Earlier this year, I sung the Ein deutsches Requiem by Brahms. I invite you to take a moment to listen to one of my favorite movements from that piece:
My favorite moment in this piece is from 2:42 where the trombones start to pick up all the way to the triumphant "Hölle, wo ist dein Sieg?" ("Hell, where is thy victory?") at 5:41. At this time, it transitions to the next section with the altos starting the fugue with a warm and bold "Herr".
I'm an alto so I was one of the singers who started off with "Herr". During rehearsals, I remember being somewhat sheepish to start it. But during one rehearsal, my choral director made us sing that note by ourselves. Meaning, my director pointed at the first alto in the front row, then the second, then the third... and we sung that note one by one. Everyone else is silent. Your voice is heard by over 100 (!) other singers - quite vulnerable and humbling! After a good chunk of us sung that note one by one, the director told us to sing exactly the way we did when we sung one by one, except to sing at the same time.
And that was when music happened.
I was thinking about that magical moment when the sound coming out of the alto section was not just a mere note - it was music. My working hypothesis is that since all of us were held accountable for that note, one by one, and as a result we each took ownership of that note. Each one of us made a conscious choice to own it.
At that point I realized that this phenomenon doesn't occur only in choirs or orchestras. It occurs in any organization where people accomplish something together - when each individual chooses to takes ownership of their role, that's when the magic happens.
That rehearsal - that "Herr" - proved to be an important lesson for my management career but also for my life in general. More on that next week.
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I'm Candice and I doodle with the intensity of the doomguy.