As a culture, we need to emphasize sportsmanship more for musicians.   I said “sportsmanship” instead of “musicianship” because we don’t really have a word for courteous behavior in the performing arts.

“Musicianship” is defined by the Random House Dictionary as “knowledge, skill, and artistic sensitivity in performing music.”

These are undeniably important factors in creating a great musical performance.  However, many aspiring musicians (especially beginners) have limited skills, and they shouldn’t be judged solely on their level of musicianship.

Instead, I’d like to see an emphasis on how young musicians behave during performances.  Are they courteous and friendly?  Do they acknowledge their audience?  Do they show grace under pressure?

If something goes wrong in a performance, musicians needs to shrug it off and keep going.  This is a skill that’s important not only for concerts, but also for life in general.  We all need to move forward when things go wrong in life.

Putting yourself on stage forces you to learn this skill.

I wish there were a word specific to the performing arts to describe positive behavior on stage.  I’m jealous of the sports world, which has its own word for athletes who conduct themselves courteously.

What should we call sportsmanship in music?  Please send me your suggestions!

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