I like to work alone. I feel I find my personal creativity easiest when I'm not distracted by others around me. I personally like the solitude of thinking, creating, and making music alone.
Some of this comes from my own unique personality, but some of this was taught to me as a pianist. I've spent many hours practicing by myself and to tell you the truth, I do my best work that way. Others can bog me down--slow me and my quick progress is limited by another's understanding or abilities. As many arguments as I can make for working by myself, there are at least as many good--often times better--arguments for working together. I need to learn to collaborate and this can be achieved as I recognize the importance of collaboration, look for opportunities to collaborate, and reflect on what I've learned each time I collaborate.
Recognizing the Importance of Collaboration I'm limited by my strengths. That sounds odd to say, but it is very true. My strengths become my weaknesses. Perhaps a better way of looking at it is that with every strength, there is an equal and opposite weakness. We see this in real life: I may have great leadership abilities as a strength, but my weakness may be that I use these leadership abilities to be overly demanding of others. I can be assertive or bold and others see this as being pushy or even arrogant.
This shows in music too. I learn from each person I collaborate. They often have skills that challenge me and help me develop as a musician. When I can see the importance of collaboration, then I start to look for opportunities to collaborate.
Looking for Opportunities to Collaborate Pianists work alone, but we don't have to. There are many opportunities to play with others and there are a lot of other musicians looking for pianists to collaborate with. A colleague once described a good pianist getting his or her name out among music students at in a university setting is much like a single drop of blood in a pool of sharks. Suddenly, everything is a frenzy and a pianist will have many opportunities for collaboration. Regardless your abilities, look for opportunities.
Reflect on the Benefits of Collaboration Each time you have the opportunity to collaborate, take some time to reflect on the benefit you've received from the collaboration. What did you learn? How did you help the person you collaborated with? How did they help you? What would you do differently? What would you do the same? What type of collaboration are you looking for next?
Collaboration can be one of the best tools for helping a musician rise to the next level of expertise. Don't miss the opportunity as a pianist to make music and grow as a musician with others!