Job Application Observations


Recently I was selected to serve as the graduate student representative on a search committee for a new music theory/composition faculty member at a major university. No, I’m not going to give away any details of how that search is progressing, nor will I name any names. However, I’ve gathered a few tidbits of wisdom from my perusal of composers’ incoming portfolios, and I thought that I would share them here.

When submitting a CD, PLEASE include either a CD jacket with liner notes or an extra piece of paper with CD track information. Including the track information on the CD itself is not enough. It’s incredibly annoying to place the CD in the player and then not have ANY idea of which track is which. If you think the search committee members are going to memorize your CD track information before inserting the disc into the player, you’re nuts.

Speaking of CDs, DO NOT send more than one! The applicants are limited to the inclusion of three different notated compositions, so one CD should easily contain all the audio required for these specific works. In some portfolios I found three CDs! If you can’t be bothered enough to create a unique CD with the works you specifically want on it, don’t bother applying for the job. I know, I know. The mindset is that, “Ooh, let me show how impressive I am by including *more* recordings than those for which they asked. That way maybe the committee members will listen to MORE of my music!” Yeah, right. If you think the committee members are going to listen to sixty-plus minutes of your music, you are out of your gourd! You’ll be lucky if they give you ten minutes. Sorry. It’s nothing personal. These are busy people, and they have lots of applications to view.

DO NOT send numerous bulky scores, unless you just want to annoy the search committee with your bulky portfolio. Believe me when I say that size does not always matter. Sending one large score is fine, but the reviewers are looking for compositional versatility. Three large orchestral scores are not nearly as impressive as a choral work, a chamber piece, and ONE orchestral work.

If you are sending a score to be reviewed for a university position, your engraving had better be good! I saw numerous scores with what I consider amateurish, sloppy engraving, including a score with one “huge measure” at the end of a movement. Anyone who has used a notation program for more than a couple of months should know how to fix this problem. Please use title pages as well, with the approximate duration and performing forces required. Nothing says, “I’m still an undergraduate at heart” like poor presentation of scores.

The underlying theme here is: don’t annoy those who are already spending long hours viewing portfolios.

Originally posted on 12 February 2006.