Music profs join strike in New York

Music profs join strike in New York


norman lebrecht

November 20, 2022

We’re hearing from part-time teachers at Mannes School of Music, which part of The New School in New York.

The faculty have gone on strike, claiming that administrators are paid much more than professors, 2.5 times the national average. There are presently 1,307 part-time teachers.

The music instructors feel especially hard done by.

Students are currently paying  $78,744 to cross picket lines and get into classes where there is no teaching.

UPDATE: A striker writes: ‘We have had no pay raise since 2014. Administration’s salaries have gone up as much as 45%. Lots of Admin bloat – with faculty cut off from any meaningful curricular input. So the issues of money and the quality of the students’ education are very much intertwined.’





  • Larry Goldman says:

    That figure of 1307 part-time faculty is for the entire New School, not just Mannes.

  • drummerman says:

    who is this conductor?

  • Joe P says:

    Sadly, the years took a toll on the finances of Mannes when it was an independent entity, which at the time was a stellar conservatory, and since the acquisition by the New School, it has devolved into a shadow of its former self. I truly feel for the great faculty, who has suffered over the years of the decline of this once-great institution.

    • Phyllis Cramer says:

      I went to Mannes in the 1980s and there were barely enough players to put an orchestra together. I heard the kids play recently and can tell you it’s a ton better than it was when Mannes was independent. The facilities, faculty, overall program. That old building was a joke, frankly. It’s a lot better now.

  • Old Man in the Midwest says:

    The new business model for Academia in America is similar to Corporate America.

    > Use part time faculty and pay them very little. “You get to teach at Mannes. What a privilege. Now suck it up.”

    > Pay your administrators way more than they are worth.

    > Charge your students as much as the market will bear, especially if you’re getting students from China, Taiwan and Korea whose parent pay the tuition with no need for financial aid

    > Fire anyone who hints of forming a union. I hope that Local 802 is helping these folks. We need more members in the AFM and this is a good fight.

  • Me says:

    Mannes/The New School pays pianists $22/hr before tax for all accompanying. Juilliard does $20.
    Even Evil NYU pays more than that.
    That’s what dog walking pays, per dog.
    No respect for workers or faculty.

    • Bill says:

      They can do that because there are pianists willing to do the job for that price. A little thought will tell you that this is the case because there are too many pianists in circulation, and maybe continuing to churn them out isn’t ideal for the ones already here.

      • Max Raimi says:

        Yes. But a rational society puts some guard rails on the cruel logic of free market fundamentalism so that people can live free of squalor.

      • Pauline Simmons says:

        How much should an accompanist be paid? My friend teaches strings at Mannes and MSM and makes a pretty nice amount per hour, which seems fair, but how much should an accompanist be paid? $50 an hour? $100 an hour? What would be fair?

        • Common Sense says:

          I’m sure your “friend” would also object to accompanists being paid $20 or $22, especially in Sonata works (e.g. Beethoven, Brahms, Franck, Strauss). Perhaps you’re thinking of the oom-pah kiddie accompaniments for beginners piano?

          • Cal Trumpet Play says:

            Then why do you continue to work at Mannes and Juilliard? And how much more does “evil” NYU pay? Should everything be unionized in the United States? Those places pay what they do because that’s what the market indicates.

    • Harold Black says:

      I teach at Mannes part-time and get health insurance, which the other schools I work out don’t provide, and my salary is higher than it is a the other two area schools I teach at. I am sorry that accompanists don’t get paid more, but if Juilliard, with all it’s billions isn’t paying more, why would you attack Mannes. A lot of people want to teach at Mannes because of the benefits they cannot get at other institutions. And everyone knows, no matter what the rhetoric is, that the institution hardly can make its budget. I worry that this strike will lead to things being closed and people losing their jobs.

      • Rachel says:

        The institution can hardly make its budget…but somehow manages to pay the Mannes Dean over $400,000, the provost $700,000 and the president $1,000,000.

