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Today’s Well Rounded Musician

Jazzed Magazine • July 2010Publisher's Letter • July 9, 2010

When Shelton Berg, this month’s featured educator, performed at the recent JEN conference at the University of Missouri in St. Louis, it was as though he was being propelled up from the piano bench and wanted to bring the keyboard out in front of the audience to help launch them into the music. His energy level was captivating, which reflects his passion and love for jazz. Perhaps a bit of this showmanship was derived from his experience in playing other forms of music, specifically his early days playing disco, salsa, country, and even performing with bands such as KISS, the Steve Miller Band, and others. Berg is an educator, musician, and administrator who not only espouses versatility and passion to his students, but whose career is reflective of this attitude. There are few things Berg has not accomplished in the field of music, so he seems perfectly suited for his position as dean of the highly respected Frost School of Music at the University of Miami.

The days of musicians being educated only to be adept at playing music seems to be fading fast. More and more conservatory and university music programs are educating their students to be capable of undertaking a wide variety of careers with skills that range from being able to manage the finances of a recording studio, to marketing their music online, to performing in an ever widening variety of genres. Jazz groups, orchestras, opera companies, studios, and other musical ensembles are having to be more creative than ever in order to sell tickets, recordings, raise funds from corporations, and the like, so it is essential for students to be able to take charge of their individual careers, rather than be swept along by a wave of economic troubles that they cannot control. Though vocational training is not the core focus of most colleges, the more education and background students have in a wide variety of disciplines, the greater chance of their overall success in the field of music.

The Frost school is a unique institution, as it has been on the cutting edge of its offerings to music students that go beyond the normal regimen of music classes. Their passel of coursework in music performance, jazz, music business, audio engineering technology, composition and so many other disciplines is widely known and respected, and reflect this concept that musicians need to be well-rounded and broadly educated as well as have great depth within their chosen concentration.
Finally, don’t forget to reserve your trip to the upcoming 2nd Annual JEN conference in New Orleans January 6-8, 2011… you won’t be disappointed!

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