I sometimes wonder why there aren’t more testimonials from leaders from a variety of professions who were influenced by music education. Why don’t they speak out more often and more publicly regarding the benefits of music education. I certainly didn’t have any trouble finding plenty of successful business leaders willing to tell me their stories when I wrote my book. One possible answer is that they don’t have a proper, organized forum.
This Canadian website, The Coalition for Music Education, has a Gallery of Champions of musicians and professionals influenced by music education. Not a bad idea.
Link to the Gallery of Champions website
(scroll down to play the audio testimonials)
The most basic principle of launching a new product or service and the greatest success stories come when an entrepreneur recognizes a void in the marketplace and serves that need and those customers.
Learning a Lesson From ESPN
Does anybody recall the early days of ESPN, the Sports cable giant. There wasn’t much to shout about in terms of major sports programming – Australian Rules Football and a plethora of rarely televised events. The staple of the network that fueled its growth from the early days was its own sports news program – Sportscenter.
Why was Sportcenter so successful that it was able to build the foundation for a multi-billion dollar sports icon. Well think about what has been happening to the sports segment of your local news programming.
In most markets, the sports highlights and recap segment of the news has dwindled, as have the resources allocated to employ journalists, producers, etc. According to a 2006 study by the Penn State Center for Sports Journalism in a survey of the top 50 markets, the average local sports segment is 3 minutes.
The logic is that weather and news affect everyone, but sports only appeals to sports fans. Yet that doesn’t mean there aren’t legions of sports fans longing for a more extensive sports news program with highlights and analysis presented by enthusiastic and entertaining broadcasters, and that’s what ESPN’s Sportscenter provided.
- If you’re at a private school, any differentiator is a selling feature that can help attract students. At your open houses, your potential students and their families might not consider arts education a priority. Articulate that you’re still committed to excellence in the arts – but more importantly – tell them why it’s important!
- Create marketing materials with similar themes.
- If you’re not competing for enrollment, your administrator still wants recognition for your school. Summarize your accomplishments and create relationships with local media.
- Track down your former students and ask them to articulate what being a part of your arts or music education has meant to them personally and professionally as they’ve moved throughout their careers. Nothing is more effective in sales than the testimonial of a happy customer.
- Ask those same former students to come back and perform or speak to your students and parents. Seeing these successful professionals with provide a clear demonstration that your program impacts lives.
It’s a cliche, but in every challenge there is opportunity. And if you’re a great arts or music educator (and I know you are!), let ‘em know it!
My book Everything We Needed to Know About Business, We Learned Playing Music is now available for viewing or download at Google Docs (.pdf file). Please spread the word to music students, educators, and music education/arts advocates.
The reality for music students is that they will either pursue music/music education as a profession (in which case they will have the need to articulate the importance of music education) or they will enter the workforce outside of music (in which case they will have to articulate to a prospective employer the benefits of music education that are universally applicable in the workplace).
This compilation of interviews with 32 CEOs and business leaders who played music as a child or adolescent is a great resource in either of those efforts.
Note: All materials available for reprint with author acknowledgment and website reference (BusinessMusician.com)
Link to E-book Everything We Needed to Know About Business, We Learned Playing Music at Google Docs (view or download)
Link to purchase hard copy of Everything We Needed to Know About Business, We Learned Playing Music at Amazon.com
I came across this blog post by a music teacher who reflected on a reunion picnic with his former students from Rangeview High School in Aurora, CO. He was inspired to learn of the impact that he had on his students’ lives years later. In this passage, he discusses the diverse careers that his students have chosen and the successes that they have achieved:
“These people have gone to be bioscientists, mechanical engineers, sailors, choreographers, software designers, soldiers, entrepreneurs, nurses, teachers, and yes, musicians.”
His discovery certainly echoes the findings in my book Everything We Needed to Know About Business, We Learned Playing Music (see FROM THE BAND ROOM TO THE BOARDROOM…The 9 Common Lessons of Music Education That Translate into Success for more info)
I came across this music education advocacy article from the International Society of Music Education (ISME) website by New York University Professor David Elliott that articulates the importance of providing children with an education that establishes a foundation for life skills and happiness beyond the narrow-minded objective of career preparation. Elliott states:
“…our schools should aim to develop students as people, not just job-fillers for today’s marketplace mindset. As many scholars have insisted in different words, education is for life: education ought to be conceived for life as a whole, not just for one aspect of life, such as work…In summary, music education is a unique and major source of many fundamental life goals. By actively supporting the aims of music education, school systems increase the likelihood that students will learn to make a life as well as a living both inside and outside school.
