Sunday, November 29, 2009

A life unexamined

Time for questions; time to ask some serious curlies and I don't mean short
and curlies I mean the big questions.

Why do some people who work in music feel the need to bully, intimidate and
threaten their colleagues?

Why do people in authority feel that their authority is enhanced when they
bully, intimidate or threaten?

Why does bullying attract a sycophantic cohort of supporters who are clearly
lulled into a false sense of security, believing that the bully is their
protector?

How insecure is the bully and what makes the bully the way he/she is?

Why do bullies threaten those who take them on with vile consequences for
questioning the bully?

Was Hitler a bully? Yes, I believe so. Was Al Capone a bully? Yes, I believe
so.

Were Hitler and Al Capone pathological liars? Yes, I believe so.

Thus, dear friends in music, why do we need bullies in our lives?

We don't. We need to stand up to them and tell them that their behaviour is
completely unacceptable.

We need to be united against the pretenders and the fakers who only care
about themselves and not about music.

4 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. Hi Richard,

    Was reading Sarah Noble's blog which drew my attention to yours. I'm not surprised that it makes for very interesting reading and look forward to your subsequent posts!

    I do hope you're well.

    With best wishes from London,

    Derek

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  3. I came onto this site wondering if you were the gentleman's whose interview about musical instruments...I heard replayed on ABC 774 at about 4 am the other morning.... And if so to congratulate you on making the instrument alive to the ordinary listener. The talk previously had been about how the different composers developed their individual styles.

    It seems that most musicians (along with creative people in general) are more tense in their work, than less skilled people - but I think it is the heighten sense of awareness about everything that helps to perfect their craft.

    But hey, I find this confronting article about bullies on the music house - I'd never considered such a problem existed before.

    As a conductor, I take it you don't lead the group in the same way a manager, manages. I would have thought the conductor was in control and any sniping would be hit on the head as unproductive to the final production. How can a musician play to their best when they're been made unhappy in the workplace? Their mood affects their ability to concentrate and relax at the same time to flow with the music???

    I know only one professional musician, who plays the Bass and is, now I think of it, was a bit fragile in relationships as a younger person - but has matured enormously in the late 30s.

    As the original comment was made in November and it is now almost May, I hope that the reasons for the post has been resolved!

    I am looking forward to seeing you perform at the Malthouse performing The Threepenny Opera.

    Good luck sir.

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  4. Bullies are insecure people who don't feel as if they're worthy of respect. They feel that if the focus is kept on the performance of others it won't be on their own level of ability.
    Music is too much of a club and the industry, with notable exceptions, is filled with people who don't have much of a background in other areas.
    Also, making negative comments about a performer or performance makes one feel or appear more informed than those who don't make such comments - the implication being that others aren't perceptive enough to notice 'what's wrong with it'.
    This creates an atmosphere where everybody wants to appear informed and therefore relevant (but also sometimes inaccurate) criticisms quickly descend into nasty, personal comments.
    It is little surprise that classical music is dying out when the people who are in the position to keep it alive so frequently cut each other down.
    Of course it is necessary to have critical feedback, but it can almost always be stated in an objective manner where the solution is implicit in the criticism.
    While the sources of these problems are not all that difficult to identify, the solutions are far less easy to find. Careers in classical music are difficult - there is a perception that the soloist is top of the musical tree, and somewhere down the ranks are chamber musicians and orchestral players.
    Then, orchestral players need to 'win' their job and this, in itself, is enough to create unfortunate types of competition. Often, some orchestras don't appoint any new players at auditions despite having a pool of talent that is more than adequate for the role. This could be due to the voting process.
    Orchestral players also never seem to get much positive feedback - this creates a reasonably negative environment and leaders may feel as if they need to suppress their players to achieve their goals.
    The changes need to happen at the education level. We need to think about how music is taught and how to attain world class results without causing unnecessary pain. Sometimes people will still need a kick in the pants.
    However, most of the time people just need to have goals (of many varieties), be shown effective processes, have help in developing their lateral thinking abilities and assistance in developing their awareness of body and sound.
    If we can incorporate these basic elements into our musicians early on we will see the standard increase and probably some positive changes in attitude in our top level institutions.

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