“Is Music the Key to Success?” Some thoughts


Posted by Reggie Lucas on October 14, 2013 no comments

Musings inspired by By Joanne Lipman’s article in the NY Times Sunday Review Opinion Section

“Is Music the Key to Success”, in Sunday’s NY Times 10/13/2013, explores provocative, intriguing territory. The question “about  serious musical training that seems to correlate with outsize success in other fields”  is anecdotally and intuitively obvious to me; it does. The article begs further exploration of the question it posits.  There are many fascinating links between musical training and ability and  personal achievement. Miles Davis, Tony Bennett, Donna Summers, Bob Dylan, and John Mellencamp are all legendary musicians with extraordinary secondary  talents as painters, for instance. Personally, I have seen countless instances where highly gifted musicians made  seemingly effortless transitions from music to  successful careers in a wide array of  professions. The consideration of all musical training and ability as a predictor of  achievement in life would broaden the scope and importance of the study this article almost demands be made. The entire spectrum of musical creativity needs to be included; all genres, as well as the role of improvisation, composition and performance should be considered. The tenacity and dedication required to acquire skill and recognition in music serves those who have attained them well in many other pursuits in life; these are transferable qualities. Success in music has never been a cakewalk. The competitive, transitory nature of careers in music has often discouraged many talented individuals from traveling down this path. The ritual of parents and teachers admonishing aspiring  young musicians to  develop “something to fall back on”, a safer professional skill, is as much with us today as it has ever been.   The most musically talented young people among us face the same agonizing, complex career decisions as their peers. The exceptional difficulty of music  at all levels , however, makes musicians particularly excellent candidates for the rigors of many other fields. This suggests that the acknowledgement and encouragement of musical ability  be a universal principle in our society. This  could result in both better music and a more harmonious, productive society. The misguided and unfortunate tendency of government at all levels to severely reduce or even eliminate funding for music and art programs in public school systems has been a tragic miscalculation. As this article points out, it cannot be ignored that highly significant numbers of our best and brightest have musical training and advanced abilities at both the developmental and professional stages of their personal histories. Music aptitude and training should stand alongside language and math skills in our early childhood and secondary educational institutions. Hopefully, the author of this article and other scholars and social scientists will explore these ideas more fully and bring scientific validation to the instincts and experiential  notions that so many of us already have.

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