Parents, You’ve Got it M.A.D.E.

by: Prof. Stephen Gleason


As an aspiring high school music student on the verge of entering college, one of the great challenges is not only deciding what institution to invest the next four (or more) years of your life – it is also deciding “what program should I pursue?” If you feel overwhelmed, you are not alone. In order to meet the demands and rigors of the modern music industry, colleges and universities have designed what feels like a labyrinth of elaborate degree “tracks”. For those seeking a traditional career path rooted in classical/jazz studies or music education, there is good news: this model remains relatively unchanged, offering wonderful faculties and excellent program offerings nationwide. For the those looking to gain industry experience, study/perform popular music, learn audio production and now AI, the options and scope become much more limited and a more boutique experience is required. One program that that truly stands out is the Music, Artistry, Development, and Entrepreneurship (M.A.D.E.) program at the Frost School of Music, University of Miami. We’ll delve deep into the essence of the M.A.D.E. program, exploring its core components, the impact it has on aspiring musicians, and how it sets a standard for music education in the 21st Century.

The Music, Artistry, Development, and Entrepreneurship (M.A.D.E.) program at the Frost School of Music represents a bold and innovative approach to music education. By blending traditional musical excellence with contemporary industry demands, the program equips students with the skills and knowledge they need to excel in today’s musical landscape. With its emphasis on musicianship, artistry, development, and entrepreneurship, the M.A.D.E. program prepares students not only to be exceptional performers but also to be creative, forward-thinking professionals. Through real-world application, innovative pedagogy, and a commitment to fostering success beyond the classroom, the program has consistently produced graduates who make a lasting impact on the music industry.

The Foundation of M.A.D.E.

The M.A.D.E. program at the Frost School of Music is a groundbreaking initiative that marries the traditional values of musical excellence with the contemporary demands of the music industry. Founded on the belief that today’s musicians must not only be virtuosic performers but also creative entrepreneurs, this program prepares students for the dynamic and multifaceted world of music.

The M.A.D.E. curriculum focuses on four key pillars:

  1. Musicianship: The foundation of any great musician is impeccable musicianship. Students in the M.A.D.E. program undergo rigorous training in music theory, composition, and performance, ensuring that they possess a solid foundation on which to build their careers.
  2. Artistry: Beyond technical prowess, the M.A.D.E. program fosters artistic expression and individuality. Students are encouraged to explore their unique voice, style, and creativity through various mediums and genres, from classical to jazz, pop to electronic.
  3. Development: The program equips students with the skills necessary to navigate the music industry successfully. Courses cover topics such as marketing, promotion, event planning, and music technology, empowering graduates to manage their careers effectively.
  4. Entrepreneurship: In today’s musical landscape, musicians are not only artists but also entrepreneurs. The M.A.D.E. program instills entrepreneurial thinking, enabling students to develop innovative projects, collaborate with industry professionals, and create their own opportunities.

Real-World Application

One of the standout features of the M.A.D.E. program is its commitment to providing students with real-world experience. In the music industry, practical knowledge often carries as much weight as theoretical understanding, and the program recognizes this. Through partnerships with local music organizations and venues, students have the opportunity to put their skills to the test.

For instance, M.A.D.E. students may organize and promote their own concerts, manage artists, or work as event coordinators for local music festivals. These experiences not only help students apply their classroom knowledge but also build essential connections within the industry.

Innovative Pedagogy

The Frost School of Music takes pride in its innovative pedagogical approaches, and the M.A.D.E. program is no exception. Instructors are not only accomplished musicians and educators but also active industry professionals, ensuring that students receive the most up-to-date and practical education possible.

Small class sizes and personalized attention are the norm in the M.A.D.E. program, allowing students to receive individualized guidance and mentorship. Whether honing their performance skills or refining their entrepreneurial ventures, students have access to a wealth of resources and support.

Beyond the Classroom

The M.A.D.E. program extends far beyond the confines of the classroom. Students are encouraged to immerse themselves in Miami’s vibrant and diverse music scene, taking advantage of the city’s rich culture and countless musical opportunities. From performing at renowned venues to collaborating with local artists, M.A.D.E. students are well-positioned to gain valuable experience and exposure. The program also invites guest artists and industry professionals for masterclasses and workshops. These sessions provide students with invaluable insights and connections, further enhancing their musical journey.

Success Stories

The success of the M.A.D.E. program can be measured by the achievements of its graduates. Many alumni have gone on to establish thriving careers in the music industry, excelling as performers, composers, producers, and entrepreneurs. Some have even received prestigious awards and recognition for their contributions to music. Some notable alumni include platinum songwriter/producer/composer Alexis Kesselman; singer/songwriter John Splithof – currently featured on ©GRAMMY winning trumpeter Chris botti’s new single “Paris”; as well as members of the indie rock band Kid Sistr.

 Alexis Kesselman
Alexis Kesselman Copyright:

In Conclusion

After such a comprehensive look at the program, not to mention a “dizzying amount” of information and accolades – the question still remains, will my child flourish as an artist, musician, and student in this program? Rather than present another angle or cite another gleaming statistic I am reminded of what initially attracted me to teach at Frost; more specifically in the M.A.D.E. program. As equal parts singer and guitarist with a passion and flare for production, I found myself difficult to categorize and a paradox in the strata of academia. I had an ultra-formal music education consisting of classical as well as jazz instruction on both voice and guitar.

In addition, I sang in choir as well as vocal jazz, barbershop – wrote arrangements for jazz orchestra and chamber ensembles. All the while, I was gigging on the weekend in a dance/rock band, doing recording sessions with NYC DJ’s and beginning to learn music production. Most of the latter experiences took place outside of the college classroom, not inclusive of my degree (or any music degree at that time). Little did I know, these skills would allow me to develop and hone my craft as musician, artist, producer, as well as provide a wealth of exposure to the mechanics of the music industry – all major tenets of the M.A.D.E. program. Needless to say, after reading the criteria for the Frost faculty, I sincerely felt as though they culled through my entire career and resumé and presented it as a viable position. What is more, my fabulous colleagues feel the same as well and are specialists in their respective areas.

In summation, aspiring musicians seeking an education that combines tradition with innovation will feel at home in the M.A.D.E. program. It is truly a place where creativity is celebrated, and the future of music is forged.

About the Author

Stephen Gleason is a New York born and bred musician, artist, and educator. An accomplished guitarist and vocalist with heavy roots in both jazz and popular music who has created a unique career of performing, composing, producing, and teaching music.

As an award-winning ensemble director, his original vocal arrangements are heralded as a “modern and vibrant interpretation of classic jazz and the Great American Songbook,” garnering attention from the likes of Manhattan Transfer and Phil Mattson from the renowned A cappella quartet Singers Unlimited.
As a member of the vocal jazz group Quintet, Stephen would earn a CASA award in 2016 for their debut album Quintet: Volume 1.

He is currently a lecturer at the Frost School of Music, University of Miami teaching contemporary voice, guitar, music technology and directing the Coffee House ensemble. Stephen is also a member of the Recording Academy.

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