Angela Myles Beeching, author of Beyond Talent, is presenting the next keynote address – Is What We Do Relevant?
“I’ve posed kind of a scary question. And perhaps it’s partly because of my age. You find yourself asking that question more as you get older.”
“We all know how difficult it is to promote the arts. Musicians are not usually the best advocacy people. If you’re having a conversation with a prospective student and you have to explain specifically the benefit the student will receive from studying with you, what would you say?” Each one in the audience has received an index card and is supposed to come up with 3 specific points stating what the specific benefits are of studying with them. Now the audience members have been asked to turn to someone next to them that they do not know very well and share what they wrote on their card.
“How many of you sold yourself short in your description?” No hands. “Okay, we must have a roomful of big egos.”
“There’s often a gap between what we intend and what we deliver. Between what we think is going on and what the student is actually experiencing. It would be nice to have a control group that actually gave us honest feedback.”
“Take a step back and put this in a larger context. There have been many research projects done to indicate that there are definite benefits from music education, including:
* spacial reasoning
* math achievement
* reading achievement
Some benefits of intensive musical education:
* self confidence
* risk taking
* higher order thinking
“The problem is that these reports do not tell us the how. How does this happen with students? I think it’s because it’s multi-dimension that it has such a powerful and can have a transforming effect on a student. The physical, spiritual and emotion dimensions engage the student.”
“In the US every year, there are over 100,000 students working in a music degree program. What are their expectations? What if they all expect to be soloists and have performing careers? What kind of world are we graduating them into? Last year, the total number of piano opening positions was 87.”
“A friend asked how I can work in the conservatory when I am aware of this supply and demand problem? He was asking how I can do what I do in good conscience. Sometimes we live in a little bubble of the art world. It’s easy to think that that is the world. But that’s not what the rest of our country thinks is real.”
“In a country where our primary export is popular culture and classical and jazz audiences are declining and symphonies are going bankrupt, what are we to do? We live in between these worlds.”
Ms. Beeching shares of her application to an Ivy League school several years ago. She was in a roomful of career services personal and was asked, “How do you see your background, your education, contributing to this job?” It was a version of our question today, “How is what you’re doing relevant?” What good is a music degree?
Ms. Beeching shares of her conversation with a young man asking about the potential for getting jobs in the music field. He was already over $100,000 in debt and wanted to know what options would be available if he pursued a higher degree in his field.
“We are being asked constantly to evaluate the value of what we do.”
Benefits of advanced study:
Deepen abilities to think analytically and critically
Know on a deeper level a handful of great works of art
Deeper understanding of ourselves, humanity and the world
To look at life through a lens of the arts is to live a transformed existence.
“Relevancy is not synonymous with value. The world is made better one person at a time. In music lessons with students, you are more than a teacher, you are a role model, a shining light. The lives we touch are irrevocably changed. The power of the arts transforms lives in a multi-dimensional way.”
Now, Ms. Beecher has asked the audience to stand. She asks the question, “Is what we do relevant?” The audience has been instructed to respond with an enthusiastic “yes!” and does so.