What advice does Kenneth Radnofsky for aspiring musicians? "Bring your personal values to your career," counsels Radnofsky. "Your career should stand for something because it's an important part of your life. Your values, your integrity, your ability to do good things for people needs to be reflected in your teaching and performing. Demanding this of yourself will be a good model for others, especially at times when those people are unsure of what course to take. Don't sink to the lowest common denominator in the profession. Reread John F. Kennedy's Profiles in Courage. Don't let the bad guys get to you. In the end, not that the end is near, you will have something you can look back at and be proud. In the present, you can enjoy your life, your students, and sleep well."
Choosing a university or conservatory is a big decision for a young musician. Radnofsky recommends selecting a school with a primary teacher who truly cares about the students and their goals. "For aspiring musicians who wish to study with me," says Radnofsky, "I spend a lot of time on the phone, and in person, not recruiting, but helping them to make their own decisions about their futures. E-mail is also becoming an important part of my communication. If students want to study or talk with me they can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and that's a beginning. Schools exist to serve the needs of students. If a school (or a teacher) stands in the way of your needs, and it affects you or you get bad vibes, find a different school."
"A school can provide the atmosphere that allows you to succeed. A school with roadblocks and an elitist attitude (one that sends the message, 'you're not good enough') should be avoided. I also encourage students to write to the teachers with whom they wish to study. If the teacher doesn't write back, chances are that he or she doesn't care, or is just too busy. At the very least it means that the teacher has prioritized his career above your aspirations. I teach at several places, and for that reason I encourage students to writ to me at Post Office Box 1016, E. Arlington, Mass. 02474 USA.
That address is also the location of World Wide Concurrent Premieres, the nonprofit organization mentioned earlier by Radnofsky to commission new pieces from composers around the globe. It's an organization that enables people who might not necessarily have the funds to commission a work on their own to come together and do it as a group.
bring together a community of musicians," explains Radnofsky "frequently,
but not always, saxophonists to jointly commission and premiere works
worldwide on the same day. In addition to the Harbison Sonata mentioned
earlier, this concept has enabled the premiere of works by Chris Theofanidis,
Yehudi Wyner, Frank Ticheli, Michael Horvit, Larry Bell, and now, Gunther
Schuller, whose Saxophone Sonata will be premiered beginning December
5, 1999 by about seventy saxophonists (at last count) worldwide. Michael
Colgrass has also agreed to write a work for saxophone and wind ensemble!
Works have been premiered in almost every state and in numerous countries,
including France, Switzerland, Italy, Cyprus, Taiwan, and Singapore
- by both the leaders in our profession and by the aspiring and rising
stars, our students. Everyone pays a fraction of the usual fee,"
explains Radnofsky "usually around $250 instead of the typical
five-figure composer fee. Everyone receives an autographed first edition
numbered score from the composer, first performance rights, and exclusivity.
It's become a nice group, and there's room for more." Teaching
is a tradition that is passed on from one generation to the nest. This
practice tends to give birth to the various schools of playing. Many
pianists around the world proudly trace their teaching traditions back
to masters such as Liszt and Chopin. As one would expect, many of the
students that Kenneth Radnofsky has taught have gone on to become teachers
themselves. They are teaching at the University of Iowa, Georgia State
University, the University of Hartford, the University of New Hampshire,
several colleges in Illinois, the state university systems of California,
Tennessee, Ohio, and Alabama as well as private studios in Washington
State, Oregon, Massachusetts, and London. In the realm of performance
his former students are playing solos with local symphony orchestras,
performing recitals, and are active and involved members of a musical
society that they have helped to shape. "One former student, Sam
Skelton," reports a proud Radnofsky, "does all the saxophone
work you hear on CNN. Greg Ridlington, who played Donatoni's Hot this
past school year, spent the summer as lead saxophonist with the Glenn
Miller Band and has joined the United States Marine Band."