Times, They Are A Changing

njobsThe year was 1969, in Lewisville, Texas and I was in the middle of a lesson with one of my many brass students. I was notified that I needed to answer a phone call which was very unusual due to the fact that my wife was at work and few knew I was at the high school that day.

The voice on the other end of the phone identified himself as Dr. Myron Russell, Department Head of Music at the University of Northern Iowa. Quickly I realized that I was being offered a position as trumpet instructor at his university; and that was how I got my position which lasted for thirty years until I retired in the year 2000.

Filling a position at a college or university has changed drastically since that time and the chances of being hired over the phone are non-existent today. The normal sequence of hiring a new faculty member begins with the formation of a search committee followed by a nationwide notice of the opening. Next, resumes are sent to the search committee and the number of applicants may be as high as 200 to 500, depending on the responsibilities of the job.

After many weeks or months, the search committee will narrow down the number of applicants to a workable size with the next step being calls and conversations with people close to the applicant, with hopes of eliminating as many as possible.

Once the number of persons being considered for the job has been lowered to the top three or four candidates, affirmative action is contacted in order to clear the persons as far as affirmative action is concerned. Invitations are sent to each of the candidates to visit the campus for a closer and more thorough inspection.

Once on campus each candidate is expected to teach a lesson, work with an ensemble, visit with the search committee as well as “hang” with the students. An audition recital is also expected in order to evaluate the candidate’s performing skills. Usually this process will take the whole day and will be the same for each of the final candidates.

Once all of the finalists have performed, taught, visited and otherwise been picked apart by the subcommittee, the final selection for the position will usually take a week or two to sift through all of the candidate’s strong points, weaknesses and the committees general feelings toward each person.

The selection of a new faculty member has indeed changed drastically from when I began teaching and what is considered typical these days. To be honest, I’m certain that with the tremendous competition for each new opening today, I would not have a chance in today’s market.

Some of the most gifted, talented and wonderful people are constantly applying for trumpet jobs all over the country at this time. Each candidate sends in his/her resumes with hopes of securing a job, only to be turned down time after time. The number of positions has diminished and at the same time the competition among these highly skilled individuals is staggering. As an example, 44 applicants submitted their resume for the recent trumpet position at the University of North Texas.

We have finally come to the point of over saturation in applicants for trumpet positions. It is time now to reconsider the chances of getting a trumpet teaching job in our country. As sad as this may seem, the truth sometimes hurts and hopefully many will take my advice as to the possibilities of trumpet teaching as a career.

Bruce was a member of the faculty at the University of Northern Iowa, School of Music in Cedar Falls from 1969 until his retirement in 1999. He has performed with many well-known entertainers such as Bob Hope, Jim Nabors, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, Anita Bryant, Carman Cavalara, Victor Borgie, the Four Freshman, Blackstone the Magician, Bobby Vinton and John Davidson.