      • Leopold Mannes says:

        Just because Juilliard doesn’t pay well doesn’t mean that Mannes shouldn’t. All the institutions should be held accountable for exploiting faculty labor.

      • Leopold Mannes says:

        Mannes offers health insurance because it is part of the New School and because the union has fought hard and continues to fight for these rights. The current contract the univerisity put on the table strips many faculty members of the health insurance benefit or makes it unaffordable. Juilliard should protest their low pay and treatment as well. Let’s hope this is the start of a movement.

  • Adolfo Busch says:

    Higher Ed administration bloat is a big scam. Read The Fall of the Faculty for a detailed picture. It’s time for all professors to strike and demand that all the useless administrators making 6 figure salaries be eliminated. Most do nothing. I’m sick and tired of their retreats, strategic plans, and endless meetings they spend their time on funded by tuition dollars.

  • Hadenough says:

    The entire system is ridiculous and broken. Conservatories and Universities in general, but Music schools are a completely delusional train wreck.

  • Alank says:

    These stats are typical of the modern American University. Bloated administrative staff to oversee every woke DEI garbage program, massive investments in facilities for sports teams (obviously not true for Mannes), and student entertainment centers to cater to every whim of the mostly ignorant snowflakes who “attend” college these days Much of tertiary American education is dedicated to babysitting and indoctrination. On a different topic, it does hurt me to write that there are way too many music performance degree programs that graduate students who have no chance in hell of competing in the professional music world. A very wise and caring dean of a top music school told me many years ago that I was a good bassoonist but not likely to succeed and therefore I should not chose music performance as a major. I doubt there are many deans like that around now. It is all about generating revenue.

  • MusicTeacherinNY says:

    I teach at Mannes and get almost $300 an hour. What the union is saying is untrue. We get health insurance and some job protections, more than the other places I teach, including Juilliard, MSM, Rutgers. I’ve taught here for a long time and the students are great and it’s a lot better than it was years ago. A few people want to control the school and force everyone to be hired as full time, which makes no sense. The union says that we’re paid poverty wages. Is $300 a hour poverty wages? Is the minimum of $130 an hour for teachers, poverty wages. Get real.

  • stringplayerNYC says:

    I work at Mannes, teach part-time. “Administrative bloat?” They cut the administration by at least 20 percent during COVID and there’s hardly enough staff for them to run the school. I teach at two other schools in the area that probably have double the amount of professional staff to run things like the schedule, productions, etc. I have no idea what the union is talking about.

    • Dora says:

      Check the salaries of the Executives, and you will see what they are talking about. They begin at 400K and go up to over 1 million plus mansions.

  • Herbie G says:

    I’m waiting for musicologists to go on strike…

  • Karden says:

    It’s like the entire cultural-political-economic structure (and elite) has been taken over by variations of FTX’s Sam Bankman-Fried. Their saying? “Greed is good” and “Let them eat cake.”

    But many of them do like to virtue signal, so give them that.

  • Long Term Music Teacher in New York says:

    Mannes pays as much or more than Juilliard or MSM and provides benefits and job protections that those schools do not. I know, because I teach at all three. The administrators in Juilliard and MSM all have assistants and I know that not one administrator in Mannes has one. MSM has things like Dean of Performance and Mannes has young staffers working hard but not on the same level.The stuff coming out from my union at Mannes about all this just isn’t true, or isn’t mostly true. So, they deans changed some programs. I mean, really? Where doesn’t that happen? And I have to wonder what will happen next if Mannes ends up with a contract that pays a lot more than Juilliard and MSM. How will they afford it? It’s not hard to imagine that things will end up closed down. Anyone who thinks Mannes has a ton of money that it is squirreling away is completely delusional. It’s a complete mess and I for one blame the union for it entirely.

    • Sam says:

      Mannes is part of the New School, the most progressive institution in New York. The top executives of all the colleges at the University are collectively mismanaging their finances. By underpaying the 87% part-time faculty and over-paying the top executives, they are, in effect, doing the opposite of what the founders of the various schools intended. They are greedy, not transparent, and disrespectful.