“As a member of a quartet, you come to realize that you’re responsible for other people’s reputations and livelihoods as well as your own.”
–Michael Tree, violist (The Musician’s Way, p. 115)
Few things in life bring as much joy as collaborative music making. When we create music together, we ascend to loftier planes.
Still, such transcendent artistry grows on foundations of collective culture. Ensembles that sustain healthy cultures are primed to thrive; those that don’t typically crumble.
Here are 10 ways that ensembles can fuel collective success.
- Clarify your structure. Musical groups come in two basic structures: egalitarian or leader-run. A third form functions as a hybrid of the two. Be sure that every member of your ensemble understands which type you correspond to and what your individual roles are. Also, if your ensemble writes original material, earns income, or has a unique name or website, it’s wise to spell out your structure in a written partnership agreement.
- Articulate your mission. Is everyone clear about the sorts of music you’ll play, your long-term objectives, and where and how often you’ll rehearse and perform? See page 127 of The Musician’s Way for a list of 12 questions that collaborating musicians should ask themselves and each other to ensure that they steer in matching directions.
- Commit to professionalism. I distill professionalism into four elements: punctuality, preparation, courtesy, and integrity. When ensemble members abide by professional standards, they foster the trust and openness that are essential to mutual creativity. Update Nov. 11, 2011: See “The 4 Pillars of Professionalism.”