Tag Archives: Arts Advocacy

Musicians Thriving in the Business World: The Evidence is Mounting

WGN Chicago Interview
WGN Chicago Interview

When my book Everything We Needed to Know About Business, We Learned Playing Music was published in 2009, I believed that as the pace of change in the business world continued to accelerate, the concept of Music & Arts education as prerequisites for success would become more mainstream. Innovation and creativity are skills that must be practiced, developed, and refined. While we’re not there yet, it seems that the instances of testimony and observation regarding that connection are becoming more and more frequent.

Here are a few from news sources around the web:

(FORBES) “These Business Leaders Do Their Jobs Better by Applying Lessons from the Performing Arts”

(HARRIS POLL) “More Americans Believe Music Education Contributes to Career Readiness”

(NY TIMES) “Is Music the Key to Success”

(WORDPRESS:  BUSINESS MUSICIAN) “From the Band Room to the Boardroom…9 Lessons of Music Education that Translate into Success”

(CTV NEWS OTTAWA) “Canadian Astronaut Touts Benefits of Learning Music”

(MAKING MUSIC MAGAZINE) “A Law Office with a Musical Side”

(CNN) “Everything I Need to Know, I Learned in Music Class” (Hey, that sounds familiar!!!)

(THE GUARDIAN) “Music Graduates are More Employable than You Might Think”

Our Music Education Advocacy army is growing. Stay tuned…

Kevin Spacey, Winston Churchill on Arts Advocacy

Kevin Spacey recently gave a speech on Arts Advocacy at the Kennedy Center. A brief interview the following day with Chris Matthews of the show Hardball is making the rounds among arts advocates on Twitter. Spacey researched historical testimonials from well-known public figures, and he shared this gem during the speech – Matthews was so struck by it that he asked Spacey to repeat it to his audience:

“When Winston Churchill was Prime Minister and he was told that there were going to be major cuts in arts and culture because of the mounting costs of World War II, he responded with a simple reply, ‘Then what are we fighting for?'”

Link to Kevin Spacey interview with Chris Matthews.

Quote of the Day: MCG Jazz Founder Bill Strickland

Today’s quote comes from Bill Strickland, Founder of the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild and MCG Jazz. We’ve featured Bill in a previous video post here entitled The Arts: Giving Hope to the Hopeless.

“The sand in the hourglass flows only one way. Don’t waste precious time chasing someone else’s definition of success. Live your life with purpose now. Look for the things that inspire you, trouble you, make you feel most alive, and trust in those things to shape your future. They will give you all your heart could ever wish for.”

— Bill Strickland

Link to Bill’s inspiring TED speech on the importance of arts in his work.

Looking for CEOs to Jump on the Arts Education Train

Previously we posted an impressive list of CEOs of Canadian High-Tech Companies who signed on to a letter advocating liberal arts and a balanced approach to education. We later posted an additional list of CEOs and executives advocating the arts.

Looking for more CEOs and Business Leaders to get on board the arts advocacy train. Any high-ranking CEOs and executives willing to support the following simple statement will be acknowledged here:

“We support funding of arts education as core subjects in our educational institutions. The 21st century workplace requires innovative and creative minds, and arts education is a critical component in the development of the skills necessary to compete in a global marketplace.

“Our employees with a diverse education have increased their value to our companies, our economy, our culture, and themselves.”

Why Music Education Continues to Lose the Funding Battle

Do you believe in art for art’s sake? Me too. Music and the arts help us connect as humans and share common emotions. They can be a conduit for social change. They inspire us to see the best in ourselves, and achieve our own potential. No argument here.

Here’s the problem – those who are tasked with prioritizing education funding believe in art for art’s sake as well – they just don’t always believe it’s a function that the education system should be subsidizing, at least when push comes to shove in difficult economic times.

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.

Certainly programs will always exist that will nurture those identified as musical prodigies and develop their talents in the pursuit of music as a career. That’s not my greatest concern. The value of music education is in exposing all students to the arts and providing them with a vehicle for developing creative, diverse, and broad-minded individuals more ready for a changing world and changing workplace in any field.

For someone who has written a book entitled Everything We Needed to Know About Business, We Learned Playing Music that chronicled the stories of 32 CEOs and business leaders articulating the 9 common lessons of music education that translated into success in business, I might be seen as a shameless self-promoter for sharing this message. Understood.

The truth is that the futility of music education advocacy is the reason that I left corporate America to write the book. It’s why I have toured the nation over the last 6 months speaking to early morning television shows, radio stations, civic associations, music teachers and students, AARP chapters, bloggers, podcasters, and just about anyone who would listen. Until we start articulating that music and the arts are essential these days in preparing students for all vocations, current trends will continue. To borrow a tired phrase, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result,” or words to that effect.

Let’s take sports by comparison. There are scores of current and retired professional athletes feeding Corporate America with analogies between sports and business success at conventions, banquets, and sales training events. And a sports obsessed nation of pro athlete wannabees in business suits eat it up every day.

Answer this question – How is athletic program funding doing compared to music education funding these days?

Don’t get me wrong – I believe in sports as a learning experience and the transcendent lessons of the playground as well. My own son has grown tremendously in terms of his self-confidence by disciplining himself to learn the skill of hitting and catching a baseball, and I’m proud to have played a role in that experience.

But children can achieve the same result by learning scales, playing in a band, or improvising a solo.

One of my great concerns in speaking to music education associations is their resignation to the reality that music will always be first on the funding chopping block. It’s my hope that a new generation of music education students and future educators will re-energize the debate. HERE’S THE GOOD NEWS: They enter their careers armed with the reality that the sensitivities and skillsets of the artist are increasingly in demand in the workplace, even in traditionally “left-brain” industries and careers (well articulated by such author/speakers as Daniel Pink, John Kao, and Sir Ken Robinson).

But it won’t happen without passion. There’s always another priority, and generally one that’s worthwhile, that will compete for music and arts education funding if you don’t speak up and let your voice be heard.

Get involved, get others involved, and express your concerns – or live with the consequences.

(Craig Cortello is the author of Everything We Needed to Know About Business, We Learned Playing Music. He is a speaker/trainer who articulates the universal lessons of music education and uses music to facilitate adult learning in corporate environments. For more info, visit Craig’s website)

Art For Art’s Sake, Music for Music’s Sake

We spend a lot of time justifying arts education from all different angles. That’s fine. But let’s not lose sight of what’s important. More and more in the future, as we see that our insatiable appetites for consumerism fail to satisy our hunger for happiness, our choices will be driven by quality of life determinations. Here’s what a colleague has to say about justifying the arts:

“In education, there is a connection between all of the pieces,” said Michael Guillot, former Vice-President for Patron Services and Chief Advancement Officer for the North Carolina Symphony. “Language, music, mathematics, and science are connected to our cognitive functioning. Any time I improve cognitive functioning in one place, odds are I’m going to get it in other places as well.

“But I’ve got to tell you, the other case we make is that in and of itself, art is worthy. If it had no effect on those others, it really wouldn’t matter. It is a pursuit of quality of life, of personal joy, of meaning…And I don’t want to get away from that.”

Amen.