What is the purpose of this series? The focus has been about approaching music as a literary form. Music is a story (that must be told). The Music Director’s job is to serve as the Narrator (and direct the flow of the story). The Performers are there to portray the musical story in the form of characters.
One point I have made repeatedly is that people have a tendency to elevate Lead Singers and Soloists at the expense of everyone else. Make no mistake: the Soloist can make or break the music. So can the Music Director. So can the Collaborative Artist. So can the Composer. Music is a collaborative effort that often relies on a number of people to create the final piece of art. It is important to understand everyone’s role and how they contribute to the music!
The ”literary” role of the Soloist is to portray the Protagonist. They embody the “main character” of the musical story. The Soloist is Elsa of Frozen or the Sheldon of The Big Bang Theory. They are a point of aural focus and often make the primary engagement with the listener. Again… Soloists are not unimportant.
A Good Soloist is well-prepared and rises above. A Great Soloist takes ownership of what they do. An Excellent Soloist creates space for everyone else to shine as well.
As a pianist and music director, I have worked with many people of a wide range of abilities: from raw beginners to seasoned professionals. The best performers I work with are often casual learners – who are willing to take coaching – or elite professionals who can communicate what they need and trust you to make the rest happen. That said, the difference isn’t so much about skill level, but rather attitude.
The worst people to work with? Soloists who are not prepared and don’t know what they want. Soloists who view colleagues as peons rather than collaborators. Soloists who actually attempt to undermine or supplant your leadership.
Put simply… Soloists who are solely about promoting themselves.
Again… Soloists can make or break the music… and the group.
All the best,
TKP – 3/21/23