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Performance and Pedagogy Blog

A blog about the performance and pedagogy of music.

The Entrepreneurial Musician: Brian Pertl, Dean of the Lawrence Conservatory

Andrew Hitz

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Brian is the Dean of the Lawrence Conservatory of Music and a former ethnomusicologist for Microsoft. After interviewing him for the podcast I was filled with optimism for the future of collegiate music education in this country. I also wanted to high five him.

He is the perfect meld of artist and businessman and I learned a ton from speaking with him for an hour.

Brian touched on a wide range of topics in this episode including:

  • How a $50 gig playing the didgeridoo led to his full-time employment for 16 years at Microsoft which led to him becoming a dean
  • Always saying yes when asked if you are capable of something
  • The importance of pivoting in one's career
  • How giving people autonomy over projects can unleash creativity
  • The value of questioning traditions within music
  • Being ready to seize an opportunity

His passion for combining artistic expression with entrepreneurial skills has him on the cutting edge of what a music education should look like at the collegiate level today.

Books Mentioned:

The 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferris

The Savvy Musician by David Cutler

Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip Heath & Dan Heath


Contact Brian:

Brian's TEDx Talk:


To help support the show to offset the ongoing costs associated with producing and distributing this podcast please visit

Next Episode: Jeff Conner of Boston Brass and author of "The Portfolio Musician"