The Joy of Team Playing-- Evolving Quality Relationships

The value of playing together as a team-- or in this case, an impromptu band-- leapt up at me during my recent Stanford University reunion.  One of my classmates, Paul, is a pianist who had also been a conductor.  Some of his friends who had also taken emeritus Professor John Chowning’s freshman seminar in modern music and contemporary society held a gathering in which those of us present were invited to participate in making our own music, all together, under Paul’s guidance. 

            Paul particularly asked us to try instruments that we’d never played before.  When I asked my friend Libby who was squeezing an accordion with verve when she’d learned how, she replied, “A few minutes ago.”  Leslie and I were working the gongs, Joel was on bongo drums, and my husband, William, a former sax player, was grinning as he experimented with his drumsticks. 

            Then Paul instructed us about the signals he would use to bring each of us into the performance.  We had to pay close attention to his arm and eye movements, and follow our cues to play short or long, soft or loud.  It had been ages since I’d played violin in my elementary school orchestra.  I realized I’d never had the sense then as I did with Paul’s conducting of how connected we all were to one another as we awaited our cues and heard the separate tones of our own instruments becoming the music we played together. 

            In addition, I experienced a profound sense of being seen and heard as Paul looked at me and signaled me to play.  They were just moments of connection, but felt totally focused on me and what I was creating under his guidance.  As I wrote in my Oct. 28th blog, Paul was “giving me an A,” which is the process of “transporting your relationships from the world of measurement into the universe of possibility” (from The Art of Possibility by Roz and Ben Zander).  

            He gave me the space and the encouragement to go forward into the unknown, take risks, make mistakes-- all the while contributing to the expanding sense of connecting and relating to the whole group.  Later, he told us how vital it was for a conductor to earn the trust of the players in the orchestra in order to be able to play well together.  One thing was clear to all of us present: by acknowledging and drawing forth the spirit and potential of each person in a team-- whether a professional orchestra, a group of colleagues, a teenage club, or former classmates wanting to go in a new direction together-- quality relationships and experiences have a chance to evolve and make a difference. 

            If you are interested in exploring further the possibilities for more work and life satisfaction by creating opportunities for quality connections, please join me for my upcoming tele-class, “Creating Life Satisfaction-- Giving an A to New Possibilities!” on Wednesday, December 8th.  To sign up, please click on the following link: