The dictionary definition of integrity uses three words: wholeness, unity, and honesty. When talking about integrity, we are talking about being a whole person, an integrated person, with all our different parts working well and delivering the functions that they were designed to deliver. To be a musician of integrity one must include three crucial elements in their work life. A musician must: create a culture of trust, keep your word, have concern for the greater good, and be honest but modest.
To create a culture of trust, you develop a work environment that will not test the personal integrity of your students or your colleagues. I am privileged to have a studio of nearly twenty adult organ students with whom I share a culture of trust. Some of my students have played for churches for years and are studying to enhance their service playing skills while others are pursuing playing the organ as a new avocation. Together we have created a wonderfully trusting and supportive community where ideas and performances are shared freely and easily.
You keep your word and act with integrity to gain trust. If I tell my students we are going to have an opportunity to play the outstanding pipe organs at Mt. Angel Abbey, it is not a whimsical idea. I know once such an opportunity is presented to my students, I will have to follow through. By working through the myriad of details necessary to make that performance and learning opportunity a reality, I continue to build trust with my enthusiastic group of students. As Henry Cloud states in his book, Integrity, “In the end trust is about the heart, and someone making an investment in you from his or her heart. If you gain people’s trust, their heart, then you also have their desire and passion. Good teachers capture the other people’s will, their true desire, through connecting with them first. “
You care about the greater good and make decisions that will benefit the entire organization. Caring about the greater good means providing community building opportunities such as Play-Ins, recitals, and music-sharing days for my students; working to choose, prepare, and share music that will enhance worship for my church’s congregation; presenting concerts that will advance the value of music making in society; and supporting the professionalism of my musical colleagues.
A musician of integrity must be honest but modest. You let your actions speak louder than words. I frequently talk about and write about the two “P” words-Practice and Performance. However, it is important that I do more than talk and write about this subject; I also practice, create and perform new programs hoping that my example will encourage my students to work toward their practice and performance goals.
Musicians must practice every day to maintain a high level of artistic talent. They also must practice implementing integrity every day in their musical lives.