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Which is more important; level of education or years of experience?

Recently an institution I work with has adapted a "talent management" system of determining a person's pay scale, title, etc. Many people who have held a job for years may have their jobs "down-graded" due to lack of educational degrees even though they are top in their fields with 15 or more years of experience. In a talent management approach, which is more important; talent gained through education or talent gained through years of doing the job?


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  • May 16 2013: Hi Kathi,
    I've noticed strange things happening with education and employment these days (in the Netherlands, where I live).

    A friend of mine graduated from the music conservatory, with the equivalent of a Masters Degree in music, and a qualification to teach. He has been teaching for over 20 years at the same music school, but recently was told that his diploma was no longer sufficient. He was required to take extra courses for a 'new' diploma (paid for by his employer, thankfully).
    So neither his experience, nor his education was sufficient for him to continue doing what he was doing! I thought it odd, almost like a money-making scheme... Since when are internationally-recognized diplomas suddenly no longer adequate?

    In my personal situation, I am a self-taught professional. What I lack in education, I make up for in experience. In fact, I have learned more from hands-on experience than I could ever have learned in a classroom. Fortunately, I am able to perform my skill without the need for any papers. Perhaps, there is a difference in experience/education in creative professions, as opposed to technical/business/scientific professions?
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      May 18 2013: I think that the problem of teaching ourselves something is that we usually miss something, not every one misses something but it is really hard to not do it. I took guitar lessons when I was younger, I really loved guitar but I hated the "education system" so I just quit, and started to learn by myself, It was a great decision, I've learned so much over those 6 years teaching myself, but when I got into jazz band I could not keep it up with the songs and et cetera. Why? Because I missed something very important, musical theory, which I thought that was very boring, so even If I had a lot of experience, and played better than many of my peers, I did not have the same fast reaction to a piece of paper that had weird symbolism as they did. So I think that the fact that you are required to have a degree is to make sure that people do not miss stuff like I did.
      • May 18 2013: I couldn't agree more, Pablo.
        I teach voice, and try to make music theory as fun as possible, which it truly can be!!! I guise my students in coming up with their up with voice exercises based on tonal scales, for example, which motivates them not only to practice, but to remember the theory!
        Music theory is, besides music itself, the language musicians speak. You need to speak that language in order to communicate at a professional level, I agree.
        As I said, I am self-taught, and found the motivation to learn theory on my own. I think if music theory were to be taught differently, more people would persist. I know too many potentially wonderful musicians who share your story, Pablo...
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          May 18 2013: Do you teach kids? If you teach kids I am glad to know that you are not letting them follow the same path that I did! many people see me just as a lazy kid, but the fact is that today I am trying to put my theory knowledge on the same level of my skills, something that I did not do before because the "magic" of musical theory was killed by a teacher who did not do his job very well (or he did, but not in a captivating way for me), and as a 9 years old kid, I just decided that I did not need that, and quit! After a year I started to play on my own pace and playing what I found interesting, and as I saw my progress I thought more and more that I really didn't need the "written stuff", but as soon as I started to play in group I noticed that the naive stereotype that I created in my head as a kid held me back for many many years.

          Looking back to my bad experience, I think that teachers should innovate more, not just in the music section, but everywhere. They should ask what they students want to learn about instead of just going with a schedule that they programmed hundreds of years ago. I never enjoyed when the teacher told me that I had to play "Happy birthday", or "The Star Wars theme", I believe that everything is more interesting when you put a little bit of yourself in it and let people adapt to their taste.
          That's why android platform is more successful than IOS (just kidding).

          Anyway, I think if I had a teacher like you I would be a different musician today, make sure that your students never fall in the monotonicity gap!

          Cheers, Pablo.
      • May 20 2013: Pablo, I couldn't agree more!!
        I just replied to your comment on another conversation, about storytelling, Actually, a good teacher is a good storyteller! Like you said, all a good presenter really needs is passion, and having passion for what you're teaching is in my opinion, perhaps even more important than the knowledge.
        It is such a shame that your experience with music theory was so negative. It can truly be fun and exciting! I am working with a student now, who wants to write music. I can see by his excitement, when he understands how the theory can be put into practice, and how the song can come together! He takes the song we work on during the lessons to his band, who then write out the notes so they can play it together. It is immediately a successful situation, one everyone can participate in and enjoy!

        Thank you so much for your kind words. But you have never lost your love for making music, regardless of whether you have the technical know-how or not! There are many many examples of well-known, even legendary musicians who can't read a single note. Does the name Chet Baker mean anything to you, for example? ;)

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