In order to accomplish that, the faculty is meticulously picked to teach the topics in which they are experts in. "I just hired a guy who worked for Universal Music in Nashville, and all he did was negotiate contracts with artists" Greg adds. "Now, he's the guy teaching those courses." While he believes that the big opportunities in the future are for people who provide music for music to online streaming, he also talks about the array of ways in which musicians can make a living in the music industry. "Our job is partially to help you try to do [what you want to do] and, in some cases, to tell you we don't think you are going to be able to do that," Jones thinks.
Apart from all the opportunities Purdue Fort Wayne offers, there are a lot of possibilities to explore and collaborate beyond the school's grounds. The town has a full-time professional orchestra, Fort Wayne Philharmonic, that rehearses and plays half of their concerts in the university's facility, and their members teach the music school's students. Purdue Fort Wayne is also able to host masterclasses with the artists that come to play with the orchestra. "We had Renée Fleming, the singer, and we got to have a music therapy presentation by her," Greg gives an example. Moreover, the scene is always bustling with choirs, ensembles, and empowerment groups.
Since the school is undergraduate-focused, young musicians get amazing attention and experience that primarily-graduate music institutions can't meet. "One of the schools I went to for my master's degree was the University of North Texas, [which is] one of the biggest music schools in America," the director tells me. "I was a trumpet player, and they had two trumpet professors. 30 students took with the professors, and there were 120 trumpet students, so only the graduate students got to study with the professors. The undergraduates studied with graduate students." Jones, who just finished his bachelor's degree at Florida State University at the time, had 12 music majors studying with him. "I didn't know what I was doing, I was 22 years old! I wasn't an experienced teacher, but that's the way big schools do it," he recalls. Looking back on the experience now, he doesn't feel this is the best undergraduate experience for a musician.
Of course, while the school opens doors to endless cooperation opportunities and real-world experiences, each person's future is still in one's own hands. "To me, anybody going to school should be always thinking about how to differentiate themselves from all the other people in school who are also doing required work," Gregory says. "If you really want to position yourself for a great career, and you're someone who is really hungry for knowledge in the field, you will do great and you will be in lots of projects." The slogan for Purdue's music program is "because music is your life". And it certainly is that way for its students, graduates, and faculty. Being into his 37th year of teaching, Greg still wakes up with the same excitement about his career, and can't wait to do more music.