“…public school systems in most countries are becoming more and more focused on “testing” students in a narrow range of “academic” subjects using mechanistic measurement devices. Why? Many scholars suggest that this movement (sometimes called “Educational Reform”) is part of a global effort by corporations and “marketplace educators” to shape and “manage” schools according to the needs and values of “marketplace capitalism.” (This is an old story tracing back to the industrial model of the “school-as-factory” that exists to produce future factory workers). Educators have always been under pressure from the business world to devote more time and resources to the production of students-as-job-fillers by means of academic-vocational studies alone. This pressure has become more intense in the last fifteen years with the advance of globalization, which requires “standardization” in all realms of life, including schooling. Clearly, however, corporate leaders and marketplace educators are not concerned (at all) with enabling our students to make a life as well as a living.
“…Broadly speaking, then, we need to advocate on behalf of music education and arts education because what we do professionally is deeply connected with the need to protect and sustain the right of children to receive a balanced and comprehensive education, which means a school curriculum that makes a central place for the life values we can provide through systematic music teaching and learning.”
I applaud these noble objectives. I also believe that the generalization that corporate leaders and marketplace educators are not concerned (at all) with enabling our students to make a life as well as a living is overstated. There is a school of thought gaining acceptance that the successful corporations of the future will be those that attract the brightest minds by creating an environment dedicated to employee values.
But I also believe that we’ll never change all of the minds of those that pull the strings on educational resource allocation, and therefore we must sell to them on their own terms. In other words, by arguing that music education provides a foundation for both a life of fulfillment and for success in 21st century careers, we are equipped to make the case for music education that will compel those of either mindset. In a conversation that I had with Richard Baker, Fine Arts Program Coordinator at the Louisiana Department of Education he wholeheartedly concurred. “We must argue it both ways,” he stated.
As I’ve articualated here previously, “We should be able to justify arts on their own merits – in an ideal world. Here on the planet earth, it’s not working. Essentially, legislators and administrators believe that when forced to choose between worthwhile priorities, the most essential function of education is to prepare students for their careers. Art for art’s sake is an argument that essentially frames the music education funding discussion in this way for legislators and administrators – Do I fund programs that are necessary or those that are a luxury in the context of preparing students for the “real world?” Math and reading are seen as essential in any vocation, music only for the aspiring musician.
We need to reframe the terms of the debate.”
“Until we start articulating that music and the arts are essential these days in preparing students for all vocations, current trends will continue.”
For more info on articulating the benefits of music education that apply to success in the business world, see 9 common lessons of music education that translated into success in business. For testimonials from CEOs and business leaders, see the previous posts “More CEOs and Executives on Music Education Advocacy,” and “High-Tech CEOs Say the Value of Liberal Arts Education is Increasing.” To hear audio excerpts from CEOs and business leaders discussing how their musical experience prepared them for business success, see Music Education & Success: The Audio Interviews
To read the entire text of David Elliott’s article at the ISME website, click here.
The great folks at the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) organized a week of advocacy activities in Washington to help continue the fight for music education. NAMM staff, members, and Washington insiders attended, and GRAMMY-nominated singer Taylor Dayne and Journey keyboardist/songwriter Jonathan Cain articulated the impact that music education and music teachers had on their lives:
“Miss Kyzowski, Mr. Dagan, Miss Edwards. 30 years later I can still remember their names because these people were three of the most influential people in my life,” Dayne said. “They were my music teachers and they helped me find my own voice. My music teachers believed in me more than I believed in myself and music class was my safe place.”
“In 1958, I went to a school that burned to the ground and 100 kids died. My way out of it was music,” Cain said. “My father bought me an accordion after the fire and it became my best friend. Music was my escape and my salvation. And that’s what we have to remember when decisions are made to cut music classes out of schools.”
These are 2 themes that we’ve articulated in this forum previously:
- Music and arts teachers can play a critical role in helping students develop self-esteem and inspire them to reach their potential.
- Students see music as a part of their identity, so much so that they often can’t consider life without it
When I conducted the research for my book, I asked many of the participants to identify their significant music teachers/mentors by name and I acknowledged them in the text, because I know from my own experience how lasting that impact can be. It was also interesting that professionals who had conquered the business world and achieved great success by any reasonable measure, often still identified themselves first and foremost as musicians.
Thanks again to NAMM for championing this effort and organizing these activities.
To read the complete press release with a summary of the week’s events, click here.
