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Wednesday, November 15, 2017


I was at an international conference last week, about conservatoires. I was leading a workshop on audience engagement, or audience development, or similar phrases, visited by people mostly in a managerial position, I guess. The workshop boiled down to the idea that rather than thinking about audience engagement, we should probably think about the engaged musician; and rather than thinking about audience development, we should think about musician development - or even conservatoire development.

Nothing new or remarkable, really.

A colleague from a conservatoire far away then said: "I have given up the idea that I might change the conservatoire, or the orchestra, or any organization. If I can add anything at all on a small level, I am content."

I recognized what he said. And I remembered that, not so long ago, I had emphatically declared that I did not want to give workshops in this kind of context anymore, because although they were often received favorably they didn't seem to make much of a difference in the end.

Hearing my colleague from the far-away conservatoire, I realized that the sole fact of thinking that I might make a difference on a larger scale than making a small difference for a particular individual at a particular time can only be characterized as hubris. As if I am that important. As if it is not healthy that individuals are not able to exert such an influence. And as if we all not know the perils of individuals who want to be influential in a more major way.

And I realized that me being part of the conservatoire world - albeit reluctantly and in a 'one foot in, one foot out' manner - means that I have to make my contribution to the development of that world, although it is as limited as I suppose it is. Precisely because it is as limited as that, maybe.

Nothing new or remarkable, really. It is just simply that I apparently occasionally need a wise colleague from far away to remind me of the basics of a working life.

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