The Best Teams Act Like Musicians

September 23, 2015

Kronos Quartet on Cancao Verdes Anos (Song for the Green Years)

Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 8.45.59 PMThis past weekend while I was at Haystack for the Maine Art Education Association conference a high school teacher, who in addition, plays a guitar said to me that he had the opportunity to play with a group of his students and had a moment that he understood what it felt like to be part of a music group, a band. He said he looked up and realized the connection that musicians have with their eye contact, body motion, and the connections from one note and part of a song to the next. He was so excited that he had the chance to understand what that feels like.

A year ago the New York Times published an article written by Graham Roberts and Daniel J. Wakin about the successful Kronos Quartet. Not to mention that the article includes a video that a 3D point capture that rendered pieces of the quartet as “dot clouds”. It is amazing to watch! The first paragraph of the article…

Founded 40 years ago, the Kronos Quartet has broken the boundaries of what string quartets do, commissioning hundreds of new works that have brought jazz, tango, experimental and world music into the genre. The string quartet, based in San Francisco, has released 57 albums, sold more than 2.5 million of those recordings and has become a mentor to several generations of quartets that have followed in its innovative wake.

One day earlier this year at a studio in downtown Manhattan, the members — David Harrington and John Sherba, violinists; Hank Dutt, violist; and Sunny Yang, cellist — were game for an experiment: to create a video that would serve as a new way to explain the special mystery of how a quartet communicates. ​ They found themselves surrounded by a battery of laptops, video cameras and microphones as well as sensors that turned their movements into data that eventually rendered the players kind of as “dot clouds” who would appear and disappear according to their individual participation in the music.

Reading this article and listening to the music puts the sentiment of the art teacher I spoke to, at a layer that exemplifies this at the highest level. I hope you will take the time (about 4 minutes) to see and hear what this is all about from the Kronos Quartet’s view. To me this is the highest form of collaboration, connection, and community!



  1. Argy, thank you! This is a truly revelatory article, and ‘nails it’ with regard to communication and inter-play! I was unable to find the video that was mentioned… can you help? Thanks!

  2. If you click on “THE NEW YORK TIMES” in the first line of the article once you go to the link in the blog post you will get to the video. It is awesome Iris! ~Argy

  3. Argy, I did find it, and posted it on my FB from YouTube. It truly is awesome!

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