Tag Archives: Benefits of Music Education

Music Education: The Gateway to Career Success

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…

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Dave Wish of Little Kids Rock Discusses the Benefits of Music Education

In 2008, I conducted a series of interviews with music educators, professionals, musicians, and advocates articulating the universal benefits of music education and participation. One of the most memorable of those discussions was with Dave Wish, founder and Executive Director of the non-profit, “Little Kids Rock.” LKR provides musical instruments and instruction to at-risk kids and teachers.

Great points made by Dave that should be staples of any music enthusiast’s/advocate’s discussions!

Amy Winehouse (1983 – 2011) and the Merits of Artistic Expression

I recall watching Amy Winehouse perform during the GRAMMY awards in 2008, and I watched her get showered with awards and accolades shortly thereafter (5 GRAMMYS that evening). There were 2 things that were plainly obvious to those inside and outside of the recording industry that night: 1) This is an immensely talented performer with enormous upside potential 2) Winehouse was on a dangerous path and perhaps the tip of a downward spiral, given her problems with addiction and the underlying emotional issues that all too often derail the careers of emerging artists. I couldn’t help think that there was something terribly afoul and enabling with the idea of heaping praise on a woman in such peril after she declared in song, “They tried to make me go to rehab, I said, no, no, no.”

We speak of the power and merits of artistic expression in this forum a great deal, but the story of Amy Winehouse is a cautionary tale. Exposing children to music and the arts provides a valuable outlet for their emotions, and is a tool in teaching them to live productive and healthy lives – but it’s just a start. It’s important to realize and acknowledge its limitations as well. I’m no expert, but I think it’s safe to say that Winehouse’s underlying issues could not be resolved by a piano, guitar, or microphone.

I’ve spoken to music therapy experts, and they’ve echoed these sentiments as well. We must be realistic and practical in espousing the power and benefits of music and music education. Those who oversell its potential provide ammunition for the skeptics and sabotage the scientific advances made by the true practitioners of music and sound therapy, arts integration, and arts education in general.

Sunday Journal: Fine Arts Can Teach Crucial Life Lessons

This article by Ronnie Sanders, a member of the fine arts faculty at Jefferson High School in San Antonio and an appointee to a sub-Committee of the Texas Commission on the Arts, echoes the sentiments we express here often on the benefits of music and arts education. My takeaways and key points included:

 – “The arts do not exist simply to perform; the arts exist to transform.” (great line!)

 – “We use music to make better students who are ready to use the skills they learn in fine arts classes in order make a significant contribution in a global economy of thinkers, creators and problem-solvers.”

 – “Far from being superfluous, the arts are now regarded as a necessary component of a well-rounded quality education.”

 – “Our children are not mere statistics or cold, calculated averages. At the core of every student is a heart with a desire to excel in life — and the arts are here to help them accomplish their dreams!”

Read the entire article at MySanAntonio.com

Visit Ronnie’s website

Bruce Sklar on Music Education and the 21st Century Workplace

In this article from the Burlington Free Press entitled Music Classes Fuel Society’s Need for Creativity, the article’s author and jazz educator Bruce Sklar echoes many of the themes stated here repeatedly regarding the role of music education in preparing students for the workplace (I guess everyone enjoys a little validation every once in a while!).

In the piece, Bruce and others observe that musicians have the ability to “Synthesize new ideas from existing materials or data” and develop skills that are needed in the 21st century.

Musicians are quick on their feet and have the ability to improvise.

Music education helps develop Discipline, Teamwork, and Leadership (3 of the 9 Lessons from music education that we identified in Everything We Needed to Know About Business, We Learned Playing Music).

Bravo, Bruce!

Test Scores and Non-Testable Subjects?

I came across this article on the web today from blogger Dana Goldstein regarding the use (or non-use) of test scores to assess the effectiveness of music, art, and phys. ed. teachers. This is a topic that I became intrigued by when conducting the research for my book Everything We Needed to Know About Business, We Learned Playing Music.

According to a series of reports by the Center on Education Policy that tracks the implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act (which became law in 2002) entitled From the Capital to the Classroom, 62 percent of elementary school districts reported increasing time for English and/or math since the 2001-02 school year by an average increase of 42 percent. At the same time, 44 percent of elementary school districts reported cutting time from one or more other subjects including science, social studies, art and music, physical education, lunch, and recess by an average of about 30 minutes per day.

“What gets tested gets taught,” said Jack Jennings, CEP’s president and CEO. “Because so much is riding on reading and math, included on state tests, many schools have cut back time on other important areas, which means that some students are not receiving a broad curriculum.”

The report also notes that these changes are more prevalent in districts that are home to struggling schools. One recommendation from the report is to “include measures of knowledge and skills in art and music as one of the multiple measures used for NCLB accountability.”

That brings up a touchy subject that gets debated in the academic world – How do you implement tests for the arts that truly capture artistic aptitude and competence? By definition the arts are about creativity, and standardization can discourage creativity. How would Charlie Parker or Pablo Picasso have performed on a standardized arts test? My fear is that standardized testing for the arts would drive the move toward memorization of facts rather than creative application, which is essentially what the arts are all about and the greatest benefit of arts in our schools (see item #5 of the 9 Common Lessons of Music Education that Translate into Success).

I asked a group of experienced music educators that question once (“What are your thoughts on standardized testing for the arts, given the fact that funding seems to follow test results but the arts are difficult to assess via traditional test methods?), and didn’t really get much of an answer. It’s a topic that needs more dialogue.

The Answer?
I believe a line at the bottom of the Ms. Goldstein’s post gives us a hint at the answer – Comprehensive Assessments that take into account “multiple measures” not just test scores. As a matter of fact, multiple measures are the answer even in traditional education subjects. As one educator once told me, “Standardized tests are a measure, yet only one element, and likely not the most important one in assessing the effectiveness of educational institutions.”

More about Dana Goldstein.
My letter to the Aspen Institute’s Commission on No Child Left Behind

Music Education in America: Missing the Bigger Picture

A quick word of thanks to The Daily Riff and Catherine Westerberg for inviting me to provide a guest post regarding a new twist on the benefits of music education. Lots of great info and ideas on education and education reform on the website – take a few minutes to take a look!

Link to article

Music & Arts Ed Budget Cuts: Creating An Opportunity for Success?

So music and arts education budgets are being cut everywhere. What does that mean for you and your school. Opportunity! Let’s take a lesson from the world of business.

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.

Music & Arts Education: The Differentiator
What does that have to do with Arts and Music Education. Well if everyone else is cutting their budgets, your successful program is a great differentiator.

  • 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!

Frank Battisti Video: “We’ve Got to Sell it (Music Education) Like Madison Avenue

We featured a lecture by Frank Battisti here before, but I urge you to watch the video below. In this brief panel discussion, he reiterates many of the points (benefits of music education and the role of the music education program) we’ve made here before, yet he does it more articulately, succinctly, and thoroughly than any speaker that I can recall.

Key points:
“We have got to grow music lovers. Kids who love music. Not band, not activity – music. And it starts with the teacher loving music.”

“Music is essential to the development of every child, not just the ones in my band. I’m not happy until every child has quality music education, because for the full development of that child, that’s essential.”

“We’ve got to sell it (music education) like Madison Avenue”

“Our job is to get kids to Grow, understand, appreciate, and love music”

“The issue in art is not being better than anybody else – it’s about finding who you are and being creative. There are no trophies for that, but there’s great enrichment and great fulfillment from it.”