My View: Everything I need to know, I learned in music class
Music education isn't just learning Mozart, Andrew Schwartz writes: "It’s about learning how to think, rather than what to think."
March 20th, 2013
05:00 AM ET

My View: Everything I need to know, I learned in music class

By Andrew Schwartz, Special to CNNAndrew Schwartz

Editor’s note: Tuba player Andrew Schwartz holds a bachelor’s of music from the University of Hartford. He did graduate work at The Manhattan School of Music and is working on an MBA at Georgia State University’s Robinson College of Business, where he is president-elect of the Graduate Business Association. He is an intern at Atlanta-based music startup Tunefruit. Schwartz's story first appeared on CNN iReport.

(CNN) - It’s no secret that education in America is broken. We can’t define a good school, let alone figure out a way to measure success. Yet when money is tight, as it is right now because of the forced budget cuts, the first thing to be cut is always the arts. And that’s a tragedy.

I spent six years in music school before making a switch to business school. I was convinced that I was going to be a musician. I loved music. I was good at it, and I was willing to do anything to get to the top. But then I realized that, even at the top of the music game, the job security isn’t there. So I dropped out of grad school and am now earning an MBA.

But through that transition, I’ve realized why music needs to be a cornerstone of education. Music is an art and a science, and it's one of the best ways kids can learn  creativity and those mythical critical thinking skills. The focus of the curriculum isn’t forcing everyone to learn about Bach or Mozart. It’s about learning how to think, rather than what to think.

READ: Forced spending cuts slash hope for teachers

That “how” is the holy grail of education. It’s exactly what makes a good scientist, a good entrepreneur or a productive member of society. I don’t play the tuba anymore, but I think the lessons I learned from it are actually more ingrained into me now that I have some distance from the actual medium I learned them in. Here is just a portion of the many life lessons I learned through music:

Work hard and it pays off
This one came early on in my short-lived musical career. I wasn’t a very good musician when I first started out. It was obvious why: I only practiced an hour a day. But Katie down the street practiced four hours a day. My solution was to kick it up to six hours a day until I was just as good as she was. I had to make up for lost time, and I soon overtook her.

Make it happen
An amazing musician once said to me: “Make it happen."

There will always be obstacles in your way. My junior year in college, my quartet was making a recording for an international tuba competition. (Seriously.) It seemed almost impossible for us to get together to record, but we found one time: 10:00 p.m. on a Thursday. We had all been in class since about 8 a.m., and I had a serious sinus infection. It might have been the coffee and more meds than a doctor would recommend, but I’m convinced that these simple words cleared my head and allowed me to power through the pain and exhaustion. We made the semifinals.

Know where you stand
My teacher in grad school was fanatical about controlling variables. (Hey, a business school lesson!) This meant everything from designing your own instruments to recording everything that you play. But it didn’t stop there. What about your diet? Your exercise regimen? Everything that could have an impact on your performance needed to be taken into account. In music, and in life, to make decisions or move forward, you need to have as much data as possible about current conditions.

Do your research
A piece of sheet music doesn’t tell you exactly how to play everything. In fact, it’s just a general guideline. You would play a staccato note differently in Shostakovich than you would in Mahler. It’s important to fully understand context, and the only way to do this is to do some serious research. Read a biography, read what the composer wrote, talk to the composer if you can, look at several different versions of the score and listen to different records to figure out exactly what you need to do. If you don’t have accurate or complete data, you can’t make a decision, right?

READ: Hear the music - STEM studies aren't the only path to a better future

Make connections
Before I went to business school, my classmates and I always related the music to something else. Wagner’s intense “Ride of the Valkyries” is a waltz, which makes it fundamentally no different from Diane Birch’s “Photograph,” except that you're more likely to hear Birch in the background at a coffee shop. What you know about one thing can apply to the other. The deeper you go, you can make different links. Everything in life connects.

Work with others
In business school, everything is a group project because in the “real world,” you work in teams. Great. That’s what music school was. Put five people in a room together, all with different ideas on how a piece of music should sound, and you need to figure out how to make the best music that you can. There is no escaping these people; you have to work together because you can’t just eliminate an instrument. If your French horn player gets mad because you didn’t eat the cookies he brought and walks out, you can’t perform. It’s better than the lesson that came from business school – please, if a team member’s work isn’t up to snuff here, I can do it myself.

Be responsible for your work
When you’re performing music, you can’t cheat. You can’t say to the audience, “You don’t get it.” If they didn’t understand it or like it, you failed. You are completely responsible for your product being well-received.

I recently spoke to a recruiter from a large tech company and was told that two of the most important traits they look for in new hires are their ability to think like the customer and taking complete responsibility for their work. It’s a sense of responsibility that has to be learned, and I learned it as a musician … in high school.

I’m not advocating for everyone to go to music school. I am saying that we, as a nation, need music education to teach everyone these lessons and more. It’s what will help prepare students to join the workforce, whether they’re part of an orchestra, a lab or a startup. Keep kids involved in the arts and stop underestimating the inherent value of music education.

The opinions expressed are solely those of Andrew Schwartz.

What life lessons did you learn in music class - or maybe biology, calculus, English, gym, or even underwater basket-weaving? Share your story in the comments!

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Filed under: Humanities • iReport • Music • Voices
soundoff (203 Responses)
  1. GJCoble

    I loved the article. I have been teaching instrumental music now for 31 years and would like to share one of my favorite sayings (hanging on the wall of my classroom). Desire, not talent, is the key to success. That is the true power that we can give our students.

    March 23, 2013 at 10:17 am |
  2. enidsmail

    I agree with Andrew's take on the value of music education. I taught music to tough boys in a vo-tech. These boys didn't do well in many of their academic classes, but they loved to come to my class, where they learned how to play and write percussion music. Most of them got A's in my class. The experience gave them discipline and real knowledge, and enabled them to express themselves musically. What could be better?

    March 22, 2013 at 8:05 pm |
  3. rich

    Education is Indoctrination. Plain and simple. Our kids need to go to work to continue this cycle. However, Music and Arts programs -which produce advanced post secondary students – does not make the money sports programs make. Funny huh?! Sports programs support the less educated college scholarship grads.....Ironic, I think not.

    March 22, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
  4. sanityrules

    This is one smart kids. School teachers and administrators should listen to him. Music should be a requirement, not the first elective to be cut.

    March 22, 2013 at 9:29 am |
  5. Ellen Cooke

    I wrote a short book for local parents featuring the need for music in their children's lives and the benefit it has to other academic areas, as well as, a directory of places where one can get training/lessons/ and various instruments. I had seen the actual evidence of the benefits as a special education teacher......noting that those special education students who were in involved in music in the elementary education level, were not stuck in special education in high school.....I know it was not coincidence..........Andrew brings up very valid points...... and solidifies the argument for continued funding for music in school.......Thanks Andrew!

    March 22, 2013 at 8:29 am |
  6. Neenee

    We had a conversation about this at my son's high school, when planned scheduling changes might impact programs like band and orchestra. Along with their teachers, we pointed out that most, if not all, of the top students in any grade participated in the music programs. Many of these students also, by the way, took part in athletic programs. The big question for discussion was whether these bright kids were more attracted to the music programs or, as we suspected, the focus and diligence required to play an instrument, read and interpret the music, and play in a group helped provide them with certain skills that they were able to transfer into their other academics and made them stronger students.

    March 22, 2013 at 7:54 am |
    • The Old Man

      I'm a retired choral director. Years ago I served on a district wide curriculum council. One member suggested that high school students should be restricted to only two musical ensembles (selected from band, choir, orchestra.) After some research we discovered that out of 1900 students we had a total of 350 involved in the music program. Of those 350, 18 were involved in all three ensembles. Of those 18, 12 were honor students all honor courses including the top 4 students in the senior class. The remaining six were also straight A students. End of discussion.

      March 31, 2013 at 9:11 pm |
  7. Super Laundry Bag

    Great Article!!! Music is so important in every aspect of life; not only in other subjects in school, but with self expression and self esteem!!!! Hopefully school districts will continue to see how important music programs are in drop out prevention. Happy Music In Our Schools Month!!! ~Super Laundry Bag (Super Hero For The Arts) 🙂

    March 21, 2013 at 10:32 pm |
  8. noteworthy

    Playing a musical instrument requires you to use both sides of your brain at the same time, so it is definitely not just an art form. There is plenty of mathematics in music, but it is not purely mathematics either. There is the element of artistic interpretation. As with sports, there are many lessons that can be learned as the author points out. There are many health benefits to singing as well. Both singing and playing and instrument are good for brain development. Not every kid will be a scientist, doctor, lawyer, etc. Many gravitate towards a field that involves some sort of creative expression, and we need to keep providing opportunities for these kids to explore those avenues. So there are many reasons to keep music in the curriculum, even when times are tough.

    March 21, 2013 at 10:24 pm |
    • ciro vigilante

      Thanksnoteworthy. You should also put in that it's the ONLY human acticvity that uses both sides SIMULTANEOUSLY. How the so called "educators" calling the shots don't get that is beyond me.....

      March 23, 2013 at 4:06 am |
  9. Will

    This was truly an interesting article. Not only can I relate to the feelings he has about music but I look at my high school and see that this is really the case. The schools now don't engage the students so the students get bored and do bad or rebelious things. This isn't the case for alot of the chorus or band kids. In the chorus that I am a part of we are a family that not only helps to keep each other engaged in school but also helps each other with school work if we get stuck. Also our chorus director is like our school dad who we can go to with what ever is going on in our lives. A good number of students will be found in the chorus room durring our free period some are singing and some are working on homework, but no matter what you are doing it is a safe fun environment to be in. Im not saying that you have to do music to be happy, I am just saying that it keeps alot of kids out of trouble and enjoying at least a part of school.

    March 21, 2013 at 7:54 pm |
    • musingsofaphilosopher

      I agree with Will's statement: "The schools now don't engage the students so the students get bored and do bad or rebellious things." My band students are much more disciplined and respectful than the general population at my school.

