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Mark Burke is CEO and founder of mynddset

Idealists, Creatures of Habit and Connectors

By Mark T. Burke

Come on…you know a fellow music teacher in each of these categories..right?

The Idealist..a music teacher who teaches what should be taught because music is an art, we must know the classics, we must pay tribute to those who built the foundation our art stands upon and all kids must understand German 6 chords and must recognize a minor 3rd from an augmented 2nds…and…Well..moving on.

The Creature of Habit…those who teach music today the way they taught music 10, 15, 20 years ago because they designed the curriculum and the curriculum is approved and life is to hectic to change because they have to get the kids to soccer and to the ….. sorry, I couldn’t stop.

Over the last few months, I’ve been out and about connecting with people from all types of programs, schools and organizations.  What I’ve learned from connecting with the community is that the community has very clear needs and is quite good at articulating those needs.  While much of my current work revolves around young entrepreneur development, music and the arts often bubble to the surface.   What I’ve heard loud and clear is that communities who are actively growing and improving, have little time for “Idealists” and “Creatures of Habit.”  Those communities put high demands on anyone they trust to help them grow to become great places to life and work.  Justification for actions and decisions come from listening and connecting those actions with real need, people and plans.

In our efforts to build better educational and music programs, we benefit from reaching out to our communities and asking…”How will we benefit from what we are teaching?”  If our communities can not answer that question, then we haven’t been doing our job as “Connectors.”  In today’s budget constrained schools, music offerings must provide more than history lessons of dead composers. How can we make that connection?

More and more, I hear communities tells stories about how we need thinkers.  Communities are worried because overwhelmingly, kids aren’t demonstrating the ability to think.  To often, they say…”Just tell me what you want me to do.”  Idealists love that learning challenge.  Creatures of Habit just keep spitting out assignments.  Both, continue the trend of building kids who can’t think.

Connectors however, link what kids are doing to what they can benefit from within the community.  How can you be a “Connector?”  First, go to the Chamber of Commerce and talk to the staff about what skills employees are seeking.  Connecting what you do in music with those skills will help build open lines of communication.  If you don’t believe music can change the world, then you will find this tough…maybe even impossible.  If so, teaching music isn’t the right job for you. Next, visit the Arts Council.  Talk about the role arts plays in tourism and the overall economy in your region.  Take those lessons back to your music rooms.  If you don’t like what you hear from the arts council, start a connection by offering to help them write a new story over the next few years. Next, connect beyond your parent group.  Seek out local authorities and businesses that will support your efforts to create a new program.  Of course, you have to create the program first.  Map out how the effort will impact the community, go back to the Chamber, the Arts Council, listen, connect, make the program into something your community could never turn down supporting.

The Connectors…those who teach music as a way to enhance lives throughout our communities. One who learns through listening, constantly adapting to the needs and ever-changing world we live in.



Mark Burke is the founder of Music Within Me.  Mark applied his experiences as an Artrepreneur, starting Music Within Me in 2008, one of the worst economic times in history, in a course for high school entrepreneurs called EYE, the Entrepreneurial Youth Experience.  Mark presents throughout the Central PA Region on the benefits of Entrepreneurial thinking, and innovations in education.  Mark’s TEDxWilliamsport Talk on Hybrid Learning can be viewed on the TEDx YouTube Site.



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