Sunday, December 5, 2010

Fact Finding

This past week, we've been talking about case-for-need documents in seminar. While Baltimore was filled with hands-on experience of working with children and seeing the difference music makes in their lives, this week we are focused on how the planning process can be the difference between success and failure.

As musicians and teaching artists we take so much for granted. We forget, or may even be unaware, of the amount of work that goes into planning to make our programs possible. If you work in a large arts organization like an orchestra, music conservatory, or even for a small music school or community music initiative, chances are you are aware of some of this to a degree. Theory of change and return on investment are two things I am focusing on this week. So many of us know about the benefits of El Sistema, so many of us are music education advocates, but how many of us really know about the theory behind the approach? How many of us can articulate well how music education can impact a child's world?

If you can change the possible outcomes, if you can change the educational trajectory of a child's life, that is the key element out of which everything else is driven. We can hypothesise, we can predict the outcomes, but part of our design is to study our own outcomes and that is where our successes await. "Organizations that are built well are built to learn".

Right now I am thinking a lot about outcomes. I am thinking a lot about attempting to change people's behaviour over time. That my friends is the "art of the possible".

I realize after all these weeks of seminars that I am in a "fact finding state". This of course is just a stage in the planning process, but I know now that it is an important stage. I am figuring out what it is that I can build, and more importantly, that I want to build something that can bring about change.

I feel that a lot of what we have been covering in seminars this year has been exploration. It is only now that I feel like I am at a "point of departure". This is the stage of development that I am in right now, and I look forward to sharing with you more on where I go from here.

I am starting to think like a program director and am filled with ideas worth building. I just want to end by saying this:

"That which can be built can be improved" I look forward to sharing my 'notes' with you.

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