“Integrity is like the weather: everybody talks about it but nobody knows what to do about it. Integrity is that stuff we always say we want more of . . . We want it in our schools and our houses of worship . . . So perhaps we should say that integrity is like good weather, because everybody is in favor of it.” (Henry Cloud, Integrity, 2006)
As musicians we have been given great gifts that through work and perseverance we share with the world in a multitude of ways from teaching to performing to composing to writing. But without integrity or wholeness of character, our musical gifts will become unusable or at least less fruitful. So what is integrity?
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.” (Henry Cloud, Integrity, 2006)
In their book The Integrity Advantage, Adrian Gostick and Dana Telford identify ten “integrity characteristics.” Let’s examine how these “integrity characteristics” can be integrated into the life of the whole musician—the musician with all the different parts working well and delivering the functions that they were designed to deliver to students, colleagues, and audiences.
1. You know that little things count. If you don’t lie or cheat on the small things, you are not corrupted by larger temptations.
The popular expression “Don’t sweat the small stuff” is poor advice for the musician of integrity. As teachers, performers, and church musicians our lives can become singular as we hone our craft alone in a practice room. Yet as practicing musicians we constantly are called to interact with the public. Each of our “small” actions is open for scrutiny. Have you ever been tempted to make a “quick copy” of a piece of music for a student or choir member knowing that you lack copyright permission to make that copy?
Integrity is a choice. Let us as practicing musicians practice integrity in our musical lives.
Dr. Jeannine Jordan, concert organist