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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Hodges

Musicians? What Do WE Know?

Updated: Nov 10, 2023

There is a view that everyone is musical. This might, in some people's minds, be difficult to accept, however time after time, when you give an adult a musical instrument, one who strongly believes they have no talent, their inner child rapidly materialises and they find that music just appears. A reaction of astonishment is frequently the case.

Music is an innate human quality. Music carries within it the ingredients which make us Humans such a successful species. In some of us the qualities may be somewhat dormant but by developing them with an eye on The Musician's Way Model, this can lead to a highly motivated and skilled workforce.

So diving in a little deeper, musicians are expert planners, decision makers, problem solvers, & communicators. Team-building & leadership are innate elements of The Musician's Way. The Musician's Way is a means of looking at what it is to be human in a more flexible manner and opens up the possibility of healthier and more creative interactions between team members.

One way or another, musicians are flexible in their response to each other. For example, when they play together, they lead themselves and but are also led. How they choose to respond to each other in different situations depends on a variety of circumstances. Ultimately they bring it all together to perform a piece of music. Playing music involves being responsive, collaborating and co-operating, leading and letting go, stepping forward

and back, accepting and processing error, being supportive and nurturing, working hard to improve their skills, being aware of detail whilst having a sense of context, handling pressure, nerves and anxiety and hopefully producing a good outcome.

​This is what happens in the musical context. Musicians are very conscious of all of these elements and work hard to develop their abilities in these areas. In terms of The Musician's Way Model, musicians experience the intuitive and the practicalities of the rational. Following the other path in the model, musicians can experience both being powerfully led by the command of the baton, and the sublime openness of the emergent where almost no framework or structure is envisaged.

When these processes of interaction are applied to non-musical settings, it becomes possible to see that there are musical ways for groups of humans to interact effectively when handling life's non-musical issues.

One thing is clear with musicians and indeed in many other performance art disciplines there is always a sense that "The Show Must Go On!". Musical leadership at certain times can be leadership 'in the moment', guiding complex simultaneous activities. Musicians will lead themselves and their 'team'; their band or orchestra, in a variety of different styles to suit the piece. The leadership style must 'fit', relate to what is happening now, with a sense of what's coming towards them, hopefully leading to the best outcome. Use the wrong 'style' of musical leadership and 'it just doesn't happen.'

Musicians have to make 'choices' constantly, as we've already mentioned; "the show must go on". Unexpected things happen. Mistakes are made. We might even make things up to 'cover things up'. But musicians will 'make it work'. Making music is done in many, many different styles and in many different ways. At one end of the scale it's highly organised and at the other seemingly chaotic. Skilled musicians are able to work, respond and make music in all of these different territories and scenarios.

Some musical scenarios are large-scale and others very small and intimate, just as there in non-musical arenas. Many things are at work in the mind of the musician on many different levels. At one level they might be individuals with a specific role to perform, but at another time they connect and respond to a much larger tapestry, working in very large groups who then appear to be acting 'as one'. The musical outcomes are often composed and written down at one end of the musical spectrum, whilst at the other the creativity is completely improvised. In terms of the creative process, published musical pieces don't as it were, magically appear on the paper. Musical musings precede everything. Pop bands offer ideas to each other and capture them by laying down tracks which are worked on later in post-production to eventually create a product which can be sold or shared. However these products could not exist without the preceding improvisation and crafting.

So this is the way musicians produce a product. Taking a look at the ways we have available to us to bring it all together stretches far beyond the field of music. All it takes to begin with The Musician's Way is courage.

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