Spotlight on Entrepreneurship

College of Music doctoral student combines talent and business savvy to build career.

Michael Armendariz plans to earn his DMA in percussion in the spring of 2015.

Michael Armendariz has mastered the art of merging two different worlds. What’s more, he does it from two different places, two time zones apart.

In one world, Armendariz is earning a doctorate of musical arts in percussion performance at Michigan State University. In another, he is coordinating the music business program at New Mexico State University

While he manages to balance a complex life, Armendariz says there was a time early on when he couldn’t decide among choices.

“At one point, I had the option of going to Nashville to work for a booking agent,” he says. “But I also thought being a band director would be fun, too.”

That pattern of reflection underlies Armendariz’s approach to life and career. He has always sought out opportunity to work, starting as an undergraduate and master’s student at New Mexico State and continuing through MSU. He has amassed years of experience arranging concerts and ensembles, working the stage, managing outreach concerts, and booking events. At MSU, he was among the inaugural class with the College’s Running Start program, eager for the business experience he could apply.

“Mike has been a great addition to the MSU Percussion Studio during his time here," says Gwen Dease, associate professor of percussion and chair of the brass and percussion area. “His great sense of organization and vision helped to move the logistical side of the studio to a new level.”

Dease, lead faculty for Armendariz’s doctoral studies, says his business acumen helped the studio build more campus concerts, outreach performances, and recruitment opportunities for students. She adds that his entrepreneurial sense more than likely contributed to his recent appointment at NMSU where he serves as both the music business program coordinator and an undergraduate instructor.

Armendariz says his goal is to help students think "out of the box" and to know what jobs to pursue. He acquired that mindset, he says, through MSU’s Running Start program, and wants to pass on that business savvy to the students he mentors.

“One of the most important things a music student can learn is to be as diverse and open to as many opportunities as possible,” says Armendariz. “I’m always encouraging students to perform and to get as many experiences as they can—both on and off campus. It’s a rare gift to be in a university environment. I’m really glad to have had that at MSU.”

Armendariz started his doctorate at MSU in the Fall of 2010. He expects to finish in Spring 2015 while simultaneously working in New Mexico. 

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