Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Music Helps Prepare Us For the "Conceptual Age"

By Mark T. Burke

I don't have to look to the future to see great things for music education. Like few times in our past, music and the arts in general, will not merely benefit from the historical era, they will lead us into and through the next period of growth. The Information Age has left us primed and wanting more from our lives.  From our most basic desire to expect more from the products we purchase and the services we use, to the huge population of baby boomers seeking more meaning in their lives, solutions are being created by those with creative abilities, including music. Simply put, we want well designed, interesting products rather than the same old, same old.  We desire creative services to help us find our true hidden talents.  Creative individuals are needed to lead organizations in their efforts to fill these needs and thus thrive and survive in this new era.

For the past year, I've had several individuals recommend Daniel Pink's "A Whole New Mind."  Each introduced Pink's view on how we've entered a new era, where creative, right-minded individuals are valued by organizations for their abilities. Feeling like I've always understood the contributions musical and creative people make, and as an entrepreneur in the field of music education myself, I doubted I could learn anything from reading his book.  I was SO WRONG!  After only three chapters, I have learned how to communicate the true value of music instruction.

Pink suggests that we are witnessing the end of the Information Age.  During the Information Age, company leaders and employees alike depended on their abilities to process information and think analytically to ensure company success.  Products and services were developed by the boat loads, companies prospered and our national wealth grew.  His belief is that our abundance (of just about everything) has left us wanting more.  Supply of life's deeper meaning is low and demand is high.  Enter the Conceptual Age.

I believe in Pink's view.  I also believe musicians are among the creative soles that organizations will call on to help separate them from all the competing, rubber-stamped companies within their segment.  Products and services will need to beautifully designed in order to stand out.  The leaders and employees from the Information Age are ill equipped to design such products.  The time is here and now to build smarter, musically minded individuals, prepared to help us prosper in this new era.

If you believe in Pink's position, you will agree that we have an incredibly worrisome situation on our hands. At the very time when our society needs the help of creative individuals, schools are eliminating music programs often due to budget issues or lack of community support (one influencing the other).  Are we prepared to watch our opportunity to regain national prosperity at the hands of schools who lack the insight to provide the workforce with the creative individuals needed?  What may seem like a "simple" budget decision today will most certainly derail our society's continued rise should we allow it.

Facebook Fans:  Read my reviews of Chapter 1 and Chapter 2.

Do you agree with Pink's vision that we are entering the Conceptual Age?  If you do, what is the impact on music advocacy? 


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