Everyone in the music world has now sent each other Joanne Lipman’s NN Times article, Is Music the Key to Success? (We seem to agree that yes, it is.) Lipman writes about the many people who are highly successful in other fields while being active musicians.
Strikingly, many high achievers told me music opened up the pathways to creative thinking. And their experiences suggest that music training sharpens other qualities: Collaboration. The ability to listen. A way of thinking that weaves together disparate ideas. The power to focus on the present and the future simultaneously.
The article reminds me that Harold Best, who was the dean of music at Wheaton College for over twenty-five years, once told us at DePauw that “a degree in music is the best preparation for anything.” (I’ve written about this before.)
We are very excited at DePauw about our 21st Century Musician Initiative, supported by a fifteen million dollar gift from Judson and Joyce Green. I spent a good part of a sabbatical three years ago developing courses on music entrepreneurship and audience development and then participating in the process of developing this program. Music entrepreneurship courses are fast becoming central parts of professional music education. We in the higher education music establishment collectively turn out thousands of graduates with performance degrees each year, while the job market for classical musicians seems to get tougher each year.
It can be hard on us. We know that music is a calling that does not always lead to a career. Some of us struggle over whether or not to encourage young people to study music in college.
My answer? Yes.
Even as we work to do a better job preparing music students to succeed as professional musicians through entrepreneurship and career skills programs, we can take comfort–even rejoice–in the fact that we are also preparing them for a life of making and otherwise engaging in music, regardless of their profession. Their musical and liberal arts education has been central to their development in every dimension.