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McNally Smith Featured in “Best Music Schools of 2011” in Cover Story of In Tune Monthly

Where are the best music schools to attend in 2011 and beyond? What are the big trends in music education? How is technology rapidly changing the way aspiring musicians learn and earn?

And how much of the traditional, or more classical and jazz sides of music, need to be taught alongside other genres and vice versa?

Those are just some of the deep issues touched on in the recent “Best Music Schools of 2011” cover story for In tune Monthly, “the only magazine written exclusively for music making students in grades 7-12 and their teachers.” A variety of schools and experts are profiled in answering these and other pressing issues, including McNally Smith’s own Janis Weller, who is the Chair for the music college’s Liberal Arts program and a renowned composer and flautist.

“McNally Smith College of Music, Columbia College, and others have been ahead of the curve in adding business courses and majors,” reports the authoritative education magazine. According to its website at, the publication is ”used by teachers as an in-classroom text… while “the magazine focuses on enriching and broadening the traditional music curriculum in middle and high schools and appeals to the independent player as well.”

Weller addresses what is on the minds of many these days including not only music teachers, but students, their parents and others in related music industry roles. As music business and teaching models are being revolutionized by digital technology, Weller sees tomorrow’s musician’s needing more than just a solid music foundation.

“Music education needs to work on breaking down barriers between disciplines,” says Janis Weller, Liberal Arts Division Chair at McNally Smith College of Music. “Musicians of the future will need to integrate all sorts of creative elements — live and recorded performance, film and video, and so on. So performance majors need composition and arranging skills, some business skills, and need to know their way around a studio. A composer needs to play, and certainly needs to be very comfortable with technology.”

Music and Creativity as a Major Job Asset Outside the Music World

Much of the story focuses on the importance of building on an education in popular music and classical and jazz — something McNally Smith has done, which the publication acknowledges:

“Many Schools offer courses on popular music (the term educators use for genres other than classical or jazz). Typically, these have been elective courses, a sideline from more traditional areas of study. But there’s a new movement afoot to use popular music as the basis for majoring in areas such as performance, composition and songwriting, production, and business,” the story notes. “The adoption of popular music alongside classical and jazz is being led by a vanguard of about a dozen institutions, including …McNally Smith….”

But the must-read article also goes onto to say how important a music education is in job sectors outside the music industry. Increasingly it can be viewed as a major differentiator by employers who want more than just a body when hiring for a job. Says one source in the story, “I’ve been told by bank presidents and tech company CEOs that they will look twice at a music school graduate because they know that person has been trained to think, cooperate with a team, and problem-solve.”

Read the entire article here.