A ranked and powerful position (supervisor, Doctor, boss, teacher, therapist, policeman etc etc) is in a position of trust and their responsibilities include caring for, advocating for and teaching those in their charge in an ethically responsible way. They also have the power to sanction or invalidate. Good supervision “allows for safe communication, security in risking, appropriate meeting of needs, attention to role requirements, and support of subordinates. All roles have built-in limits. Respecting these limits creates order in relationships. Crossing these limits yields confusion and disorder” (p.144).
As a subordinate;
- You cannot be your boss’ buddy
- you should not know about your boss’ personal life
- you are not required to counsel him/her, but can offer support of the work - look closely if you are offering support for their life.
- support each other and give to each other - the support goes both ways.
Boundaries in the musicians’ workplace
Boundaries in the teaching studio in the one-on-one student - teacher environment is not a relationship of peers: there are tried and true limits which must be in place. However, there are many private music teachers that go the extra mile for students - invitations to dinner, traveling together to a competition. These experiences can have a huge impact on a students’ development and its important to ascertain if that close boundary is ok with both student, their parents and you....keeping in mind that everything changes...close boundaries one year may need to be a little more distant the next - especially as the student develops, personally and musically.
Boundaries in an orchestra between administration, board, conductor and the musicians fit into the “role” limits and responsibilities as stated above. However, it is less clear on stage. There is a hierarchy of “decision makers”- concert master, principal, associate/assistant principal, section and extra - subordinates support the work, but not the life. Yet these “decision makers” are also peers - ie support goes both ways. And a “decision maker” may also be a decision maker one moment (principal of section) and a subordinate the next (to concert master). It is a tricky dance for all and if the decision maker and subordinate are aware of the different roles he/she plays and their inherent boundaries, and have the skill and flexibility to wear the different hats, the work environment relaxes, teamwork ensues and artistic excellence flourishes.
What is also challenging and perhaps a little confusing about boundaries in an Orchestra is the sense of deep connection, or Flow, one may feel on stage with colleagues and audience - especially in performance. The sensation that we are separate fades away and deep awareness of the collective prevails. Boundlessness. The irony is that through well maintained and managed boundaries (self-awareness and protection), I experience Flow (loss of self-awareness) more often. I love being in the state of Flow.
Boundaries with yourself when practicing and performing - My intention with my practicing/performing boundary is to treat myself with kindness and humour. I am crossing my own boundaries if I become overly critical, belittling, heavy judgment of my talents/skills/position...
- notice (“isn’t that interesting, I'm sharp”)
- recover (make a joke/forgive) and
- move on (not true for me anymore - I choose something else..usually to practice in a different way).
The choice is available to me because I’ve trained in it - I certainly don't have a natural talent for it as some do.....and because I know that my thoughts and feelings lie to me all the time *(see Brain Awareness in future months) and that I have honed the skill of being able to observe those thoughts/feelings through Mindfulness.
I am in progress with this - have not mastered it - not by a long shot! However, I seem to have ample opportunity presented to me to grow in this!
AFGO - A favourite acronym from Geneen Roth ("Women, Food & God") ...Another Fuckin Growth Opportunity. :)