Boone, North Carolina
Susan: Piano accompanist
Susan considers herself fortunate. Being a collaborative pianist at Appalachian State University in North Carolina is a steady job in a line of work that offers too few such positions.
"Appalachian State is one of the few schools that has a full-time (with benefits) position for a musician like me - most schools hire a handful of pianists as adjunct faculty with part-time pay and no benefits and then use them like workhorses."
Slingland lives in a converted garage apartment that costs $675 a month. Her utilities, with the exception of heating oil, are covered in her rent. Susan gets her healthcare as a state employee and it costs $50 a month.
She drives a Dodge Neon and lives close to town. Gas for the compact costs about only $30 a month. She has no school loans and says she has no particular financial stresses or strains.
"I'm lucky," Susan said. "I know many people who went for 3 degrees of music [like she has] and are still trying to get jobs to pay them off. I was lucky enough through scholarships or assistanceships to always be able to pay my bills so I never had to take out student loans."
She says that's in contrast to most people in music school. "I've got a good friend, a tenured professor. He and his partner have so much to pay in student loans they'll be lucky if they can get out ahead."