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Perspective: Opening Doors of Opportunity

Mike Lawson • Commentary • April 16, 2014

Studying music can lead to many exciting career possibilities

By the time you read this, most of the high school seniors in your schools and districts will have received the much-anticipated piece of mail that will shape the course of their lives: college acceptance letters. Hopefully all of your students are on the way towards matriculating and making their academic dreams come true. Certainly, their resumes and applications have been strengthened by participation in your courses and ensembles, whether at the elementary, junior, or high school level.

Much is made of the lifelong benefits of musical study, and for good reason, but there are also plenty of tangible benefits to consider as well. By now, you have probably heard the story of Kwasi Enin,

a Long Island high school student who has made national headlines for an incredible achievement: he applied to and was accepted by all eight Ivy League schools. Sure, he was an excellent student with a healthy array of interests and activities, including theatre, sports, and even student government. But his college essay, a draft of which made its way to The New York Post (of all places), focused on one particular “passion” that apparently had a tremendous amount of sway with Ivy League admissions officers: his love for music, and how his participation in that activity fueled his intellectual curiosity.

“I directly developed my capacity to think creatively around problems due to the infinite possibilities in music,” Enin writes in a draft of the essay published by the Post. Enin was a stalwart in the William Floyd High School music department, singing in an a cappella group and playing the cello in the chamber orchestra.

While it may be unlikely that your students will follow in Enin’s footsteps – he was even invited to read the “Top 10 List” on The Late Show with David Letterman – it can’t hurt to think of music as a means to an awfully desirable end, one that can open doors to a career in any number of disciplines that are eager for curious, creative, intelligent problem solvers like Kwasi Enin.

Likewise, this issue’s cover subject, Adrian Anantawan, has involved music in his intellectual pursuits at Ivy League universities and beyond, applying his inquisitive intellect to initiatives that aim to better understand how people learn, grow, and connect through music making.

Being a lifelong performer can be wonderfully rewarding – and the skills endowed in school music ensembles certainly enable that end – but as you make the rounds recruiting and sowing the seeds for next year’s crop of students and beyond, don’t forget to promote the many other doors in life opened by musical study. 

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