Wednesday, February 6, 2013

My Open Call to Musicians

"With great power comes great responsibility."

Musicians—I'm looking at you!

Whether I'm speaking to a lecture hall of graduate students, a first grade classroom, or my 68-year-old drum student, I am always urging them to discover and own the artist within.

The problem is, most people don't consider themselves to be one.

Once they can shift their perspective, most realize that we have always been artists, making artistic choices every waking moment. The shoes that the guy in the first row put on that morning was an artistic choice; The fact that he chose to sit in the front was an artistic choice.

We are all artists literally "creating" our lives—if you choose to look at it this way.

Not everyone identifies with this, and that's okay. But as a musician, I know you can relate—and your skills run deeper than just musical talent.

Our educational system is currently fixated on the STEM paradigm. Our future leaders are being fed an academic diet heavy in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. They are also taught with higher standardized test scores in mind as an end result.

These subjects are undoubtedly important and these skills will ensure a competent and competitive workforce. But will it produce creative thinkers and problem-solvers?

Many have said that the paradigm should be changed to "STEAM" to include Art, myself included. But I realized that the problem-solving and critical thinking skills that job creators and higher education stress are rooted in creativity, and necessary in EVERY school subject. I do think music class, and visual arts, and theater are important in a child's school day—but creative inquiry should be enhancing every class.

My larger point is that artists are the leaders. It will be the artists that solve our greatest challenges related to energy, disease, and poverty. It will be the artists that create the next Twitter or further revolutionize the music industry.

As a musician, I'm looking to you as a leader. You are familiar with creating within infinite possibilities (improvisation), you know how to effectively work with others for a greater cause (group performance), and you have gotten over the initial hurdle of seeing yourself as an agent of change (the artist).

No one is expected to move a mountain, but small or large, you can contribute in an endless amount of ways. You will influence those around you and become a leader in the process. All it takes is a little creativity—and I know it's in you.

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