To Professionalism!

I’ve been traveling a bit. While I was at a music festival, there was a composer who was frustrated that things weren’t working as he wanted. Efforts were being made to accomodate him but obviously not enough was being done to appease him. He made some rather rude comments, loudly, in the concert hall in front of other composers, students, performers, and other attendees of the festival while storming out.

I don’t really condone that kind of behavior. I don’t find it very professional and I don’t think the wronged composer was doing anything to help attain a positive outcome to the problem. We have all been “there.” The piece isn’t well rehearsed, the performance falls apart, technical glitches happen, communications have gotten lost, all sorts of things can happen that lead to our work being presented in not so very good circumstances.

So how do we deal? Do we stomp our feet? Yell and scream? Will those things really affect change in the situation? Will they bring about a greater understanding of the situation? Or do they alienate and put people off more, making them less likely to want to help out or work with us in the future? I tend to think that flying off the handle does more harm than good. Sometimes you just have to roll with it, make the best of a bad situation, and chalk it up to experience.

The hard part, of course, is balance. You don’t want to be a marshmallow about everything. If something isn’t going well, I do think you can express your dislike. Shouldn’t it be done with decorum? Shouldn’t it be done while maintaining respect for your fellow professionals (or students who are learning to be professionals)?

I tend to revert to “marshmallow” in the moment. I’ll carry my anger and disappointment on the inside, not wanting to make waves. Surely there is a middle ground, though. Hypothetically, if your performer shows up 45 minutes late, hasn’t really practiced the piece much, skips about 70% of the notes in the fast passages and doesn’t seem to care about it, I think you have the right to be upset. Is yelling and screaming the answer? Is stomping off really the best thing to do? Or do you suck it up and go on with your life?

I see us as all interconnected so I tend to choose sucking it up and moving on. It might feel good in the moment to yell but the long-term ramifications are, in my opinion, much worse than if I just play nice and move on. Bad performances are temporary. Bad behavior among your peers is forever.

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3 Comments

  1. Posted November 15, 2012 at 11:07 pm | Permalink

    30/30 Rule (unless there is a situation as you described above where there is a lack of respect coming from the performer to you). 30 minutes or 30 miles away before you start talking smack about them. I had a band performance go horribly. But, they tried. They were a community band and rehearsal time came at a premium. The piece didn’t resemble what I wrote. But at the end, I stood up, shook the conductors hand, took my bow, sat back down for the rest of the concert. Then I got in my car, drove away…and exploded. But as far as they were concerned, I handled it with grace.

  2. lawrencedillon
    Posted November 16, 2012 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    I like your philosophical response. I always figure we should all be so lucky as to get as many bad performances in our lifetime as Beethoven gets every day.

  3. Posted November 18, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    Civility is always appropriate.

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