Analytical and creative thinking are ‘most wanted’ by top companies

Analytical thinking and creative thinking are considered the most important core skills by companies, according to the Future of Jobs Report 2023. Companies surveyed for the report also believe demand for creative thinking will grow by 73% in the next five years. “There’s more of a focus and an interest in having people with analytical thinking, people with creativity,” Saadia Zahidi, Managing Director of the World Economic Forum.

All the students at our school are bonded by a love of music, which makes Chetham’s a truly unique place to be, but not everyone chooses to pursue a career in music and so it’s important that they acquire transferable skills that are valuable in any workplace.


The American musicologist Leonard B. Meyer once wrote that ‘analysis is what happens when we attend intelligently to the world’. In other words, it’s a basic function of the human mind that enables us to make sense of our surroundings. Most of the time, this is an unconscious process, but in more complex environments, we have to engage more actively and deliberately in analysis, especially when we are faced with something new.

In terms of music, analysis has many levels; a performer must first decode the meaning of the notation on the page in order to bring a piece to life; a listener, either consciously or unconsciously, will try to find patterns of repetition, opposition and similarity, maybe building a kind of narrative that makes sense of the abstract contrasts that a piece of music embodies; a music student, faced with scores of works that have been set by exam boards, must learn to dissect like an anatomy student, in order to see what the structural bones of the piece are that hold it together and how they have been covered with the tissues and surface that make it both functional and aesthetically beautiful. Why must they do this? To be able to imitate what they admire about it in their own compositions and then use those ideas and techniques in new ways; to bring their own understanding to the performance, discussion and interpretation of the music of others in a way that uncovers previously unidentified truths about it.

Music analysis moves from the simple aural identification of what instrumental sounds are being combined through to an appreciation of how, say, Beethoven’s approach to sonata form is a critique of what was conventional in his day. Music analysis allows us to concentrate upon details – melody, harmony, rhythm, texture, structure, dynamics – and then build a picture of how these combine into a convincingly integrated whole.


All our students are given room to be creative and are encouraged to experiment with composing and performing their own music, with many going on to win awards in composition. Composition and Music Technology are one of our fastest growing courses for sixth form, and both teach the confidence and skills needed to make exciting new work. But creativity isn’t limited to writing music… A great example of a Chetham’s alumni with outstanding creativity is Sarah Nicolls who studied here from 1988-92. A pianist seeking new sounds, she recently invented the Inside-Out Piano enabling the use of the instrument’s strings as much as keys when performing. We were thrilled to hear that she has won one of the 2023/24 Women in Innovation award from the UK’s national innovation agency, Innovate UK, for inventing the Inside-Out Piano. Sarah, who will be visiting Chetham’s soon to meet current students, said: “I want to encourage young students, and especially the girls at Chetham’s, to go further in their ambition to imagine and succeed beyond what might be already laid out for them.”

Analytical thinking and creativity are at the heart of what we teach and encourage, and this ensures students are ready for whatever career they choose, whether it’s related to music or something else entirely. What they learn here is, evidentially, going to be in more demand than ever before in the years to come. It’s incredibly important to us that we equip students with a wide range of skills, so they have endless possibilities when they graduate. Find out more about studying at Chetham’s.

Chethams Summer School 2023


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