Arts Education Succeeds Either Way


Dobrina Dobreva doesn’t fit the stereotype of an arts school graduate. But she sees powerful connections between her Dallas-based immigration-law practice and her music education. After her 2002 graduation as a Violin major from Idyllwild Arts Academy, she studied Music Performance at Southern Methodist University.

The discipline of music education translates into any job. And with law you must be creative—every case requires a different approach.

As a musician, Dobrina can’t speak for all the arts. Nor can she speak for every family that wants a bright future for its children. Any one arts-school graduate’s story has only anecdotal value.
However, volumes of statistical evidence suggest that Dobrina’s experience isn’t unusual. Americans for the Arts has collected the numbers in one place. Here are some highlights:

  • Seventy-two percent of business leaders say creativity is the first skill they look for when hiring.
  • Students who take four years of arts and music classes average almost a hundred points higher on their SAT’s than students who take a half a year or less.
  • Students involved in the arts are four times more likely than their peers to be recognized for academic achievement.
  • Low-income students involved in the arts are more than twice as likely to graduate college.

Seeking explanations, Dr. James Catterall, of UCLA’s Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, and several colleagues found that the arts reach students with different learning styles, create feelings of connection and cooperation among students, and make schools exciting places for learning and discovery (

It’s no wonder that Dr. Steven Tepper, now of Arizona State University, gave an affirmative answer to the question posed by the title of his article, “Is an MFA the New MBA?” (

Of course, Dobrina Dobreva didn’t practice the violin for thousands of hours with a law degree in mind. Apart from the instrumental uses of arts training, the joy of creating beauty is valuable in itself.