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Oberlin's New "Stroud Classical Guitar Entrepreneurship Scholarship"

Thanks to the generosity of my old friend, James Stroud (University of Akron MM, 1985), we have a new annual scholarship for Oberlin students. We've dubbed it the "Stroud Classical Guitar Entrepreneurship Scholarship"; this spring will be its inaugural season.

As many of you already know, Jim funds and co-runs, with me, an annual performance competition for classical guitar students in the state of Ohio. We host the event at Oberlin Conservatory. (This year, the event takes place March 13-14, with guest artists Jeffrey McFadden and Randall Avers). In addition to this opportunity, he wanted to present something special to my studio and so has offered to give $5,000/year towards this new scholarship. 

My thinking in developing this type of scholarship goes like this:

There are numerous opportunities for young musicians to hone and test their prowess as players, from the student's semesterly hearings and juries, to recitals, auditions and competitions such as the one described above and the burgeoning field of similar events across the country. I thought this area of our expertise hardly needs further examined. Further, in a relatively small studio such as mine at the Conservatory (10-12, all undergraduates), it is common for a small number of students to rise to the top at any given time and dominate these opportunities, leaving others in the position of observers.

The entrepreneurship scholarship, on the other hand, celebrates all the other things we do in our chosen field in an effort to achieve success and pursue our unique paths. These other things might be related to playing, certainly, such as taking a recital program out into the public arena, but might also be nonperformance-oriented, such as writing grants or composing original music, or cultivating a teaching studio. I offered the studio a list of possible activities which might qualify for consideration, at the beginning of the year. In April, I will assess the student's success at becoming "guitar entrepreneurs" and make the cash awards in whatever distribution pattern seems to best describe the candidate's newly burnished resumés.

Here is the list that was offered:

PERFORMANCE
Performances: solo recitals (over and above required recitals)
---In community (Kendall, local churches etc.; print and keep programs)
---On-road touring (book external shows and then play them; print and keep programs)

Competing
---Enter regional/national competitions (you don’t have to win for this to count)

Collaborative performance
---Chamber music (over and above Guitar Ensemble)
---Form a regular duo or ensemble, work-up rep and perform
---Contemporary Music Ensemble
---Early music/continuo playing
---Music theatre/opera productions
---Dance concerts
---Straight theatre/Poetry readings- incidental music
---Etc.

Gigs (guitar as incidental music) [possible $]
---Pit orchestra—Oberlin College or local theatre productions
---Join union for professional orchestra and other on-call gigs
---Weddings
---Parties/functions
---Restaurants
---Etc.

Informances in area public/private schools (talk to Mus. Ed. Faculty for guidance)

Work with student composers (and play “world premieres” of their works)

Play/Study Secondary styles/instruments
---Flamenco
---Choro
---Renaissance lute
---Renaissance guitar
---Baroque lute
---Baroque guitar
---Electric gtr in new music
---Ukulele
---Banjo
---Finger style steel string guitar
---National Steel guitar
---Pedal steel guitar
---Etc.

Form your own or join a non-classical ensemble such as a
---Rock band
---Folk music band
---Singer-songwriter ensemble
---Tango band
---Bluegrass band
---Jazz combo
---Etc.


RECORDING
Record a CD
---Record your recital after it is over, for real, in studio, with editing, and see the project through, including design, liner notes and manufacturing

Learn art of audio editing, and edit recordings of others as well as your own

Learn art of audio mastering, and master recordings of others as well as your own

Practice video-recording yourself, trying different set-ups--lighting, locations, etc.

YouTube: upload your performance vids and create your own channel

Record audio or video interviews of others and submit to suitable websites or upload to your own YouTube channel


TEACHING
Teaching Private Lessons
---Take Oberlin secondary students as invited and available
---Find employment at local music stores/community music schools
---Take private students
---Sign up for Suzuki Teacher Training when available

Teaching Master Classes
---Offer to teach master classes for your colleague’s studios (yes!)

Teaching Classes (what subject can YOU teach?)
---Winter Term ExCo


EDUCATION
Participate as performer in external master classes (over and above our Oberlin guests)

Participate as auditor in external master classes (over and above our Oberlin guests)

Take spot lessons/coachings with other teachers


WRITING
Write your own original compositions – must be fully notated and performed

Write your own original arrangements – must be fully notated and performed

Write (Prose) for publications (on guitar/music): submit articles to periodicals, online zines, etc.

Blog: start your own (guitar/music-related)


TECHNOLOGY
Website
---Create and curate your own site, complete with photos, bio, videos, sample programs, CV, contact info, links, etc.

Podcast
---Start your own (guitar/music-related)--people may be interested in what you have to say

Coding
---Design and code your own guitar/music/education-related app: launch a start-up (tech geeks!)


ADMINISTRATIVE
Participate as an officer in the Oberlin Guitar Club

Join Con Council or other campus organizations and offer to be an officer

Present your own guest artists
---Host a colleague for a concert
---Create, direct and host your own full-scale event (workshop, symposium, competition, master class, etc.)

Volunteer for Arts Organizations, help run events
---Cleveland Classical Guitar Society
---STRING Festival, Massillon
---Etc.


GRANTS
Apply for external funding for special projects (winning a grant is a big deal)


OTHER
Radio
---Start an on-campus weekly radio program dedicated to classical guitar and host it

Attend external guitar events
---Go to area concerts, festivals, workshops, master classes (keep programs)

Build and repair instruments; apprentice with a luthier

Work in a music store; discover the world of music retail


MORE?........

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As my students have moved forward this year, its been obvious many of them have taken this entrepreneurship challenge seriously. There is a whole range of activity happening that most likely would not have had this award not been on the table. I don't know who will win scholarships this coming semester and who won't, but one thing is clear: every student who embarks on a project on this list is broadening his/her professional base and increasing his/her range of experience. I feel gratified that students who have difficulty rising to the top in performance competitions have another opportunity to become winners. And I know, without question, that the students are clear on this simple fact: it takes more to succeed in the world than simply being good at the instrument. They must cultivate additional, related skills and experiences and in doing so, open up new vistas for professional activity. As Oberlin alum Matthew Hinsley (BM, 1996) put it during a talk he gave with my students on a return visit: they need to develop the largest footprint in the industry possible.

I wish them all well as they prepare their submissions later this semester, in hopes of winning one of the Stroud Entrepreneurship Scholarships. In the end, if they try, scholarship or not, they'll all end up winners.

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