An Embarrassingly Unscientific New York Times Op-Ed on Music and Success

Rice pianoA recent New York Times op-ed by Joanne Lipman poses the question: “Is music the key to success?”  As a serious amateur musician, I have long credited my half-way respectable pianistic accomplishments to the discipline I gained practicing Chopin etudes, and even to the teamwork I developed practicing Beethoven piano trios.  In fact, I frequently pull out these arguments when trying to convince my children to practice piano, although once you have to make a “piano practicing makes you more successful” argument with your children, you know you’ve lost the piano playing battle.

Tired of my own anecdotal arguments, I eagerly read Lipman’s op-ed to find out what scientific evidence would say about the topic.  Instead I was greeted with a whole series of anecdotes.  Lipman writes: “Look carefully and you will find musicians at the top of almost any industry.”  Then she lists illustrative examples: Woody Allen in the movie industry, Paula Zahn in news casting, Larry Page at Google.

Pretty strong evidence, yes?  Not really, when you realize the huge number of successful people in all those industries who don’t have serious musical training… (Read more and view comments at Forbes)

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