I am connected to many projects in which professional musicians try to work in participatory and inclusive settings. They invite people to join with them in their playing, to influence their decisons; they want to know what their audiences want from them, what their needs are, their opinions; they want to make music which fits them like a glove or which poses them the questions they never thought of but need to answer urgently.
And that is great.
But deep down – and sometimes not deep down but right at the surface and even blatantly open - there stays that other tendency in professional musicians: the need to feel special, to be the best and the biggest, to be exclusive, to stand out.
And so it comes that I talk with a former student about a project she was involved in, some years ago. The project was about participation and inclusion, about sharing and about empowering; the students – our future professional musicians – worked, together with teachers, in a circle with the participants, reacted to their ideas, built something together.
And the former students tells me: “I was sitting in the circle and I knew I was not appreciated. I knew the teachers felt I was not delivering enough quality, that the other students were much better. I knew that the other students felt that. I knew it all, and I felt I had no real place in the circle.”
Not exclusive enough to be included.