where there is trust, there is music

This is a great way to spend 20 minutes being uplifted and inspired. Scottish conductor Charles Hazelwood talks about (and conducts) how integral trust is to making music.

And to being in a spiritual community, which is what a really good musical ensemble experience should be.


Now that you’ve watched that, here’s a discussion topic: Maestro Hazelwood certainly has rigorous criteria for who plays in his orchestra. As Ronald Reagan put it, “Trust, but verify”. Do you audition prospective members for your choir or ensemble, or are they open to anyone? If they’re open, how to you establish that trust? And what is the trust based on, musical ability or bringing spiritual gifts?

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About liberalreligiongetsloud

Contemporary Music and Worship Director (retired), First Unitarian, Albuquerque NM
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2 Responses to where there is trust, there is music

  1. Susan says:

    Lovely video, and on the Ted website, the recommended “what to watch next” is one of my favorites: Benjamin Zander on music and passion. There are some interesting overlapping thoughts and sound-bites in the two videos, including references to South Africa, the “TED choir,” and the fact that a conductor creates music by being silent. Toward the end of his talk, Zander talks about his own experience as a conductor, and his realization that his job was to empower others to make beautiful sounds. How does he know when he’s succeeding? By the shiny eyes of his performers.

    My choir is open to all, though I’ve had a few singers try it out and then drop because they were overwhelmed by the music. Those who have stayed run the gamut of choral experience, so I rehearse music in several modes: sightreading, aural echo, count-singing, verbal cues and explanations, listening to recordings. I know that some of the singers will pick up the sounds faster than others, but I give plenty of encouragement, acknowledge successes on the spot, and trust that the singers with less experience are learning more and more each time they come to rehearsal and each time they sing on Sunday morning.

    Susan Peck, Portland OR

  2. Beth says:

    Brilliant. Thanks for posting this. I completely agree with what he says about trust. Both the fact that music making relies on it and builds it.

    I do not audition my choir. It is open to all. We are clear that “the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.” There is a wide range of experience and “ability.” And many different learning styles. I think people learn about that trust from the climate of the ensemble. Trust is high. I can’t tell you how many times singers have told me, after a particularly challenging musical project, “well, I really thought you’d lost it this time.” But they stayed in there and accomplished more than they’d imagined they could.

    I am continuously humbled by the realization that in order for it to work, the singers have to trust ME. These are not professional singers. I am always asking them to step out of their comfort zone and stretch. So they have to trust that what I’m asking them to do will be possible, worthwhile and won’t make them feel or look foolish.I do all I can to deserve their trust.And I trust that they will give it their best shot.

    They have to trust one another. Listen to one another. Respond to one another. If that trust breaks down, the morale suffers immediately.

    I think the trust is built on the shared experience and the fact that, mostly, we grow together and get better. We share exquisitely beautiful moments of music making. And sometimes we share embarrassing mistakes. And we name those mistakes with honesty and humor and try to move on.

    I think we all know that what we can create together is much greater than what any of us can create individually.

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