I believe it was wise to introduce and begin to work through my Zone One, Personal Entrepreneurship. Referencing again, Bill Green’s excellent definition of entrepreneurship, “we understand entrepreneurship to mean the transformation of an idea into an enterprise that creates value—economic, social, cultural, or intellectual, “ in Zone One, the individual becomes the enterprise, and it is h/she who then creates value through h/her action.
We spent considerable time on the topic of branding: what branding is, and how it can apply to an individual. As an exercise, I adapted an activity from Tina Seelig’s work. I asked the students to design a professional letterhead that included at a minimum, their names and contact information. I told them that they could include marks or design elements. After they finished I asked them to share their work in small groups, then as a group choose one that was particularly apt. They then reported out to the entire class.
In general I was not impressed, but also not surprised. From my experience, music students tend to be the most tentative when asked to perform an open-ended, creative and/or personal task. As I explained to them, their educational background, especially in music, has been characterized by being told what to do, and by working every day to sound like somebody else. Yes, this is an exaggeration, but essentially true. Music students are rarely challenged to find their voices, develop their own interpretations, experiment with existing works, etc.
Their assignment for next week is to ask 2 individuals who know their playing or singing and ask them, what it is about my playing or singing that makes me distinctive? And to ask 2 different individuals (not their mothers), what is it about me that makes me distinctive? For extra credit (!), they can develop their letterheads and submit their summaries on them.
Our discussion at the end was a bit tired, but did include an excellent exchange on which musicians and musical ensembles have effectively (honestly) developed brand equity, or a distinctive quality that defines them.