The Five Musicians Experiment

Do you know any singers? Well, I came across this great experiment that I think is really applicable to musicians who have to interact with singers.

Here is a story about five musicians observed by scientists, and what they can teach you:

The Five Musicians Experiment

A group of scientists placed five musicians in a music college cafe, right near the most prominent and convenient table.

This table was separated from all the other tables, and it was closest to the food and coffee. It was more spacious and comfortable than all the other tables, and the five musicians were very keen to sit there. It was easily the best table in the cafe.

Every time one of the musicians approached the table, a scientist would release a singer into the cafe; this singer would exhibit a whole array of disgusted expressions, pointed remarks and exclusionary body language to all five musicians, until they had no choice but to back away.

After a while, every time a musician tried to approach the table, the other four would do everything they could to stop them. They would even beat them up, just to avoid having to face the angry singer again.

After a time, no musician dared to approach the singer’s table at all.

The scientists decided to substitute one of the musicians. The first thing this new musician did was try to approach the singer’s table, as it was easily the best table in the cafe. Immediately, the other four began to beat them up.

After several beatings, the new musician learned never to approach the singer’s table.

A second musician was substituted and the same occurred. Even the first musician participated in the beating of the second musician. A third musician was then substituted and the same happened again. This happened with the fourth musician also, and again with the fifth.

Finally, what was left was a group of five musicians who, even though they had never approached the singer’s table themselves nor had they ever been attacked by a singer for doing so, continued to beat up any fellow musician who approached the table.

If it was possible to ask any of these musicians why they would beat up their friends this way, they probably would have said, “I have learned my place, and my place is not at the singer’s table.”

Remember, unless you are a pianist and therefore have some value, you may never, ever sit at the singer’s table. Even monkeys could understand that.

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4 Responses

  1. megamezzo says:

    May I suggest a small change? I think you should make this an OPERA singer’s table. I remember the one at the RCM in the last century – I never dreamt of sitting there and always preferred the MUSICIANS’ tables – quieter and all together more refined.

  2. msmezzo says:

    For a start, aren’t singers musicians? I guess Singers are often the ‘show offs’ in the musical world (especially those Opera divas) – but that doesn’t make them NOT MUSICIANS. Why can’t you say, “a group made up of a violinist, a pianist and cellist etc…” then you can happily distinguish the singer – without implying they aren’t a musician. (This is a crazy satirical blog… always makes me feel like reacting… I guess that’s the point lol!)

    • Throwcase says:

      Unfortunately it was just a matter of convenience, really. “Instrumentalists” was too long, especially as I had to use it so many times.
      Plus, I don’t mind “stirring the pot” every so often. 🙂

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