The Music Academy of the West in Montecito California brings together the next generation of symphony musicians every summer to learn and perform. The musicians come from all over the country to study enormous volumes of music, play with exceptional colleagues, study with master musicians and conductors, and practice to achieve excellence.
This summer the Music Academy of the West has gathered another group of exemplary musicians from universities, music schools and graduate schools. Similar programs such as the Banff Music Festival and Aspen Music Festival gather other top musicians to study, learn and polish performance skills for the ultimate goal of playing with a symphony.
The Music Academy of the West offers six weeks of performances at local theaters and at their performance halls in Montecito, CA. The performances are moving and energizing, but I have found what I love most of all is watching the master classes.
Three to four times a day, music fellows gather in front of an audience for a class with a leading musician from a well known symphony. I watched a cellist from the Los Angeles Philharmonic support cellists polish their solos, a bassoonist from Rice University instruct 5 bassoon players in developing their techniques for different operas, and a clarinet player from the Cincinnati Symphony assist five top clarinet players prepare for symphony auditions.
I learned a lot about music. I also learned about the dedication it takes to play at this level: hours of practice, focus, rehearsal, studying, refining and improving.
I realized as I watched and listened that there are very few professions where we openly critique each other like we do in music. How often do you pull five of your top staff members out and ask them to do one of their most difficult tasks in front of 50 people, ask them to openly receive suggestions for improvement, and then ask them to try it again and again while everyone watches!
Can you imagine … a CEO calling out her/his COO, CFO, CHRO and CSO to work on a new initiative/skill in front of everyone? Giving feedback, asking them to practice it again, and the COO, CFO, and CSO all enthusiastically waiting for the opportunity to learn and practice until they get it right with an audience!
I think there is something to be learned from the musicians of the world. I appreciate the hours of practice, determination, sacrifice and motivation it takes to be a performer. I also appreciate that great musicians want feedback, appreciate feedback, know that the path to success and performance is getting the best feedback from the best in their field.
How can you provide the best feedback possible to your team? What do they need to practice with your support and feedback so they can perform to the best of their ability in their roles? If nothing else, go listen to great musicians and ask them…how did you learn to receive feedback so well?
Let’s talk about how you give feedback. Contact Polly
Photo: Bassoonist, Jon-Erik Chandler, Cleveland Institute of Music