December 4, 2017

Music’s Transferable Skills


Studies have seen a connection between music study and academic achievement. Experiences suggest that music training sharpens other qualities such as, collaboration and the ability to listen.

Individuals ranging from corporate entrepreneurs and innovators, to actors and media correspondents, all noted the benefits of having prior musical training. Music builds the important skills of a strong work ethic, thinking creatively, and knowing how to work alone and in a team environment. Furthermore, music acts as a form of emotional release and provides counterbalance in what can be a stressful, work-driven lifestyle.

Filmmakers Steven Spielberg and Woody Allen played clarinet. Microsoft founder Paul Allen and venture capitalist Roger McNamee grew up as musicians and still have rock bands today. Google CEO, Larry Page says “I feel like music training lead to the high-speed legacy of Google for me.’’ Page played saxophone and studied music composition in his youth. While designing a program to build a music synthesizer, he discovered a major weakness in most computer software and operating systems, their inability to perform in real-time. “In music you’re very cognizant of time,” said Page. “If you’re a percussionist, you hit something, it’s got to happen in milliseconds.”

Woody Allen sees music as a diversion, unconnected to his day job. He likens himself to “a weekend tennis player who comes in once a week to play. I don’t have a particularly good ear at all or a particularly good sense of timing. In comedy, I’ve got a good instinct for rhythm. In music, I don’t, really.” He performs regularly, even touring internationally with his New Orleans jazz band. “I never thought I would be playing in concert halls of the world to 5,000, 6,000 people,” he says. “I will say, quite unexpectedly, it enriched my life tremendously.”

These visionaries, like many leaders who recognize musical studies as a contributor to their success, benefited from the examples of historical icons that came before them. Albert Einstein, arguably one of the most creative geniuses of our time, attributed part of his creative intuition and scientific insight to music.

Music can sharpen creativity, discipline and the capacity to reconcile conflicting ideas. Music will help train you to think differently and to process different points of view.