NY Times: “Is Music the Key to Success?”


Condoleeza Rice playing the piano
A good portion of this opinion piece focuses on how music study fueled high-profile careers, (by and large) outside the arts arena.

The writer, Joanne Lipman, is author of Strings Attached…, non-fiction that reads like a novel and honors a task master H.S. music teacher who endured a life of hardship. No doubt the meat of the matter is accompanied by a side dish of book promotion.


Here’s the attention-getting opening NYT paragraph that KEYS in on mega-successful, high income earners:

trained to be a concert pianist. Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Federal Reserve, was a professional clarinet and saxophone player. The hedge fund billionaire Bruce Kovner is a pianist who took classes at Juilliard.”

Could this item have packed a punch if it opened as follows?

Jim Schwartz, former Curtis grad, is now on Food Stamps and roaming the streets of downtown Berkeley looking for a handout.

Or, Marissa Mankovic, Juillard performance major, has given up the cello because she can’t find a steady work— so many orchestras are going belly up.

Bella Bretovsky, a single mom, has thrown in the towel teaching piano, because she’s outflanked by sports-crazed moms who can’t manage a touch down at weekly lessons.

Three magnet-posted schedules on the refrigerator tell the story:

Every other Wed. pupils
4th Tuesday adults
bi-annual Seniors

*RED-LINE REMINDER–Email parents article on how piano lessons grow neuro-linguistic transmitters (That’ll keep ’em comin’!)

Given this backdrop, I can’t help but wince at the pomposity of the opinion piece that needs a REALITY CHECK!

Hard-working, dedicated musicians and their shattered dreams is perhaps a more timely topic that happens to coincide with our government shutdown.

Take NOTE of this NYT expose, (published in 2004!) that rings out to crescendo levels! (“The Juilliard Effect, 10 years Later”) Imagine the tsunami impact if re-written and researched in 2013!!


Finally, most “serious” musicians are not in the 1% Bruce Kovner category, so their asset value pales by comparison.

In truth, those luminaries mentioned who started out as “serious” music students, managed to escape the grips of poverty because of their transferable skills.

Therefore, the embedded message in Ms. Lipman’s writing is, conscientious and attentive practicing will pave a path to the GOOD life once you pack and seal your violin in its case along with the carpet beetles!

And don’t look back!

About arioso7: Shirley Kirsten

International piano teacher by Skype, recording artist, composer, piano finder, freelance writer, film maker, story teller: Grad of the NYC HS of Performing Arts, Oberlin Conservatory, NYU (Master of Arts) Studies with Lillian Freundlich and Ena Bronstein; Master classes with Murray Perahia and Oxana Yablonskaya. Studios in BERKELEY and EL CERRITO, California; Member, Music Teachers Assoc. of California, MTAC; Distance learning and Skyped instruction with supplementary videos: SKYPE ID, shirleypiano1 Contact me at: shirley_kirsten@yahoo.com OR http://www.youtube.com/arioso7 or at FACEBOOK: Shirley Smith Kirsten, http://facebook.com /shirley.kirsten TWITTER: http://twitter.com/arioso7 Private fund-raising for non-profits as pianist--Public Speaking re: piano teaching and creative approaches
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One Response to NY Times: “Is Music the Key to Success?”

  1. LaDona's Music Studio says:

    Reblogged this on LaDona's Music Studio and commented:
    To which I might add an admission of extreme annoyance when people want their kids to study music for the purpose of getting smarter …


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