Back when she was still a sophomore at SUNY Potsdam, alumna Rebecca Scholldorf ’15, a clarinet performance major at The Crane School of Music, decided to pursue a second degree in music business. It proved to be one of the best decisions of her life.
“I like finding out how things are made and the logistical side of things, so I decided to take advantage of the music business program at Crane, that I heard was so incredible,” Scholldorf said. “It seemed like a really fun avenue that I could balance with performance.”
By her senior year, she had lined up an internship at DANSR, Inc.—the exclusive distributor of Vandoren reeds, mouthpieces and accessories—where she was responsible for interviewing artists and band directors who used Vandoren products, to generate educational content for the company. Even before she received her diploma from SUNY Potsdam, she had been offered a full-time job by the company.
“I’m always thinking about what The Crane School of Music gave me, and what I can do for them in the future. I owe this school pretty much everything due to my success.”
At the time, DANSR was in the process of launching the Vandoren Artist-Clinician program, an educational outreach initiative that sends artists, sponsored by DANSR, to middle schools and high schools around the country. With over 450 educational clinics offered per year, the musicians representing DANSR provide free educational clinics to clarinet and saxophone students. In her new role with the company, Scholldorf was tasked with leading the new program.
“They needed a coordinator, someone who could handle the logistics of getting certain items to the artists and making sure that their clinics would run smoothly. So, after my four-month internship, they asked if I could be part of that educational outreach program and it slowly grew from there. I’ve been with DANSR for four years, and now I’m their marketing and communications specialist, handling all of their social media, the educational outreach program, and working on their design and print media,” Scholldorf said.
One of the highlights of her new position is getting to travel around the world. “The company sent me to the factory in France last year, which was an incredible experience. I got to see the entire production from the start, with the plant in the ground, to the final finished product, a clarinet or saxophone reed,” she said.
Scholldorf has also traveled to product shows in Texas, New York and California. In Anaheim, Calif., she first attended the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Show as an undergraduate student, and has returned every year since, as a representative for DANSR. Since the early 2000s, The Crane Institute for Music Business has taken students to NAMM every year for them to complete internships with leading music industry businesses. “You get the experience of meeting people, socializing and learning how to talk about product. It’s a fantastic show,” she said. “There are so many places that I’ve traveled with the company, and that experience can’t be replicated.”
Her extensive background in music performance from Crane has helped to reinforce her music business acumen—allowing her to effectively talk about Vandoren products. “The music business program is perfect for performers because you get to test product. I was in videos testing out products that are now on YouTube. There are always performance opportunities in the music business setting, and you need to be able to have discussions about products with musicians,” she said.
As an undergraduate bass clarinet performance student at Crane, she worked closely with Dr. Raphael P. Sanders Jr. “He was incredible! Not only in teaching the clarinet, but in teaching life. You’re preparing for a recital and your studio teacher helps you get ready for your performance. That’s something so wonderful about pursuing music. When you study an instrument, you get really close with your teacher—you’re not just a number,” Scholldorf said.
She felt the same about Dr. Timothy Sullivan. “He was wonderful. I took a lot of classes with him, mainly focused on composition and history. His dedication is incredible. It’s not a 9-to-5 gig, it’s his whole life. He taught me to think about music differently and he gave me an appreciation that I carried out of school,” she said. “And lastly, Kickie Britt has been an incredible influence. She taught me everything I know about the music industry and laid the foundation to me eventually working at a music company. Her energy is infectious and really made the music business program so vibrant, engaging, and simply the best.”
Last year, Scholldorf returned to her alma mater during the Single Reed Summit, where she joined fellow grads Cameron Hewes ’15 and Brandon Linhard ’15 in presenting an alumni recital at Sara M. Snell Theater. She recently made the 14-hour drive from Illinois to SUNY Potsdam for Crane’s Clarinet Summit, where she was able to take on a leadership role. She stood at the front of a rehearsal room, the same space she had once performed in as a student, to give a presentation about DANSR, and the history of Vandoren cane reeds.
“I came from the perspective that I was a student here, I was once sitting in their seat, and now I get to talk about working in the industry,” she said. “I’m always thinking about what The Crane School of Music gave me, and what I can do for them in the future. I owe this school pretty much everything due to my success.”
To learn more about The Crane School of Music, visit: https://www.potsdam.edu/academics/crane-school-music
Article and photos by Jason Hunter