Phi Beta Cons

Music Conservatories Missing the Beat?

One part of higher education that would seem to be impervious to trendy changes is classical music education. You can either play the music properly or you can’t, right? And the intense dedication required to achieve the lofty skill levels of professional orchestra members would seem to preclude lots of the shenanigans elsewhere in the academy.

But, while many of our nation’s conservatories are continuing to train world-class musicians in the present, there are signs that music schools are heading down the same troubled paths that other arts and humanities programs have followed: a loss of sense of purpose, political activism, and dropping standards. Andrew Balio, the principal trumpet player of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra with a long interest in orchestra management, provides an insightful and in-depth expose of these trends in a three-part essay, starting with this one.


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