The Savvy Musician Challenge

We’re trying something new here at The Savvy Musician, hoping to engage music students from all over the country and globe, while learning from their collective wisdom.  If you or your school/group is interested in participating (or if you have questions), please e-mail  Details are below. Stay tuned for the results!







The purpose of The Savvy Musician Challenge is to:

  1. Engage music students on important issues
  2. Foster meaningful discussion
  3. Provide an opportunity for musicians to share their ideas with others
  4. Open up a national/international dialogue
  5. Help cultivate musical leaders

How it works

During Spring 2010, three open-ended challenges are posed to various student groups (college/high school studios, ensembles, career development classes, arts entrepreneurship clubs, etc.).  Participants from each entity write responses.  Each institution submits their best answer to The Savvy Musician Blog, which will post a new solution each day for a week following the closing date. Afterwards, participants can study, reflect, and comment on responses by colleagues from different regions.

For each challenge, we’re hoping to present 5-7 responses. In total, this will allow us to represent around 20 different institutions.  Within your program, there are several ways this effort could be organized:

  • Have students write responses individually, and submit the best statement. 
  • Have groups work together.  Discuss all solutions as a class, and nominate the best idea.
  • Begin with a class discussion, and select someone to write up the consensus.
  • Have groups write responses, discuss their thoughts with the class, and devise a composite statement.
  • Invite a select group of creative students to address the issue.
  • Host a competition to see who invents the most creative solution.
  • Some other variation.

Whichever aproach is taken, we hope it will help facilitate meaningful discussion.

The Challenges

Challenge #1 — Complete by: Monday, March 29

Are Musicians Truly Important?  Most people would immediately agree that doctors, farmers, and teachers provide essential services to our communities.  But what about musicians?  Is our work vital?  What kind of important differences can we make?

 Challenge #2 — Complete by: Monday, April 12

Attracting New Audiences.  Classical and jazz performances often appeal to only a small segment of our population, typically aficionados.  Design a chamber music experience (4 players or less) that will engage new and untraditional audiences.  Describe your target demographic(s), why they will be interested, the event design, and marketing strategy.

 Challenge #3 — Complete by: Monday, April 26

Music Solves Real Problems.  Pick a pressing challenge that faces your community or country, and design a music-based initiative that helps address or solve that issue.  Any dilemma is fair game (from large-scale matters like national security or health care to localized concerns).  Be creative, and propose something important.

Submissions should be 1000 words or less, well written, and free of errors.  Be sure to have a clear thesis and logical form.  Please title submissions.  Additionally, include author name(s), and add a short paragraph at the end describing your school, class, club, or program. 


This is the first time we’re trying an experiment like this.  Please let us know your thoughts about how it could become an even more meaningful experience.  Afterwards, we may offer a post about the overall experience, including what we learn from you. 

How to Participate

We hope you will consider actively discussing all three challenges within your setting.  However, on The Savvy Musician Blog, we plan to represent different institutions for each question.  If you’d like to participate, please e-mail your intent to by March 7 (if there is still room, we will accept later confirmations).  In the message, indicate which of the challenges you plan to address: #1, #2, or #3. 

 Thank you sincerely, and we look forward to gaining valuable insights from you and your community.

David Cutler, Author of The Savvy Musician

Dawn Bennett, Author of Understanding the Classical Music Profession

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