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"Creating a Personal Clinic Network:
Then & Now"

by Vaughn Nark

When I first began my relationship as a clinician for the "Yamaha Corp.", more than a few years ago, I immediately realized what a special privilege I was being afforded. A major instrument company was bestowing their trust in me to directly channel my passion for music into the young, who are potentially our most valuable resource.  Most will agree that without the interest of the young the future of any endeavor is doomed to extinction.  A clinician has the rare responsibility to pass a torch to others who will subsequently light the flame for future generations, thereby insuring the integrity and longevity of the entire musical experience.

I would like to recollect my own experience, offering purely subjective suggestions and philosophies.  In addition, kindly allow me to state the changes I have encountered throughout my years of involvement in this highly rewarding enterprise.

A clinician would do well to begin to think of themselves as a small business, both utilizing and implementing proven business techniques to alert their potential marketplace to their availability. In making this investment in yourself, do not foolishly wait for your telephone to ring, but network aggressively to make it ring. Compile an extensive promotional kit with an accurate (and hopefully true) biography. As a performance is almost always the culmination of your appearance, begin to amass a body of arrangements of varying difficulty levels that both showcase your talents and allow for student contributions. Organize a list of potential events you would like to participate in and be prepared to actively follow through on every conceivable contact you may be exposed to.

The potential of events available to the clinician is vast indeed, so in the beginning strive not for quantity but rather for valuable experience in sculpting your presentation. Realize in your networking that your efforts are a direct reflection of yourself and strive for the highest degree of professionalism constantly. An advertisement that includes all of your available services should be place periodically in our major trade magazines.

A sound small business technique requires the initial investment of capital before eventual acquisition hopefully occurs. Despite your best efforts, a clinician must be prepared to endure varying periods of activity as well as outright rejection. Remember your bleak periods when great fortitude is required in honoring back to back to back commitments. It is a pleasant problem being too busy, but a real problem not to be. An "eyes on the prize" mentality coupled with tenacity, persistence and perseverance are the qualities necessary to achieve eventual success.

Upon arriving at your event, seek to establish an immediate rapport by exuding positive energy, enthusiasm and good humor. Each clinician will eventually develop their own style and approach but remember that you are essentially an invited guest in someone's home. Both students and directors are usually highly perceptive, impressionable and sensitive. Explain that a performance is a celebration of human spirit and strive to eliminate anxiety and tension whenever possible. That success directly depends on one's adaptability to the circumstances they encounter. Convey that the greatest error any musician can commit is not a major mistake in interpretation, but is in not striving to overcome obstacles and consistently provide their supreme effort. Further render that failure can never be truly experienced by those who have given their maximum effort, but is guaranteed to be experienced by those who have not. These cornerstones epitomize true professionalism.

As you may be a "live" representation of what others aspire to be, walk what you talk and be "real". A clinician's very livelihood depends almost entirely on the reputation they have acquired and it is wise (and simply good manners) to avoid gossip in the inevitable shop talk you will encounter. A positive reputation that has taken years to evolve can suffer severe damage in an alarmingly short time. Courtesy extended usually transforms into courtesy afforded. Take the time to announce students names to your audience and explain that the front microphone is not an enemy to be feared, but rather a friend to be enjoyed. Finally congratulate all those involved for their contribution and state that, as the future caretakers of our heritage, it is their responsibility to pass the torch we mentioned earlier on to others. Always venture to gently guide, reassure, complement and inspire, the last of which can hopefully be accomplished by playing your ass off!

The changes I have observed throughout the years are directly related to the explosion of technology inherent in "the information age". The opportunities afforded by the Internet were previously unimaginable to past generations. A personal web site is a virtual requisite for the clinician, allowing for direct communication with event coordinators and as a nearly limitless venue for the exchange of information and advertisement. Personal organizers have enabled the clinician's entire network to be at their fingertips as needed. Cell phones have made it possible to communicate with nearly anyone except of course Houdini, who despite his infamous final promise has remained somewhere beyond known roaming charges. Faxes have allowed for the instant return of the inevitable lost portion of a chart as well as the rapid finalization of contracts, which I advocate being implemented for each individual event. A clinician who unconditionally gives their spirit to others must recognize the importance of having their own spirit replenished and reinvigorated.

Subsequent reading of your e-mails, which may state what your appearance has meant to a student or attendant, can serve as a source of sustenance to your spirit by which the entire process perpetually rejuvenates itself. Educational aids available today were scarcely conceivable but a few short years ago. Perhaps future technology will evolve to the point when "Beam me up Scotty" will finally be a reality.

Most clinicians will readily admit that they receive far more from the experience than they can ever hope to espouse. It is a rare individual that can transcend their passion into a vital living reality. At the conclusion of an event I usually experience a wonderful feeling of fulfillment and "afterglow". This priceless state allows me to feel that I can almost fly home unassisted, which may not be a bad idea considering the present climate. In closing, I am reminded that no less a legend than John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie spent his entire career openly sharing his vast musical knowledge with anyone that was respectful and receptive. He truly realized what inevitably the clinician must also:


Yours in music,

Vaughn Nark

Yamaha trumpet clinician
Summit Records recording artist
USAF Airmen of Note (Ret.)

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