Navigating Music Careers

Shepherd Careers Forum
October 12-14, 2007
Houston, Texas
Careers Forum Outcomes
Shepherd Careers Forum 2007
Distinguished Guests
Forum Participants
Forum Coordinators


Shepherd Careers Forum ’07
Convening Student Perspectives and Creating New Models for the 21st Century

Matthew Albert, eighth blackbird
The Shepherd Careers Forum was an intensely moving experience. The students, from the best conservatories across the country, were willing to open their minds and come up with creative ways to discuss, present, and interpret music. Their enthusiasm and engagement were clear in their comments, questions, and reactions to our performance, as well as to the Chiara Quartet’s events and to the different speakers and discussions they were parts of. It meant so much to be invited, and we hope this kind of gathering can be repeated, supporting this generation of musicians that seems eager to challenge the assumptions that have been made about the role classical music can play in the 21st century.

Angela Beeching, New England Conservatory of Music
The Rice University Careers Forum was amazing! It was great model for interactive learning--students, faculty and staff all had ample opportunities to brainstorm, question assumptions, try out ideas and concepts, and get to know each other as colleagues. For me, the issues that resonated throughout the weekend underscored essential issues for musicians, educators, and music schools.

These included:

  • Examining how we define success in music.
  • Articulating a personal mission, an ensembles' mission, and our institution's mission.
  • Finding a sense of usefulness and purpose as a performer through connecting with audiences.
  • Imagining and creating one's own niche.
  • Thinking of career development as project-based.

When and where else has this ever happened: 15 of the top music schools in the US all coming together--students, faculty and staff, to learn from each other?

The conference created a real sense of community among the participants--and framed our mission positively--we're all in this together. We all believe in music and we all want to help young musicians contribute their talents and energy to make the world a better place. It was a ground-breaking event: and I only hope Rice (or another institution) will host another one of these soon! Our field needs this!

Chiara String Quartet
"We were inspired to be a part of the vital exploration of the future of music at the Shepherd Careers Forum. What amazed us the most was the participants' thirst for creative ways to communicate their artistry to audiences in the service of their own unique voices."

Christina Sjoquist, flute MM graduate student
The conference gave me a glimpse of where the future of classical music is heading. The opportunity to meet with students from around the nation who are as passionate as I am about these new directions was inspiring and encouraging, and I cannot wait until the results of this conference begin to take hold.

Pamela Harris, horn MM graduate student
"As the seminar progressed, I was struck with the idea that what an audience seeks is genuine-ness in a performer or a group. There must be a genuine connection between the performer(s) and the music, and between the performer(s) and the audience, and that classical music is approachable—and people really can enjoy it and understand it on a purely emotional, responsive level. Head knowledge can enhance enjoyment of a piece, but it is not necessary to that enjoyment."

Eric Booth, Moderator for the Forum
“The Forum brings together work happening in isolated pockets around the country into one nationally-focused conversation. What is at stake in my view is nothing less than the future of classical music. We are delving deeply into identifying and building the skills that are essential to develop a 21st century musician, not just a buffed up/teched up 19th or 20th century musician. We bring together the top music students from the top conservatories with two of the best young ensembles in the country, to plant a stake in the ground about new musicians to create a new future. We will explore the skills apart from just the technical that can draw audiences inside the music, in ways most Americans have never experienced and are not naturally attracted to do.”

What is at stake in my view is nothing less than the future of classical music. We are delving deeply into identifying and building the skills that are essential to develop a 21st century musician, not just a buffed up, teched up 19th or 20th century musician."

Robert Yekovich, Dean of the Shepherd School of Music
"The Shepherd School of Music was delighted to foster collaboration and discussion around important issues affecting young, classical musicians by serving as host of the Careers Forum. The ideas generated by these talented students truly have the potential to influence the way schools of music deliver instruction and offer guidance to
career-minded musicians in the future.”

Dorothy Wyandt, Northwestern University
What a wonderful weekend you designed. It was just perfect. My students got in the cab and were high as kites they were just so excited about the whole experience. They have loads of ideas and it will keep us all hopping for some time.


Forum Coordinators: Rachel Young, Janet Rarick and David Gerstein

Copyright ©2007, Shepherd School of Music
The Shepherd School of Music Rice University