How Musical Skills Affect IT

by Dmitry Kirsanov 16. February 2012 12:17

Music notesAs you know, I am a trainer, among other trades. As my Swedish colleague said – “your guitar has many strings”, and this string is of the most important ones. Among other benefits, this allowed me to meet many bright minds of IT scene and that way to get more material for analysis and correlations.

One of the most fascinating and unexpected findings for me was the fact, that musical skills are directly related with the ability of person to write better computer software. In other words, there were no bad software developers among those whom I knew or heard about and who also were good at playing musical instruments.
I am not even talking about composing of music, or singing, or dancing (which, at some degree, could be considered a musical skill, isn’t it?), just plain performing.

As always in such cases, I asked Google whether others noticed that as well, and found quite interesting reports of correlation between music and math, even though I believe that math doesn’t play the paramount role in software development process or other IT skills, or at least it’s role isn’t more important than the role of creativity.

My opinion is that software development skills are affected by any creative work, where creative means – having vast amount of variations, preferably infinite, with natural possibility to get unique result.

In this sense, music is ideal candidate – when you hold the instrument, having 6 strings of Spanish guitar or 88 keys of the piano, the amount of variations of what you can do with it is countless. The power of musical improvisation is tremendous for development of open mindset, which is paramount in both software development and architecture.

Have you noticed, that many software developers have Rubik’s cubes on their desks? It doesn’t matter whether they are skilled in assembling that thing or not – it’s there, waiting for it’s hour, catching the eye of it’s owner. The original Rubik’s cube has about 43,252,003,274,489,856,000 variations, that’s 43 quintillions, from which you have to find the path to a single predefined position. It’s a caged spark of creativity and logic, an exercise for the brain. The musical improvisation, on the other hand, has no limits at all, having no predefined beginning or ending.

Still, music is based on logic, the same as math and software development. So practicing music is practicing logic and harmony, which is a big advantage towards anything related to logic. The style, if any, is not important, as what seems like chaotic cacophony for one, could be perfect melody in perception of others.

Overall, I consider musical skills to be of extreme importance for educating a child, regardless of her future path and preferences. Also, speaking about HR, I would consider musical skills as a benefit when employing someone to position, which requires logical thinking, for example – software developer, analyst, architect, quality assurance specialist – they all have to have the established skill of logic, and having musical skill is like wearing a badge of achievement.

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