Life in Music
The year 2020 marks a new decade and a complex world for many new professionals. With the arrival of spring, many experience a rising anxiety when repeatedly asked the often-dreaded question, "What are you doing after you graduate?"
The daunting challenges faced by today's new professionals are vastly different than those of previous generations. The viability to pursue their careers is challenged by significant educational debt and escalating costs in housing, transportation, and healthcare—all of which impede their ability to make a living wage. As new professionals launch into communities, they must also find spaces to practice, teach, and create while adapting to the life transition from student to professional. In addition, the impacts of technology on teaching and learning have created immense pressure on new professionals to innovate and stay current in the field. As they begin their professional careers, the staggering amount of information can be paralyzing rather than empowering. Navigating the demands of a successful career, combined with financial stresses and constant change, can be overwhelming without consistent, nurturing support.
Statistics reveal that most music graduates will spend the majority of their careers as teachers whether they have received any preparation or not. There are outstanding pedagogy programs across the country, however most young graduates have not received any pedagogy training to prepare them for the realities of being a musician in community. As a result, they often feel inadequately prepared for the career demands and uncertain of how to forge a path. Teaching is an artform that demands rigor, preparation, and ongoing growth, and core to success is meaningful teacher education. It is critical that we provide new professionals with the necessary mentorship and experiences to be successful educators.
At the Frances Clark Center, we are deeply focused on supporting emerging professionals. We are creating more opportunities for mentorship and professional education through accessible online and in-person initiatives. It is imperative that we continue to expand our supporting infrastructure beyond educational institutions with intentional mentorship, peer leadership, guided practical experiences, and supportive collegiality. In these complex times, music expression is essential to what it means to be human and how we build societal cohesion through shared experience. Research continues to support the value and importance of music making for child development, mental and physical health, quality of life, cultivation of empathy, global understanding, community well-being, and interdisciplinary collaborations. The next generation of music leaders seeks to contribute, serve, and innovate.
As we encounter these new professionals, the question is not only, "What are you doing after you graduate," it is also, "How can we help you launch? What support can we provide to ensure a successful transition?" New professionals are filled with creative ideas about how to transform lives and communities through music. It is our responsibility as a profession to provide them with a network of mentors and a connected, nurturing community to empower them as they begin the meaningful work of educating the next generation of musicians.