In a previous post, we noted an impressive list of Canadian high-tech industry CEOs that endorsed arts education as a necessity in developing creative, innovative minds needed for their organizations. The list of quotes below regarding the need for music and arts education from a business perspective comes from the Music Educators of Berks County website:
“The purpose of education is not simply to inform but to enrich and enlighten, to provide insights into life as it had been led and as it may be led. No element of the curriculum is better suited to that task than arts education…The arts take us beyond pragmatic concerns of the moment and give us a glimpse of human possibility.”
– David Kearns, now retired Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Xerox Corporation
“It’s a given that today’s employee has to have basic skills. But superior skills are needed to survive competitively in the global context. Acquiring them has to begin as early as possible in a child’s education, and we see that it comes through arts education. We are not doing justice to our economy or our children if they don’t get that in the K through 12 context.”
– Dan Lacy, corporate Vice President for Communications, Ashland, Inc.
“We see a tremendous need for workers who are creative, analytical, disciplined, and self-confident. And we believe that hands-on participation in the arts is one of the best ways to develop these leadership abilities in young people.”
–Norman R. Augustine, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Martin Marietta Corporation
“For the future of our children and our communities, we must find new ways to engage students in the learning process. The arts can be a powerful vehicle through which to challenge young people’s minds, stir their creativity, instill discipline and build self-esteem.”
–Lawrence A. Hough, President and Chief Executive Officer, Sallie Mae
“The U.S. Department of Labor issued a report in 1991 urging schools to teach for the future workplace. The skills they recommended (working in teams, communication, self-esteem, creative thinking, imagination, and invention) are exactly those learned in school music and arts education programs.”
– 1991 SCANS Report, U.S. Department of Commerce.
“The nation’s top business executives agree that arts education programs can help repair weaknesses in American education and better prepare workers for the 21st center.”
– “The Changing Workplace is Changing Our View of Education,” Business Week, October 1996.
“We believe the skills the arts teach–creative thinking, problem-solving and risk-taking, and teamwork and communication–are precisely the tools the workforce of tomorrow will need. If we don’t encourage students to master these skills through quality arts instruction today, how can we ever expect them to succeed in their highly competitive business careers tomorrow?”
– Richard Gurin, former President and Chief Executive Officer, Binney and Smith, maker of Crayola crayons
“The arts can communicate with the effect and impact that captivate young people. Dance, music, and writing–they facilitate an environment conducive to learning and creativity. It’s here that we can start to turn the tide as members of the corporate community.”
–Michael R. Bowlin, Chief Executive Officer, ARCO
“The need for improving education is well-accepted. There is no better way to achieve this goal than through an understanding of and appreciation for the arts.”
–Arthur Y. Ferrara, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, The Guardian Life Insurance Company
“We live in an age increasingly ruled by science and technology, a fact that only underscores the need for more emphasis on the arts . . . A grounding in the arts will help our children see; to bring a uniquely human perspective to science and technology. In short, it will help them as they grow smarter to also grow wiser.”
– Robert E. Allen, former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, AT&T Corporation
“I believe that there is a place for the arts–music, dance, drawing, painting, writing–in the school curriculum. In the elementary grades, the arts are a valuable component in broadening a child’s mind and talents. In secondary school, the arts provide a sense of history, connecting the past to the present. When a student reaches college, a liberal arts education teaches not just clear but creative, innovative thinking. That’s the kind of individual I’m interested in recruiting for Chase: one who can think conceptually, write well and–perhaps most importantly– bring a creative outlook to the conference-room table.”
– Willard C. Butcher, former Chairman of the Board of The Chase Manhattan Corporation
“Business also benefits from education in the arts. Successful companies in our emerging global economy need more than technicians. Appreciation of music and related arts bridges the gap among societies and offers young people valuable lessons in cooperation and sensitivity to others.”
– William E. LaMothe, former Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, Kellogg Company
“We must encourage our youngsters in such pursuits as music education. In addition to learning the valuable lesson that it takes hard work to achieve success, no matter what the arena, music education can provide students with a strong sense of determination, improved communication skills, and a host of other qualities essential for successful living.”
– Edward H. Rensi, former Chief Operations Officer, President and Chief Operating Officer, U.S.A. McDonald’s Corporation
“The creative arts provide us with a unique and vital perspective about our world. . . . I want to work with people whose imaginations have been unleashed and who tackle problems as challenges rather than see them as obstacles. An education enriched by the creative arts should be considered essential for everyone.”
– John Sculley, former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Apple Computer, Inc.
“Music and the arts help children grow and learn in multiple ways, and they are vital to educating our nation’s children.”
– Anne Dowling, President of the Texaco Foundation