Unit 7: Taking Initiative

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Taking initiative is REALLY hard in music groups.

As music students, we are told when to do everything. When to sit, when to stand, when to put our instruments up, when to play and even when to breathe. We have a culture within music that says, “wait to do something until you are told.”

As a leader, you need to understand when to be a good follower and when to be a good leader. Taking initiative is one of the hardest but most important parts of leadership, so pay close attention.

Knowing when to “step up” and when to “step away” is one the hardest parts of leading becoming a leader Think about it – have you ever known how to fix something in rehearsal but were scared to do it because you were afraid of getting in trouble? Have you ever wanted to fix a spacing issue on the field but didn’t know if you should move while at attention?

There is no curriculum in the public school system today which beats the leadership out of you as well as music does. We tell you when to stand, where to sit, how to sit, what to wear, when to put your horn up, what kind of air to use, how to walk, when to talk and even how to use your tongue correctly (in case you were confused before). About the only choice you get to make is the color of your underwear, unless of course, you have white uniform pants, then we even help you with that! Music creates great followers but very confused leaders.

Finding a balance between knowing when to lead and when to follow is a struggle for most student leaders. The following questions are designed to help the leaders and director(s) explore this important issue and come to a consensus.  Let’s start by asking some simple questions.

Is the initiative encouraged or discouraged in your group? How so?

Is your director a controlling person when it comes to the group? Can you cite some specific examples?

LEADERSHIP TIP: Doing something wrong for the right reasons is often better than doing something right for the wrong reasons.

Be sure to download and print the course materials prior to starting. We promise we won’t remind you of this anymore after this unit.

Add your thoughts, ideas, and comments below in the discussion box.

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