Sunday, July 24, 2011

Entrepreneurship and music according to Ann Chang

Ann Chang has a successful career as a piano performer and instructor and resides in Lincoln, Nebraska. She has performed recitals in locations around the world as a soloist and with chamber ensembles like the Rastrelli Cello Quartet. With her special interests in forte-piano and chamber ensembles, she is often to be found coaching small ensembles of students at the School of Music where she is Artist in Residence.

But, Ann Chang is an entrepreneur and always thinking of creative ways to bring music to new people. Her first entrepreneurial venture was the founding of Meadowlark Music Festival in 2001. “I was the founder and director of Lincoln's own Meadowlark Music Festival for seven years,” Chang said, “and it still continues as a festival in the summer.” In 2008, she added to her list of jobs that of Artistic Director at the Lied Center for Performing Arts. Entrepreneurship paid off because, “a major reason I was given the position at the Lied Center was because of the success they saw in the Meadowlark Music Festival.”

Chang says that she successfully tries to “divide my time between the Lied Center and School of Music.” Going a step further, she developed the Arts Entrepreneurship Program at the School of Music and has been instructor in that program since last year. The Arts Entrepreneurship Program provides students exposure to and knowledge of “a variety of opportunities in this new millennium, through internet, for example, and encourages them to think of non-traditional roles to sustain themselves while staying in the music field.”

This program has been really well received so far, Chang said. Because of the “dissemination of music and work available,” music students need to look beyond their traditional ideas of music jobs. For example, “a string player does not just have the potential to join an orchestra, but should be creative and consider how to make money in music without touching those traditional roles.”
“Music schools are for training musicians,” Chang said, “and forward thinking schools, I’m proud to say that we are one, provide tools for students who graduate to be well equipped musicians, but understanding the vast world of employment, entrepreneurship, and how to look for what they will find to most fulfilling. To create a job for themselves in music.”

Students have also already expressed their gratitude that their teacher, Chang, is someone with varied entrepreneurial experience and that she can introduce them to her many colleagues and acquaintances in order to facilitate networking for them. In the short time of this program, it has encouraged students to keep “the mindset of thinking outside the box. Knowing they have more options motivates them.”

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