Creativity on Campus: Why Songwriting Sets You Up for College Success
With the upcoming song contest and Songwriters Show, we definitely have songwriting on the brain. For those students (and parents!) with something else on your minds, though – college – you’ve probably got a mental checklist of what’s needed for that new adventure: ambition, good study habits, a mini-fridge...
But when you head off into that next chapter, don’t leave your songwriting in the past. The skills you apply when writing and performing a song, such as creativity, perseverance, and the ability to self-edit, are valuable tools that will help you succeed on campus and beyond. Here’s how.
Songwriting, by nature, is creative. In an ever-changing world, creativity and the ability to imagine and adapt are being stressed as essentials skills for the future — and colleges have taken notice:
“Universities and colleges have established task forces on creativity (the University of Alabama is one example); hired arts “czars” (as at Columbia University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill); created new trans-institutional or cross- domain centers and institutes (as at Vanderbilt University and the University of Illinois, Urbana–Champaign); and adopted courses, fellowships, or learning experiences focused on creativity (as at the State University of New York at Stony Brook and Ball State University)”.
— Steven J. Tepper, “Taking the Measure of the Creative Campus”, associate director of the Curb Center for Art, Enterprise, and Public Policy and assistant professor of sociology at Vanderbilt University
This skill will continue to be valuable long beyond college, too. A poll of 1,500 IBM CEOs found that they named creativity as the number one “leadership competency” of the future. “Creativity” continues to be a top-trending term on Linkedin, year after year. In short, this skill extends beyond the stage and can be applied for the rest of your life.
The ability to edit.
“To write is human, to edit is divine.” These are simple but brilliant words from Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. By the time they enter college, students have been thoroughly schooled on the importance of editing: correct your grammar, clarify your message, make sure your essay flows. Editing is so much
more than that, though. It’s revisiting your work, analyzing it and improving it until it truly shines. Every songwriter who enters our contest, performs at our shows, or writes in their lessons has done just that — tweaking a lyric or a note, sometimes tirelessly, until it’s just right.
This skill will be quite useful in college, where the expectations for written works are high, but it will also be very helpful for getting into college. During a Q&A with the New York Times, a Princeton Admissions officer said that “the best applications come from students who have spent time writing their essays, editing their work, and refining their message.” Refine your message? That sure sounds like songwriting.
Angela Duckworth, a MacArthur Fellow and University of Pennsylvania professor, has delivered both a viral Ted Talk and bestselling book on the topic of “grit.” Her findings, in a nutshell? Children’s current and future success didn’t correlate with innate talent or even IQ. Rather, the most successful children were the ones who were the most determined. This determination is key for college and career success.
In a recent article for the Chicago Tribune, author/reporter Eric Zorn echoed this sentiment, listing “perseverance” as a key to college achievement. “College amounts to an attempt to fulfill a lengthy succession of goals,” he said, “some of which you set for yourself, some of which are set for you by others. Realizing these goals requires that you make plans and stick to schedules, even when you’d rather be doing something else.” Sticking to music lessons, writing a song from start to finish, and performing at a show all demonstrate perseverance.
We love that MW students of all levels are writing music. Creating music, rather than just playing music written by others, is at the heart of the Meridee’s Method. Books like Chord Crash Course and our music journals and songwriting journals, paired with the training all MW teachers receive, are all designed to empower students to learn, create and express themselves. Meridee has always said, “if you can write a song, you can do anything.” We have no doubt that you will all create, edit and persevere your way into a bright future. (We’ve love that we get to listen to you along the way.)