Begin with an assortment of young string players ages 12-16.
They should be a diverse group from all corners of the globe and you should house them in a college dorm.
Have them practice for at least 4 hours a day while also attending rehearsals, masterclasses, and concerts every night.
Cook in a town that is about 83 degrees Fahrenheit, basting with scattered thunderstorms and rainstorms intermittently.
After four weeks, they should be ready to return to their respective homes with a new outlook on their musicianship and personal development.
Recipe serves at least 100.
While my “method” is fictional, the facts are all true. As a counselor for IU Jacob School of Music Summer String Academy, I am living in the dorm with the students. There are 6 counselors working in the dorm with about a dozen students per counselor (4 female and 2 male). And while this may seem like a recipe for disaster, things have been going relatively smoothly (thus far).
What is the secret ingredient for success? I would say it is willingness. Individual initiative always helps cut the bitterness that can spoil a team effort. If someone insists on getting their way, either to not have to do a task or only doing the things they feel like doing, flavors conflict with each other. If everyone always steps forward to pick up the slack, passive aggressive undertones are strained from the mix and the result is a cohesive team.
Willingness also applies to our musical endeavors. Richard Aaron, cello professor at the University of Michigan who gave a masterclass, told the students about a quartet violinist that he worked with. Mr. Aaron would always ask him, “how do you want to play this part of the music?” and the violinist would respond “whatever way you want to play it”. Mr. Aaron would retort, “but how do you want to play it?” and back and forth it would go. Finally, the violinist explained that, while string players tend to demand to do things “their own way”, he found it much more interesting to try other people’s way. It was his willingness, a capacity to take initiative and listen to others, that made him a great musician. Appreciate the people that make your life easier and try and help them too!