      March 21, 2013 at 9:45 pm |
  10. multi-musician

    Seriously? I get angry just reading comments about how music is a "hobby." Unless you think that mankind has gotten wiser over the centuries and that our forefathers were idiots, please consider this reference. Aristotle and SO many other men and women of great impact consider the study of music a CORE subject–NOT a sport or hobby. Music is not only a science as well as an art, it opens understanding to history, language, physical well-being, and mathematical reasoning. If you think music is merely a hobby or entertainment, shut your mouth.

    March 21, 2013 at 7:04 pm |
  11. EZ

    I am SO grateful that my parents, both tone deaf (and my father can't even clap on beat) required that me and my siblings study music from a young age. I loved music so much that I was fortunate to get a decent scholarship. Now as an adult in the sciences I still reference my music degree in my cover letters explaining how the hours in a practice room and in ensembles made me a patient, detail oriented, communicative, team player. I wish when explaining my neurotic tendency to be early for everything and always be super over prepared that I could just say "I am an oboe player" and that everyone would immediately understand the way musicians do. Fantastic article.

    March 21, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
  12. alexroth01

    Reblogged this on Alex "zander" Roth JRN102 and commented:
    Andrew Schwartz really nailed the coffin on this one.

    Music is more than just "sounds". Music incorperates scientific reasoning, mathematical principle, and business skill such as collaboration.

    Great post!

    March 21, 2013 at 4:20 pm |
  13. ben

    it is obvious that 100% or the respondents agree that music is an art. Where some people can not agree on is whether music is science. First, if one has to define science as the application of set of formula and doing experimentation in order to prove and/or disprove a given hypothesis, then, music is also an art. How can I prove that? Well, just attend a group of musicians putting together a piece of music and observe how one piece of music is prepared for one or two performances and soon the concept of music as science will become clear.

    March 21, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
  14. yellowdaisy14

    I am so glad that my parents made sure that music was a huge part of my life growing up and now it is my job to do the same for my kids. If my child's school isn't going to offer music than it is up to me as the parent to make it happen in the home. My daughter who is 8 has been playing the piano for almost 2 yrs now and I know it has helped her in english and math. I may only play percussion but I know that it has strengthened who I am today as a mom and a wife. My dad has a music degree and has always told me that everything comes when you practice, practice, practice. Thanks for this article. Everything I learned as a I child, I learned from music 🙂

    March 21, 2013 at 11:35 am |
    • Eileen ONLY play percussion? Well, then, you can count, multi-task, listen to the group as a whole, control the "ting" of a triangle not to mention 4 mallets (or hold 4 use 3, hold 4 use 2), gauge the reverberation of your multiple instruments in different rooms/halls/with different sizes of ensembles... need I go on? Thank you for being a percussionist!

      March 21, 2013 at 11:00 pm |
    • irene

      you are the heartbeat of the group!

      March 22, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
  15. untalented

    I truly admire those that do great at an instrument however here are the things I have personally learned from music classes:
    1) In your childhood, there is no faster way to becoming unpopular (with your classmates, with your parents, with everyone but your fellow musicians) than to carry around an instrument and sit at home banging/honking/squeaking away at your instrument.
    2) In your young adulthood, 1) is still true but emphasize the fact that parents (majority) really don't want to see their children aspiring to become professional musicians. The thought of having a poor musician living in the basement just isn't appealing. Entry music classes are where the entire student body goes to get an A in a subject that they end up leaving with zero understanding of, kind of like communications class.
    3)As an adult, if you are successful enough to play with a symphony or larger group after years of ridicule, there is nothing sweeter. If after years of ridicule, you are still in a garage band or put your instrument in the basement never to be seen again, then apply 1) again.

    It's not a popular opinion but to me the arts are a hobby. As with any hobby you are enhancing the skill set you learn in both every day life and in your core education classes. Basket weaving might be a great way to socialize and learn great hands on skills but that does not mean that basket weaving should be a fully funded class. I actually feel the exact same way about sports. It's about popularity of the hobby. Popularity/interest equals money/support and that generates the means to include the hobby in the development. If nobody cared about basketball, it wouldn't be at the school (see many small schools with no football team for this exact reason). A hobby is a hobby. If the arts aren't as popular with the general population, that doesn't mean we are unintelligent or biased, it just means that it isn't popular (back to 1 ). If you want your child to play an instrument and enjoy the hobby, then pay for private lessons and let them have the hobby, it shouldn't be a requirement to have classes in the arts if only a select few are interested (not in public schools anyway).

    What i've learned from music (instruments) is that it's a wonderful hobby but unless you are amazing at an instrument, taking it past the hobby stage is likely to just cause you hardship and expense. True for most of the arts in general. Still to each their own I suppose. Artists of any kind know that entering into that lifestyle is not easy for anyone and only a very few make something of it.

    March 21, 2013 at 9:32 am |
    • carlos

      just because music is an enjoyable activity it doenst mean it has to be just a hobby, it's true that not everyone is a musician, but most can benefit from studying music, painting, communications, acting, or sculpting, on a separate note, i wish music programs would update and sart using more recent music, to play the beatles, pink flyod, radiohead, and ray charles, can be as interesting and fun as playing mozart or wagner

      March 21, 2013 at 10:16 am |
    • Birdlives

      Untalented: I hear what your saying but the article was about why music is great, if you don't plan on being a musician. Its the same reason you had gym class in school. Parents knew their child was not going to a professional athlete. But it teaches lessons about life, and that is all school is for isn't it??? in fact I would argue, its easier to be a professional musician than an athlete.

      March 21, 2013 at 10:45 am |
      • untalented

        Thanks for stopping to see my point. I think the author indicated why music was great to them but the article was an opinion on why music should be a cornerstone of education. To me music (nor sports) should be thought of this way. It isn't fundamental but uses the core fundamentals and expands upon them. Gym class to children is actually in the curriculum not to teach you sports but to teach health. It is the first run-in with health and nutrition which some educators feel to be core (maybe the U.S. needs more of this given the health situation). To me, the fundamentals should be mandatory in a public school setting. When you pay for school (private schools, colleges, etc.) then you can opt to have these specific courses presented. In the public setting an elementary or middle school without the arts will still generate the same level of intelligent and inspired kids. Mainly because kids that are drawn to the arts and music are going to do this outside of the public setting anyway just as the same kids could grow up and pay their own money to get a music degree. It's not a cornerstone subject to me though. A sports writer could write an opinion piece on how sports taught them teamwork, leadership, courage, etc. etc. which is an identical comparison to the article above but I would still argue that it isn't a cornerstone of public education.

        March 21, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
      • Talented

        Untalented – this is where you are inaccurate. It is a proven fact that students who play an instrument in school score significantly higher on SATs. (By the way, students involved in sports score significantly lower....). Check it out for yourself.

        By the way, I'm not healthy from the physical education I took in school. Nor do I use math. I don't even consider it a hobby. Now with electronic devices in our pockets, math skills are a thing of the past. Music is much more relevant today than things like math and handwriting, don't you think?

        March 21, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
      • irene

        music rounds out the child as a whole. the mere exposure of it can trigger interest in students who otherwise would not know about it. besides, who wants only the 3Rs?

        March 22, 2013 at 4:28 pm |
    • Bob

      Who knows what will inspire a person to be the best they can be, to achieve delight, to truly fulfill their dreams , aspirations, and encourage others to do the same? For me it was music, it gave me my career, and has led me to meet an incredible array of fantastic people. It taught me many of the same lessons as the author of this article. I teach music, with no false illusions a great percentage of them will continue to become professional musicians, just as a great percentage of high school athletes do not go pro, and most math students do not become mathematicians at Harvard. If we approach education under that paradigm, we might as well start tracking everyone in pre-school.
      I think we do our children a great service to ensure they have multiple opportunities to participate in all kinds of studies and activities, to become well-rounded, and maybe discover the "hobbies" which lead to fulfillment in their lives. How can something that gives your life purpose and meaning be that bad? Oh – and the "carrying around a case made me feel unpopular" – I would hazard a guess it wasn't just the case. Get over it.

      March 21, 2013 at 11:03 am |
      • irene

        that's right!

        March 22, 2013 at 4:29 pm |
    • Teacher

      If we base the subjects we teach our children on popularity we might as well take out math, science, ELA and any other academic subject. These classes are not terribly popular with children. Instead they are mandatory. Popularity and mandatory are two different things. Kids do not go to school to just learn how to divide. Instead, learning how to divide teaches children to think and use their brains in different ways. If you really wanted to take a popularity poll I would bet that the arts classes would win out over other classes. The arts (music, visual art, drama, etc) teach kids how to think in different ways, ultimately resulting in critical thinkers. Citizens with the ability to think critically is the goal. Teaching arts in public schools is not intended to recruit more people to become "poor artists". I would also argue that just because you choose a life in the arts you will be poor. The Boston Symphony is not the only game in town. There are many avenues to make a living in the arts. Teaching arts in schools is for the purpose of teaching kids how to use their brains in different ways and to give children a well rounded education.

      On a deeper level, arts teach us about humanity, or the experience of being human. I challenge you to go to an art museum and really look at an artists paintings. Really listen to James Brown, the inflections in his voice, the lyrics. You will start to see the world from their eyes. This is a valuable skill to possess, one that may help stop future conflict on a personal level or a national level.

      March 21, 2013 at 11:52 am |
    • Minstrelmiss

      Perhaps you missed the whole point...

      March 21, 2013 at 11:59 am |
      • untalented

        I agree that we don't all share the same perspective on the value of the arts. I also understand that my response to "What life lessons did you learn in music class – or maybe biology, calculus, English, gym, or even underwater basket-weaving? Share your story in the comments!" wasn't very popular amongst the teachers and those in the music profession (clearly obvious from the responses) but that doesn't make it an unpopular opinion.

        My stance, I believe, is becoming more and more the majority stance given the direction to which this country funnels funding. It's important to read articles you might not agree with as well as respond to them to inspire healthy discussion. I see the value of music in the writers life and their stance on why they feel it is so very important.

        However, I personally view music as a fun hobby and although I have taken many history of and general music classes in my life and taken my swing at playing multiple instruments (to little success admittedly), I feel the contribution has had little to no impact on my life. It seemed worth sharing, possibly those in the music field only expected positive comments from an opinion piece but I find that to be less than realistic here on CNN.

        To those that feel that thinking critically is somehow only achieved via publicly funded classes, I feel they are missing the point.

        March 21, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
    • just a girl

      If music is just a hobby, why is it offered as a 5 year degree? Why am I currently paying off a huge student loan to the government? Why am I currently going for a Masters degree for music (I don't believe there's a degree for basket weaving)? Why am I finding more job opportunities than my engineer husband to move to another city? I can find a job teaching in public schools. I can open my own studio. I teach private lessons. I can work in private schools or church schools. I can get kindermusik certified and teach moms with babies and infants. Your job is whatever you make it no matter what the degree. I'm sorry you had a bad experience in your life, but don't downplay the value of a career just because you personally don't "get it."

      March 21, 2013 at 12:36 pm |
      • MusEd PhD

        @just a girl: AMEN, girl! I have 5 degrees (not a 5-year, but 5 separate degrees) in various fields of music, including a PhD in Music Education. If this person considers our careers a "hobby," then so be it.

        Thinking the other kids in school will see instrumentalists as "uncool" because they're carrying a violin, cello, saxophone, or trombone around the building is just ludicrous. My students take pride in their instruments and in being part of orchestra.

        Your boneheaded response, "it shouldn't be a requirement to have classes in the arts if only a select few are interested (not in public schools anyway)," is ridiculous. I sure hope you don't sit on a board of education for it's narrow-minded folks like you who put hard working, talented, intelligent people like me out of a job because "it's just music." Having ANY arts program in the schools creates well rounded students and offers them a well rounded education.

        I'll end with one of my favorite quotes: “Some people think music education is a privilege, but I think it’s essential to being human” (Jewel, singer, songwriter, and instrumentalist).

        March 21, 2013 at 10:16 pm |
      • MusEd PhD

        Quick PS: I should point out that the majority (everything after the first paragraph) of the response is for "untalented."

        March 21, 2013 at 10:18 pm |
      • Studio Sister

        @ Just a girl- EXACTLY and thank you! As a person with a music degree I have found you have a unique opportunity to create your own work! I own a studio with 9 teachers now (some of who are former students of mine with "practical" degrees and they cannot find a job yet CAN teach piano lessons, I can pick up free lance work whenever I want playing weddings or local theatre productions, I have even found freelance work doing music programs for children's birthday parties.. I have to turn work down in this economy. I am very sad for the author of the original comment.. it's true he totally does not "get it"

        March 22, 2013 at 3:56 pm |
    • PE Coach

      Untalented ,
      You have made a very good point Against yourself with your Post , I am a PE Coach Personal Trainer and Conditioning Coach for Youths ages 6-16 and adults and Of the Hundreds of students and client s I have worked with those with a musical Background tend to be of an even keel ..more Balanced, able to handle change and stress better, and are more engaged , have better focus and tend to have more friends and be more popular in school or out ,then those who have never touched and instrument ..The Arts lead to Creative thinking..and creative thinking leads to Innovation..which in turns fuels economic growth ..and potential ..

      Cutting the arts leads to Millions of blank, narrow minded People (like yourself) , ineffectual growth which slowly kills a society and leads to economic death. the fastest way to Kill a culture.

      March 21, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
      • jmarno

        Thank you PE Coach, very well said, spoken from a general music teacher who LOVES HER JOB. Music works both the left and right parts of the brain... we all need that opportunity.

        March 22, 2013 at 5:25 am |
    • Fancyfingers

      I'm so sorry you feel this way. I began piano lessons at 8. I played for weddings, beauty pageants, funerals, church all through high school. I majored in music education in college and taught elementary music for 18 years. My class was where ALL students were successful and didn't have to worry about tests or homework. We sang, danced, played rhythm instruments. We learned about composers, and how to read simple music notation. I now teach piano privately. I have students with all kind of issues from weekly therapist visits, anxiety, autism, ADHD – and they all thrive in piano. Will they play in Carnegie Hall? Probably not. But, it helps their self esteem when they work on a song and play it for me and hear me say, "Yes!" because they played so well. I love music. I love the piano.

      March 21, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
    • Esteban

      If my classmates don't like me because I spend time practicing my instrument, then I don't want to be "popular". The respect from my fellow musicians is all I need.

      March 21, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
    • theorffsiteshow

      My sincere apologies to the person who received such a poor public school education as to flippantly describe the study of music as a mere hobby subject.. Somewhere along the line this person should have learned that music is a worthy subject to include in public school education for several reasons. Music is universal. No civilizations have ever been discovered in which music was not a part of their practice and lives. Considering that music produces no food, shelter, or progeny, it's amazing that all humankind has placed value in it. That alone, would make it worthy of study, if for nothing else as an amazing cultural quirk. The fact that in Western Culture, music is a recognized art form, with its unique written system and vocabulary, its impressive archive of creative works, its profound effect on human emotion-to call this a hobby is certainly unthinking. The ancient Greeks did not subject music study to the basement of the hobby shop, but considered it on the same level as the study of mathematics. I have seen kindergartners cry and describe the experience of listening to The Adagio for Strings as beautiful. How can a series of audio tones create this reaction from such young children who are not experienced in listening to "classical" music. Consumers develop an attachment to a piece of music heard as a teenager and corporations pay performers and composers thousands of dollars each year to have that music featured in a commercial that persuades individuals to spend millions of dollars to produce and purchase said items. If music is merely a hobby, it's a hobby not like any other, and maybe should be worthy of study for that phenomenon.

      March 21, 2013 at 6:14 pm |
    • Kylie Greenham

      If you want to discredit the arts in education because "not everyone likes or wants to do it", then you should just as easily let kids who don't want to take science, math, or English, not take those subjects. Furthermore, music is not JUST an art.. There are many mathematical aspects involved in music. Vocalists learn diction in other languages. Music history is an integral part of understanding all types of music. The physical demands of being a professional musician are surprisingly high, and also instrument-specific. There are so many scientific aspects involved in music: physics, for example, when tuning is concerned (and that is only one example). The psychology and philosophy related to the affects of music on the human brain is fascinating. But you know what? Most of these things are only learned.. you guessed it.. with training in music education. An elementary or high school music education alone teaches children to work with others, work independently, be self-sufficient and self disciplined. Children learn the concept of self-actualization (reaching their potential) and self-regulation (learning how to learn). A university education about music education also broadens your perspective of education as a whole, and the relation of the art of music to other important aspects of the world (ie. politics, media and propaganda, entertainment. sports).

      No, training to be a professional musician is not "popular"... But is this REALLY what you want to teach your children? Do things in life that will make you popular? Get an education in business or science, because doing it in the arts will not make you popular, and there aren't a lot of jobs? In this day an age, there aren't a lot of jobs anywhere, for anything. If your child wanted to attain a career in music because it was what they truly loved, are you going to deprive your child of a) their potential, and b) their passion and dreams? I really hope not. I am one of the lucky one's whose parents supported them throughout their entire musical career. I started in grade 6, and I'm now graduating in April, and about to head to teacher's college. I am so glad I did this, not just because I love it, but now because I will be able to give others the opportunity to experience the beautiful world of music. I also love it, because I can now defend my position on this case with 10 years of knowledge and training behind my back.

      Music is a hobby? No, it is my life. For some people, it is a hobby. For some of us, we make a living, and a lifestyle from being a musician. Before you discredit music as a profession, I challenge you to pick an instrument, and start working on it. Get back to me when you're a professional. Only then will you realize that we put just as much time, effort, commitment, thought, and consideration into our career as anyone else does in any other profession.

      March 21, 2013 at 8:13 pm |
    • jmarno

      Everyone is connected to music whether you are a listener, performer or composer. The deeper you go the better you are. Because music uses both sides of the brain it becomes essential for our kids development. Little kids can relate to music so well bc of a simple heart beat that begins the concept of steady beat and rhythm... It should be considered a core class bc it works both sides of the brain. Maybe you can give music or art another chance, and try some "creating" There are some great articles on taking the time to create... it teaches a lot, even if you can't play an instrument it will open in-roads to your brain that NOTHING else will. In fact, there is a part of our brain that ONLY MUSIC resonates with... did you know that? Only music will vibrate/work this part of the brain...whether you are a listener, performer or composer. I wish for you the best in all your brain, not just your left side, and I'm sorry your experience was not a good one... but please keep your un-informed opinions out of our schools, with all due respect.

      March 22, 2013 at 5:38 am |
    • sanityrules

      The point isn't to become a professional. The point is what it seems to do to one's development. The "band Geek" syndrome you mention as point #1 provides self reliance, and independence. The original writer talks about using both sides of brain at same time, hard work ethic. practice. All life skills that are critical to adult success. Music develops these skills more than other "electives"

      The other relevant comparison I can think of is how team sports encourages cooperation, respect, and the social skills needed to collaborate, and work together to achieve results. But I can't think of anything that drives intellectual, cognitive, and coordination skills like music.

      March 22, 2013 at 9:41 am |
    • jon p

      Untalented, I appreciate your willingness to stand by your opinion AND to present a different opinion. I grew up the opposite. I was very "cool" for having an instrument in my hand in all grades. My parents encouraged me to be a professional musician. I ended up majoring in music in college. I have been a professional musician as well. I am now a Firefighter/Paramedic in Los Angeles. What I am saying is that I consider myself successful even though the cornerstone to much of my education and views on life was through music. I was public school teacher in MD for 4 years, Elementary and Middle School. I think the problem with schools is way passed cutting the arts. I think before we can discuss what a "cornerstone" of our education system should be, we must understand and decide on what the point of our education system is. What is the desired outcome. What do you think? Why is science not a hobby? Or literature? Is education solely for the purposes of teaching us a trade to make money? Is it to teach us critical thinking?
      One of my biggest frustrations with PG County school system and our nation's system in general is the amount of time spent on reading and math. I think reading and math are necessary, but we can learn them through science, music, dance, language, social studies, theater, sports, visual art, technology, history, work shop, and yes even basket weaving. Whether a student is "more successful," because they are in band, or because they are in band that they are "more successful," does not matter as much to me. Our new generations need all of that, especially the students that can't afford private school or lessons.

      In terms of hobby or art or game or sport. It is what you make of it.

      March 22, 2013 at 6:54 pm |
    • Teacher

      Dear "Untalented",
      Perhaps you just had the wrong teachers......

      March 24, 2013 at 10:26 am |
    • etummons

      Dear Untalented,
      I have currently started taking guitar lessons and I am very poor. This is a hobby. I have played piano for years and am still only an average player compared to many of my friends. I have played flute for many more years and it is a PASSION. I am an elementary music teacher and have now been teaching for thirteen years. Teaching music and about its importance in our lives has also become a passion. I wish you could come into my elementary music classes for a week. You would see participation from children who are not involved in other areas of the school. You would see creativity and stronger since of self. You would see the many areas music is integrated in our lives without our realization. You would see students finding talents and success when they feel like the testing mandates are there just to "show how stupid we are," as stated by one of my fourth grade drumming ensemble and choir members. Even as a music teacher, it is impossible to say I have not had some similar thoughts to those you presented from time to time. Those are on my bad days though before one of my students reminds me that I promised we will be composing, singing, dancing, creating, expressing or connecting music to whatever they are currently learning in their core subjects. MUSIC is much bigger than a hobby it is a language and a process. It is a glue that pulls so many different parts of learning and life together. If you feel Untalented in music, then you have not unlocked your talent yet. Keep searching and finding music and musicians you enjoy. Music is one thing you can always take with you.

      March 24, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
    • Mike

      I have performed with a community band since high school – 41 years. I've also played in our church. Untalented, too bad you just quit playing, when there were places you could have continued it.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:13 pm |
  16. tim

    I am fully of the opinion that having a musical education programs the brain to process learning in a different and better way than without. Hell, if nothing else, the lessons of hard work and being a team player is worth the price of admisison. Nobody really wants to hear a tuba playing solo (sorry, but its true), but if the tubas were absent from the band, there would be a glaring hole in the performance that would ruin it. Learning that your contribution may not be the most accoladed but nevertheless is important in the whole is a lesson that more children could stand to learn.

    Play your part well, and trust your partners to play their parts as well, and you can acheive glorious things.

    March 21, 2013 at 9:24 am |
    • MusEd PhD

      Tubas, if played properly, can actually sound very nice! I had my TA office next to the tuba studio and it was wonderful! Now, hearing an 8th grader play tuba.....that's a different story! 🙂

      March 21, 2013 at 10:21 pm |
  17. Canada John

    As a life-long musician who is a teacher, performer, conductor and adjudicator and someone who actively participates in team sports, there are many parallels between the athletic world and arts worlds. They are, for the most part, team building activities that rely on people working (listening, sharing, reacting, supporting) together. These skills can be taught and learned in any venue, we just need to ensure that the youngsters are getting a balanced diet–not one over the other but a little bit of all. My mom always said, when you go to the buffet, have a bit of everything, not just what you like the most.

    March 21, 2013 at 8:57 am |
  18. Thomas

    I think Obama coming to Israel is a great opportunity to sort out peace in the Middle East. I live in Israel, Jerusalem so I know that things are not perfect, for example Israel is surrounded by Arab countries and Israel does not have the best of relationships with them.

    March 21, 2013 at 3:41 am |
    • MusEd PhD

      What does this have to do with music?

      March 21, 2013 at 10:22 pm |
  19. Ameer

    I personally think that Obama coming to my country to deal with this peace situation is neat. Arabs and Israelis shouldn't keep up this war. Obama taking matters into his own hands makes people happy, and this better be good considering they closed so many streets here 😀

    March 21, 2013 at 3:33 am |
  20. MamaKath

    Music is more than an art. It is the science of the Universal language. The Earth, the solar system, the galaxy and the entire universe speak in tones and tempos. No words but beats and melodies. Scientists build great listening machines that they bury deep in the earth and under the oceans and out into space. Music is our meager attempt to join in the conversation with the source of our beings. Music is also as stated in the blog math, history, and language arts. And as far as it being a stepping stone...academic/music scholarships are more plentiful than athletic scholarships and more likely to provide the foundation for a career that can last a lifetime. Athletes are usually washed-up by 40.

    March 20, 2013 at 11:42 pm |
    • seventh grade bandie

      music is the blood of the soul and the coinage of the will. the universal language and the language of our hearts!

      March 26, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
  21. BB

    Music in this country has taken a back seat to the countless and ridiculous education reforms in almost every state. The fact of the matter is... music is perhaps the only discipline and certainly in many schools the only thing that requires sincere effort and the use of a variety of complex thinking skills. Sadly, the vast majority of those in government and even administrators are CLUELESS to what we do, how we do it and what it takes to do it well. Music majors are put through more rigor and curricular stresses than any other discipline. Just ask and compare. It is vitally important. It is necessary for more than a well rounded education.. but for a meaningful and honest good experience. There is value in all school activities.. there is much similarity in sports programs and the fraternity that comes along with many activities with the band or choir or orchestra. In the end... look at the grade point averages of the band vs any other group. For the past 6 years at my current place of employment.. the Valedictorian or Salutatorian and once, both positions of honor came from my band. 4 of the 6 National Merit Finalist on campus are in my band as well as beauties, beaus, homecoming maids, class favorites AND student council members. Most Likely to Succeed, Most Talented, Best Dressed, and a host of other award winners and recognitions are in my band program. This follows these kids to college and beyond.

    So.. I would safely say.... AMEN and AMEN. Love the article..

    March 20, 2013 at 8:59 pm |
  22. Jazz Without Borders

    Feel free to follow my ongoing blog, started last summer! Thanks!

    All I Really Need To Know (About Management) I Learned In Band:
    A Management Blog For Those Tired of The Sports And War Metaphors

    March 20, 2013 at 8:28 pm |
  23. Shawn

    These are all great ancillary benefits of music education, but you can learn the exact same lessons in sports, speech, or number of other school activities. I dislike this utilitarian apologetic for music training. Music education should exist because it is a valuable part of the human experiance, and being well educated in music allows you to enjoy music more completely, which in turn, allows you to enjoy being a human more competely.

    March 20, 2013 at 8:00 pm |
    • Name*wendy

      That's why music Ed exists.

      March 20, 2013 at 8:22 pm |
    • Lynn

      Valid points, to be sure, and Andrew took the time to write this from the perspective of his musical education and experience.

      March 20, 2013 at 8:30 pm |
    • JKM

      I am a music teacher & my husband is a phys ed teacher and we have had similar conversations. There a multiple benefits to both, many of which overlap. The main difference is the shear number of tasks you are expected to accomplish while playing music. Not just reading but listening, applying theory, watching for movements as slight as the breath of the flute player 3 rows in front of you; not to mention history – who composed the piece? Was he Russian? From the 18th century? How did he expect his trills to be played? Was he writing for the exact group of instruments you currently have playing the piece?
      Neither sports nor music are better or worse – just different. Students would benefit greatly from having the opportunity to experience both. Check out the piece A+ March – it's a beginner level band piece designed to help students understand how awful a piece would sound if played at an "A+" (ie: 96%) caliber.

      March 20, 2013 at 10:08 pm |
  24. Trish108

    We moved to IL from CA 13 years ago. Having no music in the elementary programs in CA, I jumped at the chance to put my daughter in 3rd grade orchestra when we arrived in IL. She was mad at me for making her take up the violin. But a great teacher made it fun from day one and she stuck with it from there on out. Now she's a dietetics major in college but is playing in the university orchestra. She's had some amazing opportunities playing for big-name Christian artists who visit the university to perform and she's receiving a significant music scholarship even though she's not a music major. I'm convinced that her background in music has helped her in other areas of study, specifically foreign language, math, and anything that requires lots of memorization. I'm so thankful that our local schools continue to offer music starting at the elementary level.

    March 20, 2013 at 8:00 pm |
  25. arteztx

    Reblogged this on Raman250 and commented:
    An article related to importance of music and arts in public schools.

    March 20, 2013 at 7:48 pm |
  26. Kirsten W.

    THANK YOU for this beautifully written article. I am currently in my 3rd year of music school as a flute performance major with a minor in musicology. I'm at school seven days a week. Our art is entirely underappreciated by government and society. Hopefully your article with shed light on what it means to be a music student and musician.

    March 20, 2013 at 7:42 pm |
  27. LouisaFinnell

    A very simple lesson from music study is that anything you work hard at, you can get better at even if you aren't naturally gifted. And music can charge and enrich your entire life and still not be the thing you end up doing for a living. It's still worth every minute you give to it. In fact, I don't understand how a person can be considered well educated without a basic grounding in music. It's too important to the human species to ignore.

    March 20, 2013 at 7:13 pm |
  28. Tracey

    Studies have shown that music students have higher grades and better math scores. There is a strong correlation between math and music. Math skills are critical in today's technologically driven society.

    March 20, 2013 at 7:09 pm |
    • Student

      True for some, but I think that's purely a correlation and not a causation. People who are really, really smart will often do well in music; and people who are really, really smart will often do well in math too. Some people might have particular strengths in both areas compared to others (those with mild autism come to mind). But I'm one example of an accomplished musician who still has to work much harder in math than in any verbal skills-related subjects. Precalculus nearly killed me.

      March 20, 2013 at 11:05 pm |
      • Another Student

        When talking about music helping with math, obviously it's not going to help with precalculus. The help music brings to math is the ability to understand fractions... Mainly at an elementary and junior high level.

        March 20, 2013 at 11:58 pm |
  29. msp

    All of the lessons are valuable and can be learned via a large number of vehicles, music being one of them but by no means the only one through which you can learn the lessons. What always amaze me is that people who participate in music or sports understand lesson #1 fairly well, "Work hard and it pays off". But a lot of them fail to use this lesson in other areas of their lives. The author learned that if he practices 6 hours a day intead of 1 , he can beat Katie down the street playing tuba. Why do we have kids whining about not being good at Math? If you practice 6 hours a day doing Math instead of the handful of homework problems, you can easily beat Johnny down the street in Math Counts in no time.

    March 20, 2013 at 7:07 pm |
    • BB

      You must have been kicked out of your band program. You sound bitter.

      March 20, 2013 at 8:49 pm |
    • dmcg

      You miss the point. Music develops the brain while satisfying the heart and soul. For most young people, math does not have this same intrinsic motivating value as does music. You can tell a kid to "practice math" for 20 hours a day and it will have no effect other than to make them really hate math.

      March 20, 2013 at 10:15 pm |
  30. Jon

    I love this article. I am a musician, a music teacher and director. All those hours practicing, rehearsals with groups, preparing and execution of music has been a way of life for me for the last 40 years. I have worked in many different fields and the people I work with that are successful have a connection to music. When I started to reconnect with friends on FB many of them are Doctors, Lawyers, CEOs , Teachers and other professional careers. Music will always be with us.

    March 20, 2013 at 6:54 pm |
  31. yo!

    I learned everything from hustling at the University of Hard Knocks.

    March 20, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
  32. Andrew Spang

    No, these opinions expressed are not solely of Andrew Schwartz – thousands of music educators, musicians and former musicians from school programs know and believe exactly the same thing! We're just glad that Andrew got to say it for us ... and on CNN, no less.

    March 20, 2013 at 6:33 pm |
    • Nana Gaskins Vaughn

      Exactly. I think the only thing I disagreed with him on was when he referred to Ride of the Valkyries as a waltz...

      March 20, 2013 at 7:08 pm |
      • Sarah

        I think waltzing to the Ride would be fun and an interesting way to get kids to understand the excerpt better! Music and movement go hand in hand!

        March 21, 2013 at 11:22 am |
  33. Roger

    Cool. Football taught me everything I needed to know.

    We need more football and tuba playing in schools! See how good it works!

    March 20, 2013 at 6:09 pm |
  34. Michael Livingston

    I LOVE this article! I, myself, am a tuba performance major, and wholly understand what he is saying and where he coming from. I started my college career as an instrumental music education major, but I switched my concentration to performance a year and a half into the game. I wanted to do performance from the beginning, but my parents insisted that I would have a better chance of a job with education. I live in Illinois. So much for a job.... Suppose I got my ed degree and a full-time band directing job? What would be the point? I would only hurt myself and my students because my heart would not be in it. I would defeat my own purpose.

    Anyway, one of the most important things I have learned is people are only as good as their breath. The tuba takes sixteen liters of air per minute to play, so I have to make sure my breath support is well beyond up to par. It does not matter if I have the most expensive, well-made instrument in the world. It will only sound as good as my breath is strong. My first band director did well in teaching me this. In his music classes, I met a part of me I never knew I had in me. My love of music is what connects me to the rest of the world, and, while I may not become a band director, I do hope to become a private lessons tuba instructor. My current college instructor says I would be good at, and I do enjoy teaching tuba to his brass methods students when they ask me for a lesson. The first thing I focus on is their breath support, and I sometimes spend the whole hour working with them to strengthen it.

    While not everyone is cut out to be a musician, they do have a breath of their own. A mathematician is only as good as his mind for calculations, formulas, and etc. A painter is only as good as her brush stroke. An author is only as good as her words. A tuba player is only as good as his breath. People will only perceive that which you put forth. No more, no less. Therefore, I put forth the most honest and beautiful sounds that I can find within myself.

    Music is the universal language. Sure, we have different words in every language for a particular sound, but it is that singular sound to which all those languages refer, is it not?

    March 20, 2013 at 6:05 pm |
    • Milo

      So what do you do for your primary source of income now?

      March 20, 2013 at 7:08 pm |
  35. Steph Crandall

    Reblogged this on Part Time Nerd and commented:
    This is written by a former classmate of mine. If you have time, check it out.

    March 20, 2013 at 6:00 pm |
  36. Kendall

    I recently decided to go for medical school and discontinue my masters in music. I have always had an interest in both, but music is proving to be too unsteady of a career choice. I believe all the discipline and hard work required from my years spent in music has helped me in everything in life, from studying science, working as a team, and making decisions in high pressure situations, you name it!

    March 20, 2013 at 5:43 pm |
  37. Mark

    Whenever I attend a vocal or instrumental performance, I'm always struck by how everyone in the group has to work together to create beautiful music. I think our legislators in Congress could learn something from that!

    March 20, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
    • KC

      If only...

      March 21, 2013 at 4:16 am |
  38. JCS

    But making rap songs is so much easier than learnings all that musicals stuff. Why kids gotta learned music when they already knows how to make hip hop? Word, yo.

    March 20, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
    • jgumbrechtcnnCNN

      There are plenty of lessons to learn in hip-hop, too, yo:

      March 20, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
  39. Tia

    I myself minored in Music but have been with music all my life. I play 4 different instruments. I also live and play in Nashville in the music industry. No, music alone doesn't support me. I have a day job that supports me. That is the same for most musicians and others trying to make it here. Most servers in town are musicians trying to make it. I still remember my high school band teacher sitting us down in class one day giving a life lesson. Most kids didn't care to listen to what Mr. B said but I took it to heart and will remember it forever. He told us we (everyone in the music program) are the kids with the highest gpa's in school. We have all the honors, dedicate ourselves not just to the music we perform and memorized at football games or during music concerts but to everything we do outside of music. He is very right. We, musicians work really hard not just in the music we try to please the world with but in everything else we do. I learned so much more while studying and trying to perfect music for others than I have in other subjects. I have retained more memory from the way I play or perform music over any other subject. I don't remember all the bones in my body which I once knew. Music in schools is so very, very important.

    March 20, 2013 at 5:18 pm |

    As a middle school band teacher, I have to fight the ideas in the minds of the parents that band isn't important and it is a distraction from sports/academics. Recently, I put together a slide show with facts about music and used it at a concert. One of the most interesting facts from the studies I found, and I don't recall which study it was, was that the major that had the HIGHEST admittance rate to medical schools are students with music majors. Perhaps because they know the students know how to think? I can spit facts at you until I'm blue in the face about why music should be saved, but the fact is, that it is a travesty that we have to resort to using all this research to defend the usefulness of the arts. It is disturbing to think that we have come down to the point where we no longer recognize the arts as something that enriches our culture and our lives, but instead, it is something that is meant to help support other areas. We all enjoy the arts in all aspects of our lives, so why do we have such a hard time accepting that it is important simply because we enjoy it?

    March 20, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
    • Kris

      I agree with you! I'm trying to research a fact I heard once...maybe you know the source. I heard that out of the top 5-rated countries in academics (of which the United States is not), that four out of five of them require piano lessons through 12th grade. The 5th country only requires piano lessons through the 8th grade. Do you have this fact anywhere? I'd like to quote it, but to quote it correctly!

      March 20, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
    • moneyaintworthathing

      Thank you so much for the comments!
      While I'd love to reply to all of these comments, I'm not sure if that's possible. But to further your point, one of my roommates from undergrad went to a post-grad pre-med program at Harvard and is now getting his MD at Penn, and will be adding an MBA also from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. They all love his music background.

      March 20, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
    • rxlosingit

      I'm currently a student at a top five pharmacy school, my BA is in music performance. A girl in the year ahead of me is the same. I stand out among my peers for that alone, and my professors love me for it.

      March 20, 2013 at 10:37 pm |
    • kvanlare

      I very much agree with the original post. We as music educators (I am one) have become so focused on defending what we do that we have lost sight of why many of us got involved in music to begin with – the music. I just got home from our annual Spring Concert and I'm reflecting. So proud of kids putting their hearts, souls and intellect into music that is by no means popular but it allows them to feel and express themselves.

      March 21, 2013 at 2:56 am |
  41. Elisabeth N

    EXCELLENT! I had a similar educational path as you, but am no longer supporting myself with music. For a while, I thought I had wasted my time in music school, but quickly realized that I was wrong. Your article exactly pinpointed the skills that music teaches which in turn can cross into any other industry/job. Even without a formal education in my field, I was able to work my way up based on the strength of these skills. I find that it is sad when music is removed from schools – it can also teach the ability to create something as an individual and as a group. To be a part of live art is exciting and a gift, no matter if it is in the Middle School band or on the professional stage. Thank you for this perspective!

    March 20, 2013 at 4:33 pm |
  42. Carl S

    Great article. I've been managing a music lessons company for the past 6 years, and will be leaving this fall to being my MBA. Musicians must branch out into multiple facets of the music industry in order to survive, from performing to teaching to sound production, etc. but most sources are contracted, often don't pay well (if at all), and can be inconsistent (gigs) or seasonal (students summer vacation).

    I think the best bet is for a musician to acquire/specialize in extra skills that complement their love of music. Good examples other than an MBA include Music therapy, special needs education, etc.

    March 20, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
  43. Janis Bowden

    I enjoyed the article....many good points. I've taught band for 27 years now and plan to work until full least 4 more years. My greatest joy is watching the light bulbs turn on in the students' heads as they make the connections between what they're gaining from me and what they're learning from their math or general music teacher (or both!). Also enjoyable is hearing students who began on piano say "That's just like the notes in my right (or left) hand." and I help them make that connection with their treble or bass clef. What I resent most in the schools is the fact music is deemed important only for the purpose of general classroom teachers' planning periods. This is widely professed as though it is the most important thing about the music classes (this would also include art and p.e.). As a result we feel less as professionals and more as babysitters. Until instrumental music is officially brought into the core curriculum, it will always be considered a frill rather than what it really is....necessary component of one's life.

    March 20, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
  44. Omar Martinez

    Calculus taught me that even problems that seem impossible can be broken down into simpler steps. You just have to keep your cool and look for patterns. Science in general taught me to appreciate even something as insignificant as the mold that grows on bread, because those tiny mold cells can do just about anything the cells in our own animal bodies can to fight for life. Despite the fact that I am a hard-core biochemistry candidate at Illinois Tech., now more than ever I understand the importance of the arts. In a school that shoves math and science at you from every direction, my non-science courses are what keep me feeling refreshed and not completely weighed down by all the stresses of science and math. Especially my guitar. Took Guitar I in high school my freshman year and I never put that guitar back down.

    March 20, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
  45. Ann

    Thank you for your article, Andrew Schwartz! It's a wake up call about the extraordinary power of music making to enhance the quality of every person's life. Do people notice the huge educational disparity between the musical “haves” and “have-nots” in our country? The El Sistema movement has transformed poverty-stricken lives through music making for thousands of children in Venezuela. Based on current brain research findings that musically-trained students have higher academic achievement, especially in language and reading, every school should be providing quality music instruction (not music appreciation) for every child. For more, see the Center for Lifelong Music Making.

    March 20, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
  46. bostontola

    Mr. Schwartz,
    Well conceived and well written, my compliments. Your maturity is beyond your years. I'm an engineer and resonated with the entire argument. I had prioritized the quality of STEM in our schools above arts, but your piece is making me re-think that. I will also forward this to my kids in college, the lessons are keys to success in any field. Good luck with your MBA, I'm confident in your future success.

    March 20, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
  47. Franchesca

    This a wonderful article. Music teaches you discipline, practice and study skills, things not taught any more in most school classes nor in most homes. I am the daughter of classical musicians and know that music is a tough way to make a living. But children should study it for the great life-lessons it teaches.

    March 20, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
  48. Frank Strawther JR.

    For me it was music class , at first i loved gym and i learned that all the energy i had i used it as fun fun fun in gym... well when it came to music class everyone didn't like it . I was not much of a follower back then and so when we would all sing in music class it was kinda goofy for me at first so i myself decided ehh it is the last thing i want to do ... Then comes art class i always liked art but i was never good at it .. i always traced an outline on sheets that you would have to look at .. haha oops.. so then one day in music class i just started singing then bam ! my voice sounded great and i was like wow this is soo much fun !! it must have been the vibrations that went to my head that i didn't know before but now looking back after researching music i understand. I compared gym to music and i was able to control my emotion and energy alot more because of the music class , art came by and i just tried at the class stuff and did well and wanted to do more but be myself with it and not anyone else. . i think that is what music did for me to know what i want and to not compare to anyone else other then myself and to be happy for who i am and to have fun with everything in life and baby steps are not a problem and to show music to people who i get the vibe that they would love it and do great at it since they never tried it .. or have they if they never knew ;)?

    March 20, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
  49. Shaki S.

    hahahaha! The Tuba!

    March 20, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
  50. Christian Wenzel

    I can't agree with you more when it comes to the arts.
    The fine arts in my opinion are very much the interwoven fabric of all of the classrooms. I am a middle school art teacher who was recently paralyzed from the waist down and taught art for 15 years. The critical thinking skills and problem solving skills which are required in my class reach far beyond the paper, paint and paintbrush. I look forward to returning to the classroom in August with a whole new perspective with my class and how I conduct class as a paraplegic art teacher. Thank you for vocalizing to a greater population of readers the importance the arts have on our world and specifically our country. I hope to see in my lifetime a shift in education that would be more reflective to your article and my personal opinion.

    March 20, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
  51. Nova

    Excellent article! I disagree with only two points. (1) Just because "Ride of the Valkyries" is in 3 does not make it a waltz. (2) If the audience did not like it, you did not necessarily fail. What is important is that you perform well. (Some people simply prefer Wagner to Adams, for example, no matter how marvelous "Nixon in China" is!)

    March 20, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
    • kvanlare

      This exemplifies what is great about the arts and creative thinking. The Wagner as a waltz? Really? Go ahead, think, reason and explain.

      March 21, 2013 at 3:03 am |
  52. Will

    Corollary lesson learned to "make it happen" – bake cookies for your neighbor who gets to enjoy your tuba quartet for their bedtime music every Tuesday night...

    March 20, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
  53. Nat Irvin , DMA

    ... what a great read...having completed a DMA from a top notch school of music, I am happy to say that my music background more than adequately prepared me to teach in a nationally ranked business school. I use the training I learned as a composer in every aspect of my work.

    March 20, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
  54. shadrack mokgoko

    What a great read,it's simple,push yourself harder an you will achieve better result. One hour a day will only result in lesser achievement. You musicians out there put an extra hour or two and you won't regret it

    March 20, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
  55. Steve

    I have a B.F.A. in Music Education and a B.S. in Electrical Engineering. I'm a computer engineer during the day and a part time musician in the evenings. I had a great understanding of frequency and harmonics when I entered engineering school (i.e. Fourier Transforms). Because it has form and structure, music can also be viewed as a programming language, although not as precise and repeatable as a computer program. Learning to play taught me discipline and perseverance.

    March 20, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
    • MCA

      That's all fine, but the fact that you changed your daytime profession proves that music education, especially classical music, doesn't pay. You had the resources to study something else. But for those who have spent over 30 years pursuing a music career and are probably unable to study other subjects, music is be all end all. Not having job openings in music or good paying jobs is a turn off. Except it is too late for those in their mid thirties to change.

      March 20, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
      • Kris

        It is NEVER too late to change if that is what it takes.......especially if you are just in your thirties. I went back to school at 42 and changed careers and if I can do it anyone can.

        March 20, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
      • MUSED

        I think the point of the article is that music education, especially in public schools, is crucial to everyone's education regardless of whether or not they will pursue music professionally. It is not easy to find a job with an English major either, but no person would argue this means english is not an important study for students in our public schools. Also, the very premise of this argument isn't necessarily true. There are far more music jobs available than most people realize and I know many people in my professional and personal life who have successfully pursued careers in music.

        March 20, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
  56. David Bluefeather

    Even though the very first sentence is a straw-man setup, ... there are some good points here.

    March 20, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
  57. Jan Grama

    Studied piano since age 7. Moved on to study under a classical music teacher who studied at the Sorbonne when I was in high school. I loved math and it made sense to me, similar to when I figured out and mastered a difficult music passage. At some point I realized that emotions and self- expression are music to me, and vice versa. I sometimes think in music, likewise my art is inseparable from music. I would not be able to appreciate life, without music. And, I am severely hearing handicapped! Thank heaven for computerized hearing aids.

    March 20, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
  58. PS

    What is the use of attracting students into music schools and giving them all this training when tenured professors never leave their jobs, top orchestras still have 90 year old musicians still performing without any room for the younger generation to continue the arts. Music students graduating have NO job opportunities if all the older folks continue to work till they die! Let's face it – these days people are living longer and are healthier too. Who is addressing these issues which are very real? Young musicians are working odds and ends to pay rent and get by. They were attracted to this profession with stars in their eyes, and now they have to change professions after spending 25 years in Music?!

    March 20, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
    • PS reply

      See lesson number 2: Make it happen. If you think the only way to make a living in music is to be a college professor or orchestra musician, you missed the boat on the creativity aspect of music.

      March 20, 2013 at 1:27 pm |
    • Heh

      Are you kidding me? There are more opportunities to make money in the music industry than ever before. It may not come with fame and fortune, but it does come with ample opportunities to make a living. It may not involve record sales at 50 million records, because, let's face it, even the top 40 artists are having difficulty even hitting 1 million, with the exception of Adele. Every job has an older generation working in their industry. CEO's and top execs didn't start off those positions at 18, they worked their way up to that and it took several years. I agree with Andrew that there are many things to be learned from music school, or any school of the arts, for that matter. Like any job, it takes hard work an dedication to make it in the industry of your choice. You don't just fall into it; therefore, I would say that your point is moot.

      March 20, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
      • MCA

        There are not a lot of opportunities for classical musicians at all. That is probably what the above comment was about. None of the students who are seriously studying classical music are aware that there are some very old musicians still hanging on to their jobs, and the younger, very talented classical musicians have no openings even to apply! That's what the complaint is about.

        March 20, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
    • JV

      I don't see this as a plea for everyone to go major in music. This points clearly to the validity of arts education becoming a cornerstone of our educational system in general. The goal is not to produce more professional musicians, but to produce well rounded, creative students who are prepared to enter any career and succeed.

      March 20, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
    • Michael

      The lessons are what music teaches the individual: appreciation for the form; dedication to a task, et cetera. People that have had n exposure to music do better in reading and other school subjects, on average, than those without. Isn't part of an education gtting exposed to a wide variety of topics? Music definitely fis that bill.

      To me, "Ride of the Valkyries" will always be associated with "Apocolypse Now" even though I'd been listening to Wagner for years before that movie was even made.

      March 20, 2013 at 3:29 pm |
    • Annette Jackson

      Without intending to, you made a good point: You can still play in an orchestra or band at 90. Do you see any athletes still playing football, basketball, etc. on any kind of team after age 40? Music is for the rest of your life.

      March 23, 2013 at 7:14 pm |
  59. Owen

    Grew up in a dirt poor South Louisiana town which had a first rate music program, fifth grade on. Also first rate chemistry, physics and creative writing as well. Almost became a music major on the way to a PhD in Biochemistry. Just retired in Rochester MN, one of the wealthiest communities in the US. Schools here can't afford a music program. Guess that is "read my lips, no new taxes" in action.

    March 20, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
    • TM

      Perhaps the schools need to read the "Make it Happen" part of the article. If a program is important to the district and they find value in it, they and the community can and will find a way to make a music program (of sorts) happen. I hope they do. Music is such a lovely component to every day life, regardless of form.

      March 20, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
  60. Dave

    I'm a former musician turned CPA (I also did graduate study work at the Manhattan School of Music). This is a great read and I couldn't agree with it more. The arts taught me so many things that I regularly apply to my work as a CPA. From having to put in hours and hours of practice to get a small passage correct (former Euphonium player – go low brass!) which translated to the work ethic I have now to just being able to think and analyze outside the box from just keeping that "part" of the brain alive. We need to keep arts alive in schools. Not only does it help with the brain, it helps with the soul, it also gives an outlet to express themselves. We need more out of the box thinking in this country and the arts help to support that.

    March 20, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
  61. CJ

    Parents, the two best things you can do for young children to give them an intellectual advantage for life are to read to them and give them music lessons. I credit my parents with this, and I think it had a lot to do with why I always did well in school. I didn't get all the toys I wanted, but my parents always found the money for books and music lessons. I studied music in college for several years before changing directions due to the lack of job security. I eventually went to law school but still play music on the side for fun and to blow off stress. I may not be performing for audiences much anymore, and I don't have time to practice like I used to (so I'm glad I put the time in when I was young), but it's how I unwind at the end of a long day–a lot better than self-medicating with drugs or alcohol. Music is a lifelong gift that I'll always have and cherish. I owe so much to it.

    March 20, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
  62. Cheri

    Thank you for a well written and timely article! As school administrations across the country are engrossed in "balancing" school budgets for the 2013-2014 school year, I think it's imperative to share with them this article and others like it. It's time to start thinking outside the box in education (a skill music teaches, by the way). To quote an over used phrase, "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result." This is precisely what is happening in public education in America. What exactly have the cuts to the arts in education garnered? Our children have fallen further behind globally in science, math, and other skills, they are stressed out, aggressive, apathetic, generally unmotivated, self absorbed...need I go on? The public education system, with all it's waste and antiquated ideals, has created a lose lose scenario for our kids with no viable end in sight.
    Research proves, and has proven for years, that the study of the arts is not a frill to be slashed from budgets nationwide, but an integral part of human learning. Until we get that message through, our education system will continue to crumble and our children will be biggest victims. Speak out on their behalf!
    I am a music teacher, 25 years now, though not in public school. To all of you musicians and music teachers who are looking at the job market and feeling scared, and insecure about getting a job, I understand, but I also want to quote the author of this article by saying "Make it Happen". If music is truly the thing you love then do it! Yes, you might need to diversify your income, but please don't walk away completely. You have a talent and a voice the world deserves to hear.

    March 20, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
  63. dewed

    Cute story, and I'm glad some people find value in music...but I can also name you some well accomplished deaf engineers who have never known the joy of music, but still seemed to "know everything they needed to know."

    March 20, 2013 at 12:34 pm |
    • Strawman args

      Interesting... So, you found that the article needed some derision and needed to be demeaned?

      March 20, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
      • Empty

        Thanks strawman! exactly what I was going to say – Dewed, my suggestion...please read the article again, it isn't about music.

        March 20, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
    • education50

      The deaf can hear music, just in a different way. The real deafness is ignorance and lack of understanding.

      March 20, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
    • think

      So...what you're saying is...
      You don't get the point of this article at's not saying that EVERYONE needs to be involved in music, or that these skills can ONLY be learned through music. Obviously these deaf engineers learned these skills somewhere, and that's great. What the author means is that the value that students get out of music goes MUCH deeper than just the ability to HEAR the music... That's like saying a paraplegic accountant who couldn't participate in sports, still knows what he needs to know about teamwork and self-efficacy, so there is no deeper value in having athletic teams.

      March 20, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
    • agreenan2013

      Dear dewed:

      Ludwig van Beethoven. Evelyn Glennie. Begin with these two and go from there.

      March 20, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
  64. Milo

    Music has a lot of positive attributes, especially at the high school/college level–where you will meet other smart and like-minded students who will positively influence your studies. The article would have more weight if it came from a working professional rather than a professional student. Music taught you how to do well in school, but write another article in ten years, when it has made you successful in business as well.

    March 20, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
  65. MusicLady

    As an Elementary Music teacher I tried to give children a gift that they could use for the rest of their lives. The pure enjoyment of music – singing, playing an instrument, dancing and/or just listening to beautiful music. The basic skill at that level is keeping a beat. Children that have difficulty keeping the beat – have difficulty reading fluently.
    Teaching timing and basic counting teaches patterns. I am able to see patterns in all types of situations. I amaze friends with my ability to work math problems in my head. As long as I can find a pattern – it's easy. I have seen some of my students develop this same skill. Of course some of the thinking skills that I have developed through my study of music confuses other people. They think I'm a little "weird". Just like reading music, I'm generally thinking ahead of real time.
    Music is a very important art, but it is also science. Just not easily measured sometimes.

    March 20, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
  66. Sue B.

    Andrew, By all means get out the tuba again and join a band-orchestra-form a brass ensemble. There's more to learn, and SO much more to enjoy as an adult skilled hobbyist.

    March 20, 2013 at 12:23 pm |
  67. JM

    Music is mathematics too:
    1/4 + 1/4 + 1/4 + 1/4 = 1

    March 20, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
  68. Vicki

    My children started playing violin at age 4. Ten years later they are now at the top of their classes in school. I have no doubt that the half hour music lesson they got each week taught them not just how to play the instrument , but how to learn. I was lucky enough to be able to give my children the gift of music at an early age and they have benefitted immeasurably. if I ever become a wealthy woman I would like to put a violin in the hands of every pre -K student for one half an hour each week! Imagine the world......

    March 20, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
  69. C-Sharp

    I, too, am a musician who chose to earn a living outside of music, and heartily concur with the writer's comments. From teaching me how to tackle complex tasks to showing me how to work with a team to encouraging me to take personal responsibility for my actions/performance, my musical education paved the way for the success that I've achieved in other fields. Although I'm no longer employed as a musician, I'm an enthusiastic audience member and participant in community musical activities. Thanks to the writer for sharing this piece!

    March 20, 2013 at 12:12 pm |
  70. MHR

    Not only does studying music help otherwise motivated individuals succeed in life, it can provide the turning point for troubled youth. You may already know this, but did you know that the Blues can be used to cut below a student's challenges and pathologies to ignite the creative spirit – the source of all growth? A 1970's Berklee College of Music graduate, my husband recently did an interview about that which I invite you to read at It's an answer for the growing population of struggling youth. I hope you'll check it out – and thanks for the great post!

    March 20, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
  71. Dreamer of Pictures

    I studied music from 2nd grade through 12th grade, including piano, clarinet, oboe and guitar. My own take is that performing arts and sports are the two opportunities for learning teamwork in the K-12 school environment. And teamwork is the name of the game in careers, at least for most of us.

    Our kids took advantage of both music and drama in middle school and high school, and I am glad they did. I will defend the performing arts education budget with gusto.

    March 20, 2013 at 12:07 pm |
  72. magister1

    Aristotle said the Music was the highest form of Mathematics – it incorporates the temporal with the spiritual and so becomes infinitely greater because of the synthesis.... music enlarges our students' capacity for beauty and awe whatever their position in life!

    March 20, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
  73. Matt

    The best lesson I learned from my experiences as a professional musician was that it's more about Art Practice. It's important to set aside time, even just 30 minutes a day for artistry, as a gift to yourself. Regardless of medium, the lessons are the same, art practice reveals the content and function of the mind to the mind. It is the highest form of play, it's great for mental health and personal growth, it can also be a spiritual practice if fully engaged. Don't worry too much about the money end of it.

    March 20, 2013 at 11:50 am |
  74. guitar man

    For those musicians hoping to make it in music I suggest picking a harmonic instrument i.e... piano, guitar, harp. You can get a lot more gigs than melodic instrumentalists (instruments that play only one note at a time). It's possible to carve out a middle class career in music if you invest in your community, teach, perform and record. I've been at it for 35 years successfully and am very grateful for it thanks to the encouragement of mentors and the community I live in. Good luck and don't give up if your heart burns for music.

    March 20, 2013 at 11:45 am |
  75. elmirafoodies

    I also have a music degree and am in a non-music based profession for various reasons. Music taught me that I was capable of so much more than I thought I was, amazing discipline, working with others is essential to get things accomplished etc. There are too many to list. I especially agree with the part about "making it happen". I remember during our freshman orientation the chair of the music department made us make a list of our schedule, then add in time to do homework, time to practice, and time to eat and sleep–and it just didn't fit. That's life, you make it work. I know not everyone is destined to go to school for music or to be a professional musician, but why take the chance to learn all of those valuable lessons away?

    March 20, 2013 at 11:42 am |
  76. Clark Kent

    I went to school with the author, and we still keep in touch, even now living hundreds of miles apart.

    The arts keep people together. We need that, especially in this increasingly ostracized world.

    March 20, 2013 at 11:42 am |
  77. Richard Smith

    Also to note: You are only as good as your last performance.

    March 20, 2013 at 11:30 am |
  78. Denise

    This article is a good example of learning lessons in schooling but the basic classes taught in our school system are all good too. The problem is that the students are learning those lessons. The same student that flunked math can also flunk out of that music class because it's not the class, it's the student. Every student has the oppurtunity to learn lessons while in class but for some reason, they aren't learning and the teachers that are letting them get away with by earning a D, is helping them. Getting a D is not comparable to getting an A in class. That D grade means that the lesson was not llearned. This is what we need to change, our grading system. Struggle and get the "A"

    March 20, 2013 at 11:26 am |
    • Joe

      Denise– That is a good point. I think the author would agree, even though he did not articulate it in his article, that part of the beauty of music and artistic education is that it teaches the lessons that you referenced, but it is more appealing to students at a young age than math or biology likely are. I agree with your assertion that we need to motivate students to work harder, but I think the author's main argument about the value of music to all careers is a good one and speaks to your concern.

      March 20, 2013 at 12:25 pm |
  79. Suzanne

    I totally agree with the writer's thoughts. I too am a muscian who plays 13 instruments but doesn't make a living playing music. I hold degrees in economics and business. I am a better person because of music. To this day I surround myself with music. Be it classical, jazz, current top 40, classic rock or music from other countries, I believe music has taught me to be open to various opinions, cultures and traditions. One can learn a lot about others through their musical traditions. Music shapes the soul.

    I have encouraged both my children to take up an instrument. They started when the were less than 2 years old with basics and both continue to play today.

    We must continue to offer music education in our schools. Like with everything, you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink. All we can do is encourage music education. Encourage encourage encourage.

    March 20, 2013 at 11:25 am |
  80. ben

    Music is also a science, what with all the calculations that go into your mind, making sure the the value is of quarter note is exactly 1/4 of the value of the whole note and half of the half note, and the speed at which you play the note is proportional in every manner. Now, to be consistent with the quallity of your music, you have to perform those calculations exactly the same all the time. NOw, here where the art comes in, because we are human beings, not autorobots, there will be times when our performances will be nuanced by our emotions at the time. And only a real musician, who have performed their music, will be able to articulate and understand what that means.

    March 20, 2013 at 11:24 am |
  81. Rich

    I often feel this way about my career. There are only so many places you can go and it's a niche skill. You need something 21st century/relevant, and the opportunity to take a chance.

    I too have thought about business a way to cultivate new skills and relationships. Writing pitches only takes you so far. I deal with rejection a lot at my job (uninterested people), so I feel my tenacity and communications skills could be of use in another field

    March 20, 2013 at 11:22 am |
  82. ac

    Music is an art. It is not a science.

    March 20, 2013 at 11:07 am |
    • METS English Dept.

      The study of the way sound waves interact with each other (eg music) and the way our brains receive that information absolutely is a science.

      March 20, 2013 at 11:19 am |
      • CMF

        An audio engineer deals with the scientific aspect of music (sound waves, acoustics, audio manipulation, etc...). The musician is NOT a scientist, he is an artist.

        Although many musicians CHOOSE to study the effects of sound and music on the brain (out of curiosity), it is not a requirement in order to be a musician. Music CAN be looked at and analyzed from a scientific standpoint (psychobiological perspective, acoustics, etc..), BUT, a musician is an artist– first and foremost!

        If all artists put the scientific aspect first (and the art second), then they would know a lot about what happens in the brain when art is experienced. They may know a lot about acoustics and sound waves, etc... but that doesn't necessarily mean that their music will sound like music. Most of these "scientific musicians' " music sounds sterile and....well...inhuman/mechanical. That's not music.

        March 20, 2013 at 11:55 am |
    • aaron

      ac, You are so so wrong on so many levels

      March 20, 2013 at 11:28 am |
    • Chris

      To AC: music is an art, a science, and a math project, all at once. Sometime try to do some digital music editing- if you don't understand the science of the sound wave, you're going to have a really tough time getting it right. And I remember many times being asked to compute the "Golden Mean" in a Bach Fugue- you'd darned well better be able to do math for THAT one. Not to mention that reading music is reading a complex graph, which falls in the realm of algebra and geometry. I've seen enough defense of teamwork, work ethic and dedication written above. For the record, I am an (involuntarily) retired cellist and music teacher.

      March 20, 2013 at 11:30 am |
    • John

      You are wrong – music is an art and a science. Ways in which music is a science:

      Music Theory
      Body Mapping (anatomical understanding of skeletal and muscular structure for proper body positioning and technique)
      Audio Engineering
      Electronic Music
      Understanding wave form and how it is manipulated in the performance and recording settings

      March 20, 2013 at 11:30 am |
    • TJ

      No, AC is right. Music is NOT a science. I have a doctorate in the sciences and never once did I sit down and study a sheet of music. There are aspects of science IN music, that cannot be denied. But, to call music itself a science is absurd.

      That's like me telling you the study of the string theory is an art due to the radical visualizations one must have in order to process the information. Just because an aspect of an art mind is included, it certainly doesn't qualify it as an art.

      March 20, 2013 at 11:44 am |
      • SaxGuy

        Right on, TJ !!

        If music is a science, then why aren't Beethoven, Bach, Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker, the Beatles, Caruso, Pavarotti, Bocelli mentioned in the same breath as Galileo, Sir Isaac Newton, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein?

        They probably all qualify for the "extremely gifted" list, but to say they are all scientists or all artists ... really?

        March 20, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
    • Jack Castagna

      I have always believed and maintain that music is an applied science. you cannot change the physics of sound and its reception into the brain. we must work within the framework we are given.

      March 20, 2013 at 11:58 am |
      • Jack Castagna

        Much like archetecture is also applied science. engineering but also having atrtistic compnonets, if you deny or ignore the science in music, instead of a beautiful classic building that will be standing for centuries for all to enjoy, you will likely create a pile of rocks and wood.

        March 20, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
    • Tuba player Engineer

      As a trained physicist who is now an engineer and a musician, I can tell you that there is also a science to music. Playing in tune requires you to learn how to detect the difference in two frequencies. As a high school musician, I learned to hear it. In my Physics classes, I learned why it happens and that what I was hearing was the "beat" frequency. Then I was able to hear it even better. Having worked as an engineer for 25 years, you would be surprised on just how many engineers and scientists have a music background. Music is just important as science and math to learning.

      March 20, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
    • agreenan2013

      To ac and TJ above:

      My friends, are you certain you wish to discount Pythagoras, Aristotle, Plato, and Einstein? Each of these men as well as Johannes Kepler, Boethius, Robert Fludd, Blaise Pascal, Marin Mersenne, Nichomachus, John Harrison, Galilei Galileo, and Isaac Newton (to name a few) examined music as a science. Have you discovered something that supersedes their work? Since the earliest systems of western education, music has been acknowledged as a science. Recall the sturdy construction of the original quadrivium: arithmetic (the study of number), geometry(the study of number in space), music (the study of number in time), and astronomy (the study of number in both space and time). Many universities around the world offer courses in music and physics. At the university where I teach, certain music theory courses fulfill requirements in mathematics. Music encompasses and exceeds categories of art and science. And, owing to fMRI technology, we can now state this fact: music significantly affects structural development of the brain. By any (other) name, we desperately need music in our education curricula. Please, everyone, tell the policy patriarchs and lawmakers.

      March 20, 2013 at 1:22 pm |
  83. Josie

    I can honostly say that music also taught me a lot. From team work (trust me you CANNOT perform a piece if another person walks out, or another singer for that matter and there is only two or three of you), performing in front of people (great for when you have to give speeches when you are in a different field). Plus practice, the hours you have to put in to get something right, it's hard work but worth it in the end. My parents encouraged all of us to either join band or choir and stick with it through high school, and now that we have kids we have decided to do the same with them.

    March 20, 2013 at 11:00 am |
  84. Tim

    Good tuba players are hard to find.

    March 20, 2013 at 10:54 am |
  85. Kevin

    As a band teacher for more than 25 years, I have long felt that we as music educators often miss many of the points of this article. I think that many of us get caught up in just trying to educate our music students as individuals, or in just trying to make sure that they have a good time. I'm really tired of hearing the over-used canard, 'music makes kids better at math' (this may be true, but what really makes kids better at math is probably better math teachers). I think that the skill of teamwork and working together, sometimes with others that we don't necessarily get along with, or under the direction of someone we might not like (like a band teacher......:) ), is often overlooked, but is probably one of the most important things for a new entrant to the work force can have. The lack of the ability to work with others, not just by oneself in a cubicle with a computer, is sorely lacking in many graduates, and doesn't bode well for our standing in the global economy. I know of no other classes in public school curriculum that teach this concept, other that ensemble music and drama.

    March 20, 2013 at 10:54 am |
  86. John Gardner

    From a music teacher's perspective, I wish your well written article was from a position of success in music, rather than from someone who gave up on it. I will share your story, however, on both my high school band and my music business sites.

    March 20, 2013 at 10:38 am |
    • Will Wise

      Respectfully, John, as a music teacher I think the point is better made from the perspective of someone who isn't making their living in music but is reaping the benefits every day of his musical education. Very few can be successful in music, and we have more than enough people trying. But everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, should learn about music and this article illustrates exactly why.

      March 20, 2013 at 10:50 am |
    • Chris

      Though, as another music teacher, the VAST majority of our students will not become professional musicians. I don't consider that as a "failed' musician. If we do our jobs right, they will be musicians for life, whether or not they become a professional. Musicianship is a skill, not a career. I feel like I have done more to help those that don't go into music than those that do.

      Just my opinion.

      March 20, 2013 at 10:56 am |
    • Anne

      I lived for band in high school. I earned my degrees in music education (piano, voice, and instrumental). Then I decided I didn't want to teach so I went into music therapy working with special ed children. Do I regret my way! I am still a musician and I will always be.

      March 20, 2013 at 11:22 am |
  87. liz_mk

    As a former "band geek" I have to say the points made in this article are great. I got a better handle on fractions because of music than I ever did in a math class where it was all just on paper. Concerts and solos were great for real world examples of performing under pressure and meeting deadlines. It's easy to ask a teacher for a homework extension, but you can't very well ask an audience to come back in three days to give you a chance to brush up on material.

    March 20, 2013 at 10:34 am |
  88. John

    Awesome article. One of the main reasons that the US is behind in education is our inability to educate the entire student and engage students in critical thinking. Music helps accommodate both of these weaknesses. There is a direct correlation between music and improved thinking skills/IQ/overall intelligence.

    March 20, 2013 at 10:31 am |
  89. treblemaker

    There is no job security in any field, period! Having an MBA is no guarantee to financial security, either, but I understand why you switched. Being a tuba player limits your musical opportunities unless you can do something in music other than play your instrument, such as being an orchestrator/arranger. Teamwork in the business world is expected; motivating a group of musicians to pull together as a team is much harder to do. Good luck on your new profession.

    March 20, 2013 at 10:30 am |
  90. will fargo

    A very simple lesson that is reinforced everyday through my continued study and practicing of music. Your musicianship (your life) is what you make it.

    March 20, 2013 at 10:25 am |
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