The Giving Piano

Around the world, and right here in Bloomington, the piano is the focal point of a renaissance in community art and creative place-making as musicians, and arts organizers bring the “grand” instrument to the people.

Next week, The Giving Piano Initiative will place a beautiful Bosendorfer grand, about to retire from its performance career, in the Bloomington Transit Center for a series of concerts and open performances, showcasing music, and musicians, of all kinds.

The week-long celebration features two daily time slots for free public performances: 12-2 pm is an open call for anyone who wishes to perform and 4-6 pm includes scheduled performances by various Indiana University students and community partners. Bloomington community members are also invited to perform at any other time, while the Transit Center is open during the week.

Here are a few of the many exciting and innovative projects in “public piano” happening around the country, and across the globe:

Sing for Hope Pianos places artist-designed pianos throughout NYC’s parks and public spaces for anyone and everyone to play each summer. After their time on the streets, Sing for Hope transports the instruments to NYC public schools, where they become hubs for ongoing creative programs.

In Fort Collins, Colorado, Pianos About Town (a collaboration between the City, Downtown Development Authority, and a local Foundation) brings local art and spontaneous music to the streets.

A collaboration of two multi-disciplinary artists, Sunset Piano invites local musicians and the public to play under the open sky along the Northern California Coast.

Street Pianos has taken the movement global with more than 1,800 pianos in 55 cities, reaching more than 10 million people worldwide.

*For more information on how you can participate in the Giving Piano Initiative in Bloomington, email:

*If you plan to participate, please share your photos on Facebook and other social media platforms #thegivingpiano

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You got the gig!

A guest post by OECD Practicum student, and jazz pianist, Matt Falgowski

So you’ve got the gig! All that hard work in a practice room has finally paid off, but it’s not over yet. You still have to get your repertoire list together, play the gig, and get asked back. Here are some helpful hints to keep in mind:

  • When you land the gig, give the event coordinator a call within 24 hours and let them know you have a stellar group ready to play, and you are looking forward to it. It’s a load off the coordinator’s mind to receive a call letting them know the entertainment is taken care of.
  • Make sure to negotiate payment and time commitment, if not already done. Will there be rehearsals? How long are you expected to perform? When negotiating, make sure to ask questions. Advocate for the value of your service and do it with a positive attitude.
  • Follow up with a brief contract that outlines: time, fee, travel, cancellation policies, deposits, etc. If you are given a contract, make sure to read it through, and ask questions if you are uncertain about anything.
  • Agree upon the repertoire and take any requests the coordinator may have. (Highway to Hell might not be the best choice for a wedding.)
  • If the event coordinator requests an audio sample, repertoire list, résumé, etc., from the group send it ASAP.
  • Show up, dressed professionally, and well before the gig start time.
  • Play the gig!
  • Upon leaving, make sure to thank the event coordinator and leave your card.
  • Follow up with your musicians and make sure your bandmates get paid in a timely manner!
  • Jot down the date, payment, and expenses from the gig. Financial record keeping is essential as a freelance musician. Expenses such as travel and instrument care can be deducted as a business expense and lower your overall tax burden.

Interested in learning more about freelancing? The So, You Want to be a Freelance Musician workshop, with JSoM faculty member Vincent Carr, is for you!

  • Friday April 13th
  • 3:00-4:30PM
  • MU011
  • Sign up in the career portal



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Saturday: Interview Prep Masterclass!

Wouldn’t it be nice to have insight into what search committees are REALLY looking for in a cover letter and resume? Would you like to know what employers are thinking about as they prepare for candidate interviews? Are there things you can do to increase your chances of success in the interview process? Is help available as you think about, and prepare for, your interviews?

If you answered ‘YES’ to any or all of the questions above, the Interview Prep Masterclass is for YOU! Take advantage of the combined expertise of Jacobs’ faculty members Brenda Brenner, Anne Epperson, Jason Nam, and Mark Hood as they demystify the interview process. You’ll leave with tips & pointers, new-found confidence, and maybe a few cautionary tales.

This masterclass includes an opportunity to observe, and debrief, two mock interviews. Our faculty panel will interview an undergraduate student for a summer internship AND a PhD candidate [Orchestral Conducting] for a professional position.

Invest two hours in your career preparation this Saturday. You’ll be glad you did.

Sign up in the career portal

  • Interview Prep Masterclass
  • Saturday, April 7
  • 10am-12pm
  • MU011, OECD Headquarters
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Interview Preparation!

So, you’ve landed that first interview! Your resume looks great, you researched the job and the organization, and your cover letters tell your story well.

