Thursday, June 13, 2013

Stay hungry

In many bands and orchestras, there are chair positions, or rankings.  At set times, usually the beginning of a school year or season, people can audition for a higher spot, with something like “1st chair” at the top for any given instrument.  No one is forced to audition for a higher position, but the higher you get, the more competitive it becomes.  People practice hard to get there and practice hard to stay there.

So what would happen if that system was implemented in your group?  Imagine instead of “chairs” it was certain positions that were up for grabs.  It could be the ending solo in a piece or the center position or even something that was really fun to play like hand percussion.

I know a large majority of taiko groups flat-out wouldn’t go for it.  It goes against a lot of what those groups believe in, and that’s perfectly fine.  But let’s say your group did, for sake of this post.

How much harder would you work to get those positions you wanted to play in, knowing it was now open to anyone who wanted to try out for it?  How much harder would you work at keeping those spots once you got there?

I ask this because I see people in both karate and taiko who are happy to work hard for a goal, and then once there, settle - whether it’s a membership, belt rank, a level of seniority, or a song position.  It’s a feeling of “good enough” that can often become so very limiting to one’s development.  Sometimes just being in a group long enough means you’ll get the chance to do more, in time.  But if you knew that there were people who wanted your position/place/rank and were actively practicing to take it away from you, would “good enough” be enough for you?

Some of you may say “yes”, and that’s perfectly fine.  We’re not all competitively-minded and after a while it gets tiring.  But I bet a lot of the rest of you would in fact practice with more frequency and more intention because there are parts and places you want to be in.

Of course there would be downsides to this sort of system.  Arrogance could flourish at the top and some people might never get the chance to really rise to the occasion.  It might also fray a lot of the social bonds many people have formed over the years.  So I’m not saying it *should* be implemented, only to think about how differently you would react with such a system in place.

Unless you really don’t care where you’re placed, you should always stay hungry.  It makes you try harder and practice more.  It makes you a better role model and example.  And it means you have the potential to grow non-stop, even when it would be so much easier to wait for the opportunities to come to you.

1 comment:

  1. Taking it from another angle... If such a systme was in place, you would then focus almost exclusively on getting good enough for that one part you want. Yes, it would make you push harder, but in a more specific, narrow way. It's not necessarily a bad thing, having a clear aim to focus on is good. But it would probably mean all your energy would be poured into that competition, with little left to invest into improving yourself in general. It would probably benefit the group more than the individuals (which can be a valid model too, just one I'm not too fond of).