Hillary Clinton really stirred things up when she said it took a village to raise a child. The truth is she is right. We all know that. Every parent has outside help in child rearing and unless they are fools, they welcome it (if it is positive of course). Here is an example: the other day, I was going through security with my son David at the airport. The TSA agent took a minute to give David a little math lesson and then a little etiquette lesson (she refused to let him through until he looked her in the eyes and talked to her). I stood by bemused and appreciative. I welcome that kind of help.
Of course, Hillary’s village might look very different from our village, and I can see why people would be concerned by her vision and the role of government in it. But the title of her book at least is dead right.
It is true for music too. It takes a village. I was reminded of that when I saw this particular cartoon yesterday.
This is silly, but the truth is that while conductors are important, they are not as necessary as you might think. I have watched orchestras make beautiful music without conductors. I am somewhat bemused by the celebrity status that some conductors cultivate as if the vast majority of the expertise is not sitting in the seats actually playing instruments. Give a good orchestra a downbeat to get started and I promise they will almost always do just fine without a conductor.
The real message here is this: we don’t need to take ourselves too seriously as musicians. We are a cog in the wheel–everything does not depend on us. Relax a bit; enjoy the music. And don’t get proud.
Because in church and in most musical situations, it is not just you. It really does take a village to make good music.