Panel Discussion at National Guild Conference

Last weekend, I had the pleasure to participate in a panel discussion at the 69th Annual Conference for Community Arts Education.  This was sponsored by the National Guild of Community Schools of the Arts

The title of the discussion was, “Sustainable Partnerships Between Community Schools of the Arts and the Music Products Industry.”  Executives from Steinway & Sons, Roland and Yamaha Corporation of America were on the panel with me.  The moderator was David Peters from Electronic Courseware Systems and Indiana University at IUPUI.

The basis of my comments was “how do we define a relationship or partnership?”  The definition that I like is” A relationship is initiated by similarities; built on common interest but sustained through mutual benefit.”  I discovered this in a business book some years ago but failed to notate the source. 

I would venture to say that for many of the community schools and the music products industry, most relationships are at the “common interest” level.  The schools require instruments and instruction materials and the music products industry supplies them.  How do we elevate the relationship to one of “mutual benefit?”

Certainly there is a mutual benefit when we are able to encourage more students to become active music makers.  And it is to our mutual benefit when these students (and their parents) learn to distinguish the difference in the quality of instruments and editions.

However, to truly establish a level of mutual benefit and to sustain partnerships, we must begin with one simple step – start to talk to each other.  A simple dialog – such as those begun at this conference – between tow sides makes an extraordinary difference.  Neither side will ever understand the other's needs unless we ask, “What do you need?  How can I help?  What can we both do together to help the students?”


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