Berkleemusic.com Senior Student Advisor/Marketing Coordinator Michael Moyes, along with the Chair of Professional Music, Kenn Brass, recently participated in an educators event hosted by our BIN partner schools in Helsinki, Finland. Here is Michael’s account of the experience, which was sponsored by the Office of International Programs.
Fall came early for Chair of Professional Music, Kenn Brass and I last week. We traveled to the northern city of Helsinki, Finland to meet with other music educators and to present at the Helsinki Seminar on Music Pedagogy. The event, hosted by BIN schools Helsinki Pop & Jazz Conservatory and Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences gave us an inside look at how partner institutions in Finland, Russia, Estonia, Malaysia, Puerto Rico, Latvia, and other countries are preparing their students for careers in music and at how their institutions are engaging in distance education and online learning.
I gave a presentation on Berklee’s online continuing education division, berkleemusic.com’s history, pedagogical methods, and how to enhance the quality of online learning followed by a show and tell with interactive examples from several of our courses. The schools were very impressed and inspired by how we teach music online; however, many have barriers that make their institutions unable to implement distance education programs. Berklee alumnus and President/CEO of International College of Music in Malaysia, Irene Savaree, spoke candidly about obstacles such as lack of broadband Internet in student’s homes, weak language skills, negative perception of online learning, and most strikingly the lack of government framework. Innovation and partnership for continuing education will be exciting elements of these institutions’ futures.
Kenn gave a very inspiring discourse on how to help students become entrepreneurs. What do you want to do? What does success look like to you? How do you get there? What does a musician entrepreneur do? This discussion continued with professors and students over the next day and we learned about the TOP program (Finnish acronym meaning on the job training), which was developed by Helsinki Pop and Jazz Conservatory Producer Márta Schmidt ten years ago.
20 academic credits are dedicated to this program, which teaches students how to grow into responsible, decision-making musicians. One component deals with gigging. Professors set up gigs for students in local venues while giving them minimal background information. It becomes the student’s responsibility to coordinate the details: When do we go on? What type of crowd will we be playing for? What tech issues do we need to be aware of? Do we get fed? Club owners work closely with the musicians union and professors and give feedback on the students: Did they show up on time? Did they spend half the night hitting on the club owner’s daughter? Would you hire them again? The gigs are diverse and teach students that in order to make your primary income from music you need to be versatile and on your “A” game all the time!
In our spare time, we caught up with some of the jazz musicians Helsinki has to offer. Whether it was young kids playing “Yesterday’s” for captivated teenage audiences or the vibraphone quartet whose most basic tune seemed to be in something like 11/16, we were very impressed by the musicianship and the community commitment to the arts.
The trip was a great learning experience for me and for our partners around the world. Everyone is looking forward to working with Berklee students once again at this year’s ‘Close Encounters Helsinki-St. Petersburg’ (http://www.closeencounters.fi/en/festival/) event in February!
Senior Student Advisor/Marketing Coordinator