As a college freshman I had the privilege of singing in the men’s chorus at Loyola Marymount University. The director was Paul Salamunovich, universally regarded (I later learned) as one of the best in the business. Period. To me, at that time, he was just a guy to be afraid of. He had a bear-like intensity, peering over his glasses with a discriminating glare that was unsettling, to say the least. He was on the prowl for imperfection and when he found it he brought down a heavy hand. At our very first rehearsal that fall I was standing in the front row, holding – aiming – my music folder like a musket, keeping both my music and this roaming predator clearly in my sights.
Abruptly, he stopped the music and came to stand directly in front of me.
“What’s your name?” he growled.
“David Berry,” I stammered.
“Who was your high school music director?” he asked.
“Jim Shepard,” came my reply.
Where was he going with this? Why had he chosen me, on this very first day, in front of 60 other men, many of whom had trespassed on his land a few times themselves and were surely pleased to see this fresh meat receive his full attention?
“He prepared you very well,” he said to my absolute astonishment.
Holding multiple awarenesses – for your music, your director and your colleagues – is essential for making beautiful music. To do so you must look up. It is a fundamental posture, not only for survival, but for the creation of anything worthwhile.
Those you lead need you to see the bear. If you look down, you could miss it.