A Breakthrough Advocacy For
Music Programs In U.S. Education
CONNECTING MUSIC WITH CREATIVITY
Music programs, teaching students to play acoustic instruments, are successful and develop skilled musicians. This has enabled an enormous body of evidence to be procured about the many education and career benefits students receive from music training. But most importantly, there are five unique benefits students gain with music training that are specifically connected to skills that support creativity. Those five benefits gained are in the form of five drivers of creativity:
1. A mind that easily and continuously asks questions. Playing on an instrument is one of the very few organized and regimented activities that can train the mind to be in a cognitive state of continuous 'question-flow'. This cognitive state enables the music student to play correctly and play along with everyone else. This same state is then what enables high-level creativity and innovation.
2. Engaged, expanded and focused emotion. While both emotion and intelligence are required for creativity, they are two completely separate components that work together. But only the curriculum of the 'Arts' in education engages, expands and focuses a students emotion alongside their intelligence. Within that Arts, the strongest and most potent domain for that is music training.
3. Boosting engagement of brain networks that are responsible for decision-making, ability to focus attention and inhibit impulses. This is achieved because there is a change to both the structure of the brain’s white matter, which carries signals through the brain, and gray matter, which contains most of the brain’s neurons that are active in processing information.
4. Learning to combine sensory and auditory information with motor system capabilities. Musicians then use this new individual skill to further learn group behavioral adaptation, prediction and cooperation toward shared goals.
5. Accelerating maturity in areas of the brain responsible for sound processing, language development, speech perception, reading skills and time management.
These are critically important benefits for adolescent students whose brain wiring is heavily influenced by their cognitive and behavioral experiences. Neuropsychology shows that adolescents build associative connections between signals that are experienced simultaneously. The Neuropsychology principle underlying all this associative learning is: 'What fires together wires together.' Simply put, there is absolutely no other activity that students can engage in that comes even close to developing the robust cognitive structure that is attained through music training. Therefore, exposing students to learning how to play an acoustic instrument is critical to maximizing their inherent creative potential. (Supporting information found at: Music-Advocacy/Resources)
CONNECTING MUSIC WITH EMOTION
There are unlimited styles of music that acoustic instruments can produce. But the most impactful is symphonic music that our society benefits from on a regular basis. Consider how much our culture is impacted by Hollywood and the gaming industry, which extensively use symphonic music in their movies and games. Music programs are the starting point of producing the musicians and composers responsible for that music. More importantly it needs to be understood that symphonic music is being used in the first place because of its unique ability to induce and stimulate emotion within the viewer. Emotion then imbues images with feeling and the verbal dialogue with context. If you were to remove the symphonic music, the communication between the screen and the viewer would be severely impaired. The images and dialogue would come across as cold and lifeless because the viewer would lack the communication of an emotional experience.
Essentially, it’s the vibrations from acoustic instruments in symphonic music that are the catalysts which induce and stimulate emotion. The vibration-induced emotion is elastic and temporary. That’s why even a short segment of acoustic music can take the listener on a rollercoaster of radically different intense emotions that then leave the listener in a neutral state after the music ends. Depending on the characteristic of the vibrations, our minds can discern the type of emotion induced. The fast/high vibrations induce a wide spectrum of positive love-based emotion. The slow/low vibrations induce a wide spectrum of negative fear-based emotion.
The wide breadth of emotion connected to music goes beyond just being a main component of communication, it’s also the main component for creativity. That’s why successful creative people and innovators always have a lot of emotion, in the form of passion, for the work they do. That emotion is the catalyst which stimulates the intelligence of their minds to think with greater speed, force and divergence. In the same way, the induced emotion within a music student functions as the catalyst which stimulates the rewiring of the student’s brain during music training. In fact, this function of emotion is what maximizes the three unique benefits, outlined at the beginning, connected to skills that support creativity. As such, it turns out that music programs are a platform that achieve an incredible self-reinforcing loop outcome where:
The action of the student engaging in music training stimulates emotion.
The emotion stimulates the re-wiring of their brain which in turn develops a greater capacity for creativity.
The increased creativity loops around to stimulates the student’s cognitive abilities to become better in all subjects, including music training.
This is why no other activity outside music training comes even close to achieving the same outcome of maximizing a student’s inherent creative potential. (Supporting information found at: Music-Advocacy/Creativity)
CONNECTING MUSIC WITH A VISION
To understand why creativity is being singled out here so strongly we need to shift our perspective momentarily and view music programs as business organizations. In that perspective, students learning to play acoustic instruments can be understood as the ‘What’ outcomes those organizations produce. In turn, the process music programs use to teach the students can be understood as the strategic 'How' the organizations operate. For all organizations to grow sustainably long-term, they need to constantly adapt to a changing society. This can only be done successfully if the organizations are guided by an overriding vision of 'Why' they are essential to benefit society.
Yes, music programs have always been valued as important and produced excellent ‘What’ outcomes along with effective strategic ‘How’ operations. Yet music program have still been relegated to an optional activity in U.S. Education behind other curriculum that has been deemed more beneficial to society. From this perspective, the vision for ‘Why’ music programs are important in U.S. Education is incomplete. That’s why this breakthrough advocacy connecting music training and creative potential can outline a new vision of 'Why' music programs are not just important but are now essential for society.
The foundation of this vision starts with the understanding that in the modern world the level of creativity is increasingly dictating the level of individual and societal success. That’s because technology is advancing at an increasing rate and transitioning the era of human labor into the era of human creativity. That’s why music programs, which develop creativity, are important for society. Music programs will become essential when the specific technologies of quantum computing, AI and big data are integrated into cloud-based apps. Those apps will dramatically impact society by creating new business ecosystems which will replace skilled labor within the STEM fields and used alongside agile robotics to replace manual labor within manufacturing. The effect on society will be exponentially more disruptive than the industrial revolution.
In this new era, information and hard skills learned will continually become outdated and obsolete within short time frames. A consensus will begin to develop throughout society that the unique human potential and skill for creativity is the only advantage humans have over technology, no matter how advanced technology becomes. Any information and hard skills learned in the future will become useless without humans also having the ability to stimulate creativity to adapt to societal change. That means that humans will be relevant in the future only if they can bring something new and creative to their work and learning every single day. Within this future society there will be nearly unlimited potential for personal self-growth, which has been labeled by Psychology as a ‘growth mindset’. This creative growth mindset is what will define human professional and personal success in the future. Albert Einstein understood this almost 100 years ago when he noted: “A society’s competitive advantage will come not from how well its schools teach the multiplication and periodic tables, but from how well they stimulate imagination and creativity.”
As society transitions to this new era, U.S. Education will also be forced to start transitioning to different forms of Project Based Learning curriculums and we should expect that there will be a lot of experimenting with different variations of these curriculums until a process is developed that can scale through all of U.S. Education. During this turbulent transition, the music programs will be the anchors that U.S. Education will lean on. It will be the music programs that continue to be essential in U.S. Education by fostering student’s abilities to think creatively, thereby sustaining their potential for success. Consequently, this is the vision statement for ‘Why’ music programs in U.S. Education are not just important but are now essential for society:
Music programs are platforms that develop a student’s creative
potential for self-growth and ability to adapt to societal change.
In the near future it will be understood that students need music training as a required cognitive workout to be successful in business and any STEM field. Just like it is currently understood that lifting weights is a required physical workout to be successful in sports and athletics.