities, and the like can be daunting. Obviously, you should create a budget and stick to it. You should also think about having a roommate—someone who can share expenses.

#3—Have a system for saving money.

I think of this as different than a budget. A budget tells you how to spend your money. A savings plan tells you how to save the money left over. Much could be said about budgets, but we’re going to only touch on one aspect of it today. Don’t spend money that you don’t have. Avoid debt like the Coronavirus. There, I said it.
The following system is one I learned from a wonderful book, The Money Book for Part-Timers, Freelancers, and the Self-Employed by Denise Kiernan. It was very helpful for me, and it’s one of the only books dedicated to this subject that I have found. You can buy it by clicking on the link below. (Full disclosure: I am an Amazon Associate, so if you buy the book through this link I will receive a little bit of money as well!).
the money book
First, you need to determine how much you can save during the times of plenty and still pay your bills. This includes everything from debt to utilities to rent to food to taxes. You should figure out about how much from your paychecks you can take out. Your income varies from month to month, so you’ll need to ballpark it. Make sure you have that money in your checking account when you need to pay your bills.
Second, you need to divvy up a percentage of every deposit (it doesn’t matter if it is $20, $200, or $2000, you take out the same percentage) then transfer those percentages into separate funds/accounts in an online bank that will pay you interest for your savings. I use Ally Bank. I have made accounts for the following:
Social Life: 2%
Emergency: Currently at 3% (it was at 7% when I was building it up. I lowered it recently).
Taxes: 12% (Some of my gigs take taxes out, but with some I need to reserve for myself so that I can pay the tax-man. You will need to determine what tax bracket you are in.)
Vehicle: 3%
Business Growth: 2%
Offering/Donation to Church: 10%
Necessities: 2%
Gift/Charity: 1%
Vacation: 1%
Debt: 7% (I recently ramped this one up because my emergency fund is built up. I want to start paying down all my debts, including school.)
I also have a 403b (the nonprofit version of a 401k) retirement account with my hospital job. They match up to a certain amount that I put in, so it’s a good idea for retirement.
Thanks for taking the time to read this post. Needless to say, I am still working on perfecting and honing my budgeting and saving skills, and life likes to throw curve balls.

WE HAVE A CELEBRIS LOGO!

I’m very excited to introduce to you our brand new logo. With it, we wanted to communicate the dual sides to our nature: we seek to be professional yet playful, classic yet contemporary, intellectual yet accessible to our community. It’s a tall order for a logo to communicate that. I think we accomplished it!

Celebris Full Logo with Border

 

You will have the opportunity to sing with us for our next concert on May 30 at Western Michigan University. More details on that soon! Mark the date in your calendar! Like and follow us on Facebook for more information.

To everyone who’ve been supporting Celebris on this journey, I just want to say thank you. We could not do this without your support.

Celebris Ensemble Concert Feb 15, 2020

Choosing a Valentine’s Day concert was an immensely rewarding task. I got to choose some of my favorite music of all time, including Dirait-on by Morten Lauridsen. I haven’t had the opportunity to perform it since my sister-in-law walked down the aisle. It’s one of the most beautiful pieces ever!

Read to the end and there will be a song for you to listen to!

We also have a world premiere by our Composer in Residence, Jane K (Evgeniya Kozhevnikova)! She has set a poem by Christina Rossetti, a wonderful and sometimes under-appreciated British poet. If you are in the Kalamazoo (or even if you are not) on Feb 15, come on down to Bethany Reformed Church at 5:00 pm. You can find our Facebook event here. Follow us for more info!

Without further ado, here is the program. Enjoy!

I

Sing We and Chaunt It (Robert Lucas Pearsall)

Shall We Go Dance? (Charles Villers Stanford)

II

I Sat Down (Edward Bairstow)

Set Me as a Seal (René Clausen)

Dirait-on (Morten Lauridsen)

III

Echo or Come to Me (Jane K [Evgeniya Kozhevnikova])

A Birthday (Jane K [Evgeniya Kozhevnikova])

IV

And So It Goes (Billy Joel arr. Bob Chilcott)

Fix You (Coldplay arr. Philip Lawson)

Stand by Me (Ben E. King arr. Mac Huff)

As promised, here is the world premiere of Pity Me Not (poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay) by Jane K (Evgeniya Kozhevnikova).

