Economics and all that Jazz

When I was young I wanted to play jazz piano like Duke Ellington and having driven the household mad with my tuneless thumping on my mothers old upright it was decided that I should take piano lessons. After a few weeks of Bela Bartok the novelty wore off. “But I want to play jazz”. To which I was told, until I could play the piano properly I could not play jazz. This has been held up as a universal truth – if you don’t know the rules you cannot break them. The breaking or bending of the rules in jazz is based on a real understanding of the way music and instruments work – the rules. If you look at the early work of Picasso he new how to paint before he explored cubism and abstract styles that broke or bent the rules.

At university I became aware of Marketing as a discipline, if that is not an oxymoron, and having struggled to get to get to grips with accounting and basic economics I suddenly discovered a love for study. It was no surprise having taken an general business studies degree I continued to take an MA in marketing and joined the faculty. I very soon discovered that the most challenging students were those that had an A level in Economics – particularly as I have been a duffer. I had already developed the view that Marketing was the bastard son of economics and operated in the grey areas and exploited the exceptions to the rules.

Today I cannot remember the last student that I took who had an A level in economics and teaching Marketing has become harder. How can you teach people how to bend the rules if they do not know the rules? I try to lay the basic foundations of economics, but I am not an economist and as contact hours decrease and the syllabus increases there is an inevitable gap between what needs to be taught and what can be taught. But we have e-learning – but don’t get me started on that!

By the way I took up the guitar and later in life gave up bashing out the twelve bar blues and learnt to play the classical guitar from which I get great pleasure – but have still not mastered jazz!

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