“I am on the mission of my life: to change music education as we know it.” Head of Strøm School, Lars Juhl, describes his job.
Place of work?
The Strøm office in central Copenhagen. Quite often I’ll also be working in London or Berlin. I’ve just arrived home from Knowledge Arena, an educational event hosted across three amazing festivals in August: Strøm (Copenhagen), Dimensions and Outlook (Pula, Croatia).
As head of Strøm School, we provide knowledge, education and the development of electronic music in Denmark and abroad. I managed 47 educational events throughout 2015 including tech workshops, artist talks, gear-sharing events and keynotes.
I’m on a big mission to make it possible for everyone to be musically creative with music technology – and to make these technologies inspire and dramatically change music education in primary schools, high schools and universities in Denmark and abroad. I consider computers, iPads and electronic gear real instruments – to me the acoustic piano is old music technology and the iPad just a newer one. Technology is not only a tool that enables users to make ‘real music’ – technology is a true means of musical expression. For example, one large project I do is The Electronic School Concert – a two week intensive course for primary school classes that ends with a concert where students perform live in front of friends and parents – on iPads.
How long have you had the job?
For two years. The first six months was more of a consultancy role but it’s been full time since January 2015.
What does a typical day involve?
There is never a typical day! My only constants are being with my kids every other week and my piano.
There is one thing though: I force myself to produce at least one important thing each day, be it a pitch, a great email, a new concept, a piece of music or a fruitful meeting.
Highs of the job?
There are many. What pops into mind is the recent feedback from a teacher in a primary school. We had completed a two-week project followed by a concert with his pupils. After the curtain fell he said to me: “This is the best and most rewarding day in my life as a teacher. Today is the peak of my career.” I still get goose bumps when recalling those words. Another thing that thrills me is when students, musicians, DJs and employees take giant steps through projects that I conceived.
Lows of the job?
I’ve sadly had to pass on great collaboration opportunities or I would never get any sleep! Narrow-minded people don’t realise the ongoing and inevitable changes in music education and indeed the music business. Fundraising can also be tedious – because you never know if you’re going to succeed.
Who are the people who’ve had the biggest influence on your career?
Apart from my twin brother Anders? Firstly, I had a career coach and psychologist that saw right through me and basically made me quit a prestigious job in order to follow my visions in line with my talents. Secondly, the amazing people I run projects with such as Tony Nwachukwu (CDR), Jonathan Scrathley (NVS) and Frederik Birket-Smith (Strøm). Thirdly, I had the opportunity to record Terry Jones and Alan Rickman singing my songs for a movie back in 2000. Working with actors in that league was a mind-blowing experience – the way those people strive for perfection is unbelievable.
How did you get the job?
Strøm called me right after I had quit a prestigous job. It’s a non-profit organisation supporting electronic music in Denmark. We run Strøm Festival every August as well as educational activities and further projects throughout the year.
How can we get your job?
Create a similar one – and I would be the first to collaborate with you! I would rather give advice based on my own experiences: try to be a pro in several fields! When I was younger, my only dream was to be a composer and music producer. I actually made that dream come true working for eight years for EMI and BMG from the mid 90s onwards. However, I was let down by a publisher and lost a crazy amount of royalties. I therefore moved on to sales, marketing, education and even headhunting. Working in such different fields has helped my perspective in the music business. In the creative industries, it’s very important to have a broad range of skill sets.