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Teaching Musicians to Be Entrepreneurs

Why entrepreneurship training is beginning to strike a chord with facultyand studentsat top music conservatories

In most areas of higher education, entrepreneurship has long lost its stigma as a career path for those without one (see BusinessWeek.com, Fall, 2006, "Hitting the Books"). But at the nation's top music conservatories that stigma is still very much alive, despite the fact that the "traditional" career path for classically trained musicians—one that ends with steady employment in a symphony orchestra—is difficult.

At Manhattan's Juilliard School, one of the country's preeminent performing arts conservatories, Career Development Director Derek Mithaug admits that the business-y connotation of the term "entrepreneur" still rubs a lot of artists the wrong way. "We try to avoid that word," he says. But getting support for entrepreneurship training is about more than semantics: Some in music education still firmly believe that the role of the conservatory is to train musicians, not businesspeople.