composer FAIL #51 with stats



I think I have almost fully recovered from my comp comp a week ago,1 so therefore I must return to the land of the living. Thus, posting a composer FAIL is the first order of business.


This is no ordinary composer FAIL. In fact, this particular rejection letter gives me (and also you dear readers) valuable insight to the statistics and process of landing the elusive higher-education music composition job. Here we get a glimpse of how many of us are applying for this position and exactly who we are.


We know that landing a tenure-track music composition/theory job is almost impossible: the supply of composers with doctorate degrees (or almost doctorates, in my case) greatly outweighs the demand for such people. In other words, there are too many of us: there are not enough higher education jobs to sustain us graduates. If you are persistant, like Christian Carey, you will land that tenure-track job—after fourteen years.2


So anyway, I received my rejection letter in my inbox, and this employer never blind carbon-copied the recipients of this FAIL.



Whaaaaaaaaaaaaat. (I know.)


So, dear reader, I have compiled a list of unscientific statistics about who is applying for the elusive composition jobs. Here they are, and I apologize in advance for using bullet points.

  • There were over 170 applicants for this job posting. (Yes, I gathered that from the text of the rejection letter, but I saw the list: it was long.)

  • I recognized a few names. Many have just received their final degree. Others are ABD, and some are almost ABD like me.

  • We are applying from all over the country.

  • There are also a few Ivy Leaguers on this list. I saw a handful from Harvard (actually, many from Harvard), Columbia, Cornell, and one or two from Princeton and from University of Pennsylvania. Of course, if I went to these schools, I guess I'd use my "harvard.edu" handle also. Hm. Maybe if I were a Winklevoss twin.

  • There are also applicants from this pool who are not from an Ivy League school. Some are from Big 10 schools, others are from reputable music schools, and a handful are from lesser-known schools. I don't know if these people who applied with a lesser-known email handle are graduates or faculty.

  • Approximately thirty percent used their .edu handle. Others used a gmail account, and a few used their website email. Therefore, the unscientific stats above are merely compiled from the email addresses with the .edu handle.

  • There are only a handful of women applying to these jobs. Now, I can't completely tell by these email addresses what their gender identity might be, but I'm assuming eleven email addresses came from female composers, including myself and the person who landed the job. What I do know is that my happy CCM bubble of having an almost equal number of male and female composers tragically popped. Why aren't more women applying? What's going on?

There you have it. The competition is ridiculously fierce, and I know I cannot depend on landing a tenure-track job anytime soon. So, I'll do the next crazy non-sustainable thing: start my own opera company.




1. I still have not found out if I passed or not. At least I've reached the inner peace of failing: if I don't pass, it's not the end of the world. Kittens won't die. Life will go on…?

2. By the way, this is about half my lifetime. Also, kudos to Christian! He totally deserved it.



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