Aufnahmedatum: after 1939
Dauer: 15:14
Beschreibung: On the possibilities for the employment of music students.
Signatur: 101/D; 50/R7
Schoenberg, Arnold. "How can a music student earn a living?" Proceedings of the Music Teachers National Association 34 (1939): 251-255. -- In English.
Schoenberg, Arnold. "Wie kann ein Musikstudent seinen Lebensunterhalt verdienen?" Stil und Gedanke: Aufsätze zur Musik, edited by Ivan Vojtech, pp. 359-362. Arnold Schönberg Gesammelte Schriften 1. Germany: S. Fischer Verlag, 1976. -- In German.


SCHOENBERG: It is wonderful that American students--to my knowledge more than in other countries--earn their living while going through college. The advantage of this is evident: depending upon himself he becomes mature; he gains respect for the value of money and knows what it means to have none; he becomes acquainted with people, acquires an understanding of their psychology and social relations; he learns what to expect of them if he treats them right and how one can fail if one does not.
Knowledge of human nature is not the only advantage of such activity. Working as a salesman makes him acquainted with the nature of many goods, with the ways they are produced, shipped, sold--experiences which might be valuable to everybody, so that even the former soda clerk in his later years would not regret the experiences of his youth.
No doubt it is preferable if a student, earning a living, acquires some mechanical skills. According to my own experience, the understanding of such skills opens the mind of a student to the understanding of craftsmanship in art. There exist many many degrees but only one kind of human thinking. Thus, the principles of artistic craftsmanship might look like mere variations of those of the mechanical arts.
Not ignoring all these advantages, I want to advocate a more direct way to a music student's major purpose. At least the greater part of the time which he uses to earn a living could be devoted to subjects more closely related to music. There is perhaps no field of human activity for which one has to spend more time than music; even he who modestly aims for only a mediocre knowledge must spend years of work. In fact, eight or ten years are not much. But he who wants to become an expert, excellent or even brilliant, cannot be sure that a whole lifetime will suffice. In former times it was easier for musicians; being sometimes servants to princes they need not possess much education. It is different today where education is imperative and even driving a car and going to the movies takes time--these also belong to our education--next, flying might belong to it.
May I now mention a number of occupations which are more closely related to music and which teach a music student matters which might be useful to him in his future.
Every musician could possess a good musical handwriting. He should be able to write without errors. These two qualities would make him firstly, a good and well paid copyist, and secondly, a proofreader.
I once read an advertisement of a drawing teacher which said, "If you could learn to write you can also learn to draw." Almost every student can become a calligrapher of music; by this activity he can earn twenty and more dollars a week with a couple of hours work daily.
Advanced students with good ears and some experience in orchestra playing can be employed as assistants to arrangers, if not as arrangers themselves. Pianists could arrange orchestra and chamber music for two and four hands, and other combinations. In this activity they should be employed by publishers, composers, performers, entertainers, and laymen--not to forget broadcasting studios.
One of the things that furthers the knowledge of the young musician best is coaching and teaching. Among these activities, coaching singers, teaching them their parts, and accompanying them might be strongly recommended to pianists. Of course, the same advantage may be attained by accompanying and coaching instrumentalists. A violinist might also play violin duets and the pianist piano duets, and the 'cellist and violist might be hired to coach laymen in chamber music (from which activity I myself sometimes obtained the butter on my bread.) Besides, an advanced student could be asked to coach younger students, for instance, as an N.W.... N.Y.A. worker.
Similarly, almost every young student can teach his instrument to beginners and laymen, or to any other person--if he finds one who knows less than he and who considers him an authority; and for the pupil it need not be worse than with any other teacher he can afford. But to teach theory might be of advantage to both the student teacher and the student pupil. Teaching general musicianship, harmony, and counterpoint, even only the next year after he himself has studied it, will force the teaching student to remember systematically everything he has been taught, and to redigest it so that he will never forget it.
I wonder whether a young student who teaches another student music appreciation should expect another pay than the joy of having acquired a new adept to his own devotional belief in music. But to pay or to get paid need not affect the sincerity of anyone's idealism.
One thing amazes me: why do music students, especially those in university, not write about music. I often meet youngsters who complain about symphony programs (which present always the same twenty works), or about the prices of admission to concerts, or of the "hoch" high price of printed music, or of the lack of performances of American and contemporary composers; or about the preference which concert managers give to performers before the works themselves. They complain, but why to me and not publicly? Why do they not write about their needs?
Of course, writing--like other crimes--does not pay. And, curiously enough, it is difficult to find a person who does not pay when he prints. Rather, he would also not print. Nevertheless, young people should write if only to gain those psychological experiences of a salesman who deals with people who do not want to purchase.
Of course, it is not easy to sell things which people do not want. Perhaps the average salesman himself does not like his goods. How different is it if a salesman believes in his wares. Would not a music-loving student more efficiently convince a would-be purchaser to buy good music instead of poor music? Even though it is not his business he might become a good advocate of musical culture.
According to my experience one does not find many good musicians selling musical instruments--pianos, violins, phonographs, radios, etc. Who else could really advise a buyer as well as a good musician, or have as good a judgment about records? On the other hand, I am probably not the only one who has been repelled by the trivial music by which a mediocre musician hoped to advertise his product.
Finally, I want to mention a number of shop activities in which a music student can work as a clerk or salesman, or as a laborer, craftsman, or apprentice to a craftsman. For instance, in a publishing house he might evaluate the chances of music to be printed; he might be useful in publicity and in communication with performers; he might prepare manuscripts for engraving and read the proofs. And he might also learn here very much besides: about the prohibition of stealing of other composers' ideas under the copyright, and the possibility, nevertheless, to commit plagiarism, if only one knows and obeys the letter of the law. These he might learn and take advantage of it in an honest way, in a way protecting the interest of culture and the lives of the creators--let us hope!
Similarly, there might be student activities in printing, engraving, and photostatic shops. It is amazing how few musicians know these processes, and it is more amazing how little regard these shops show for the progress and development of our art. Let me mention here that when one of my most advanced works was engraved, the permanent proofreader of the engraving shop asked me by a note in my manuscript whether there was not a mistake in measure 724, since the first violin had D-natural and the second violin had D-sharp. This after 723 preceding measures!
It is a pleasure to state that one has begun to use progressively more musicians in broadcasting and recording activities. The sound man of the future will be a perfect musician with a physiomechanical education. Much can a music student learn practically in such employment, but if he were acquainted with the theory, his musical taste, his ear, his sense of form, and his knowledge of the score would deliver us musicians from the painful torture we have to suffer otherwise.
Music teachers can do much to help here. First of all, it seems that parents who are in the position to support their children through school should advise them to accept only such jobs which develop their knowledge. Music teachers could use their authority to influence parents in this direction. They could do more. They could attempt to convince influential persons of all kinds--school administrators, supervisors, businessmen, etc.--to provide such and similar jobs for music students.
Nobody would regret this. On the contrary, some obvious advantages might very soon arise. Musicians who have extended their knowledge through these activities during their college days, will know how to earn a living in an emergency. They might become a true intelligensia, defending cultural goods fearlessly against upper and lower attempts towards banalization.