Now what?

Preparing for that interview takes this to another level. Before your goal was to demonstrate that you have the skills to do the job. Now the goal is to show the employer what you can do for them, specifically. The other, often buried goal of the job interview, is to help you decide if your career ambitions and qualifications are aligned with them. Yes, that’s right – part of the point here is for you to interview back.

This week’s post is designed to help you get started in your preparations for a job interview with some best practices and a list of dos and don’ts.

Best practices:

  • Be sure you take the time to research the organization. That might mean the company (if you’re new to it), the department, and/or the people you will be interviewing with. Make sure you have the following:
    • Background information (is this a new position? Has there been any kind of reorganization? Did someone leave and you would be potentially taking over their position?)
    • What questions do you have for them about the position, the organization, or what it would be like to work there? You will definitely be given a chance to ask questions, so plan ahead
  • Make sure you go back to the job description and be sure you understand what is required, who the position reports to, and what your qualifications are
  • Practice responses to questions. Remember the first few times you try to answer the question you’ll probably be thinking through it. You want to be able to answer their questions in under three minutes (interviews are short and there’s a lot to cover!)
  • Plan what you’ll wear. What you wear affects how you talk, so always dress well even if it’s only a phone interview! If it’s face to face, err on the side of conservative business dress. Don’t forget to put on appropriate professional shoes, too.
  • Pay attention to your non-verbal communication – your body language speaks volumes to your listener.
  • Respect the time of your interviewers – be on time, keep your answers brief and to the point – they’ll ask follow up questions if they have any.
  • Remember that questions are opportunities, not challenges to your credentials. Don’t let your fears of being “good enough” get in the way.

Want to see interviews live to help you learn more? The OECD has a mock interview masterclass workshop coming up on Saturday April 7th from 10am-noon in MU011 (OECD Headquarters!). Reserve a seat and find more information on the Career Portal.

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Taking Time to Tackle the Tax Tangle

As artists, we spend most of our time connecting to the creative side of the brain and can’t be bothered by keeping up with lists of our business expenses. And, yet, with tax season upon us, it’s time to fire up the left side of the brain and consider how to organize the numbers and to work out how to handle deductions. Overall, it’s best to consult with a tax professional and keep accurate records & receipts through the year.

Where to Start?
Most working musicians are considered to be self-employed in regard to filing taxes. In a legal and taxpaying sense this means that your business as a musician and you as an individual taxpayer are one and the same.

Which Deductions?
Here are a few suggested deductions for the self-employed musician:

  • Expenses related to a home studio
  • Membership fees to professional associations
  • Cost of instrument depreciation (over time)
  • Mileage for work-related activity

Learn more here >

What Type of Business?

If you plan to start a formal business as you make money as an artist, it’s helpful to know what your options are for both tax and liability purposes.

  • Sole Proprietorships are essentially one-owner businesses
  • Partnerships are the same as sole proprietorships, only there is more than one owner.
  • Limited Liability Companies or (LLCs) are separate entities that offer the pass-through taxation capabilities of sole proprietorships and partnerships, but relieve you of most personal liability.

Learn more here >

Looking for Help?

If you’re looking for advice, here are a number of local and online resources:

Non-US Citizen Looking for Help?

There’s a not-for-profit organization, called Artists from Abroad that can help!

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Put the “Break” Back in Spring Break

Spring Break is almost here. Are you trading crashing cymbals for crashing waves? You might have a to-do list of adventures, and friends lined up to share them all. Or perhaps it’s auditions and grad school visits for you?

You could also give yourself permission to unplug completely. Psychologists, educators, and business leaders are noting the negative effects of living ever-connected super-charged lives.

Mindfulness, daydreaming, unplugging, and reflecting are essential for creativity and brain health. These “inactivities” are known to be the best path to productivity as well as a sense of identity and personal meaning. We could link several articles here so you could learn more, but that feels like…well…the opposite of what we’re talking about.

You’re driven and focused. Taking a true break might feel unnatural [and might worry your parents for a minute] but try it any way. Ease into it, if you have to. There’s no time like the present to…do nothing. You’ll be back to your regular schedule in a week!

If you’re traveling, be safe. If you’re auditioning, break a leg. And remember, the Career Advisors in the OECD will be here when you get back to help you prepare for summer opportunities or life-after-graduation!



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What is Bias Reporting and How Does It Impact You?

Do you feel harassed or misunderstood by those around you? Is there intolerance or stereotyping going on in your classes?

You may have heard about this over the last year or two and wondered what it does here on the IU campus, and how it might impact you as a student in the Jacobs School of Music. Inquiring minds in the Office of Entrepreneurship and Career Development are here to shed a little light!

