Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Well the blog has been silent (for an number of reasons - mostly mine). I have moved away from the political arguments that populate the airways, they are far from intellectual. Passion, although a powerful persuader, it is an untruth when based on blind emotion or fear (ugly).

I have been a music teacher and in that capacity a musical director. The job of recruiting is vital to the success of musical ensembles - both large and small.

So among my honed skills is the ability to inspire, motivate, and persuade. Students had to chose my classes. There was no school requirement to take my classes (unlike math, English, etc.) Students had to want to be in my classes. My success depended on my ability to recruit.

The danger with developing skills of recruiting (persuasion, motivation, inspiration, faith in me and what will be learned) is that they can be based on emotion rather than real substance based on what is needed by the individual students. Each student comes with similar but different needs.

As the director of an ensemble I am pressured to do what will define my own worth and station in the academic community, it is easy to focus on the need of building a strong ensemble and losing sight of the needs of the individual.

I always looked for the best musicians. But, what if the experience for these already skilled students will be one of frustration and not growth? I need them; however, they do not really need me or the group.

Hence, the dilemma. My needs versus the student's needs. Hmm. . Now I am the true politician. Can I persuade the student I need to join my ensemble? What can I give them in return? Emotional praise? Guilt? Money? Wow! this sounds more and more like a beltway politician. Maybe there is little difference.

I fought this mental battle every year I taught. Having a great group that is outstanding in the eyes of my peers is a great desire. In opposition, having a group of weak musicians turn into a group of less weak musicians can be a real high but not a career builder.

Conclusion: Giving lip service to the real needs of the students while only servicing the needs of building a great ensemble is hypocritical but typical of anyone in power who wants to maintain power -- musical directors, theater artistic directors, senators, congressmen, clergy, etc.

Humans are so clever that to persuade around the truth is a real talent. More depressing is that the masses believe these people and continue the argument without any concern for where they have been giving these persuasions.

I am now retired and don't have to face this dilemma every time I need to build a performing group.

Let's not even talk about how we play the game of finding funding for these groups.