US music college goes bust

US music college goes bust


norman lebrecht

December 16, 2017

McNally Smith College of Music will shut down this week after failing to meet the payroll.

The school is in St Paul, Minnesota. Its chairman said: ‘As you all know, in the past few years higher education has been in an unprecedented decline the like of which has never been seen.’


  • Elizondo Menchaca says:

    Total USA student loan debt 2017 = $1.3 trillion and average debt per head of $31526 in Minnesota

    That makes it sound pretty easy to borrow money to study. So how can higher education be in decline?

  • John Borstlap says:

    ‘……. in the past few years higher education has been in an unprecedented decline the like of which has never been seen.’

    The results we see all around us: trumpism in the US, rightwing extremists in European governments, and helped by social media: erosion of understanding of reality. The ‘forgotten’ voice of the masses takes its revenge, and culture is one of its targets. ‘The Revolt of the Masses’, by Ortega y Gasset, comes to mind:

    “The mass crushes beneath it everything that is different, everything that is excellent, individual, qualified and select. Anybody who is not like everybody, who does not think like everybody, runs the risk of being eliminated. And it is clear, of course, that this ‘everybody’ is not ‘everybody.’ ‘Everybody’ was normally the complex unity of the mass and the divergent, specialized minorities. Nowadays, ‘everybody’ is the mass alone. Here we have the formidable fact of our times, described without any concealment of the brutality of its features.” (1929/30)

    • Steve P says:

      Or maybe the college degree handed out at this school weren’t worth a damn.

      And if you think there are too many trained musicians and not enough listeners, check out the marketplace for some of those college favorites like gender studies, marine biology, sociology, psychology…yeah, college is imperiled. By itself for churning out graduates who have debt up to their ears and no market for their skills.

    • Mike Schachter says:

      Grandiloquent and largely meaningless. Hardly anyone reads Ortega y Gasset and with reason. As for Western art music, perhaps the US is not the whole of the West. The Proms in London fill over 70 concerts each summer very largely with classical music, the Vienna State Opera is well over 90% full each season.

      • John Borstlap says:

        These are only the very limited number of hubs. Classical music does not consist of only London, Vienna, Berlin etc.

        The number of readers of this or that book is irrelevant to its meaning. Many people read Harry Potter.

    • Tinn Teardrop says:

      “rightwing extremists……” are you sane?
      The desgination by leftists of anyone who does not subscribe to a collectivist utopia where the individual has no value.

      • John Borstlap says:

        Is there only black or white? The Austrian ‘Freedom Party’ and the Dutch equivalent ‘Party for Freedom’, the ‘Alternative für Deutschland’, the ‘British National Party’, the Belgian ‘Vlaams Belang’, etc. etc. are all based upon the idea of ‘purety’ of the population, i.e. excluding people who are deemed ‘outsiders’. So, only a particular type of people have value as individuals, and the people falling outside the entirely irrational delienations are Unidentified Living Objects which have to get rid of. (For instance, children of legalized immigrants born in European countries are as European as anybody else been born in the same continent, but for the rightwingers that cannot be true: )

        Understanding Western society means being aware of the insight that its civilization is universalist, and that cultures can be assimilated, absorbed, enriched. That does not mean an Orwellian utopia or something like the Soviet Union, but instead a civilizational framework within which different cultures can exist peacefully next to each other. Both islamists and local rightwingers have no clue about this.

        • Rasmus Verhageb says:

          Lofty sentiments. I am sure the rape victims of Cologne will derive great comfort from them.

          Diversity is a concept to be thrust down the throats of the population who never voted for it, while the politicians and other elites live in their segregated villas.

          • John Borstlap says:

            Those Cologne rapist were not Syrian fugitives as had been often suggested, but illegal immigrants from north Africa: Lybia, Marocco, Egypt – people who obviously don’t udnerstand where they are. Statistics have shown that of the millions of fugitives landing in Germany, the number of misdeeds among them has been extremely low, and were entirely overshadowed by the violence by locals who put fire in asylum centres and harrassed fugitives. Generalizations in these matters lead to violations of human rights of innocent people, the flames of hatred being fanned by the type of reactions as shown in the comment above.

  • Vaquero357 says:

    Right up the road from me in the Twin Cities.

