I used to read a lot of biographies, of all kinds of people. In a biography of the British actor Sir Laurence Olivier, there was one thing that made a big impression on me: While filming a movie or rehearsing for a play, Olivier would always take the time to help another actor learn their lines or practice their part. He’d stay late after rehearsal and read lines with an actor who needed the extra practice. And this was when he was the big star!
Lady Gaga is another performer who is extremely generous. In her case, I see it in the way she interacts with her co-performers on stage. When singing duets with someone, you can see the love and passion pour out of her eyes towards them. Or, she’ll walk over to a guitarist to highlight and connect with them for a moment.
We see it happen all the time in smaller, local gigs too. The “old pro” drummer gives a warm smile at the “newby” bassist while setting up before the gig. The pianist sees that the young sax player is a little unsure of the arrangement so she makes sure to play a very clear 4-bar intro to the tune. The bassist, seeing that the young arranger has written a bass note that’s below the range of the instrument, waits until after rehearsal to quietly point this out to the newcomer (this one happened to me when I was first starting out!).
Be generous when it’s possible and appropriate. No, don’t let people take advantage of you. But in the right circumstances, generosity is a win-win situation.
Enjoy the journey and “let the music flow!”