KITCHENER — This city's focus on live music and technology as key drivers of economic growth received a major boost yesterday when a national study was released here touting the broad-ranging benefits of music education for the digital economy.
The Information and Communications Technology Council released the study, called Music — A Catalyst for Technology Hubs and Innovative Talent, in the high-tech heart of this region, The Tannery in downtown Kitchener.
Jeff Leiper, the council's vice-president and head of research, said the report is informed by interviews with about two dozen high-tech workers, more interviews with two dozen high-tech firms and a careful review of the findings from many other reports and studies.
Leiper said the research strongly suggests that a good music education in childhood leads to creative thinking, critical thinking, better social skills for collaborating with others, higher marks in English, higher marks in math, improved memory, better motor skills, boosts self-esteem and stimulates both halves of the brain — the analytical and artistic sides — better than anything else.
Leiper said the research also shows a strong association between lively music scenes and technology clusters.
"Jurisdictions around North America, including Kitchener in Ontario and Austin
in Texas, make vibrant music scenes an explicit part of their economic development pitches to tech companies," says the report.
The study makes five recommendations — provincial governments need to invest more in music education in schools, curriculum must identify the connections between music and technology, parents need to be informed about the benefits of music education, all levels of government need to improve the quality and diversity of cultural industries to help develop economies, and a national organization is needed to collect information on the benefits of a music education for technology workers.
The council is a not-for-profit that does research, policy development and talent solutions for the digital economy.
"Every parent in the country should be getting this message," Leiper said. "Every teacher in the country should be getting this message."
Leiper said the council wanted to release the study in Kitchener because the city links live music with economic diversification.
"We know that Kitchener is trying to diversify its economy beyond manufacturing, we know that it wants to build a strong tech cluster," Leiper said in an interview. "And they have very explicitly said: 'Music is a way to help us do that.' That's exciting."