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Jazz Education: The Next Generation, Part 2

Karl Ackermann By

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Purchase College is a somewhat unique setting in that an overall dedication to the arts is a cornerstone of the school. Malinverni and Munro explain how that overall environment impacts the jazz program. Malinverni states, "It makes a big difference -I don't think the arts in general and Jazz in particular are treated with as high a degree of respect in other institutions as they are at Purchase. I and several of my colleagues know the college president, provost and other upper administration folks personally and they are present at our performances -on and off campus -more often than they are not. I do not take this support for granted. When former Governor Nelson Rockefeller founded the State University system he inaugurated the Purchase campus as a hub for the arts in the state. On our campus, we have four separate Conservatories -of Music, Dance, Visual Arts and Drama -and our students take advantage of collaboration across those entities." Munro adds, "Collaboration between the conservatories is very common. It's a great way for students to foster the contacts they will need to succeed in the real world. Lately the college has started going one step further by integrating the Liberal Arts side of the campus with the conservatory programs. We have a new major called Arts Management that is showing great promise. We also have conservatory class offerings for non-majors. Our college is dedicated to a "one college" community as opposed to the "siloing" of programs."

I asked how the Purchase Jazz Studies Program helping students to better prepare for their own future security. Malinverni states, "We make sure that our students learn professional comportment, beginning right away in their freshman years. They are taught that punctuality and thoughtful presentation are essential to staying busy in a competitive environment. Many of our students avail themselves of classes from the Arts and Entrepreneurship courses offered at the college and we are currently working on expanding that curriculum. I think young musicians are always optimistic about the future and very seldom have a specific idea of what will await them upon graduation. And I think that's a good thing. We let them know, as they go through our program that talent is only the first ingredient along the way to professional viability and that, ultimately, their hard work and perseverance will be the determining factors in their musical lives."

Same Time; Different Country: Humber College

Less than an eight-hour drive north of the border, Toronto's Humber College resides in three clusters of campuses. The school—coincidentally—was founded in 1967, the same year as SUNY Purchase. With about twenty-thousand full-time and more than fifty-thousand part-time students, Humber specializes in technology fields, business, liberal arts and the arts. Denny Christianson is the Director of the Music Program at Humber School of Creative and Performing Arts which offers degrees or certificates in Jazz and Commercial Music, Jazz Performance, Music Business, and Music Composition.

As Christianson tells it, "by 1976 [Humber] was drawing top-notch students, as it was the only place in Canada where you could study jazz, and all the top working musicians were on faculty." Still, it wasn't until 2005, following approval from the Minister of Education, that the school began to offer a four-year Bachelor degree.

Christianson describes his role as one of keeping the program focused on the school's mission. "My job is to see that we stay focused on what our mission is, which is to give our students the best possible foundation for a successful career in music, and provide as many paths to that goal as possible. With that in mind, we created a cutting edge degree, with mandatory courses in midi technology, recording and producing master classes, music business, and creative development, which trains them for their 3rd year final recital, and their 4th year recording project in our state of the art recording studio. The results of all of this practical and hands-on experiences is that our students walk out the door with not only a BMus, but they have the mindset and business smarts of a top flight young pro....and tons of them have gone on to postgrad studies at places like Julliard, Berklee, University of Toronto, McGill, etc."


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