Thursday, March 24, 2011

Love What You Do

I’m reluctantly about to play the “I’ve been around a long time and learned a lot” card. Sometimes things are so obvious we miss the presence of poignantly clear and valuable information. The conducting and masterclass tour that began exactly one month ago is coming to an end in a week, and those obvious things that can be so easily missed have now become clearly visible through the course of this musical junket.

After a week of dog sleds and reindeer far inside the Arctic Circle in Lapland, I started work with the fantastic brass section of the Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra; it was a week of pleasure and gratification. Finally, also in Tampere, Finland, I had two full days of masterclasses with the brass players of the Tampere Conservatory. I was amazed at the openness, quickness, and positive enthusiasm from both the professionals in the Tampere Philharmonic brass section and among the students in the conservatory. Maybe because of the relaxation from my Lapland vacation or maybe because I’m just more experienced in the art of observation, it was clear that the brass musicians I met in Finland really loved their work.

The tubists in the brass ensemble, Harri Miettunen, of the Tampere Philharmonic and Harri Lidsle of the Lahti Symphony and my host for the incredible Lapland adventure, are perfect examples of highly respected players and teachers that adore their work; this positive approach to music has had enormous influence on the students, which was abundantly audible during the Tampere masterclasses.

A hidden benefit of loving ones work in the music profession is that it can morph into that hard to define aspect of charisma. I once wrote an essay called “CHARISMA” (See my blogs), and asked if it can be taught, perhaps loving what one does is the key to teaching that very valuable, yet elusive aspect of music performance and teaching. Arnold Jacobs, who clearly loved both playing and teaching, generated both musical excellence and charisma, it radiated from him even through a telephone conversation. Maurice Andre has it, as do Christen Lindberg, Steven Mead and many others, just to mention a few from our brass community; their love for what they do supports their charisma.

Then there’s the dark side. I have a very dear friend and valued colleague who frequently said, and I fear believed, “A good musician is a scared musician”, what a miserable philosophy for pursuing the art of music.

And reflecting on myself, I hope I also have these positive qualities and a love and passion for my work. I know I am increasingly enjoying teaching and I know that my students are getting better, but quickly, I must remind myself that all students everywhere are getting better.

I feel safe in sharing my joke with my readers, I call it “My secret”, but please remember it’s a joke: I hope to live a lot more years, I hope to live so many years that I will be able boast that all tubists in the world and half the brass players have been my students.

I love my work.

Started in Tampere, Finland, March 10, 2011. Finished on a train between Zurich and Lausanne, Switzerland, March 23, 2011