Saturday, February 23, 2013

Peacemaking and First Horn Playing

Throughout the year, the fellows have been lucky enough to receive a series of classes focused on leadership from NEC president Tony Woodcock.  A theme that popped up on a number of occasions in these classes was the concept of leading like a great second horn player.  This obviously resonated with me, not only because I am a horn player, but because the second seat is my favorite.  I love the fourth chair too, but there is just something about sitting second that challenges and inspires me every time.

The main job of the second hornist is to make sure the first hornist sounds like a million bucks.  If the first horn player is 10 cents sharp, the second hornist had better be 10 cents sharp too!  The second hornist must also be able to match the first hornist's note length, volume, articulation, and phrasing.  She must know the first horn part and player intimately.  Eventually the second hornist develops an intuition, and can anticipate how her first horn will play a certain passage.  This perfect union between horns 1 and 2 is also essential for the accuracy in intonation, blend and style for the remaining members of the section.

I'm a second hornist, musically and personally.  I'm uncomfortable in the principal chair.  I've never liked the spotlight.  My favorite thing to do is help other people shine, which would explain why I love teaching so much.  I believe my purpose in life is to love everyone, and in turn to let everyone know that they are loved by someone.  I'm not always successful at this, but I do try my best.

My second horn-ness is apparently noticeable to other people, too.  In a recent group exercise, the fellows had to come up with a word or metaphor to describe each person's role within the group.  Some people ended up with cool metaphors like "Galileo" and "Friendly Wise Goose" (100 points to you if you can figure out who that is!).  Mine was simple: "Peacemaker."  This made me incredibly happy.  That's exactly who I want to be, not just in the fellowship, but throughout all aspects of my life.

The next task of this same exercise was to come up with a word or metaphor representing a quality of which the fellows would like to see more from each person.  My amigos were trying to think of some way to express that they wanted me to feel free to stir things up a little more often, rather than always keeping the peace.  My dear fellow Diogo found a way to express this with which everyone agreed: "More first horn!"

This fit in with the theme of this year: step out of your comfort zone and do something completely different.  How do I do this?  How do I continue to embody my second horn harmonious and peacemaking values while not being afraid to take the lead and set the tone every now and then?  There was a point in time in my life when I played a lot of first horn (literally and figuratively).  I liked it then, and thought I was doing a good job.  Looking back, I was actually doing a terrible job and had no idea what I was doing.  What can I change now to make sure that I know I'm doing it well?

As I embark on this journey to Venezuela, I feel like I am further out of my comfort zone than ever.  I'm getting ready to go to South America for the first time, to a country where I don't speak the language, all the while trying to figure out my role in Sistema in the US as a musician, educator and leader.  I'm equally excited and nervous.  I can only hope to come home with a heightened sense of clarity and purpose (and a completed lecture-recital text, but that's another topic entirely).  Perhaps all of these exciting and unfamiliar experiences will help me channel my inner first horn, too.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful. And may you always retain the title of Peacemaker.