Tag Archives: Music Education Budget Cuts

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

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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!

Benefits of Music Education: Getting “Buy-in”

I once interviewed the Development Director for a symphony organization, and he said that when he speaks to representatives from major donor organizations, most were involved in music programs as a child – and that’s the danger of cutting school music programs – the number of individuals who “buy in” to the power and benefits of music education is likely to diminish.

I recently listened to an interview with Dr. Richard Fratianne and a burn patient regarding the benefits of music therapy as a healing aid. Interesting that Dr. Fratianne indicated that music was an integral part of his upbringing.

Visit my Music Advocacy web page for great resources
Here are a few additional stories regarding music and healing

Music Education Budget Consideration: Keeping Students Engaged, Motivated, & Present

In a previous post, we featured a video interview of Roger H. Brown, President of Berklee School of Music in which he articulated why music education belongs in public schools. He stressed that the most important element of effective learning is a motivated student:

“If you care about people doing well academically, being prepared for careers, and having a successful life, the number one thing that you need to do is find something that gives them energy, that lights them up, that makes them feel animated. A sullen student sitting in a classroom being drilled on Algebra isn’t going to happen.”

Brown stresses that music is often the conduit that opens the student up to the concept of learning.

In my research for the book Everything We Needed to Know About Business, We Learned Playing Music, Bob Massie, CEO of Marketing Informatics echoed those sentiments when reflecting on his own academic experience:

“Music just completely filled my life,” he stated. “That was life in the small town. I did school just because that’s what you were expected to do, but I did it only as an obligation. Every waking moment I wanted to be involved in music someplace.”

It would seem that the “student motivation/effectiveness of learning” argument alone, as expressed by Brown, would justify funding of music education programs. Massie’s sentiments take it a step further – consider that in many cases, we might lose students altogether if we don’t provide the programs that energize them about participating in school at all.

It is worth noting that Massie’s company has been recognized in Inc. magazine as one of the 500 Fastest Growing Private Companies on several occasions and has been recognized for outstanding achievement by the Harvard School of Business, The Kelley School of Business, and the Indianapolis Business Journal.

 

Campbell’s Labels for Education Program

Campbell’s corporation has a Labels for Education program that allows participating schools to collect product labels, accumulate points, and exchange those points for educational resources for music/art, athletic, or academic use. Schools can simply enroll and appoint a coordinator to act as a liaison to collect and submit the labels.

Link for more information on the benefits of the program and how to enroll and participate.
Link to the products catalog

Why Music Education Belongs in Public Schools

This brief video interview with Roger H. Brown, President of Berklee College of Music, articulates so many of the key reasons that music education in our schools is important. Interesting ideas that we also articulated in Everything We Needed to Know About Music, We Learned Playing Music include:
– The importance of finding ways to motivate students if we want to effectively educate them
– The idea that many students that don’t respond well to traditional education assessments often have exceptional talents
– Roger uses the term that it is “criminal” that we can’t make music educators available to students, a thought echoed by S. Neil Vineberg in the book.

Neil Moore, Founder/CEO of Simply Music on the Importance of Music Education

Anyone considering music education budget cuts should spend some time listening to Neil Moore, Founder & CEO of Simply Music, a man with an amazing story and a passion for the importance of music. Yesterday I posted a quote from Neil from my book. Here’s an excerpt of the audio interview:

El Sistema (Video): Classical Music Saving 300,000 Children in Venezuela


This 60 Minutes segment with Bob Simon should be mandatory viewing for any school or jurisdiction considering budget cuts to music education. A program known as El Sistema (The System) and The Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra are a model for turning around poverty-stricken children’s lives and giving them hope. It’s noteworthy that Bob mentions specifically “Confidence and Self-Esteem,” which we identified as one of the 9 common lessons of music education that translate into success in my research.

A leader of the program also notes the “irreversible transformation” that takes place in children. Also, a young man who went from a juvenile detention center to clarinet player says, “It’s completely different than when you hold a gun…Music taught me how to treat people without violence.”

60 Minutes Video link

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

by Craig M. Cortello

(The following article is 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.)

These are alarming times for the plight of music education funding. Economic downturns are an immediate sign of crisis for those programs that have perennially been at or near the education budgetary chopping block. Non-profit organizations that try to fill that resource gap often rely on the benevolence of those impacted by an ailing economy. Perhaps a new understanding of the transcendent lessons of a music education can lead to a reshuffling of education priorities.

Consider a conversation that I had a couple of years ago with Ellis Marsalis, Jr., modern jazz pioneer, music educator, and the father of the first family of jazz in New Orleans and beyond. “To me there’s nothing wrong with somebody who has played a musical instrument and is not going to do it for a living becoming the CEO of a major corporation, and there’s a ton of that,” said Marsalis. “I met a guy at Merrill Lynch who’s a clarinet player. One of the best pianists we had, a young lady at NOCCA when I was teaching there – She’s a banker in New Jersey” (NOCCA refers to the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, an advanced program for young prodigies of music and the arts for high school-aged youths in New Orleans).

