Last week we had our first Élevé of the season. Tickets sold, people purchased our newly available coffee roast, there were smiles all around! Yasmin’s work was stunning (as always), and Ovation and Rhine Hall were (again, as always) spot on for supporting a beautifully received evening. After finally decompressing for a day (amazing and rare to have a day off), I was able to reflect on everything this means and how it exemplifies us as a duo. The actual event is just the tip of the iceberg, and for Élevé to happen, we needed to navigate so many moving parts.
Rather than bore you with the details of everything we did (though I am a sucker for spreadsheets, agendas, and timelines, and am very proud of all of the meetings and documentation from Élevé), I am more impressed by the “how” of our functioning, and I think it’s a great snapshot of Bow & Hammer as a whole.
Elizabeth and I are admittedly a great team. This may seem a rudimentary comment, as we have been playing together for 5 years now, but each year we strengthen that statement. There are so many ways this statement applies (musically, professionally, personally), but I think it (sort of) boils down to a single fact: We’re really different.
There are so many benefits to having a partner-in-crime who is very different: We constantly refresh each other’s perspectives, curate diverse programs, tag team being supportive and leading, and are, overall, good at presenting well-rounded projects. It’s a constantly spinning top of productivity and progress. But what is really mind blowing to me is how we have learned to value our differences, and everything that comes from being different. One observer might notice that we don’t agree on most things during a meeting/rehearsal, that there is often a point or few of tension. Someone else might think that we don’t argue at all.
Both are true. There is rarely a topic of discussion without disagreement. But we don’t argue that much anymore. Trusting that we both want to communicate effectively as performers, we are able to value our disagreements as necessary for becoming more effective together, and reach more people.
It takes trust that neither of us would knowingly jeopardize the other out of mutual respect.
It takes patience and confidence to explain our side in times of conflict, without condescending or patronizing the other, and vulnerability in hearing about our blind-spots or weaknesses.
It takes the admittance that we make something really great as Bow & Hammer, and that we’re equal parts in that duo no matter how different we can be.
I’m not sure ours is the most popular interpersonal plan floating around these days, but it sure works for us, and I think it shows through everything B&H creates. Each time we put it to the test, whether it be for Élevé, Industry Night, Patreon, launching a non-profit, rehearsing, traveling, or getting lunch, I am increasingly grateful and reassured, and can’t imagine Bow & Hammer without it.