Tag Archives: Music Advocacy

Why Your Worst Music and Band Students Might be Your Program’s Best Assets

Bus Flip ChrtMusic Educators do a great job of tracking and celebrating their most successful artists. High School Band Directors invite their former student band members to come back as a featured guest performers. University music programs bring back their most successful performing graduates to lecture students, give concerts, or hire them as adjunct professors.

I overheard a private piano teacher proudly boasting that one of her former students performed on a nationally televised show recently. I’m sure she knew at every step of his career where he was studying, who his influences were, where he had performed, and what he had recorded. She was beaming with pride as she spoke, and she had every reason and right to do so.

Yet what about those former students who only continued to play music recreationally or for relaxation? What about those who quit playing music altogether after they left school? Do you know where they are today?

Your music advocacy efforts will have limited impact if you can only demonstrate that you were able to nurture the talents of the gifted artist. The success of your efforts to provide broader funding of music education programs for all students will require testimonials from successes of a different kind.

How about the doctors, engineers, and sales professionals who point to performing in front of a live audience, learning rhythm/timing, or collaborating with other members of an ensemble as building blocks for their future careers outside of music? Where are they, and what do they have to say about that experience? Sure, you believe in the universal benefits of music education and you tell anyone who asks how beneficial that exposure can be, but are you engaging those who can tell that story in a personal and objective way?


From a career in sales and sales management primarily outside of the music business, I can tell you that a salesperson’s assertions are not nearly as effective as a reference or testimonial from a satisfied customer. When I hear a customer telling a friend or colleague in casual conversation what a pleasure it is doing business with my organization,  I know that my job of winning over that prospect just became easier by leaps and bounds.

I know that keeping track of former students is difficult. So is making a living as music educator these days, so you get my point.

My high school alma mater picks one football game a year and invites band alums to come back for a few rehearsals, then they perform with current students at halftime. What a great idea.

Keep a directory, invite music alums to your concerts and events, and let them share their story – regardless of whether or not they can still carry a tune!

List of Articles on the Correlation Between Music Education and Success

FROM THE BAND ROOM TO THE BOARDROOM…The 9 Common Lessons of Music Education that Translate Into Success

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!

Choral Director Magazine

A brief word of thanks to Choral Director magazine for a mention of my book Everything We Needed to Know About Business, We Learned Playing Music in their July 2010 issue. The website and magazine has a number of great resources for Choral Directors and for music education advocates.

Link to Choral Director magazine’s website.

Salesmanship: Sheryl Crow & The Universal Lessons of Music

In my research for the book Everything We Needed to Know About Business, We Learned Playing Music, Genevieve Thiers, CEO and founder of Sittercity.com and opera singer discussed one of the lessons of her music experience that served her very well in starting her company – the concept that the process of auditioning helped her develop a thick skin and a fearlessness that was invaluable in establishing her start-up business.

This theme was consistent enough in our research that we identified salesmanship and branding as one of the 9 Common Lessons of Music that Translate into Success.

Pop/Rock recording artist Sheryl Crow echoes those sentiments in this excerpt from an interview at the Academy of Achievement:

“My mother says I have a lot of “chutzpah.” I did. You know, I was really naive about my career. I just figured if I kept working hard, and if I just seized moments, that things would happen, and that is really the way it worked. I was doing a recording session for a jingle, I believe, and I overheard some singers talking about an audition that was closed, supposed to be on recommendation, and I found out where it was and I went, and that’s how I got it.”

Read the Sheryl Crow interview transcript, or watch video or audio excerpts at the Academy of Achievement website

Listen to Genevieve’s thoughts on Music Education & Success

Music Education Blog Carnival – May 2010

Alan Zweibel hosts this month’s Music Education Blog Carnival, a compilation of blog posts related to music education that appears at a different music education bloggers website each month during the school year. Thanks to Alan for compiling this outstanding resource and for including me in this month’s edition:
Link to the May 2010 Music Education Blog Carnival

Music Education & Success: Dean Deyo, President, Memphis Music Foundation

Continuing with our series of audio excerpts from the interviews conducted in the research for my book Everything We Needed to Know About Business, We Learned Playing Music: Dean Deyo, President of the Memphis Music Foundation & Retired Division CEO/President of Time Warner Corporation discusses the role that music had on developing his communication, poise, confidence, and public speaking abilities needed to succeed in business.

Music Advocacy: Poison or Passion

I’ve seen a number of articles and blog posts recently criticizing the use of the word “advocacy” with respect to music education. The sentiment seems to revolve around the theory that the term paints music education into a sympathetic corner, and it’s hard to get people galvanized by playing the sympathy card.

These are the musings of the “over-analysis” crowd. Essentially, advocacy is a term that is almost universally recognized by the music community and provides a basis for communication regarding activity and resources. I don’t think that the people that we need to move to action (primarily those outside of the arts community) to drive meaningful change really care what we call efforts to promote music education. Don’t worry about the jargon – just spend your time rallying support!

With that thought in mind, here’s a list of “Music Advocacy Links” from the website SchoolMusicMatters.com

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.”



Brief excerpts from the interviews that I compiled researching my new book. You’ll get a sense of the joy that I experienced discussing the power of playing music with these amazing CEOs and business leaders/musicians!

Buy Your Pet an Ipod? Yes, says this GRAMMY nominee

Stanley Jordan is a GRAMMY-nominated and groundbreaking jazz guitarist. His unique tapping technique gave the instrument new possibilities, allowing the freedom to generate independent sounds with both hands. Stanley is also a tireless proponent of the power of music, including the field of music therapy.

Here’s an audio excerpt from our conversation regarding the amazing ability of animals to decifer the intracacies of music:

Stanley Jordan’s official website

Stanley live: