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Five Ways to Be a Better Colleague

Repost from Brass Chicks blog:

Today’s post is written by our very own Kate Amrine. Check out her bio on her site here.  

A passionate and creative performer, Kate Amrine is a prominent trumpet player balancing a multifaceted career from developing new repertoire and curating concerts to freelancing with many different groups in the New York City area. Recent performances include an off Broadway workshop of Duncan Sheik’s new musical “Alice by Heart,” an orchestra tour to Japan to perform Torelli’s “Concerto in D,” and Rite of Spring for two trumpets. Upcoming performances include several dates with new ensembles eGALitarian and Wavefield and more!

1. Be prepared

It is very important to have a strong handle on your performance before addressing any other aspects of being a successful musician and a good colleague. Have you practiced all of the music, written in any needed cues, and listened to multiple recordings when possible before your rehearsal? Are you showing up with all of the relevant mutes, pencils, and hard parts already figured out ahead of time? It is normal to want to ask the conductor or section leader a question about phrasing or something unclear in the part but often times these questions are things that could be figured out before the rehearsal over email or in person beforehand.

2. Be nice

We may all be tired at the end of the day on our last thing but legitimately caring about what your colleagues did today or have coming up is such a great way to create a positive working environment. Ask about someone’s day and/or pay someone a compliment! You’ll feel better and they will too. Of course all of the other usual nice gestures also apply!

3. Be flexible

Sometimes rehearsals start late, end late, get rescheduled, or involve slightly inconvenient things like needing to switch rooms or bring a stand. Learn to bring a book or something extra to do if you know you may have time to kill. Practice being patient in uncomfortable situations – instead of wanting to complain out loud to the person next to you, think about how grateful you are for the opportunity to perform in this instance and have the opportunity to work on these tough skills.

While things like rehearsal order or type of chairs can change all of the time in a standard freelancing scene, nothing will make you more flexible than learning to be a good colleague on the road. Being on tour can really bring out the best and worst in people, especially when exacerbated by unfamiliar situations, lack of sleep, and irregular schedules. Of course sometimes things happen that can be incredibly frustrating and debilitating, but trying to be flexible and understanding in these situations will make you a great colleague that people love to be around.

4. Be fun

Here’s your chance to be the person with lots of jokes – assuming it is the right time to tell them and not in the middle of a rehearsal…. Be the kind of person people enjoy being around. Maybe you can easily make light of difficult situations and always have something positive to say. These people are amazing and I always appreciate when someone is enjoyable to be around, in addition to being a great player. Invite people out to drinks or dinner after rehearsal. How can you show people that you are a great person to be around in addition to being a great player?

5. Be extra

Feel inspired to bring some homemade baked goods to rehearsal? Why not. What else can you do that is going above and beyond what is expected of you? Not many people are consistently going the extra mile so this is a great opportunity for YOU to do something and see what happens. This could even be something small like setting up the room for a chamber rehearsal before everyone arrives. It isn’t about doing more in the hopes of being immediately recognized /praised but more about the long term and continuing to create a better environment for yourself and those around you.

How do you work on being a better colleague? We would love to hear! Reach out to us on Facebook or Instagram!

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