Why Do We Grant So Many Trumpet Degrees?

Gary Larson's take on trumpet auditions

Gary Larson’s take on trumpet auditions

Each year in the U. S., there are nearly 7000 music performance degrees conferred by post-secondary institutions. is one of the largest schools of music with about 1600 students. For any given year, they have approximately 50 trumpet majors. This means that about 3.1% of music students are trumpeters. So, I estimate that there about 217 major degrees given per year in the United States.

Each year, there are approximately 30 trumpet performance jobs in the U.S (orchestral and military band). Again, this is an estimation. Not all of these jobs are full-time. This means that there are nearly 200 degree-holding who did not get a job. This backlog continues to add to a very large pool of unemployed and frustrated trumpet performers who continue, for a while, to win job openings. Some of these players will get a second or third degree, but many will wind up working in some unrelated field.

I wonder why the National Association of Schools of Music and the Department of Education can’t get together with some hard statistics and limit the number of music degrees and especially performance degrees, so that they more closely match the job market? Doesn’t that make sense?

I think part of the problem is that music schools (and trumpet teachers) are not thinking about the long-term well-being of their students. They, of course, recruit to the MAX. They do this because they want to stay in business! Obviously. But  trumpet teachers (and music schools) have a wide variation in their success. Some are really good at recruiting the best trumpet players and many of these schools are good at producing job winners. There are far more music studios which have a tough time recruiting good students. Many of these do wonders with the students they get, whereas others are doing an extreme disservice to their trumpet students.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if someone kept tabs on who won trumpet playing jobs in the United States with the corollary information of where they studied and with whom?

In researching for this topic, I found this tantalizing discussion thread on College Confidential about trumpet studios in the U.S. The discussion offered some insight into which studios were valued the most and which produced audition winners.¬†I can tell you Northwestern came up a number of times. Also praised was Terry Everson’s trumpet studio at Boston University and Chris Gekker‘s studio at University of Maryland. But these were merely anecdotal observations. Also observed was the fact that great studios have a kind of magnetic attraction for young players who are already great and will be great performers no matter where they go. What is very hard to find out is which teachers actually improve their students the most. Unfortunately, this discussion thread really fell short of what we need, as a trumpet community in making important decisions about how to spend money on trumpet education.

So, what I propose is to start keeping track of trumpet jobs that have been won. I will try to find as much information about the winner as possible. I will welcome any recommendations for how I should do this.

Thanks for any input!