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Letter to the Editor: Arts add value to education

I recently read an article titled “Nobel Medicine Winner Says: ‘I Owe it All to My Bassoon Teacher’” (Lebrecht). The title caught my attention, as it wasn’t that many years ago when I had the challenge of finding a professional bassoon musician to mentor a high school student for the summer, wondering if there was anyone who still played the bassoon.

While I recognized the passion of a bassoon musician, my thoughts drifted to another fact I recently read in an issue of Scientific American, “Nobel laureates in science are 17 times likelier than the average scientist to be a painter, 12 times as likely to be a poet, and four times as likely to be a musician.”

When is the magic moment that turns an average scientist into a Nobel Laureate? Could there be a hidden key to success found in the arts?

As I continued through the article, I found that Thomas Südhof, a Nobel Laureate, was asked, “Who was your most influential teacher, and why?” He answered, “My bassoon teacher, Herbert Tauscher, who taught me that the only way to do something right is to practice and listen and practice and listen, hours and hours and hours.”

An opportunity for a student to have an influential teacher like Herbert Tauscher, or a mentor in sculpting, playing guitar, painting, or any of the arts, exists in the nine-county region served by Lake Region Arts Council (LRAC).

On Nov. 1, students in grades 9-11 will begin applying for the next LRAC Artist Mentor grant round. All students who apply will compete with other students in the region the first Saturday in March for an opportunity to study with a mentor or attend a specialized arts workshop next summer.

While we cannot all become Nobel Prize winners, we can encourage students to learn to develop their powers of analysis and concentration.

Whether it is painting, poetry or music, an Artist Mentor Grant is a great opportunity, and just might be an opportunity to learn about an important key to success.

Connie Payson

LRAC Artist Mentor Coordinator