One of my favorite Leslie Knope quotes that I live by is "No one achieves anything alone." When we make the conscious effort to build a community versus trying to survive this world alone, we accomplish so much more!
As classical musicians, both in real life and in the social media world, this is incredibly important. I had the chance to interview Sarah DelBene, a second year Master's student at Baylor University, and talk to her about her thought's on building a community in your studio!
Do you think competition is helpful or hurtful?
Competition is a tricky aspect of the music world. It is unavoidable because many of us will cross paths with applying and auditioning for the same jobs. So in that sense, competition is an ever-present part of being a musician. However, if one chooses to channel this competition against others into his or her daily outlook and approach to music, that is when it can become dangerously hurtful. "I have to be better than _____." "I have to beat ______ in this competition." "How did she/he get that job/ win that competition/_____, I am WAY better than she/he is!" This is when outward competition can veer us off of a regular aim for self-growth and improvement. I think the most healthy and helpful form of competition is with oneself, that is, constantly striving to be a better musician than one was yesterday.
What are the biggest things to avoid so you can maintain a close-knit studio?
The aspects of toxic competition (skill comparison and arrogant self-elevation) are not beneficial in maintaining a close-knit studio. The opposite, humility and seeking to learn from anyone, allows for more open communication among studio members. This open communication can the help encourage strong relationships among studio mates inside and outside the music building. I know from my current experience in graduate school I am in a positive and close-knit studio. We all encourage each other, offer constructive performance feedback for musical growth, and we also enjoy each other's company for coffee and lunch outings when we have the extra free time. This kind of environment has helped me to become more comfortable with my growth process and see growth less as a ladder to climb and more of a personal journey and evolution.
What are the benefits of having a close studio?
As someone currently in a close studio when I have not always had this kind of experience, I see these benefits very clearly. This sense of closeness and community promotes a sense of safety for musical growth without fear of judgment. It also provides a potential friend group for young undergraduate students, which is great for those who are far from home.
How do you plan on continuing to build a close studio in the future?
Building a close studio starts with self-reflection. Being aware of how you interact with others and how you speak of people and situations is crucial. The music community is smaller than people realize sometimes, and people talk. A small seed of toxic gossip could easily spread through a whole studio and affects other, especially if the negative talk or behavior is directed at some else or some situation in the school of music. Positive and constructive speech and behavior helps promote a close studio where people can develop friendships and community. This constructive behavior can even rub off on other people to spread the positivity in the studio.
You heard it here, folks! As Ms. DelBene said so many times, having a community encourages growth, so let's just all agree to do away with meaningless, negative competition, okay?
So how does building a community transfer to social media? It almost seems a little counterintuitive since typically, profiles on social media are of individuals. Despite the initial individualization of social media, there are some amazing benefits and ways to build an online community.
Near, Far, Wherever You Are: For starters, you no longer have to live in the same tiny radius as someone to be friends with them! Social media has enabled us to connect with people from all over the world - how cool is that? This aspect alone helps us connect with people who can educate us on their differences or connect with people who have similar interests!
Social media is a wonderful space for creative people as it is ever changing and forces us to stay on our toes & keep creating! But because of the high volume and frequent changes, this can be overwhelming for many. My best advice for if you ever feel stuck, get writers block, or don't know what the next step is in their career, you can use social media to see what other people are doing! Rather than try to copy them, use it as inspiration and put your own twist on it!
Chance are, there are others who are going through the same or similar struggles. By sharing not only our successes, but offering some vulnerability, we create an opportunity to figuring out what we need with the help of others which leads me to my last point.....
Bonus Support System:
If you ever need a good pep talk, want some validation on a project you just launched, or want to post a "felt cute, won't delete later" selfie, there are a whole bunch of wonderful people on social media ready and willing to comment "YAS QUEEN." By following, interacting with, and therefore surrounding ourselves with a supportive, and positive community, we can rewrite the negative stigma that is associated with social media (or a studio)!
Share this post with someone who needs some positivity and community in their life!
To learn more about Sarah you can visit her website: https://www.sarahdelbeneflute.com/
Or follow her on Instagram!