I once heard the inter-disciplinary performance group “The Fourth Wall” tell a seminar that they should find the people they wanted to work with and then find ways to do things with them. Their point, at the time, was that they are a flute/trombone/percussion trio that, despite a lack of pre-existing repertoire, found ways of making art together. Whenever I am lucky enough to find those people, I like to call them “My People”.
Fourth Wall’s message rings true. It is infinitely easier to be creative, efficient, and talented with people you like. Finding a sustainable career requires finding people that are easy and enjoyable to work with. I am sure everyone has worked with people they hate and their lives (and the lives of everyone around them) have suffered for it.
I was fortunate to find a group of people I love working with who also happen to play a combination of instruments for which there is extensive repertoire. My quintet, that called ourselves “Standing Room Only”, recently played a recital which was the culmination of three years of playing together consistently. We had done many smaller performances for outreach events but had never performed a while program together.
We got to perform a piece written by one of our members, a challenging Maslanka Quintet, and a quirky and creative work by Daniel Roumain. I looked forward to rehearsals every week as well as the logistical preparation required for a chamber concert.
I have found the same thing in a hiking partner. We hike at roughly the same pace, enjoy the same things about hiking, get up at the same time in the morning without alarms, and she puts up with my neurotic over-planning.
It can sometimes be hard to find people with whom I gel so easily. The journey to find such meshing rapport involves equal parts openness and luck. If I am not open to the idea of working with somebody, a collaboration could never form. At the same time, if it takes more energy to keep a group together than I receive in return, it may be a sign to move on to the next project.
I have been lucky to find some of my people in projects like my quintet and my hiking partner. Now I hope I am able to continue to remain open and find more people like them in the future.