Since graduating and joining the "working world", school seems like a distant past which I Ieft only 18 months ago. It is a place where one can learn and develop one's craft. It is a safe haven to fail and to experiment. It is a community to meet and make friends and sometimes, even get spoon-fed with opportunities. And most importantly, school empowers us with knowledge and information.

However, there are a multitude of things a student does not learn during his/her student life. Having been through that phase and now going through what we call the "working world", I do sometimes wish I was in school where I need not have to worry about adulting - I just need to keep practicing to play and sound better. But there is so much more that adds to musicianship than just having lessons or practicing to four walls every day.

Yes, having lessons helps one become more proficient with technique, more informed with interpretation, sound better as time progresses - all the necessary tools and skillsets for an individual to become a better musician and survive outside of school. But becoming a better musician isn't just about focusing on personal abilities - it is about being a team player, and is something that schools don't explicitly teach (these teachings can and may implicitly come through the form of chamber coachings etc, but there is no class called "Being a Team Player" for students to enroll).

And how does being a team player help? Let's take school orchestra for example - something I'm sure most students detest.

Most students hate orchestra rehearsals for a variety of reasons - common ones being boring, or they would rather want to spend the time on their pieces, and even plainly thinking it's just a waste of time (I've been-there/done-that before so if you're a student reading this, you can't deny it). And because of this, many students come in unprepared and even are sight reading at the first rehearsal, possibly even up till the concert! And to make it worse, peer pressure does affect the psyche of friends and because of this influence, many students tend to take on the herd mentality of orchestra rehearsals and their importance - this creates a never-ending spiral of negativity. And what students don't realise is that professional orchestras do not work the same way as school orchestras do - in fact, do that and you may never get called back again (as I almost faced that situation).

If every student, being a team player, came in prepared and ready to go from the first rehearsal, the conductor will be able to rehearse more efficiently and effectively, and the orchestra can actually focus on making great music than fixing personally issues like tuning or being rhythmically accurate. Why do you think professional orchestras sound good and work well? It's because of this team player mentality that everyone has. They know their role in relation to the music and organisation and they know what to do. But of course, I am always painting an idealistic world in my mind, and it will take ages to change the mentality of students and school orchestras (I'm not even sure if anything WILL change!). One of my school band conductors (who has become my colleague) always said to us, "The band is only as good as its weakest member" and I find some truth in that statement! It only takes the psyche of one person to affect the entire community. 

As mentioned, there's a multitude of "soft skills" that school doesn't necessarily teach, and Anne-Sophie Mutter really hits the point in this video. It'll be worth a couple of minutes of your time so I highly recommend watching it! I really do agree with her from my experiences thus far, leaving school and having interacted with so many friends, new and current.

In the meantime, thank you again for reading! I hope you're having a good start to 2018, staying safe and well.

Joachim

P.S. Huge THANK YOU and gratitude to those who attended our concert with OMM! It was a blast! Will be sharing soon..

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