Sunday, September 16, 2007

stepping up

There are several things I know I'm good at, in the realm of leadership. I know I can be diplomatic, I know I can play devil's advocate and see the validity of any and all sides of a particular problem, I know I can talk at great length with some eloquence, I know I can see both long-term and short-term goals with clarity and how to approach both. It's for these reasons that I've never felt uncomfortable taking charge of a chamber group and helping to structure it both musically and professionally. In fact, I think it's because of these traits that I feel most comfortable in chamber groups: I have the luxury of input and control over my own show (as opposed to being in a symphony and having little say in the artistic direction), but I also have the quality ideas and energies of my fellow members, who diffuse some of the stress and spotlight of doing the music business alone. Of course, any chamber group is only as good as the relationship between its members, but I think with the right group of people it's the most rewarding experience I could ask for.

I've been holding back from taking too much of a leadership role in CSB since I moved to Albuquerque, mostly because I was feeling unsettled and unsure, and also because it seemed like there was an even distribution of leadership among us. I think that's true to a certain extent, but it seemed like we were all holding back from something. While either we were getting frustrated with each other or just focusing on our individual tasks, there wasn't much forward motion in the group. Last year, as I sat in a meeting with my old professor who had agreed to coach my trombone quartet, it was mentioned that, democratic as a chamber group may be, it needs someone to step up to the plate as unofficial leader in some way. Whether that leader simply delegate tasks to other members or have a large say in the direction of the group depended mostly on the personality and make up of the group in question, but either way a balance needed to be struck in order for the group to function effectively. I guess we Westerners are just helpless without our precious direction from someone else.

Long story short, after several conversations about various aspects of the group's frustrated forward progress, and after having delved into my new bible (The Musician's Business and Legal Guide), it all just came spilling out. This is the group and the musical direction I've wanted to take with my professional life since my first foray into chamber music. Why would I waste all the time and the money I've spent to get out here and get this started just because people were frustrated, when I knew I could fix it and make things move forward? I'm no stranger to leadership and I'm no stranger to stating my mind.

I can fix things. I am a fixer.

And a leader.

I feel good for doing this. I feel stronger and more competent and ten times more hopeful than I did yesterday, or last week, or even when I moved out here to start this crazy ride. This will work. This will be an experience I can use and hold near for the rest of my life. This is what I want to do.

Okay. Pep talk over. Let's quintet.