Making the Most of an Opportunity

The Boxwood Flute Festival in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia brings together amateur and professional musicians to share the experience of doing music. For everyone it is a week of focusing intensely on refining their playing. For some, this means developing their professional skills; for others it means refining their capacity in an important part of their personal lives.

Playing music, especially music on traditional instruments, is an active form of relaxation. Every nuance of sound emerges from people strumming, bowing, blowing, or striking an instrument. Although people can have a delightful time sitting back, listening to music, making music requires initiative, focus, and energy.

A conversation this morning was about choosing a tune. Interest in traditional Celtic music has generated hundreds of books plus web sits with thousands upon thousands of tunes. A few are widespread favorites, but musicians regularly discover an obscure tune that has immense potential. Not all of them are great tunes, but a few turn out to be to be real gems. How does a person identify a tune with potential for greatness?

The process seems to be more of an art than a science. That’s a completely legitimate answer when dealing music that is quite comfortable being an art with few aspirations towards being considered a science. But the answer also has some resonance with employee selection as it includes a quality of person-tune fit. A given tune can be shaped in a myriad of ways. A plain melody line can be ornamented. The rhythm can be shaped with variations on that rhythm each time one returns to the theme. A musician can develop variations on the melody line that bring out fresh perspectives on what the tune is all about.

What one makes of a tune depends on the musician, the chosen instrument(s), the setting in which it is played, and the reactions of listeners to the performance.

A tune does not exist as an independent object. It is much more a process of people interacting with over time to make something of the experience.

In worklife, the person is legitimate in his or her own right. But the experience of participating in a workgroup is an ongoing process. What happens during that process is not fully charted. The important question of developing resilience, engagement, commitment, and fulfillment reflect what people have made of the process.

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