Michal Šinka was born in Trenčín, Slovakia, and he graduated from the IES in 2011. His career path, however, took a completely different direction. Currently he lives in Prague and he is a professional musician and music producer. Michal has played the guitar since he was a child and after finishing high school he started to study at the Jaroslav Ježek Conservatory in Prague. At the same time he began to study at the IES, as economic studies were the way to leave the door open for a different career than music. He finished both programs in the same year, and after that he published several economic papers. Nevertheless, the music won. Michal has been awarded a scholarship for the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, USA, where he continued with his musical studies and majored in Guitar Performance and Contemporary Writing & Production. He finished it in 2014. During his studies he started composing and producing music. He combines classical guitar music with jazz, Brazilian styles and pop. Currently, Michal cooperates e.g. with a young American singer Claudia Atkinson. When he is not involved with music, he studies foreign languages. Together with travelling, this activity is one of his favorite ways to spend his free time.
You have played the guitar since you were a child. You even studied it at the Jaroslav Ježek Conservatory. At the same time you started your studies of economics. What was your motivation?
I was around 15 years old when I realized that I wanted to make music professionally. But I didn’t want to study music at a university after high school because my only option at that time would have been the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava or in Prague, and I definitely didn’t want to pursue my career solely in the field of classical music. I was much more into contemporary music. At the same time, I wanted to have a university degree. After some time I found a solution to this dilemma – studying two schools at the same time: a conservatory and a university. The Jaroslav Ježek Conservatory in Prague focused on contemporary music, so it was a clear choice for me. I had also been long interested in economics, international relations and finance during high school, and that is why I sent my application to the IES. It wasn’t easy, as both schools were rather demanding, and I admit that I had some tough moments during the studies. However, my motivation – to have much broader options after graduation and maybe even connecting the two fields somehow at some point in my life – was fortunately strong enough for me to make it all the way through both schools.
Is there any similarity of the studies at the university in the field of economics and playing a musical instrument?
Absolutely! Economics, just like playing a musical instrument, is a very complex science. Everything relates to everything. While there can be plenty of subjective perceptions of an economic problem or of a musical work of art, there are some basic rules that apply no matter what your personal opinion of the underlying asset is. In both fields, you need to develop a deep knowledge of the basics as well as of the advanced stuff, so that you can fully understand what is going on. In a musical performance, however, you also need to make sure that it still sounds easy and understandable to your audience.
Are you using your knowledge from the IES in your current profession?
Yes and no. I may have forgotten everything about econometrics or advanced macroeconomics, simply because I have not used it since my graduation, but there are things that the IES has taught me that I use every single day. Having a rigorous education in economics has broadened my horizons in many directions and thus given me more confidence when dealing with clients and with business issues. I am more detail-oriented and I work in a more systematic way. The intense training in mathematics at the IES has also improved my musical memory and imagination. As we all know, studying economics affects the way we think about the outside world, and I am no exception. But my non-economist friends around me sometimes tell me that I assess everything in terms of “efficient/inefficient” way too often…
Even after finishing your studies at the IES you were devoted to economics and you have published a book and a few scientific papers. Which are your current plans for the future, do you think that economics will remain somehow in your life?
Thanks to my masters thesis supervisor, Mr. Petr Teplý, I continued doing economic research even beyond my studies at the IES. The topic of my master thesis (regulation of hedge funds and private equity) was very “hot” at the time of my graduation, and since Petr was also doing some research in that field, we joined forces and published a few papers together. I am very thankful to him for the fact that he encouraged me to edit, update and add to my thesis, so that I could publish it in the form of a book, which eventually happened under the name of Regulation of Hedge Funds and Private Equity: Lessons from the Global Financial Crisis. I am currently not planning to do economics per se in the future. However, in the same way I did not expect to write papers on economics of music and on superstar effect in music, or a history paper on how the Martin Guitars company survived the Great Depression, I eventually ended up writing all three of them. Therefore, one never knows. Somehow I feel that economics will always remain a significant part of my life.
In your opinion what is the biggest success in your life?
So far, it was definitely the fact that I was accepted to and even awarded a scholarship to the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, USA, the school I had been dreaming about since I was a little boy, and the fact that just recently as one of the very few I graduated summa cum laude from a dual major at Berklee after only three years of studies.
What do you do in your free time, how do musicians relax?
It is hard to say where the border is between my work and my free time. I love what I do, and during what most other people would call „free time“, I usually still do something connected to music in one way or another (listening to music, going to concerts, researching the music production market, etc.). Of course, sometimes there is just too much music, and then it is the right time for a walk. I love walking through the streets of Prague. Regarding non-music activities, I really enjoy learning foreign languages, as well as successfully trying to embarrass myself by using them when I am travelling.