The great juggling act of pitch, rhythm, articulation, breathing, tone, blending, listening, concentration and last but not least...the SPIRIT of the music! My wife Carol has a fantastic saying that "Music is just the wrapping paper for the essence inside it," that magic something that is the life of the music, it's spirit. Sometimes people spend so much time on the basic mechanics of playing they loose track of the spirit of the music or actually don't give it much thought. It can become an empty, pretty, shinny container.
In a coaching today, I listened to the terms the players were using to describe how things were going coming along in what they were playing. All about the ensemble aspect. In fact, that is all they were talking about. When they played, it sounded more spirited then how they were talking about it. However I brought up some points about terminology. Talking about chord changes, leading, being an 'ensemble' player as opposed to 'leading' a section was some of how they were speaking. Perfectly fine but I find that language limiting for me and it does not accurately translate what is going on to me. But they all understood what they were saying. I put some thoughts in for them to think about.
Is there any part in a piece of music which is really not important? My answer is NO. All parts are equally important in their role. For example, if there is a quartet, each person is 25%, and they need to play their role, part, at a full 100% no matter what that role or part is.
Each voice is a vital living sonic membrane of the group organism. Sometimes you might play the role of the brain, or kidney and bones. All vital to the well being and functioning of the musical body. The music and the technique come together as one living breathing life. But if there is only technical and mechanical considerations and language, will that summon the spirit of the music to inhabit that body of technique? The answer again is NO. The sentiment of the players and their committed search for the meaning of the piece will summon the essence. Otherwise, there will only be nice wrapping paper.