To learn here, you must play a musical instrument.

 Photo taken at Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesien West in Scottsdale, AZ on June 12, 2013. 

Photo taken at Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesien West in Scottsdale, AZ on June 12, 2013. 

While in Arizona I visited Taliesin West a home by Frank Lloyd Wright in Scottsdale.

Taliesin West was Wright's personal winter home, studio and an architectural campus. He began the home in 1937 with his students; Taliesin West is still the main campus for the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture. 

For 22 years the students lived alongside Wright and made constant additions and improvements to the facility. While there, the students worked all day and were subject to Wright's rules of conduct. And those rules?

  1. All of his students had to play an instrument.
  2. They had to attend formal dinner parties every Saturday (and perform at those dinner parties).  
  3. Additionally tea was held twice a day with Wright, his wife and his students. 

Though these rules may seem absurd today, I fully support the spirit behind them. What do they say to me?

  1. Have many interests. Though I would not want someone to dictate what my outside passions should be, I like the idea other skills were celebrated on a regular basis. In the US we are often defined by our jobs. I find it interesting that Wright required his students to learn unrelated skills while learning career skills.  
  2. Collaboration is important for success. The students had to collaborate for their school work, but they also had to collaborate for performances. If you're having issues with someone, you may be able to see where they can be helpful to you in another arena.
  3. You must be able to communicate your ideas. Many of the people who attended the formal dinner parties were not associated with the school. They were friends and family of the Wrights and oftentimes this included the Hollywood elite. Attending formal dinner parties with people outside of the architectural world would force you to prepare conversation topics. I imagine the guests would be interested in the weekly progress, but wouldn't want to be bored with the details. 
  4. It is important for management and staff to have regular interactions. If you're regularly interacting it is easier to discuss difficult topics and share opinions. A simple concept, but one that is rarely applied at work.

Wright was an architectural genius and quite famous; he could make these requests of his students and still have many students willing to participate in his program. Though I would balk if any employer required me to learn to play an instrument I can fully get behind an employer requiring me to have an outside hobby. That would be interesting. 


Thanks for reading. All of the articles on are by Virginia Ingram, a freelance writer, account planner and digital strategist who is consulting in the marketing, social media and caregiving world. She writes regularly here and on If you would like to read something similar, choose from the tags and categories below. If you need help communicating to the people most important to you, you should hire Virginia