Who is responsible for creating opportunities to participate in live music?

If you are familiar with the movie Braveheart… “It’s up to us, Hamish!”

I can’t believe I went there, but you know what? It’s true. It’s up to us. No one else is going to create opportunities for you; it’s up to individuals. If you leave it to anyone else, especially if you think there are professionals out there who can do this (and there are, and they’d be really good at it), by just relying on that you’re assigning ownership to other people to give you the musical fuel that you need. It’s not going to happen; you’re not going to be satisfied. You’re not going to be able to enjoy as much as you could if you did it yourself. Simply put, it’s up to us. It’s up to the individual person to create an opportunity where he/she can participate in music. 

That might mean that you buy a ticket and attend a concert, if you don’t necessarily want to get involved in the music-making yourself. Maybe you can host a concert in an appropriate environment. If you go to church regularly, you might be able to borrow the church sanctuary or fellowship hall for a bit. Finally, you could even host a front lawn mini-concert. Have you heard of those? It’s a service that the Dunedin Music Society offers in which you actually create an opportunity to participate in live music-making on your property, where you and your neighbors, and maybe a select group of friends, come and sit socially-distanced and can enjoy live music together. So there’s another opportunity, but still, it’s up to you. 

Here are three ways that you can physically implement creating your own opportunities:

Join a conversation

When I say “it’s up to us,” the first important thing is to join a conversation. When you talk to people, or join in a conversation with somebody, you can mention music in almost any context whatsoever. By dropping a musical reference in conversation, you bring music back into the forefront, and you can now participate in the idea of what music is, and where it’s going to happen. “You know what? We should get together. We should attend a concert. We should put on a concert. We should host a concert. We should perform together.”  Whenever you find yourself in company, join a conversation, and get people talking about live music.

Get more input

The second thing is to try to get more input from people as well; you might consider asking them, “what do you enjoy doing? And by the way, have you tried something different? Do you know the benefits music actually has for you? Do you know why music is so important for our emotional well-being?” Having these conversations creates opportunities where people are now interested and want to get involved with something musical. As the language of emotions, music is so vital in these and any difficult times, in times of sadness and sorrow, as well as in times of joy.  Think about this: when did we need music most over the last several decades? September 12, 2001 (yes, the day after…) comes to mind as one of the most important days when people probably turned to music. 

Right now in this time of isolation, we need that emotional well-being. We need music in our lives; live, in-person music. Recently on social media I shared a double picture collage where the top picture was an airplane full of people with masks on, and everyone looked absolutely miserable. Directly below that was a completely empty concert hall of a thousand seats.  And I sometimes wonder if we’ve got our priorities a little bit mixed up. We’re stuffing ourselves together into a big tube with masks on, but in a larger environment, where you can actually pull fresh air in and get that emotional healing that we crave through live music, that isn’t happening. Now, there are a couple of states in the US that are opening up to these possibilities faster than others. 

It's up to us.

But in some countries around the world, people are actually beginning to perform again, which is awesome. Venues are not crowded, they’re keeping social distance. It’s possible… people are doing it. So get more input from people, invite people to comment, to respond, to give feedback and see what they think, but it’s up to us. Also be very wary when looking for opportunities to participate. 

Be careful about entitlement

The third and final point is to be careful about entitlement; being entitled to having opportunities given and presented to you. It’s a very dangerous thing when, even if you’ve been playing for most of your life and just moved to a new area, you actually believe you are the best thing since sliced bread and you deserve to have all the opportunities to perform. That’s not “community”. That is not what music making is. That’s pure ego and showing off, and you know what? It doesn’t create a very nice environment for anyone. Ultimately (and I’ve experienced this), you don’t get satisfied anyway; it doesn’t help you. You’re never satisfied. So just keep a check on entitlement expectations, thinking that because of who you are or what you do, you deserve to have this opportunity to participate in music. Remember that it’s up to us to create those opportunities. And as I said before, it can be really, really simple. It can be as simple as looking for something that’s going on locally and attending. That in its own right, is creating an opportunity in your life to participate in live music-making. If you are a performer and you want to perform, and you want to share more of your music, then create the opportunity… host it at your own front door.

There are ways to find somebody else to communicate with, to actually perform with, while maintaining social distance. But it’s up to you. There are organizations I’m going to explore in just a moment where we can make this easier for you. That’s what the Dunedin Music Society was set up for:  to make those opportunities much easier to connect you and your community with live music. So many people think they need to reinvent the wheel in this industry. It’s unbelievable. Scary. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel to discover, for the first time ever, this wonderful new thing. There are people out there who do this for a living and are actually happy to help you do it! 

For example, if you want to host a front lawn mini concert, go to dunedinmusicsociety.org. It’s a service that we offer, and the first item under the “Shop” tab. Have a look there, and we’ll bring live music to your front lawn, where you and your neighbors can sit at the end of the driveway and enjoy the music. You can invite a couple of friends to sit on your front lawn. Maybe you want a small band or a small chamber group. You can position them on the driveway so they don’t mess up your grass; we can work with that! So have a look at those options and see what we offer. 

A two-way conversation

Remember that music is not a one-way street, performer vs. audience, presenter vs. recipient. It’s always a two-way conversation. Throughout the number of performances that I’ve conducted, the groups have played incredibly well. Seriously, we enjoy it. They make music with fun, with excitement, but at times it still falls absolutely flat. Do you know why? Because the audience isn’t giving back, we’re not getting the energy or the focus from them. And we feed off of that. If you are an audience member, and even if you’re a performer and you attend a concert, if you sit there criticizing everything and listening for all the mistakes, we pick that up and it affects what we’re going to deliver to you. If you’re excited just to be there and to hear the music and to congratulate people who did a decent job, the best that they could, again, we feel that we receive that and it makes us want to deliver more of even better quality. And that just lifts the whole concert experience up. So it is completely a give and take relationship. It’s a two-way conversation every single time music occurs.

Because it’s up to us to create these opportunities, there’s always going to be give and take. There’s also never going to be a time when you can actually expect something for nothing. We’ll be exploring these essential topics in more depth in the next segments.


If you would like to explore building your own profitable performing career as a classical musician, let’s see if my experience of 30+ years can help. Schedule a free Breakthrough Session now.