Ellis Marsalis, Jr. understood that regardless of whether the ultimate vocation of the students that came under his tutelage (including his children) turned out to be trumpet, saxophone, trombone, percussion, or banking and financial services, music education could comprise an integral component of the foundation for their success. As he explained, it’s only one element, but an important one in a well-rounded education that prepares a student for a diversified world and uncertain times.

Researching the Business Correlation of Music Education
For a period of 18 months I discussed this subject with 32 CEO’s and business leaders from around the country (and a few from beyond). The task was to identify successful people from a cross-section of business who were influenced by music education as a child or adolescent and who view that experience as a defining one in preparing them for success in their business endeavors. I asked them to reflect and to articulate the lessons learned, attributes developed, and insights gained from their music experience that were highly correlative to success in the business world, “FROM THE BAND ROOM TO THE BOARDROOM,” so to speak. Here are the nine common lessons articulated by the research participants.

1. Confidence and Self-Esteem (Stepping Up to the Mic)
One of the most common benefits of music expressed by our research subjects was the development of confidence and self-esteem. Consistently, I heard our contributors speak of the positive effect that performing in front of an audience, mastering a new musical piece, or simply connecting with other musicians in an ensemble had on building their ability to believe in themselves and perform under pressure.
 

“Courage is realizing your fear and going ahead and doing what you should do. So for me, realizing that I had stage fright, the confidence builder was that I did it. I was supposed to get up and do a solo, and I actually finished. That built the confidence. Something that I was terrified to do, I could prepare to do it and do it well, despite being afraid.

“As a surgeon there are lots of times when you make your incision, and it’s a lot more challenging than you thought it would be…That experience helped me in terms of training me that when you get a little nervous, to use that energy to perfect your performance rather than fall apart.”

  H. Steven Sims, M.D. Director, Chicago Institute for Voice Care
Assistant Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago Medical Center
Vocalist, Pianist, Trombonist, & Bassoonist
 

2. Collaboration and Teamwork (I’m in the Band)
There’s a certain give and take that comes from playing in a band where you have to assess the strengths, weaknesses, and personalities of the members of the team. Fitting the complex pieces of that puzzle in a way that makes the music come together is quite an art. Those skills translate well to business endeavors or projects that involve teamwork and collaboration.

“In five minutes, I’m going to walk into a room to talk about a multi-million dollar RFP (Request for Proposal). I’m going to go in there with an idea or two or three or four, and I’m going to sit down with other senior people in the firm. As if we were a jazz combo, we’re going to just start riffing off of one another, and we’re going to find a rhythm – a creative, strategic rhythm. And then we’re going to come out with some really good ideas.

“I don’t want to belabor the parallel, but when you have people who speak the same language, musical language or intellectual language, people who have similar skill sets and traits and talents, and you bring them together with a common purpose, good things often happen.”

 Bob Knott
Executive Vice-President
Edelman Group
(Global Independent Public Relations Firm)
Guitarist, Music Critic

3. Leadership (Conducting Your Symphony of Employees)
The application of the competencies of teamwork and collaboration takes on new meaning from the perspective of a leader. A conductor must understand the strengths of all of the musicians, understanding how their skills fit into the big picture of the orchestra. That conductor must then communicate a compelling vision, motivating the players to either step into the spotlight or to subjugate their own needs for the benefit of the whole, depending upon the circumstance.

“Naturally, every singer has all the skills to be an entrepreneur. When you’re an entrepreneur, you see a niche and an opportunity in  everything. Once you learn to channel energy and direct power when you’re in front of people and you’re singing, it’s something you never forget. You can’t be a singer unless you are a leader.”
 

Genevieve Thiers
Founder/CEO Sittercity.com (America’s Leading Online Caregiver Matching Service)
Opera Singer

4. Salesmanship and Branding (Give the Fans What They Want)
Musicians and bands have to put together songs, performances, or identities that their fans (or potential fans) will find compelling. While greater musical proficiency will improve your chances of success, it’s no guarantee. Repeatedly, participants spoke of how that constant campaign of engaging their fans and packaging their music in a way that creates loyalty served them well in business.

“To this day, it [music] is the driving sense of self that I have. I still think of myself as a musician with a day job, not a Silicon Valley marketing executive. Being successful is not about being the best musician. There’s somebody singing in a bar that’s a better piano player than Billy Joel or Elton John.

“You learn that and apply that to business as well. You can have the absolute best technology or the best product or service, but it comes down to brand awareness and getting noticed in the marketplace.”

