Attending ClarinetFest, the International Clarinet Association's annual conference, this year was extraordinary. To be around like-minded people who are excited about what they're creating and performing is an inspirational boost, not to mention hearing all of the absolutely amazing music. This year had the added bonus of being the first live convention since the pandemic, and we jokingly refer to it at ClarinetLoveFest because it filled that ache in our hearts left by not being able to share with, create with and perform for our peers in-person for over two years.
This ClarinetFest was different in another way as well, since I've been curating connections with clarinetists for several years online. For many of us, it was the first time we'd met in person.
I've never felt so professionally respected, which led to a surge of creativity in my business.
Now that I've had time to digest our interactions,
I've categorized the actions that built the kind of respect that's inspiring...
Here are four ways you can give others the gift of respect and encourage their professional growth.
Being a part of something is powerful. Equality is a part of this equation. There were clarinetists of all ages and abilities and all were welcome. (We're still working on the minority gap in classical clarinet music and in our trade organizations, but we're on the path.) Introductions and invitations were plentiful and helped to fuel that positive group ethos.
People who are confident in themselves and their abilities have nothing to prove. This frees up to ego to be curious about others and their contributions. We wanted to know when and what our colleagues were performing. We wanted to hear their stories.
There was a tacet understanding of the hardships we've had to endure the past few years because of the impact of cancellations of live music and music events. Truly almost any classical musician has had particular challenges with which we can empathize, especially during the pandemic. This lack of judgment quickens the path to understanding and respect.
To have enough confidence to be able to truly be present and listen to someone is powerful, but the next step is to be able to lift up your colleagues without any concern for how that could effect yourself professionally. All voices matter, and we all hold a unique place. Promoting someone else's achievements and celebrating their journey reflects the ultimate confidence you have in your own.
Was ClarinetFest 2022 perfect? Of course not, but for me it was the perfect moment in time to realize how I'd progressed as a clarinetist and a human. That's what had allowed me to attract the type of colleagues who were similar in professional philosophy. The joy in that kind of respect is what professionalism is all about.