Kids & Success: Is music the key skill?

This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series Kids & Success
Richard Sheridan of Menlo

INTRIGUED BY RICHARD SHERIDAN AND MENLO? Click on Richard’s photo to learn more about the unusual culture that fuels this highly successful business.

Could music be the key skill for our children to be successful in today’s world? You may think I’m being facetious, but music could be the key to success as a software programmer or designer. Keep reading to find out why.

If you’re skeptical, I don’t blame you. Most Americans say that music is a pretty unimportant skill in today’s world.
Of the ten skills that Pew asked about in a recent survey, music ranks second to last place. Only 24% of Americans say that music is among the most important skill for our kids to get ahead in today’s world.

Americans with a high school degree or less place music in last place; those with at least a college degree give it 7th place. There are some minor differences of opinion by race. Black and Hispanic Americans are slightly more likely than whites to say music is a key skill.

With such a consensus against music as a key skill, why would I claim that it could be?

It turns out that many software programmers, designers, and engineers have a background in music. I learned this from Rich Sheridan, CEO of Menlo Innovations, an innovative software development firm in Ann Arbor, MI. A musical background is so common that in interviews he routinely asks, “What musical instrument did you play?” The reply is usually astonishment at the question, followed by the name of instrument.

It’s easy to see why music is an important skill for a programmer or designer. You have to be precise. You have to be able to focus on minute details and understand how many different parts fit together. You need a good sense of the big picture—how the entire orchestration works and unfolds over time. These are good skills in music—and in technology.

If you have a musical background, has it been helpful for you?
Could music be one of the underappreciated skills for success today’s world?

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