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How can the corporate world benefit from including arts and music in their agenda?

Updated: Nov 19, 2021

What do music and business have in common? A whole lot, if you ask Peter Carrara, who is the current Chief Information Officer at Black Knight. In an interview with Forbes, Carrara said that his experience as a drummer for the band The Darrens fueled his success in business, especially in the field of Information Technology. Carrara was at the time of the interview the Managing Director of technology and operations for Royal Bank of Canada. “The infrastructure is the backbone of technology in a company—the network, the servers, the data rooms, the data centers—and a drummer is the backbone of a band,” he said. In his role with the Royal Bank of Canada, Carrara oversaw 400 people in the United States, Asia and the UK. 

And Carrara isn’t alone. Other business leaders and industry experts concur. In The New York Times article titled ‘Is Music The Key to Success?’, television broadcaster Paula Zahn said, “There’s nothing like music to teach you that eventually if you work hard enough, it does get better. You see the results.” Anyone who learned to play a piece on the piano or any other instrument will understand the joy that comes from getting it just right. This attitude goes a long way in creating a stellar work ethic as well. 

There are tons of leadership lessons to imbibe from music as well. In 1990, then-BCG CEO John Clarkeson wrote about leadership. He said, “The winning organization of the future will look more like a collection of jazz ensembles. Leaders will be in the flow, not remote; they will not be able to rely on exclusive decision-making authority; they will use the conflict among diverse points of view to reach new insights. The distinctions between composer/conductor/performer are eroding.” This is not to say that a jazz performer would be a great CEO. That’s not the only criteria for a top-notch CEO. But it does say that with knowledge of a jazz performer, a business leader can think and analyse his leadership style from different viewpoints. 

Let’s take a look at all the aspects of worklife that music can touch upon and improve. Here are the top three: 

  • Enhanced innovation and creativity 

  • Promotes happiness at workplace

  • Promotes overall well-being of employees 

Let’s take a closer look at each of the three aspects.

Enhanced innovation and creativity

There is so much science supporting the positive influence of music on innovation and creativity. According to a study by University of South Florida, six months of piano lessons can improve cognitive functions such as memory, information processing, focus and planning ability—skills that are critical for innovation. Imagine if just six months had such an impact, the benefits of a longer association with music are even more far reaching. 

We always hear phrases like creative problem-solving and thinking out of the box in job descriptions and requirements. Adding musical experience to your resume can bring credibility and heft to your statements claiming a creative bent. If you are looking for more experts to quote, listen to Daniel J Levitin. In his book, This Is Your Brain On Music, Levitin, says that musical activity stimulates every known region of the brain and every neural subsystem. 

Promotes happiness at workplace

Happiness seems pretty hard to quantify but there are numbers to back the idea that music at the workplace results in a happier environment for your employees. At Deloitte UK, 80% of employees taking music lessons felt more positive about their employer—making it one of the firm’s most powerful morale boosters.

If you are looking for new ways to promote a sense of belonging, innovation and appreciation among your employees, look no further. Music lessons and similar summer camp activities can help your employees unlock hidden potential. And the best part? You, the employer, can get all the credit for it along with happy employees who deliver good results at work. 

Promotes overall well-being of employees 

In 2005, a study by Barry Bittman MD and researchers from Loma Linda University School of Medicine, found that playing a musical instrument can reverse stress at the DNA level. This is no small thing when the estimated annual economic impact of U.S. worker stress tops $300 billion. These statistics are only set to increase as we go into a recession. Due to quick deadlines, new projects, constant expectation of excellence and innovation and a blurring of work hours and personal time, stress and burnout is something that all employers are thinking about. By encouraging employees to take up musical training or music lessons for fun, employers can go the extra mile in ensuring that their staff is taken care of. 

All these benefits make a clear case for the corporate world to pay more attention to music. Not to toot our own horn but we are convinced that if you give it a go, you’ll soon be changing your tune. 

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