CTE Inspiration From The World of Music

One of the ways I’ve been coping with COVID stress is to listen to more music. Sometimes going to my collection of well-worn CDs, but more often searching YouTube for tracks I haven’t heard. It occurs to me that there are some parallels between what I’ve been exploring and the world of CTE.

Connecting The Past with The Present

One of the things I’ve found to be fascinating are the “reaction videos” on YouTube. The premise is simple: Take a young person, someone born in the 90s or 00s and introduce them to the greatest bands and music of the 60s and 70s to get their first reactions. As examples, watch No Life Shaq react to Black Sabbath’s War Pigs, Andy and Alex react to Rush’s Spirit of Radio, or The Jayy Show react to Elvis Presley’s In the Ghetto. They’re fascinating because these people were born decades after the songs premiered, so they have a completely different musical frame of reference. In many cases, they’ve spent their lives immersed in a completely different musical style. No Life Shaq listened exclusively to rap before he decided to explore new and classic styles.

The CTE takeaway for me is that our students have a very different frame of reference than we do. It can be both fun and eye-opening for them to experience the best of the field’s past. Introduce your culinary students to the life of Julia Child. Whose first foray into cooking was to create a shark repellant to keep them away from underwater explosives – still used today! All the while working at a spy agency in World War II. You could take your auto tech students to a classic car show. Giving them a look under the hood at the beautiful muscle cars of yesteryear. The opportunities are endless.

Synergy Between Genres 

The other thing I’ve taken note of is, for lack of a better word, fusion music – songs where artists representing two different genres collaborate on a song, or an artist from one style of music covers a song from another. For example, anyone who reads this blog knows I’m a huge Barry White fan (see here and here), and I was blown away when I saw him sing My First, My Last, My Everything with Luciano Pavarotti. Other great examples include Willie Nelson and Ray Charles singing Seven Spanish Angels, or Hawaiian singer Willie K singing Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah.

Synergy Between CTE Programs

The takeaway here is the importance of breaking the silos between CTE programs in your building, giving students with different skill sets a chance to work together. How closely do your agriculture and culinary students work together? If you have an interior design program, could they take on culinary’s dining area as a project? Can robotics and auto tech work together on the FIRST Robotics Competition? There are countless opportunities once you think about the complementary nature of many of these programs.

Music has inspired countless numbers over time – hopefully it can also inspire your program work.

Brett Pawlowski is Executive Vice President of the National Center for College and Career Transitions (NC3T) (www.nc3t.com). NC3T provides planning, coaching, technical assistance, and tools to help community-based leadership teams plan and implement their college-career pathway systems and strengthen employer connections with education.