Bias incident reporting is intended to help support a safe and inclusive environment by giving members of the community a place where they can report an incident – anonymously if they have concerns! – to help protect themselves or others on campus.

Bias incident reporting is intended to help foster awareness and influence change on campus – you can help!

What kinds of incidents should be reported?
IU defines a bias incident as something that “targets an individual based on their age, color, religion, disability (physical or mental), race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, marital status, or veteran status, as identified in the student code of conduct.”

In more plain language, “we’re talking about intolerance, discrimination, hostility, harassment, hate, mistreatment, prejudice, bigotry, injustice, favoritism, homophobia, xenophobia, racism, tendency, ageism, privilege, marginalization, retaliation, bullying, incivility, stereotyping, and microaggressions.”

Some examples of bias incidents:

  • A student is verbally harassed for being from another country
  • A work-study supervisor tells a joke demeaning women
  • A person is not hired for a job due to their age
  • A person intentionally ridicules another person for the pronouns that person uses

The list goes on – you can see these and other examples here, but there are many other possibilities.

Where can you report a suspected incident?

Mobile app: IU Mobile App (
Phone: (812) 855-8188

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Did you know the JSoM Career Portal offers a seamless [and FREE] credentials management service to help you in your job search?

  • Login and set up your account.
  • Choose “Credentials” from the menu on the left and get started!
  • Upload current CV, resumes, and other career documents [which can be updated and managed at any time].

Through the system, you can request recommendation letters from internal/IU or external recommenders. Recommenders receive a link and can type their recommendation directly into the system or upload as a document – indicating the level of confidentiality they prefer.

When applying for positions, use the ‘Orders’ tab to generate recommendation packets – selecting the particular documents and recommendations you want to include for each employer. Packets are automatically sent to the contacts you provide and the OECD receives an email confirming receipt!

It’s that easy. And it’s free.

Questions or problems with the system? Stop by the OECD [MU011] or make an appointment with a Career Advisor today!


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Got [other] Talent?

You’re a Jacobs School of Music student. Talent goes with the territory. You know your way around an aria and a cadenza. You can jeté all day and mix-and-master all night.

But many of you have other talents. Multi-talents. Diverse talents. Useful talents. Like, for instance, photography, audio and video recording, website design, and more.  You’re an artist AND a hired hand – for updating headshots, providing recording services for recitals and audition tapes, or designing websites for less tech-savvy classmates.

The Office of Entrepreneurship and Career Development is assembling a “Freelancers List” to help connect students needing assistance with students providing that assistance! Who says developing professional portfolio materials can’t be a team sport?

If you provide freelance services, and would like to add your name to the JSoM OECD Freelancers List, please email us with:

  • Your Name
  • Preferred contact Info [including link to a website if you have it]
  • Brief description of the service(s) you provide
  • Fee schedule, if available

The list is for informational purposes only. Inclusion on the list is not an endorsement. We reserve the right to edit the list at any time.


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Navigating “What I Didn’t Learn in Music School”

This week’s post introduces you to three upcoming BROWNBAG LUNCHES with recently appointed faculty members and a guest.

Music school prepares you for technical success, but what about those intangibles tips and pointers, often learned in the School of Hard Knocks? In short, what DOES it take to be successful?

The easy answer: be good at what you do. But is this enough? Of course not. There is the business-entrepreneurial aspects of your work, whatever you design it to be, and there’s also the community you need to be able to work with and navigate through. Is there a single, simple answer? Again, of course not: there are as many ways to navigate it as there are people who navigate them. Your route will depend on your specialty(ies), your own strengths, and your personal interests.

There ARE things successful performers (and music scholars) have in common, and with that in mind, we’re presenting a set of brown bag sessions this semester of Jacobs School of Music faculty or alums – to share their story with you in an informal setting focused specifically on how they achieved their current professional standing related to these other factors. We’re calling it “What I Didn’t Learn in Music School.” Each of our presenters has a very different background and has taken a range of routes to get where they are today. Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to come in looking for models for how you can shape your professional life.

Our first presenter, new Jacobs piano faculty member Norman Krieger, will be here on Friday, February 16 from 12:30-1:30pm in MU011.

Our March presenter is Jacobs alum Dr. Amanda Sewell, who will present her session on Thursday, March 22 from 12:30-1:30pm in MU011.

Our final presenter of the semester is Jacobs Jazz Studies faculty member Walter Smith III, who will present his session on Friday April 20, from 12pm-1pm in MU011.

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