I find that I can become envious of the player next to me; he/she might be stronger in sight-reading, improvisation, intonation, range, etc. However, in doing this, I neglect the bigger picture. First of all why am I there? The answer should be because I enjoy playing music. If I get so tied up in worrying about making mistakes or keeping up with the Joneses, maybe it is time to find another profession or hobby. If you too find yourself doubting your place "at the table," remember that everyone has something to offer the ensemble. The least experienced player can always add musicianship to the ensemble by listening intently and blending his/her sound with the group's. Be humble, but know that everyone is unique. That killer improviser might not honour the dynamics like you do or might not follow the leader/conductor as diligently. You are there for a reason, as a valuable member of the group. Have faith in that and enjoy!
Dr. Michael Kearns
Musician, educator, husband, father, web designer ... my life is like a mosaic with each piece vying for my attention.