At Chamber Music America, One Music School Boldly Proposes a Vision for the Future of Musicians

If You Want to Grow, Partnership Is Key, Says Alarm Will Sound’s Gavin Chuck

If you aren’t familiar with Alarm Will Sound, it is a pretty awesome ensemble that plays mostly modern classical music.

The group started about 15 years ago at the Eastman School of Music by a group of young musicians, notably Gavin Chuck and Alan Pierson, a conductor who I more-or-less accurately recall being in every issue of the New York Times in 2011.

Gavin’s message is born naturally out of the themes David and Greg presented.

For artists looking to create a strategy of growth – whether it be personal growth or professional growth – Gavin’s message is clear: partner with other musicians.

It reminds me of a quote I once heard Pulitzer-winning composer Steve Reich say at a festival in Buffalo, NY: “Music Is a Social Art.”

Gavin Chuck is no stranger to musical growth via collaboration; Alarm Will Sound has collaborated with musicians as varied as Eighth Blackbird and Medeski, Martin, and Wood, informally known as MMW. MMW is an experimental jazz trio, which is seemingly a whole world away from the modern classical art that Alarm Will Sound regularly shows off.

One strategy that Gavin specifically employed with the MMW partnership was creating educational outreach workshops. Here is an example of one of their collaborations that occurred last year at CU-Boulder.

By experimental partnership, Gavin, Alarm Will Sound, and MMW created a stream of income that was attractive to universities interested in teaching their students the intricacies of modern music.

In other words…

By experimental partnership, all of the musically participating parties found a way to convey their talents to an audience caring about their artistically individualistic message.

David’s Seven Tenets of Innovation

After impassioned speeches from other notable figures in the music world concerning the topics of making a unique, profitable, and artistically individualistic career, David circled back to the front of his room to profess his tenets of innovation.


7. Mindset – A successful musician, student or professional, must be open to change, approaching situations differently, and willing to embrace challenging, risky concepts.

6. Process – A process in place that leads to a solution is necessary in all art, whether it’s for creating the art or for getting the message out about the art.

5. Sequence – Having a master plan for steps to take, rather than just doing many uncalculated things, is important for any aspiring or professional musician to learn.

4. Questions – Asking different questions frames solutions.

3. Team/Partnership Matters – Looks like Gavin was right! Says David.

2. Diversity – Assembling unique minds is essential for developing unique group mindsets, processes, solutions, etc.

1. Role Models – Everything has been done before, in one way or another. A set of role models who have been previously successful can pave our roads.

David’s Clever Ambition, In 2016, Fully Realized By Most Prominent Music Schools

Although I have written about musical entrepreneurship in the past, I am mostly interested not just in its tool for making the futures of music students significantly brighter, but also for its relevance in current music schools.

Mannes has committed to a huge change in its academic curriculum with a greater emphasis on the individual musician. The same goes for Eastman.

The Boston Conservatory recently decided to merge with the school always known for its contemporary take on the business of music, the Berklee College of Music. The Boston Conservatory cited complementary strengths, and, dare I say, an experimental partnership in their decision to merge.

New England Conservatory has an active entrepreneurship division.

University of South Carolina: a Progressive Music School

The new dean at my alma mater, the University of Michigan, caused a huge stir when he decided that emerging chamber music ensembles were worthy of six-figure prizes.

And of course, the University of South Carolina’s School of Music has been at the forefront of this conversation since Cutler’s appointment to the school four years ago.

I can say this with complete certainty: The idea of creating a unique, singular music career is now the central theme behind the progressive curricula of many of the world’s most prominent music schools.

On the next page, I talk about David’s ideas fully realized in a musical setting..

One Response

  1. Orkerga Joseph Cool-Joe August 22, 2016

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