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Lex Valk

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Commercial Music Curricula

Commercial music programs at four and two-year colleges generally cover the following subject areas:

1. Recording Engineering

2. Music Business

3. Music Instrument Repair/Piano Tuning

Other programs, such as Jazz Studies or Arranging and Composition, can be structured to parallel the classical degree offerings, and may not fit as neatly into a commercial music program. Still other programs, like Piano Pedagogy, may fit a two-year environment better, whether structured to fit commercial or performance curriculum standards. Some programs, such as recording engineering, are very capital-intensive; music instrument repair requires at least a well-outfitted repair lab, while Music Business, on the other hand, calls for almost no capital investment.

Deciding what curricula to start involves carefully evaluating your school's market. For example, are there enough music businesses-retail stores, instrument dealers, music publishers- to warrant a music business degree? Are other colleges offering competing commercial music programs in your market? Do the proposed degrees complement the strengths of your school?

Typically, each of the above curricula has its own course work patterns and traditions which must also be evaluated in light of your institution's personnel resources. A music business degree may only take part of one faculty load, whereas a recording engineering degree can't be run with lab supervision with anything less than two personnel. Music Instrument Repair and Piano Tuning programs may require one full-time person, or at least a half to two-thirds faculty load.

One last caveat:

At least hire a consultant who knows the related industry intimately so that instruction can be carefully matched to current industry needs and practices. For example, it does no good to train instrument repair students on the finest machine lathes if most shops in your area still use hand tools!

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