Why Music Schools Must Change or Die: A Call for a Practical Music School that Prepares Musicians for Success

I’ve recently heard that many colleges in general and music schools in particular are struggling. They’re struggling with decreased enrollment, higher costs, and decreased interest. Unfortunately, the response to these troubles has been reactive rather than constructive. For instance, some higher ed professionals blame parents who don’t wish to spend a gazillion dollars for their kid to get a degree that won’t lead to financial stability or success. They blame the skyrocketing costs of tuition which forces students to take out unreasonable loans that will take a large portion of their lives to pay off. In short, they blame everyone but themselves.

While there is much to be said about parental priorities and the financial cost of Higher Ed, addressing those concerns won’t change things in the short run and won’t lead to stability in the long run. The education industry is contracting. A storm is already upon the education sector. Ignoring the storm won’t help. Furthermore, it’s easier to blame other people for the problems in your industry rather than face the difficult proposition that you might be part of the problem. If you want to change the world, you need to start with the man in the mirror, to paraphrase a famous song. I firmly believe that schools can at least halt (perhaps alter is a better word) the trend of attrition, but they must change.

The following is my own opinion. Please do with it what you will. If you have questions or concerns, please send me a private message. I would be happy to speak with you.

Since I graduated in 2017 with a master’s in conducting, I decided to take the hard road of being a gigging musician and a creative entrepreneur. This has not been easy. I started with nothing; I pay college loans every month. On top of this, I discovered that a lot of the skills I needed for success were not taught to me. I’ve endeavored to rectify this through self-education through a fancy institution known as the library.

The path for musical success is doable. I’ve become convinced of this through study and through experience. However, in order to succeed, a lot of things need to happen. The musician needs to learn a lot of skills, and not just the skills of musicianship (accurate performance, flexibility, and improvisation) and musicality (artistry, beauty of tone, phrasing, the It Factor, etc.). No, the musician also needs to be skilled in business (money management for self-employment, taxes, incorporation, setting up a studio, etc.), marketing (social media, websites, promoting concerts, contacting other musicians and teachers, etc.), professionalism (the fine art of showing up on time, knowing your music, communicating in a timely fashion, etc.), as well as many others.

Musicians should also have the correct mentality for entrepreneurial success. Namely, that to start your own business is really, stinkin’ hard. You will fail more than you succeed, and you will often not pass the audition (rejection!). You will have months of financial feast and famine. Success takes grit, ingenuity, and hard work.

Schools fail to prepare their students for this in several ways ways: 1) While many music schools touch on these skills, they often do not do so in an organized fashion. Adding a class or two is not going to solve this problem. 2) The faculty they hire to teach skills have no real world experience. They’ve been in the ivory tower for most of their lives, and so they’ve not learned in the school of hard knocks. 3) Faculty teach classes that functionally assume the students already know what is being taught. If half of your class if failing, it doesn’t mean that they are stupid or lazy; it means you are teaching the material incorrectly. 4) Faculty are teaching classes that are in no way applicable to the real world.

Does this mean that faculty should never teach a class on the history of Bach’s violin concertos or on the correlation of philosophy and music aesthetics? As an avid reader and learner, I firmly believe that those have their place (i.e. learning for its own sake). Moreover, these types of classes have helped me create more informed musical performances, so there is a practical advantage. Sometimes I’ve even applied these types of classes to something completely unrelated. However, there is a pedagogical order to things. Kids need to learn to crawl before they can run.

The world has drastically changed, and musicians must change with it. This includes music schools. No longer can they assume that students will come “just cuz.” Those days are gone. Higher Ed types need to assume that they must work hard to attract students with practical, helpful classes that enable students to succeed.

Perhaps some changes are in order.