As artists, we often get trapped in our own concepts of perfectionism. We think: One more run-through of the composition, one more brush of paint, one more rehearsal before the big show. We pride ourselves on our abilities and are often eager to show others—whether in performance or education—how they, too, can appreciate our art at its highest form. Though this has its benefits, it also has its shortcomings, such as worrying too much about excellence and forgoing the meaning of the art as a message.
As I mentioned in my initial post, I am currently pursuing a masters in Community Music (CM). CM requires us, in our practice, a similar degree of professionalism but lacks the necessity of a level of formality in the way that we are often taught. Instead, it manifests in creating an open, welcoming environment, focusing on the act of hospitality. In my own research, I seek to use various levels of formality, combining professional leadership and artists in an informal, open environment available to everyone in the hospital.
My area of interest also seeks to utilize all members of the hospital (staff, patients, visitors) and artists in the community. However, the high level of training that professional artists have can potentially lead to focusing too much on excellence and less on the experience at hand. An open, accepting environment—free of judgment from all of those involved—is vital.
In our class this term, we (all with a music background) are led through various other arts forms: pottery, dance, theatre, media arts, and storytelling. These aren’t your run-of-the-mill, basic painting/drama/waltz lessons. Instead, they’re an education within an education, and we’ve all had to leave our egos at the door. Many of us were completely new to these experiences, voiced our hesitations, or had plenty of “Am I doing this right?” questions for the instructors leading the workshops.
When we ask a group to participate in the arts through a therapeutic/wellness performance or workshop, we have to understand that there is hesitance involved. Group members might feel anxious, embarrassed, or feel it is a waste of their time. There has to be an open teaching approach, with just enough direction but, perhaps, not much. There has to be enough time to let the user experience be at the forefront. Though it might be difficult to think of ourselves in that new position in our own practice, we certainly can experience similar hesitations in an art that we’re not familiar with.
Because of the openness of what I seek to create in this hospital environment, it may likely benefit artists, as well, to take part in other workshops and experiences that occur for the patients/staff/visitors as a part of their ongoing training and enrichment. The benefits are multifold: not only will it teach them something new, but it will also put them in directly into the user experience, allow for more interaction with participants, and give them tools to use in their own instruction.
The workshops, thus far, have shown me effective ways of direction, provided me with a completely new experience, and offered program expansion ideas. But, foremost, they have given me a potential value tool for training professionals for non-formal leadership.