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Symphony: Individual Performers

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In a symphony, there are no individual performers.  There can’t be.  The whole point of a symphony is individual elements coming together to form a single cohesive vision of piece of music.  Violins all coordinate to execute in perfect synchronicity and unison, blending to create a single voice in which none of them stand out singularly.  This sound blends with the other strings and brasses and woodwinds who all play separate parts, but in similar unified fashions to produce yet a larger and broader artwork.  Not only does each section have to coordinate perfectly, but then all the sections combine as well.  If just a single individual performer tries to stand out – play a bit stronger than the rest in her section – the whole section comes apart from its fluidity and that also drives the entire symphony.

You say to me, “how can strong individual performers be bad?”  In fact, they are not.  Strong individual performers are great – the problem is the “up-stagers.”  Strong individual performers go back in their hundreds of hours of practicing violin with the rest of their section and they each improve.  In effect, the perfect strong individual performer is a collaborator that improves the rest of the group.  Don’t get me wrong, the strongest performer is usually rewarded as the section lead, so there is absolutely recognition involved here.  What is bad is the guy who goes out on performance night and tries to be stronger than he ever has been in practice.  His section inevitably sounds bad, and that drives off the sound of the entire symphony.

Individual performers must collaborate to create a benefit to the organization.  It is the up-stagers, the ladder climbers and politicians that destroy organizations.  Encourage and find ways for your top talent to collaborate.  In bringing their innovations to the group, they make everyone else better, and their leadership will always be recognized.

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One response to “Symphony: Individual Performers”

  1. Trish Avatar

    What an interesting concept. It makes me wonder about how I am viewed in my department. I think I’m a symphony musician, but others may view me as sometimes being a soloist. It’s a fine line to walk….
    Great post.