    Link to local source?

  • Marc Parella says:

    The folks on the pro big education side of the equation who lament that students can’t afford higher education rarely connect the dots on why there is failure.

    There are far too many musicians and too few listeners. And the decline of Western Art music comes calling at schools that are no longer needed. Welcome to the free market system.

  • PaulD says:

    “E-mails sent to the McNally community said the college has suffered from declining enrollment and falling revenue for several years. ”

    Seems to me that potential students have weighed the cost of training against the risk of not being able to pay off the debt required to finance it. This is happening in other areas as well. Just the other day, a well-regarded culinary school in the Washington, DC area closed for same reason: declining enrollment and revenues. This is probably not a bad thing, in the long run.

    • John Borstlap says:

      But the real reason is that the new regime in the white house prefers big macs, an example being followed by the rest of the population.

      • José Paella says:

        You are apparently still under the delusion that the population of the WH are anything more than cardboard cutouts with varying abilities at reading a teleprompter.

      • Cubs Fan says:

        Give it a rest. This constant anti-Trump whining is tiresome, silly, boring…and WRONG. Every year some of the for-profit schools go out of business. Doesn’t matter what they teach: beauty, hair cutting, motorcycle repair, air conditioning repair, nursing, dancing, bartending, rodeo, and music. In a free market, a business is subject to supply and demand in addition to the competition. And that’s a good thing. Trump has nothing to do with this.

      • Dave says:

        Hey Borstlap, you need to come down from your gilded, privileged pedestal and observe how most people live. This may shock you but Trump is not responsible for the fall of Western civilization. Most likely, it is people like yourself who are to blame.

        • John Borstlap says:

          We were all shocked by this improbable accusation…. and got together to discuss the implications. How could anybody think that JB sits on a pedestal? There are 18 pedestals here on the estate but they are occupied with marble busts and a last check just twenty minutes ago made clear that no one was unoccupied. We found the accusation rather troubling, but after a couple of glasses of bourbon, the cook had taken an extra bottle when serving the boss, the mood lightened-up a bit. We all live here in the utmost economy, given the difficult times, reducing the work in the park and stables, sold two of the horses, and the family has given-up lots of pleasures – sold all of the oldtimers (never used them anyway), and I still remember JB’s tears when he had to sell one of his Monets to the well-known Japanese industrialist [redacted]. The only reason that I still work here, is that my salary is a merely [redacted], and that I have all the spare keys (and the key word of his computer). All staff here, and we had to be reduced from 23 to a mere 18!, have to tread carefully on the budgets as handed to us every monday morning. So, we concluded that the accusation has no basis in reality.


          • John Borstlap says:

            Sorry about this…. but Trump is not a cause, but an effect, and a symptom of a long-simmering social conflict across society, and a form of protest against a specific materialist, capitalist, inhuman interpretation of modernity.

          • Dave says:

            There’s nothing worse than having to sell a Monet painting to put food on the table.

  • Mark Henriksen says:

    I wouldn’t extrapolate the problems of a dinky jazz-pop school to music, in general, let alone to all of higher education.

  • Robert Fitzpatrick says:

    Apparently, this school is currently a proprietary enterprise (a for-profit business) that is trying for non-profit status (501c3) and was seeking regional accreditation. It will be difficult for students to transfer credits and for graduates to have their degrees recognized without regional accreditation.

    This type of school, along with charter schools, is dear to the heart of Mrs. Betsy Devos, the controversial Secretary of Education appointed by Trump despite her apparent lack of real experience in education, especially higher education.

    This school was accredited by NASM in 1989, and a comprehensive accreditation visit occurred in 2006. The next comprehensive evaluation visit was scheduled for 2018-19. Although NASM offers to serve as a pass-through in place of regional accreditation to certify Federal standards concerning Title IV funds, (Pell grants, guaranteed student loans, etc.), many top level colleges and universities will not automatically accept the transfer of credit or the validity of diplomas and degrees without additional scrutiny such as testing (and nor just for placement) and/or a requirement of addition course work.

    This is a tragedy for the students and faculty, and a loss to the community, but there are many other viable alternatives which are fully accredited regionally. The Twin Cities are rich in such educational opportunities.