 Greg Estes
Vice-President of Marketing, Mozes, Inc.,
(Mobile marketing technology company)
Keyboard Player, Songwriter

5. Creativity & Innovation (Improvising From the Charts)
Unless we think of creativity as a muscle that gets stronger with exercise or withers with inactivity, we’ll never reach our creative potential. People involved in music come to the workplace with toned and fit creativity muscles.

“One of the things that musicians and artists tend to do is explore other people’s art and other people’s way of doing things. I think we’re looking for inspiration. I think we look at a level that non-musicians don’t.

“Most non-musicians more easily stay in their rut. Musicians tend to find ways out of the rut, because that’s what gives us joy – learning the new thing.”

 Dan Burrus
CEO & Founder, Burrus Research, Technology Forecaster, Best-Selling Author of
Technotrends
Guitarist

6. Risk Acceptance (Let’s Just “Jam”)
Before one can get to a place where creativity and innovation are possible, learning to trust the process that discards familiar, safe systems is a prerequisite. We must walk out on that musical limb and have “jam” sessions. We’ll just see what happens and assess the results afterwards. Musicians understand that the greatest innovations often come when you leave the harbor of predictable outcomes and sail into the sea of uncertainty.

“The insurance business is purely risk taking…You go in knowing there are going to be risks involved. Any time you play music, there are risks involved. You can have equipment failure. You can have rain. Somebody can get sick. Guitar strings break.

“Then there’s the personal risk. There are going to be better people in the audience, and I’m going to be nervous. I’m going to forget my part. Or I’ve got to sing this really high part, and I hope that I can hit that note this late in the evening. There’s a whole range of risk that you take in a band that’s highly correlative to business.”

 Lloyd Yavener
Vice-President of Marketing, Underwriting, and Claims
Clements International (Leading Insurer of Expatriate Markets)
Drummer/Guitarist

7. Discipline and Fundamentals (Learning the “Scales” of Your Profession)
The discipline that musicians must possess to develop their craft to the point that they are even ready to share their talents on any significant level is often underappreciated. How many times had Joe Pass played a scale on the guitar, put chords and bass lines together in interesting combinations, or simply run through fingering techniques to stay sharp and limber? I don’t know the answer, but when I hear
his recordings, contemplating those questions is mind-boggling.

“I can’t even imagine what I would have done with my time during those years if I hadn’t had marching band and drum and bugle corps. I really felt like I had no direction otherwise. What it gave to me was something to focus on, something to commit to, and it really pushed me to grow in ways I would have never been able to grow.

“It teaches you to be accountable to something other than yourself. It teaches you to commit. It’s a great character builder.”

 Monica Ricci
Catalyst Organizing
Professional Organizer, Speaker, Author
Drummer & Percussionist

8. Individuality (Make Your Own Kind of Music)
Any form of expression, especially music, is an exercise in self-discovery. Determining what makes you unique is perhaps the most important aspect of personal development. Music and the arts help people find their unique “voice” in life rather than just going through the motions. There is perhaps no greater gift we can give our children than those tools of introspection.

Also, in a global business world where access to information, technology, and resources is getting easier, differentiation is essential.

“Listening to, performing, discovering, feeling, and expressing music is almost like nature itself unfolding inside of you. To deny people that world of discovery seems to be bordering on criminal.”

 S. Neil Vineberg, President, Vineberg Communications,
Guitarist (recording and performing credits
include Whitney Houston, Carlos Santana,
& Narada Michael Walden)

9. Passion (Play it With Feeling)
Hand in hand with finding your unique talents is the discovery of your passions. We have too many people on the planet who are square pegs trying to fit into round holes. They have jobs and no purpose, a living but not a life, and they are avoiding the pursuits that they are uniquely qualified to offer to the world due to fear or complacency.

Yet nothing great was ever achieved without passion.

“When it comes to success in business, the first place that people fall down and fail is by refusing to own up to their actual dream. Rock bands teach us that the actual dream is to be world-famous. To play huge arenas and change people’s lives.

“When people come to business, I wish more of them would say that. Your goal is to change the face of the world through what you do. If more people came to the table like 16 year-old rock musicians, they would find a lot more success and a lot more happiness in the success they find.”

 Mark Truman, Executive Director & Founder,
Omniac Education
College entrance consulting, tutoring, and test preparation
Guitarist/Vocalist

About the Author
Craig Cortello is a contributing music writer to Where Y’at magazine and AllAboutJazz.com, having had the pleasure of interviewing such New Orleans music icons as Pete Fountain, Ellis Marsalis, Jr., Marva Wright, and Henry Butler. He is also a 30 year veteran of the guitar, a self-taught pianist, and a composer.

In business, Craig most recently served as National Sales Manager of a successful environmental consulting firm with 28 offices in the U.S. and China. He is a board member of the National Speakers Association New Orleans chapter and of the Metairie Sunrise Rotary Club. 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.