Winter 2016

Jazzman Steve Wiest leads a learning revolution at the Lamont School of Music

“It’s about being aware of the musical landscape in the 21st century and trying to figure out how to be an entrepreneur in this changing world,” says Steve Wiest of the Lamont School's approach to teaching. Photo: Wayne Armstrong

“It’s about being aware of the musical landscape in the 21st century and trying to figure out how to be an entrepreneur in this changing world,” says Steve Wiest of the Lamont School’s approach to teaching. Photo: Wayne Armstrong

Two years ago, multiple Grammy-nominated jazz composer and trombonist Steve Wiest did something completely unexpected.

He left one of the world’s best large jazz ensembles — located at the University of North Texas — to teach at the University of Denver’s Lamont School of Music.

Why Lamont? With its world-class facilities, chorus of dedicated faculty members and forward-thinking vision, Lamont has emerged as an attractive option for students seeking a career in music—and for the artists who want to teach them. Led by director Nancy Cochran, Lamont has a new commitment to helping students become not just excellent musicians, but successful entrepreneurs—something the school calls the “21st century mindset.”

“It’s about being aware of the musical landscape in the 21st century and trying to figure out how to be an entrepreneur in this changing world,” says Wiest, associate professor in the Lamont Jazz Studies Department. “For instance, recorded music is no longer a viable source of income, and in the 20th century that was the main source of income. So everybody has been scrambling to figure out how to adapt.”

The answer, he says, is for students to master not just their instruments, but their own futures as composers, performers and creators. In addition to classes in music history and theory, students at Lamont can enroll in courses such as the Business Side of Music, which covers everything from product development and marketing to accounting practices and concert touring, and Music Technology, which looks at inventive ways to use technology, including digital audio, video applications and the design of promotional materials. DU’s Daniels College of Business even plans to offer an entrepreneurship minor in collaboration with the Lamont School of Music and the Daniel Felix Ritchie School of Engineering and Computer Science.

“I like to think of the 21st century as being the best of times and the worst of times,” Wiest says. “It’s the best of times in that all young artists, because it’s a digital revolution, are in charge of their own destinies now. And the worst part is that young artists are in charge of their own destinies now. That’s the joke.”

One of Wiest’s first duties at Lamont was to create and direct the FLEX Ensemble, a new group that combines a jazz rhythm section with performers from the school’s classical and vocal divisions in the spirit of genre-hopping groups like Snarky Puppy and Alarm Will Sound. It was an easy sell, he says, to students who already perform original material at venues throughout the city.

“They’re ready to dig in and work hard on the highest levels possible,” he says. “They’re playing gigs in Denver all the time, so they’re already professional in that sense, but we as a faculty are committed to really bringing them to the highest professional level that there is. They’re into it, and they can do it. It’s very exciting.”

 

2 Comments

  1. joel deichman says:

    Steve’s musical passion will enhance and rub off on those he teaches and comes in contact with!!! Exciting days at Lamont!!

  2. Becoming an entrepreneur in the music industry seems like it would be best ran towards using social channels.

    I would start by creating a music track assembly on a simple website and upload lots of music to YouTube then I would share it and drive traffic it to it via Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

    Have people come back to your website to a landing page where you will collect their email for a “free music offer” of some type.

    Then over the next 10 days send about 3 emails teaching, sharing, and helping them understand the value of your final “paid” offer.

    Get a paypal setup and start collecting income.

    Pays for your next music gig.

    I talk more about this at my website OogleTree.com/Master-Course (free training there)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*