Drew McManus writes today about musicians as adjunct faculty members. (Thanks, Drew, for the kind mention at your blog!) He included a link to Jason Heath’s blog entry about this problem. Jason actually quit two jobs because of the problems.

It’s true; we are often paid per student. (I’m pleased to say I am in a slightly different situation.) We also aren’t given office space. Nor do many of the full timers know who the heck we are. We breeze in. We teach. We breeze out.

So why do it?

Well, we need income, for one thing. But the income from teaching at a university is often lower than what we earn for teaching privately. It’s more about being able to put these positions on our resumes, I think.

Me? I like teaching college students. It’s the only way, for the most part, that I would get the opportunity to teach college students. While some instructors are hoping for a full time position eventually, I don’t have a masters or doctorate, so this position is as far as I can get. (I was hired because of my years—over thirty now—as a professional musician.) I’m okay with that. I don’t want full time.

But it can be frustrating. I “taught” at one college years ago … and had one student for one year only. The rest of the time I was just on their list. At one point, after not teaching for several years, I received a call telling me I had to perform in a faculty recital. They weren’t planning on paying me for the recital … after all, I was “faculty”. I quit.

Now? I’ll stick with my two universities. I enjoy the students. But it is an odd job, to be sure. (And I am required to do a recital every other year at one of the schools. But I have some guarantees there, so it is worth the time and effort. Sort of.)

The thing I dislike most about teaching these students? Grading. Sigh. I’m not an “automatic A” teacher, and feel that students should take lessons seriously. Some haven’t agreed with that.

In Other News
Jason Heath also blogged about a Nutcracker disaster. You have to read the first comment as well as Jason’s blog entry, as it talks about “my” Nutcracker! And yes, that really happened … and no, I’m not the anonymous person who wrote to him. (Hmmm. Sure wonder who else is reading his blog.) When the problem occurred, the folks around me were nearly in tears from laughing so hard. It was so bizarre sounding and nearly twilight zone-ish. Nuts can be tedious, but on occasion we wake up for the unusual and bizarre!

I guess I’ll have to share some Nut stories someday, eh?


  1. Thanks for the mention of my post about adjunct teaching.  Now that I quit I feel free to write about it.  My particular situation wasn’t the greatest.  The San Jose Nutcracker story is really great.  I can just picture the expressions on the faces of the dancers as this outer space fake celeste music comes out of the pit…

  2. Patricia Mitchell

    Good to hear from you, Jason!

    Since I do still teach I need to be a bit careful about what I write, of course. Discretion and all that jazz.

    Yes, the Nut was … um … interesting. (Tears rolling down the face interesting, except for the poor keyboard player who was frantic.) That’s what they get for not getting a real celeste, yes? We also have synthesized voices for the Snowflakes. Sigh.

    At least they are still using a live orchestra! 🙂