Golden Periods: Music as an Agent for Social Change

(The following article features an excerpt from Everything We Needed to Know About Business, We Learned Playing Music, printed with permission from the author. The book is a compilation of 32 profiles of CEOs and business professionals who played music as a child or adolescent and view that experience as a defining one in preparing them for success in their business endeavors).

Pop Music and music in general are often a conduit for social change. For many adolescents, music expands their awareness and interest in social issues in a very tangible way. It expresses the concerns and angst of their generation.

Michael Guillot is a partner at Gadd-Guillot, a consulting firm assisting non-profit organizations and board members. He is also the former Vice-President of Patron Services at the North Carolina Symphony and a member of an outstanding vocal ensemble during his high school years, the latter an experience that shaped his understanding of the pursuit of excellence.

In this excerpt, Michael discusses the unique role that music played as a conduit for social change during his adolescent years:

“Art reflects life,” said Michael. “It was expressing that era of heightened change, of personal discontent, of grappling with core issues, of looking around you and not making a connection between what you saw and what you felt. Some of that had to do with justice issues, of race. Some of it had to do with equity issues – how come so and so has this and other people don’t? We claim to be the land of opportunity. Part of what we were striving for to identify in those days was how equitable was that opportunity.

“And of course, we were pressed on by a war,” he added. “That war for me and many other Americans was not just an abstract exercise. We knew people who had lost their lives in that war and their families who had been affected. And of course I was at the age where I was eligible for the draft, so it was not an academic exercise.

“So to find any art form, but particularly one as accessible and as present as popular music to begin to tussle with those issues [was important]. At the same time you had the Beatles; Bob Dylan; Peter, Paul, and Mary; and Pete Seeger. You had the emergence of folk music becoming protest music, and popular music sort of echoing those themes. So Rock and Roll goes from just a mere expression of youthfulness to an expression of serious political and sociological issues,” he observed. “It was a profound time. Many researchers call these periods golden periods, where a convergence of things happens. You look at Athens, you look at Rome, you look at the Renaissance, periods where art and civic and commerce and all these things come together. The 60s and all that it meant represented that time in the world. The first time the world had to stop and look at itself since WWII, and not necessarily liking what it found. You had a lot of art trying to tussle with that.”

For additional information regarding this article and the book Everything We Needed to Know About Business, We Learned Playing Music, including speaking engagement requests, contact ccortello@LDV-Enterprises.com or visit www.BusinessMusician.com.

To listen to excerpts from the audio interviews with these CEOs and business leaders discussing the correlation between music education and success, click here.

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