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Playing Piano With People: A Positive Pastime

Apr 23, 2008
Do you interact well with others? Do you take responsibility for your actions? Whether you are taking part in a board meeting or playing piano in a chamber music group, here are some examples of how not to react in a group project. There are, of course, exceptions, but these types of attitudes are unacceptable:

"I can't believe I'm involved with you in this project. You stink both mentally and physically."

"You're playing your instrument so loud. You need help, man. It's almost as if you're saying, 'Look how badly I play. Please offer me a teacher for basic training'. You sound like a dented fog horn. Actually, you kinda look like one too."

"If I never have to lay eyes on you again, then I'll avoid getting cataracts. Your work is sloppier than a monkey's finger painting."

The school of hard knocks actually has a place, but using it comes with unpredictable results. If you are absolutely desperate to finish a fast approaching deadline project with a partner that you can no longer work with, then there may be no option but to lay into them, especially if the person in question has exhibited repeated unprofessional and rude qualities. Perhaps a rude awakening will modify the person in question's undesirable behavior. On the other hand, a resulting vicious argument could erupt and escalate.

Having said that, you'll feel better in the long run if you take the high road. If you are in the process of severing business ties with an individual, a cool attitude, peppered with some class, goes a long way.

Of course, part of getting along with peers on a long term basis also involves avoiding a scenario that will exhibit insecurity and weakness. Let's turn to our chamber music friends again and consider the following comments:

"I know I keep on making the same mistakes. I'm so useless and I really can't blame you if you want to replace me. Sometimes I wish I could replace myself!"

"Something sounds wrong with the balance. It's probably me. In fact, I'm sure it's me... Is it me?"

Being a wet rag or a sitting duck for all of the complaints within a group can be a huge problem. No one wants to seriously be involved professionally with an insecure team player. This type of attitude most certainly invites ridicule and all the other components involved in bullying.

So how do our chamber music friends strike a perfect balance in what is usually a very long term relationship, and how does this all relate to you? For starters, being secure in your craft, without being arrogant, is crucial. Whether you're a pianist, string player, woodwind player, or advertising executive, you must have solid viewpoints that are open for discussion. Mutual respect is the name of the game amongst flexible-minded professionals.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, it does help to like people. They're not so bad, and they're all you've got. I know, "What about pets, fancy gadgets and other cool stuff?" Well, that's true, but I don't ever remember having much success at playing in a piano trio with my brother's dog on violin. Also, last I heard, my car won't fit into our teacher's staff meeting room.

Being a confident people person is the first step in establishing rewarding and valuable group tasks. Have fun interacting!
About the Author
Come and join Daniel E. Friedman at www.musicmasterstudios.com for assistance in music education and comprehension.
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