Wisconsin Conservatory of Music Opens Applications for Teaching Artistry Fellowship and Announces First Two Fellows

Musical Opportunities for Wisconsin Musicians

The Wisconsin Conservatory of Music (WCM) recently announced its new program the Fellowship in Teaching Artistry. The program was created to increase exposure to classical music to underserved Milwaukee-area students through one-on-one lessons and in-school instruction to schools without an on-site music teacher.

The first two fellows are Mauricio Franco and Mikhail Johnson. Applications opened on March 4, 2024, to find a third fellow.

According to a study conducted by the League of American Orchestras, in the U.S., Latinx musicians make up only 2.5% of musicians in orchestras, and Black musicians make up less than 2%. The Fellowship in Teaching Artistry is a unique program dedicated to supporting early and mid-career Black and Latino artists in classical music to improve those statistics.

The fellowship focuses on three areas of study: classroom teaching, private lessons, and career development. Fellows are assigned in-school placements where they will teach music for three days a week in schools that otherwise would have no music teacher. They are also paired with a Wisconsin Conservatory of Music faculty mentor to observe lessons, co-teach, and eventually teach lessons under the supervision of those WCM faculty mentors. Fellows also have opportunities to network with musicians and leaders from several institutions around Milwaukee, including the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Present Music, and Florentine Opera Company.

For more information on applications and requirements click here.

The First Two Fellows 

Pianist and composer Mikhail Johnson is originally from Maroon Town, Jamaica, and now resides in Milwaukee. The musician was encouraged to apply for the fellowship by a friend. Johnson has always loved music saying that one evening, as a baby, he would cry whenever his mother turned off the classical music that was playing.

The pianist Johnson comes from a family who shares his love for music. He started singing for his family’s church during his formative years. Johnson would study the organist, sit alongside her, and then practice what he saw on his keyboard at home.

“I was really hoping that I would be able to find something that was a good fit for me,” said Johnson. “ I saw, having looked at the requirements, and I thought, ‘wow this is spot on’, and very rarely do you see where the requirements are not limited by an age restriction.”

Clarinetist Mauricio Franco is also a fellow and is from Houston, Texas. Franco is a 2021 graduate of the University of Houston and has previously taught in Houston Public Schools (HPS) before his Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) placement that came with the fellowship.

The musician said his love for music grew from different places but he mainly credited his mom for pushing him to try new things as a child. Franco originally chose the drums but changed his choice of the instrument after picking up the clarinet.

“I still felt like there was more to seek out and do with my learning process,” said Franco. “I wanted something that was kind of the bridge between my academic career and my professional career.”

Between the two musicians, they provide musical education to five MPS schools: Longfellow, Roosevelt, Doerfler, Townsend schools, and Carson Academy.

It’s About Support

The fellowship includes a salary of $41,000, a monthly cell phone stipend, and a $1,000 moving stipend for fellows to relocate to Milwaukee.

“The fact that they’ve narrowed it down to Black and Brown Folks is even more extraordinary because usually it’s open to a larger pool,” said Johnson. “I thought it was very specific and very well curated.”

For more information click here.

Maria Peralta-Arellano is a Milwaukee-native journalist who focuses on sharing news from her local communities. She dedicates her work to accessibility and producing bilingual coverage focused on arts, culture, and politics. She looks to explore her community through a journalistic and creative lens.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top