Have you ever watched a conductor leading an orchestra and noticed his arm movements? Some conductors control their orchestra with very noticeable gestures telling the players exactly how, when and what to play. And they better do it the conductor’s way, too! Other conductors don’t use a lot of arm movement, but just gesture here and there, forcing their players to look at each other and guess how they’re suppose to play.
Then there is the conductor who is definitely in charge, but he allows the soloists to play their own “stories”. He gives them feedback with his facial expressions. He encourages his players to share the meaning of the piece with the audience through their playing, so that everyone becomes a partner in the experience.
Those were ideas I heard as I watched a talk on Ted.com by Itay Talgam, who was a symphony conductor in his native Israel, but now uses conducting as a metaphor to teach leadership styles.
What kind of conductor are you for your “family orchestra”? How do you control your players? Are you a dictator or do you look the other way and let your kids do what they want? Are family members all partners together and headed in the same direction or is there confusion and frustration? Do your family members know the meaning to life and take part in achieving it?
Children need guidelines, rules and fences. But they need the freedom within those guidelines to interpret their lives. Maybe playing the piano is your goal, but really not theirs (after 5 years of never practicing and now they’re in high school). Parents need to guide the family’s direction but if rules are unclear, children are left to guess what they’re suppose to do.
Having a family council once a week is a great way to make sure your family is all on the same song, I mean page. You can coordinate and schedule the week’s activities and get feedback on what your children are feeling and how they are doing in their activities. You can let your children “play their solos” and give them support and encouragement.
Together, you and your family can make beautiful music!