In classical music, we spend very little time talking about leadership. We do spend virtually all of our time talking about technique and musicality. Yet, almost all of our work involves other people--from a recital (with collaborative pianist) to chamber music, to late Romantic orchestras. Even a solo recital has multiple moving parts with the stage and the audience. One can always tell the ensembles with excellent leadership...the musicians are happy and fulfilled, thrilled to perform for an audience. Most of us have had widely divergent experiences--professional music grants us the opportunity to experience the best and worst in leadership.
If we find ourselves as the one people are looking to (and if we are a founder, we necessarily are a leader), we must embrace that responsibility of leadership. In doing so, we have to put 1) the people and 2) the music above our own careers. We must reflect on and determine what is right--and make that our single goal. We must choose leadership and choose the more difficult route of persuading others to follow us, rather than forcing them because we handle their pay.
Leadership also doesn’t just happen in front of an ensemble. It can also be the last chair, the newest person. If we have a vision of something better and the intention to build the group up rather than yourself, we can inspire even the crustiest and most jaded of musicians.
To me, music lives in the abstract and soars in the why. While the what of technique can impress, moving life-changing performances only happen when music can take flight and soar in the why. Being a leader in music means tapping into the ensemble and the audience’s why. With stunning technique in great abundance, there is nothing more important in the modern field of music than helping others leap into that realm of why, the place where dreams live and a better world begins.
"Leadership is not a rank. It's a choice."
[*From here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCsaTsIhSDI but if you can’t stand the music in the background, he makes similar points here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ReRcHdeUG9Y]