IS MUSIC THE KEY TO SUCCESS?
by Joanne Lipman
Condoleezza Rise trained to be a concert pianist. Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Federal Reserve, was a professional clarinet and saxophone player.
Multiple studies link music study to academic achievement. But what is it about serious music training that seems to correlate with outsize success in other fields?
The connection isn't a coincidence. I know because I asked. I put the question to top--flight professionals in industries from tech to finance to media. all of whom had serious (if often little-known) past lives as musicians. Almost all made a connection between their music training and their professional achievements.
The phenomenon extends beyond the math-music association. Strikingly, many high achievers told me music opened up the pathways to creative thinking. And their experiences suggest that music training sharpens other qualities: Collaboration. The ability to listen. A way of thinking that weaves together disparate ideas. The power to focus on the present and the future simultaneously.
Will your school music program turn your kid into a Paul Allen, the billionaire co-founder of Microsoft (guitar)? Or a Woody Allen (clarinet)?
Probably not. These are singular achievers. But the way these and other visionaries I spoke to process music is intriguing. As is the way many of them apply music's lessons of focus and discipline into new ways of thinking and communicating -- even problem solving.
Look carefully and you'll find musicians at the top of almost any industry. Woody Allen performs weekly with a jazz band. The television broadcaster Paula Zahn (cello) and the NBC chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd (French horn) attended college on music scholarships; NB C's Andrea Mitchell trained to become a professional violinist. Both Microsoft's Mr. Allen and the venture capitalist Roger McNamee have roack bands. Larry Page, a co-founder of Google, played saxophone in high school. Steven Spielberg is a clarinetist and pianist. The former World Bank president James D. Wolfensohn has played cello at Carnegie Hall.
You can see the success stories included in this article all have a tie to music. It's not a coincidence.