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The Problem With School

TEM Blog

The Entrepreneurial Musician Blog by Andrew Hitz featuring articles on being an entrepreneur in the music business. Show notes for The Entrepreneurial Musician Podcast.

The Problem With School

Andrew Hitz

In a couple of hours I am going to talk entrepreneurship with students at my alma mater, Northwestern University (which has me in one hell of a great mood!)

I'm going to start with some bad news for them:

The skills required to excel at school bear very little resemblance to the skills needed to "make it" in today's music business.

At the beginning of every college class, each student is handed a syllabus which contains everything they will possibly be asked to know for a grade. In fact, if a professor ends up lowering a student's grade for something not on the syllabus there is an appeals process that students can undertake to get their grade restored. It involves committees and panels and lots of paperwork.

A syllabus is basically a checklist. Everything you will be tested on. Everything you will need to read. Every deadline. When the class will be completed. They are all neatly contained in one place.

How nice.

But the Real World (which we capitalize to scare you) looks absolutely nothing like this. There isn't a checklist. There isn't a reading list. There aren't deadlines established for you that can't be moved under any circumstances. None of it.

Here's the good news: Just because you aren't required to use these skills (to not only complete a college degree but to actually excel) doesn't mean you aren't allowed to use them. As with playing the drums or composing music, when you first start to utilize some of them you won't be very good at them. At all.

Which is exactly why you need to start before the world requires you to start. As in today.

Anyone who is any good at charting their own path wasn't good at it before they got good at it. (Deep, right?)

So what are you waiting for?