A much harder question to answer than one might think.
I have been stuck on coming up with an adequate vision for MGen for the last 2 years. I actually attribute us not moving forward as quickly as I'd like due to my not being able to define what it is we actually want to do!
In my head, I know. Empower people through music. Tailor your learning experiences. Make music accessible. Connect people through cultural exchange.
'There you go Meera! There's your answer!'
Nope. These are missions.
What is a vision?
- project 5-10 years in future
- dream big and focus on success
- use present tense
- infuse you vision statement with passion and emotion
- ideally, should be your slogan
I've been ALL over the shop, the computer thesaurus has been my best friend. Some different ideas I've been exploring / came out with:
- Music is within reach to every community of every circumstance
- There are no barriers to music education
- Everyone can self-actualise through music
- Music education with immeasurable reach
- A global community of musicians
None of these however were sticking right. Our course leader, Michelle Wright of Cause4 is encouraging me to get into specifics, don't be vague and be genuine. And she's absolutely right. The above are simply phrases that sound catchy and meaningful but in actuality are just a tad (or a lot) on the cliche side.
Yesterday though, I had a break through, a lightbulb moment. And it's all thanks to my wonderful colleagues Ashlee Clapp and Sam Osborne.
One of my favourite phrases to use when discussing our work is "music as the catalyst" for anything and everything. At MGen, it's not about the music your learn but what you experience while learning it. Does it help you with self expression? Did you make friends in a band / ensemble / choir setting? Did you find value in it outside of regular academics?
I'm a huge believer in art for arts sake, but that concept isn't relatable to everyone. The benefits of music are widespread, and at MGen, we don't aim to create brilliant musicians (unless that is a students personal goal). We aim to create community, confidence, happiness, using music as a tool.
So from there, I came up with this phrase:
Music is the foundation for a community of dreamers and leaders
It's not perfect. I didn't particularly love it, but I loved it's sentiment and it finally felt like a step in the right direction. I spent the rest of the day bombarding people. Here are the reactions I got:
- "the word leader detracts from music from music education and simply learning an instrument"
- "Leaves me wanting to know more"
- "Should be more future looking"
- "Swap dreamers and leaders around – end on the action"
- "Music provides the foundation for dreamers to become leaders sounds better"
- "Buzzwords / content is nice, but structure is clunky"
- "Music AS the foundation"
- "Should be seen as a continuing force, not just the foundation for, glue type concept"
- "Excessively quaint, pretty and sentimental (twee)"
- "Leaders feels exclusive – maybe innovators?"
- "regular, active engagement in music fosters leadership and creativity"
- "leader makes the program sound rigorous and not fun – appeals to parents with high expectations of kids"
- "resilience, creativity, community, empowerment sends a more welcoming leadership type message"
This was a fascinating exercise. I asked a range of people and yet, seemed to get quite similar, like-minded responses.
I've ascertained from this that the words 'leader' and 'foundation' need to be replaced, and while to concept of 'music as a tool' was embraced and people liked it, the way the information was presented leaves room for improvement.
If you're reading this and have thoughts on that above statement, please send them too me (firstname.lastname@example.org), all feedback is welcome, positive and constructive.
A huge thanks to everyone who put up with me yesterday asking these random questions. Writing a single sentence about your utopia is damn difficult, but I'm lucky to have supportive, caring and engaged people in my life who help make it easier.