Being Human

In any occupation some sort of training process is required, either within the organization or through outside education, like school. The method and goals of the training process should be geared toward the human reactions created by the job, whether they be direct or indirect. If we are computer engineers, the goal of the process should be creating and updating systems that benefit people, not just making computers as if they were a part of an assembly line. Similarly, we as musicians often can get lost in the technical aspects of what we play, so much so that we forget the actual musicality behind the notes and our interaction with the audience. You tend to see these types of musicians as they graduate out of their undergraduate, sometimes graduate, degrees, but you also, rarely, see them in the orchestra. It's not just limited to the music industry, but there is always the appearance of a colleague or person who is only in it for the money, power, or any other of the wrong reasons. So, how do we continue to miss or overlook these types of people?

I believe very strongly that the reasons for what we are learning to do are at risk. Think about our current educational system. We've gone from teaching children how to learn to now teaching them how to ace the next exam. Researchers wonder why each generation is getting progressively "dumber" even though our technology, and resources are continually growing and it's partially due to the shift of what education teaches. So for us a musicians, while it is imperative that we develop our technique and skill, maintenance of the human element is crucial and should not be overlooked. Still, it is possible, and has occurred, where a person who is exceptional in their execution and consistency, but lacks the human element (but knows all the right things to do for every situation) gets the job or wins the audition or gets the promotion. Again, I think the process of training and, particularly here, hiring has to be geared to the human element equally as much if not more than the technical ones. It is very encouraging to see the overwhelming majority of auditions maintain this standard, but unfortunately, the rest of the job market has a ways to go.

The most obvious occasions of training/hiring gone wrong are in medicine (as far as drug companies, not individual doctors), politics and policing. With society changing constantly the need for adaptation and open mindfulness is important and the only way we can be sensitive to those changes is to stay in touch with our humanity. The problem is that the systems in place are focused more on the products rather than the recipients and when this happens the product and producer is dehumanized and views people as consumers. Whether it be looking for a vote and just saying what sells without believing it, or upping the price of a drug that you know no one else makes, and is vital to your survival, to viewing citizens as targets or potential threats rather than people needing service, the issues we are having these days demand that we take a closer look at the roots to find the problems.

Being a musician, I want to always see our vocation remain human and continue to find more ways to connect with our audiences and our world as a whole. As a black man, I want to be able to walk to work without fearing to be stopped by an officer for "matching a "description." But as a human being, I want to see our world regain its empathy toward their fellow man. Yes, we have to be good at what we do. In some cases our training is what saves our lives or someone else's. Still, our occupations call us to a life of service, and really our existence does as well. We must remember our duties towards our neighbor, no matter how different they are in appearance, ideals, etc. So, as a musician, we put the needs of the audience's soul over ours on stage, which really helps us anyway. As medical officers and corporations, we put the health of humanity above our own, which really helps us anyway. As police officers and public servants, we put the lives of the citizens over our own, which helps us anyway. We have to remember that whatever we do, human lives are attached to the products, directly or indirectly, and the results have no choice but to reciprocate positively towards the producer. Both are important interactions, but when the direct contact is tainted with inhuman actions and views, the results and products are dangerous. Let's examine our reasons for what we do, our training towards those goals, and our interaction with our fellow man. Hopefully that can be a step in a better world for future generations.