© 2020 by Breanna Ellison

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Centre d'Arts Orford Part I: Compassion : Patience : Musicianship

Updated: Dec 25, 2018

Part I:  Compassion : Patience : Musicianship


For two weeks in June from the 15 - 28, by recommendation of my teacher, I attended the octet seminar.  There were three individual octets with musicians of varying levels, some participants having decided only recently that they wished to attempt a career in music, and others already well on their way in their musical careers.  I'm not going to sugar-coat it:  in the past, this mixing of levels has proved to be an exceedingly infuriating experience.  You, the participant, are promised a certain level of playing, a certain guarantee of basic musicianship.  With this basis, you are able to surpass mere technical deficiencies, and learn of everyone's personality, creating this collage of conversations between the many and varied players.  This, in short, is chamber music.

When you pay for the workshop, pay for transportation, take time out of your summer of gigging and teaching to attend a festival with fantastic faculty, in hopes of absorbing every perspective-altering, musically-enlightening word, and are denied this in the process of unprepared individuals who also happen to be beginning musicians, one could quickly become very angry and even insulted.


Or, if one realizes that this is only temporary (that EVERYTHING is temporary) and remembers, above all, that people are people; humans are humans; musicians, even at varying levels, to some degree are always musicians, one could instead decide to uplift the group with compassion, understand their woes and sympathize with their struggles, and within the whole know the individual, the musical fractals that we are in the humongous picture of sound.  Remember (je me souviens!) that in the end, bitchiness is never worth it.  Anger and its subsequent actions are more often than not something that people remember.  Such strong, negative emotion hurts people and causes friction for something INCREDIBLY temporary (how long have humans been alive, in the grand scheme of our planet? I mean, REALLY).  I'm not giving larger-than-life analogies atop my soap box as someone immune:  I'm speaking from experience, that wonderful yet nasty little thing that is the true and ultimate teacher.  Have compassion.  Have patience.  Let go. See how it changes your world, both in rehearsal and in your relationships.  Cuz in the end, anger just ain't worth it.

If you enjoy this kind of mentality and perspective on the world and would like to know more about attaining and maintaining it, check out the work of Jeff Nelsen, international horn extraordinaire, former hornist of the Canadian Brass, (the most inspiring practically EVER) teacher, currently at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University.  I attended his week-long Fearless Workshop at IU in the summer of 2013 and greatly enjoyed it.  In a nutshell, it's a how-to-make-your-life-better-so-that-better-music-making-is-consequently-better-when-really-music-is-the-tip-of-the-iceberg-of-things-being-better workshop.  Check it out!  In the words of Jeff Nelsen, "Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!"