Thursday, July 2, 2009

An Important Lesson

Recently, the conductor of the New York Philharmonic (arguably the best orchestra in the nation) retired. Or rather, stepped down from conducting The Orchestra full-time. (People like him don't ever retire, do they?) As I listened to him talk during an interview, Lorin Maazel revealed two interesting and related facts: first, he and his wife raised seven children, and second, at the end of seven years, the musicians told him that they had waited in vain his entire tenure for him to raise his voice at them.

He went on to explain the principles that tie both of the above facts together:
  • He knows who he is as a conductor and he takes charge. He doesn't survey the musicians, asking for their input, coming across as uncertain. He has a clear vision of what the music should sound like and he is stubborn and persistent in sharing that vision with his musicians.
  • He respects those he works with, and because of that does not see a need to raise his voice or shake his hand at them, as conductors are infamous for doing.
  • Finally, he doesn't say "Don't." Rather he emphasizes "Why don't you try this instead."
Truly profound wisdom.

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