News / USA

Young Musicians Try to Make it in Real World

Program grooms artists to be both teachers and entrepreneurs

Academy fellow Nathan Schram works with students in New York.
Academy fellow Nathan Schram works with students in New York.

Multimedia

Audio

How does a young classical musician, fresh out of school, navigate the tricky and somewhat limited career options available? Two of the most prestigious arts organizations in New York City have come up with an answer. Their program suggests talent alone isn’t enough - musicians must be teachers and entrepreneurs, too.

"How do we deliver, to the best young musicians, a skill set that will enable them to define their own lives as musicians, around what their own talent is? You know, rather than having to say, 'Aah, I’m going to have to apply for that job or I’m going to have to apply for that job, because that, I think is the box that will enable me to earn a living as a musician,'" says Carnegie Hall executive director Clive Gillinson. "We’re saying, you’ve actually got the capacity to define your own life."

The idea for The Academy began a few years ago over a meal. Gillinson and Juilliard School president Joseph Polisi were talking about the challenges young classical musicians face today. The two designed a program they hope will produce not only great musicians but also great communicators.

The Academy

Every two years, they select 20 fellows who each receive a stipend of $25,000 a year, health insurance, and access to the best teachers and coaches at Juilliard. They work three days a week, 30 weeks a year, on the very highest musical level - performing on one of Carnegie’s stages with artists like conductor Sir Simon Rattle - and on the most basic musical level - teaching in New York City public schools.

One of the fellows beginning the program is Nathan Schram, a genial 23-year-old viola player. He got a music degree at Indiana University in 2008, and received an e-mail last year inviting him to audition for the Academy.

"I was thrilled. It sounded great," says Schram. "It sounded like it was going to help me communicate better with audiences. I was going to find a newer audience. I was going to help people that might otherwise not be able to experience this music and maybe I could learn something from them, too. And now I’m here. Day One."

Off to school

Day One for Schram is in mid-October at P.S. 75, an elementary school in Bushwick, an immigrant and working class neighborhood in Brooklyn.

Zelman Bokser teaches violin there. "You know, I think you would describe this school as under-resourced and it’s not a very high socio-economic neighborhood."

But even with limited resources, Bokser has created a vibrant music program - in a school of 650 students, he’s teaching 83 of them to play the violin.

"What’s amazing is that these kids are competitive with kids in any other public school in the city, in this program. So, these kids have played in Carnegie Hall and at Lincoln Center, at the Apollo Theatre and lots of other places. And there are very few schools that have had those opportunities. So, we’re really lucky."

And Bokser says they’re really lucky now to have a professional musician in their midst. Bokser divides the class in half and has Schram help with tuning the violins and helping with musical exercises. As the class winds down, Schram brings out his viola, to demonstrate.

A month later, Schram is back. He’s hatched a plan to do some improvisations with Bokser.

"I’m trying to explain to them that music can also have character, music can describe people, it can be a character in itself. And just trying to develop on their understanding of music and what’s possible they can do with it."

Providing inspiration

So, the third and fourth grade beginning class decides Schram should improvise a piece that expresses who he is. When Schram and Bokser begin to play, fourth graders Julissa Guzman and Calista Conde are impressed.

"They just popped it up in their mind," say Julissa. "I don’t think they didn’t even rehearse for that."

And, Calista finds herself inspired. "When I am in fifth grade, I would like to play in Carnegie Hall and hear all the people clap, just for me."

Schram says working with the kids has been inspiring for him, too.

"You know, the kids are wonderful. I’m amazed at how well-behaved they are, how excited they are about music and, just, they’re very receptive; and if someone doesn’t get something the first time, they’ll get it the second. I mean, it’s just, you see, I didn’t expect to have such quick results."

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs