Unit 2: What Does Music Teach Us?

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Being chosen to be a leader is an opportunity for personal growth and change. It takes your music experience to a whole new level and provides you with challenges that go far beyond the concert hall.  It may not always be fun, but it will be rewarding.

By now, you have a pretty good idea of my passion for music education. I believe that within this unique and absurd experience lie some of the greatest lessons that life has to teach us. Music is one of the few areas that teach not only content and curricula, but character as well. Listed below is a brief summation of what I believe are the character cornerstones of a successful music education organization.

I believe music teaches that the more you give, the more you will get.
This is not a new concept and has stood the test of time. Note that I used the future tense when it comes to “getting.” You have to give. Your ability to receive is based on your ability to give first. Those who give the most get the most, but those who get the most are asked to give the most back. The best students become leaders, and we require leaders to give more. The best players are typically those who practice the most, and we require them to help those who struggle. Think about it – it is the only curricular area where we reward and require work with more work.

I believe music teaches that if you can, you must.
Whether as a result of genetics or environment, we all have a different set of skills and talents. To underutilize them – or worse yet, fail to utilize them – is a wasted opportunity. Simply put, there is a correlating responsibility between your individual assets and the group responsibility you incur. You need not rise to the expectations of someone else and you need not wish for skill sets you do not possess; you need only to use what you have to serve others to your very best ability. You are a spectacular and unique person who has unique and spectacular abilities. To fail to utilize these special skills sets is denying the world of your true presence and denying your true self.

I believe music teaches us not to quit until it’s perfect.
Think about how many times you practice the same lick, toss the same toss, or march the same drill. Music is the only curricula in which you take the same class year after year in hopes not only of learning more, but perfecting what you have already mastered.

After passing P.E., do you take the same class again in hopes of attaining a greater level of perfection? NO. Yet you take four years of your same music class often repeating activities ad nauseam in search of the unattainable “perfect.” Where else does this happen?

I believe music teaches us to think win/win.
It is only natural to want to be good at something. Success and its sweet rewards are not just fruits of your labor; they are a part of the fabric of the human soul. We all want to be good at something. The question is this: Does our success stand in the way of someone else’s? Winning is a self-limiting behavior, as you are only doing just enough to be better than someone else, instead of striving to be the best that you can be.

This list is only meant to help frame the discussion of leadership and ensure that you understand the foundation the book is built upon. Also, these are my beliefs, and should in no way compel you to believe the same unless you are so inclined. In fact, I am confident that your list would look somewhat different than mine and provide me with pause to think. You are actually about to begin the process of creating your own list, so you may begin thinking about what you would and would not include in it.

Now that you know what I believe, it is time to start thinking about what you believe. I thought it only fair that before we start on our leadership journey together, you knew a little bit about the philosophies of your travel guide.

Do you give more to your group than you get?
LEADERSHIP TIP: As a team, decide whether music education is about building better young people through music or building better music through young people. This will help clarify your leadership pathway.

For those of you who have held leadership positions before, share in the discussion box what you have learned from being a leader. Be sure to include what to do and what NOT to do!

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Email Scott directly at scott@scottlang.net.

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