There's only one way to really make music with other people. You have to cut everything off and relegate yourself to nothing, directing all attention, not to yourself, but to others. Your part is nothing! Their part is everything. It is hard, it is counterintuitive, and it is humbling. But it's the only way to do it. A bit like a circle of people all sitting on each others' laps, it only works when everyone cooperates and trusts each other. You watch that constant, eighth-note beat, and build upon it the melody of your part. You listen to the sweet melody, and support it with your harmony. It's not about you, it's about the other people: watch what they do, and communicate!
Constant communication, being connected with the entire orchestra, yields a feeling of being a part of the larger body. The nuance of the cellist becomes the gentle stroke of your bow; the stroke of your bow becomes the bassist's sway; the bassist's sway cues the violas' run; the violas' run becomes the lower strings' crescendo; the baseline crescendo builds into the entire orchestra's cadence. Back and forth, back and forth: now I'm here, now I'm there, running with the second violins, flowing with the cellists, and it's all so real, so here and in the present that's it's impossible to imagine anything else, yet we maintain that delicate balance between thinking and feeling. We hold the song in our heads and control the piece, and yet we feel the song in our fingers and in our breath and we let it go to become something new, something on its own.
The music: that is all there is! Personal identity disappears, the members of the orchestra melt into one living, breathing being and then even that flows away—
And only the music remains.
What we create is something of value. That is something greater than ourselves, a little bit of our soul that we all share. Our differences slide off and what they leave is a core piece of humanity, its triumphs and travails, its sorrows and successes, something that the backwood Aborigine and refined Englishman both share and hold dear. It's there, whether we perform in Carnegie Hall or in the basement, whether we are the grand symphonic orchestra or a humble, lonely pair—
Because only the music remains.