Craig Cortello's Learning Story


Six years after graduating from college, I transitioned into a sales career. I was given the task of selling material handling equipment in a territory that ran from South Carolina to Maine along the east coast. I can tell you unequivocally that nothing that I learned in a textbook prepared me for selling equipment to scrap yards in some of the roughest neighborhoods in the country. I came to believe that the greatest adolescent experience in preparing me for success in my career was my involvement in music – the creativity and innovation of composing and performing, the teamwork and collaboration of playing in a band, the confidence of standing in front of an audience, and the discipline of mastering an instrument.The tendency toward reliance on the narrow assessment methodology of standardized testing comes at a time when the demand for more creative, holistic, or “whole-brained” thinking has never been greater. Daniel Pink, John Kao, Michael J. Gelb, Steve Case and others are documenting this trend and testifying of the need for educational reform.My experience prompted me to write a book on the subject entitled, “Everything We Needed to Know About Business, We Learned Playing Music,” a compilation of profiles/interviews with 32 CEOs and business leaders advocating music education as an instrument of their success (Sept. 2009). We identified 9 common lessons of music that translated into success.The National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) and the Fender Music Foundation have endorsed the book and universities are expressing an interest in using it as a career development guide for music majors entering the workforce. I am concerned, however, that the evolutionary pace of the elementary education system is inhibiting the appropriation of resources to the extent that we can expose music education to the masses. It’s not about turning all of our kids into artists ‘ it’s about making them more well-rounded professionals in any occupation. As one local music professor here in New Orleans recently told me, we are good at developing students identified as prodigies into artists, but the system is broken in terms of broad access to music education from ages 5-10.As I speak to music educators across the country, they consistently ask that I get this information in the hands of those who have the ability to impact education policy. I have complimentary copies of the book set aside specifically for that purpose.Let’s keep the music playing!Craig M. CortelloThe “Business Musician”