Advice for New Horn Professors

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At the recent [2008] Southeast Horn Workshop I saw several former students, two being of particular interest to me as they now have tenure track jobs teaching at universities (congratulations!) who presented sessions at the event; Dr. Heidi Lucas (studied with me the final three years of her undergrad degree when I was at Crane) and Dr. James Boldin (was a student for several summers at Brevard). Three thoughts for them but also directed to all who are out there starting out careers in our field.

1. Keep buying new and old publications. There is a lot to learn and different writers will give you different insights that can be applied to your playing and teaching. Even when I think a new publication could be bad I will buy it, as it still is helpful to me as it helps clarify my own thoughts. Reading other publications is a part of what has motivated me toward trying to create better resources for my students.

2. Don’t commit any “deadly sins.” By this I am referring to the deadly sins that can ruin your career, a topic that I have seen BYU horn professor by Larry Lowe present on several times recent workshop presentations. The job you do now is the basis of all that will come for you later in your career, make the most of it, do your best.

3. Keep building up the vitae. The tenure process is brutal. People have told you this already but you don’t really know until you are in the heat of it just how much work it is to put together everything for a successful tenure case. Recruit, be productive, be a disciplined, steady worker, and have some type of research or creative activity you are doing that stands out above just playing a lot of concerts.

koppraschUPDATE 2014: Working over the older articles in Horn Matters again a few more thoughts come to mind.

First, point 3 above is one that I would particularly mention to any part time or aspiring collegiate horn professors out there. Talk with mentors who have been on search committees. Find out what you can do to make your vitae get higher up in the list of applicants for the few tenure track full time jobs that open up. Keep that angle in mind in all that you do.

More importantly, there is one piece of advice I wish I had been given by someone at the right time, or, if it was, that it had really registered with me at the time. It is a piece of advice that I think mentors do give and is very wise advice.

That advice would be to look carefully at the tenure and promotion guidelines for performance faculty at your school and figure out how to hit every button you can on that list, with an eye to particularly hitting the ones that the personnel committee values the most.

I have not been any perfect example on this, honestly. Looking at other college horn professors out there I am sure some of them got this advice and took it very closely to heart. Hitting the specific points of your guidelines, and especially so the ones that are most highly valued, is pretty much the only way to work a tenure and promotion system so that you can proceed through it as quickly as you possibly can. Which is critically important as if you don’t proceed quickly you will end up losing a lot of money because of not holding the rank and salary you potentially could be holding.

I was aware of the guidelines but focused in on the professional activities and opportunities that interested me the most. Reading between those lines you can probably figure out I did not aim at as many buttons as I could, spending time with such things as Horn Matters that, while impacting the horn world, were not hitting at specific points in a checklist such as a personnel committee would consider.

I hesitate to be too specific beyond that, but for anyone reading this aspiring toward a long career in academia just keep in mind the above is very important to your ultimate career development, give all  you do careful thought.

For some notes on applying for college teaching jobs see this article.

University of Horn Matters