Entrepreneurial Projects: Translating Vision and Mission into Action

One of the most thrilling aspects of my class this semester was how my students incorporated a huge volume of information and applied it to their semester projects.  The objective was to experience first-hand the entrepreneurial skills that we learned in class and to experiment with something that they had never done before.  The students were encouraged to take risks and use their ingenuity and creativity to produce something new, looking for opportunities and adopting the positive can-do mindset of an entrepreneur.

The results were magnificent! 

I was deeply impressed with how hard my students worked.  They tapped into their passions and sense of mission to generate these projects.  The projects also aligned with their long-term goals and vision.  In fact, I am delighted that so many of these projects are the springboard for future activities. No wonder they were so motivated to work these projects!

Here’s a run-down of what these music entrepreneurs accomplished.

Performance-Related Projects

Two students used their projects as an opportunity to expand performance opportunities. 

Percussionist Mike Compitello
is passionate about creating new art through collaborations with composers, performers, actors and artists in all media, and is excited to advocate for the importance of contemporary music in contemporary society.  This year, his trio, New Morse Code, composer Dan Schlosberg, director Ethan Hunt and writer Justin Taylor, as well as students from the Yale School of Drama, collaborate on a project entitled “Basement Hades: Songs of the Underworld” that was performed to great acclaim at the Yale Cabaret.
Mike’s project was to create a repeatable touring version of the show and bring the work to audiences beyond the Yale community. This involved adapting the show so that it could be toured, creating a press kit, negotiating with venues, fundraising, and learning how to market a new show.  It’s exciting to see how this project taps into Mike’s sense of mission and we wish him a lot of success as he takes his show on the road!

Our composer Chris Rogerson, who loves food and wine as well as music, created an event at one of the residential colleges at Yale where he paired his compositions with wine and invited the audience to guess which wines matched up with which composition.  The person with the best guesses was able to take home 2 bottles of wine.  The objective to was experiment with a template for a pre-concert gala where audience members would be introduced to Chris’ music while having a good time.   What I loved about this project is that it creates a powerful connection between the composer and the audience and could serve as a model for audience engagement.

Social Outreach

Two of my students, bassoonist Meryl Summer and oboist Kaitln Taylor,  both have a deep sense of mission around social justice.  Their project involved creating a performance for sick children at a local hospital. The program combined Mozart and Disney tunes transcribed for their instruments.  Not only did they bring joy into the lives of the children, with 2 7-month old babies singing to each other and tapping the beats, but they also raised the spirits of the nurses and the staff. 

I am thrilled that both Meryl and Kaitlin are inspired to continue looking for opportunities to use music as a way of improving the lives of others. 

Education featured prominently in the project of bassist Nick Jones who is excited about creating a Young Bassist Program.  For his project, he created a presentation about the bass for 3rd graders in the local public school. In addition to describing the instrument as well as its role in the orchestra, Nick, in collaboration with a fellow bassist, performed a series of Bartok violin duets transcribed for the bass. The students were riveted and Nick feels inspired to continue looking for teaching opportunities.

Leveraging the Power of Social Media

Two students explore the power of technology and social media to deliver their messages.

Trombonist Matt Russo is passionate about commissioning new works for the trombone.  He just launched a Kickstarter project to raise money for a trombone commission from composer Steven Feigenbaum, which includes some creative incentives including two small business packages!
This is Matt’s second commissioing project and he is committed to continuing to provide the world with new music. His excitement around this project is palpable and we wish him much success in achieving his goal! 

Flutist Anouvong Liensavanh started a blog called The Flute Fiasco to keep young musicians motivated and help them overcome the big challenges that often discourage talented musicians from pursuing music as a career.  Filled with practical tips, witty commentary and great advice, this blog dovetails with Anouvong’s passion for teaching undergraduates and insuring that talented musicians will remain committed to their art.

DIY Promotional Materials

Entrepreneurs are inherently resourceful and that quality was on display in a number of projects where students created their own promotional materials. 

Guitarist Arash Noori  decided that it was time to have a professional web presence and as part of his new website launch, embarked on a project of creating high-quality video recordings to showcase the state of his art. Using free equipment available from a variety of sources at Yale, and consulting with experts on audio and video recording and mixing, Arash created beautiful videos of two cherished works. In addition to achieving a level of technical proficiency, Arash aims to have an active YouTube channel with videos of his performances, as well instructional videos and answers to guitar related questions submitted by viewers.

Violinist Joohye Lim created her own press kit for her degree recital that included a folder, recital flyer, business card, bio and program notes.  The program notes featured a statement from one of the composers, which Joohye was able to obtain by interviewing the composer.  In addition, she created her own logo which now appears on her letterhead, business cards and website. Joohye learned the importance of crafting polished materials and is off to a great start!

Operatic Tenor Sam Levine created a website which incorporated his new-found knowledge of branding, marketing, social media to connect with audiences, presenters, clients, colleagues and fans.  Stay tuned for the launch of Sam’s website

Business Creation

Entrepreneurship is all about creating sustainable businesses and one of our students created such a business.  Guitarist and composer Hermelindo Ruiz, who hails from Puerto Rico, has already published some of his own compositions and  is already at work on another work.  For his project, he launched an on-line store where he is selling his compositions.  In addition, because of his deep commitment to the artistic community in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean, he plans to promote the books and compositions by other lesser-known artists from Puerto Rico and the Caribbean.  It is wonderful to see how this young entrepreneur combines his mission and passion with a keen eye for business!

Congratulations to these talented music entrepreneurs!  We wish them much success as they venture forth in the world.