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Book Review/Interview: Beyond Talent: Creating a Successful Career in Music by Angela Myles Beeching

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My job is to help musicians turn dreams into action plans that lead to success”, says veteran music career counselor and educator, Angela Myles Beeching, herself a classically trained cellist. The second edition of her successful career manual, Beyond Talent, published by Oxford Press in November 2010, offers comprehensive updates on developments in the music industry, particularly as they relate to the much expanded role of the Internet.

Beeching also provides inspiring examples of innovative musicians who successfully managed to create new communication channels by exploiting market niches for presenting their art. These include novel combinations of classical with non-classical genres, and genre-blending collaborative works, many of them happening at non-traditional venues. Beeching’s examples prove that producing a concert, advertising it, and releasing one’s very own album are all within the artist’s reach, even in economically challenging times.

She stresses that a successful career is always based on a person’s initiative; it does not happen randomly and without goal-oriented effort. Artistic talent may provide a starting point, but it is the power of strategic planning that crafts a fulfilling life in music.

In short: Beeching empowers her readers to take the “magic wand” into their own hands.

According to her approach, “… it takes the courage to dream, the power to plan, and the will to get things done.”

Add to that an honest assessment of a person’s distinctiveness, strengths and weaknesses, and Beeching takes things a step further by offering tools to quantify and relate these personal assets and liabilities to the realities of the music market.
To help with the often unnecessarily terrifying task of having to “pitch” creative ideas and present them in entrepreneurial terms, she provides concise instructions and ‘handholding’ examples.

No doubt, Beeching’s long career as Director of Career Services at the New England Conservatory has provided her with unique insight into the realities of artists’ working lives. She, herself, is ready to move on: “While at NEC, I got a lot done, with great students and colleagues, and now I am enthusiastic about
exploring new opportunities”, she explains.

“For example, this year I’ve been a visiting consultant at Indiana University, focusing on a new initiative called Project Jumpstart, launched this past fall. It is fascinating work: I travel to Bloomington for eight weeklong “residencies,” and in between work via Skype and email with a student team. The innovative piece of this project is that it’s student-driven: the students are at the center of choosing workshop topics, speakers, moderating panels, and surveying the community.”

Describing her new projects further, she continues: “I see a key aspect of my role at IU as facilitating the development of student leaders. I’ve been meeting with both faculty members and students to learn what’s most wanted and needed in terms of career development and entrepreneurship. We’re looking to partner with the IU Johnson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and help students tap the wealth of learning opportunities cross-campus. In a large school with terrific opportunities for university-wide collaborations, the goal is to build a new model for career preparation, tailored to the specific needs of students at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music.”

And that’s not all: “Other projects include the Young Performers Career Advancement program, which I facilitate from January 7 to January 11 at the Arts Presenters Conference [in New York City], and at Chamber Music America I’m doing advising appointments and a workshop session on project management.”
Beeching is a co-founder of NETMCDO, The Network of Music Career Development Officers, and presents lectures and workshops at conferences for art administrators, music educators and performers.

On January 11, 2011, at 5PM, the Julliard Bookstore will host a one night event with Beeching, featuring a discussion and workshop based on her book, Beyond Talent: Creating a Successful Career in Music.

For more information on Project Jumpstart, go to http://www.music.indiana.edu/departments/offices/project-jumpstart/index.shtml

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