Passion to Profession

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Running Start, our entrepreneurship program, introduces students to business concepts and strategies tailored to meet their career ambitions through participating in workshops, courses, internships, performance opportunities, and community activities.

Music is more than a passion. It’s a profession. The Running Start office for Career Services and Music Entrepreneurship coordinates extensive opportunities to help students learn how to apply business skills in real-world settings and market their talents for professional success in music.  

Courses and Workshops

We offer a variety of on-campus learning opportunities that include practical experiences in performance, business, and teaching. Coursework designed to prepare students for success after graduation is woven throughout the curriculum. Both undergraduate and graduate students are encouraged to consider electives that enhance their marketability and give them the freedom to decide how to best position themselves.

Workshops, led by faculty, successful alumni, and guest artists, cover topics such as self-marketing; building a private studio; recording techniques; applying for grants; and financial management for self-employed musicians.

Putting Ideas into Action

The College of Music offers both undergraduate and graduate students considerable fellowship support for professional development. Students are also counseled on applying for grants and financial support for projects, identifying summer music programs, submitting research for scholarly journals, and presenting at conferences. Students also receive opportunities to submit entrepreneurial ideas for peer-and panel-reviewed competitions. 

MSU Community Music Schools

Music schools in East Lansing and Detroit offer instruction, music therapy, and free concerts to community members of all ages. Music students may teach classes, including piano pedagogy, folk music, early childhood music education, string methods, as well as instrumental music. 

Career Advising

One-on-one advising offers students the opportunity to customize their path to professional success. Students focus on developing business and marketing strategies; professional presentations; creating innovative teaching or performing opportunities; finding and securing funding
for a project; and more.


Students can apply for internships both within the College of Music and in the larger community and receive credittoward their degree. Interns learn new skills and apply them in business and artistic environments, including performance, teaching, administrative work, and marketing.

Placements include the Lansing Symphony Orchestra; the Detroit Opera House; Wharton Center for Performing Arts; the East Lansing Summer Solstice Jazz Festival; and the Arts Council of Greater Lansing.

Guest Speakers

Students learn from guest artists, alumni, and industry experts who share their experiences as working musicians. Recent presentations include:

  • DePue Brothers Band, “Branding Your Band and Leaving  a Legacy,” Fall 2012
  • David Cutler, “Creating Demand for Your Music in ANY Environment,” and “How Music Education Can Change the World (and Why It Often Doesn’t),” Spring 2012
  • Chuck Leavell, pianist/keyboardist for the Rolling Stones, “A Casual Conversation with Chuck Leavell on the Music Biz,” Spring 2013
  • Lindsay Kesselman, soprano, “Building a 21st Century Professional Identity: Strategies, Best Practices, and Pitfalls,” Fall 2014
  • The Dali String Quartet, Philadelphia-based ensemble, “The ‘Business’ of the Dali String Quartet,” Spring 2014

Celebrating Success

Our students and alumni regularly receive awards from a variety of national and international competitions. Below are just a few examples.

  • Tony Award, 1998 best orchestration for Ragtime, William David Brohn, BM Music Theory, 1955
  • Recipient, 2013 Herb Alpert Young Jazz Award, Kristopher Johnson, BM Jazz Studies; 2005, MM Performance; 2008
  • Grand Prize, 2013 Metropolitan Opera National Council Audition, Nathaniel Peake, MM Performance, 2010
  • Grammy Award, 2013, with Pat Metheny, best jazz instrumental album, Winner, 2009, Thelonius Monk International Jazz Competition, Ben Williams, BM Music Education, 2007
  • Winner, 2014 Concert Artist Guild, Victor Elmaleh Competition, MM student, Brandon Ridenour
  • Winner, 2014 National Opera Association vocal competition, scholarship division, MM student, Schyler Sheltrown
  • Gold Medal, 2007 Fischoff Chamber Music Competition, H2 Saxophone Quartet, student ensemble
  • Winners, 2013 NAfME Collegiate Chapter of Excellence Award, Professional Development, PhD Music Education Candidates Robin Giebelhausen and Ryan Shaw
  • First Place, National Opera Association, division IV; 2013 “The Magic Flute;” division III; 2011 “The Pirates of Penzance,” MSU Opera Theatre