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Music to Their Ears

Lecture Series Brings Students Real Talk About Music Careers

By Kelsey Chase | Photo by Daniel Sheehan

Lou Magor (left) and Pat WrightAt the Futures in Music lecture event on January 8, 2015, musicians Lou Magor (left) and Pat Wright of the Total Experience Gospel Choir spoke about careers in worship arts.

She’s a professional flutist, but Maggie Stapleton also works as assistant program director at Classical KING FM Radio. And when she spoke at a Futures in Music lecture this fall, she opened new worlds to Seattle Pacific University music students.

“I’d never thought about the fact that radio stations need people with music backgrounds,” junior music education major Erin Miller says. “It was an option I didn’t even know existed before.”

Funded by SPU’s Spiritual and Education Resources for Vocational Exploration (SERVE) Program and organized by SPU’s Music Department, Futures in Music lectures connect students with top Seattle artists in everything from radio to recording to rhapsody. Speakers in the music industry, worship arts, performance skills, and leadership discuss their career experiences, answer student questions, and occasionally perform.

“I started [Futures in Music] to address a need,” says Brian Chin, associate professor of music and coordinator of the program. “For one thing, when you’re 18 or 20 years old, it’s hard to imagine what life looks like in music or how to think outside the vocational boxes.”

At the same time, Futures in Music connects Seattle musicians with the university in mutually beneficial ways and reinforces what students are learning in class — the importance of a strong work ethic and a wide skill set.

“There’s a common narrative among the speakers,” music composition major James Aston says. “They say, ‘I didn’t necessarily have experience, but I gave this a shot. Take the opportunity, and it will lead you to the next step.’”

Futures in Music has hosted the likes of Lou Magor and Pat Wright of Total Experience Gospel Choir, film composer and founder of the Northwest Film Scoring Institute Hummie Mann, and former Seattle Symphony conductor and two-time Emmy award winner Gerard Schwarz. The SERVE grant also sponsors a visit from a health and injury specialist every year.

“All our professors are really connected to the music scene in Seattle,” senior music therapy major Katy Siron says. “You can go and see your professor perform. People in the community know them; they know people in the community.”

Those connections have helped students land internships and jobs before and after graduation.

Marshall Frimoth ’14 interned at Tooth and Nail Records, an independent record label based in Seattle whose CEO spoke at a 2013 Futures in Music lecture. A music composition major and business minor, Frimoth worked on promotions and social media for Tooth and Nail.

“As students, most of us recognize getting a job in music is hard,” Miller says. “But we don’t always see the turnaround that it’s possible. Futures in Music is affirmation that the hard work will pay off.”