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Tiffany Chang conductor 


Here are some of my favorite posts:

What's your mission? - I examined mission statements from 71 U.S. orchestras

Empathy in relationships - we know empathy is hard, and we should also know what it is not

Why don't we talk about it? - how organizations may encourage performers to be advocates

Note: New and existing posts will be hosted at

Below you'll only find archived posts from before June 24, 2021.


I imagine a world where conductors make artistic organizations great like CEOs make businesses great--by being of service to its people.

If you are intrigued, please sign up to receive an email with each new post. You can also watch posts as videos on this YouTube playlist.

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Confident humility

Posted by Tiffany Chang on 24 June, 2021 at 8:00

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about the liabilities of charisma and how strength of personality may lead to our doing things to please the leader and to our making decisions through the lens of the leader's view of the world.


Well, this poses a dilemma and a series of questions for leaders. Does that mean leaders should not demonstrate strength in vision or exercise their influ...

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Why don't we talk about it?

Posted by Tiffany Chang on 17 June, 2021 at 8:00

Imagine a cellist sitting in rehearsal about to play a few pages' worth of tonics and dominants in a Rossini Act I finale.


After the rehearsal, what's the likelihood of them being excited to tell someone else about it? Encouraging someone to come see a performance? Sharing the experience with a friend in a coffee chat the next day?


It's probably more likely that they'll complain about having to play the passage and how boring they find Rossini oper...

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Liability of charisma

Posted by Tiffany Chang on 10 June, 2021 at 8:00

When you make decisions or take actions, are they determined by whether they would be deemed acceptable by the leader, teacher, or other authority figure? 


I answered yes numerous times throughout my own conducting training and while watching others teach conducting.


I find it interesting that conductor training usually involves scenarios driven by 1) pleasing the personality that is in the position of authority (the teac...

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Thinking for ourselves

Posted by Tiffany Chang on 3 June, 2021 at 8:15

When musicians sit in a large ensemble rehearsal, we often wait to be told what to do next, how to play something, or what we need to do to fix problems. Overtime, we become out of practice in thinking for ourselves, and we are afraid and uncomfortable in making decisions. In fact, this mode of operation begins way before the moment we begin our professional lives.


Throughout our musical education, we gain an abundance of skills and relevant concepts such as those from mus...

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Grades with purpose

Posted by Tiffany Chang on 27 May, 2021 at 8:35

Recently, I've become interested in ways we may revamp our grading and incentive structures for large ensembles in the pre-professional academic context - and by extension the professional context. (If we swap "grade" for "pay" or "incentive", for the most part, the ideas can be mapped onto the professional setting.) 


We typically determine grades based on measurable metrics such as attendance. And at best we use subjective evaluations of etiquette, attitude, musicians...

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We're in the business of... happiness

Posted by Tiffany Chang on 20 May, 2021 at 8:30

In the last post, I shared the evolution of Zappos' vision. Their focus shifted naturally from the largest selection of shoes to delivering happiness. "Selection" indicates a concern with short-term gain, external results, and achieving metrics, while "happiness" puts the spotlight on the intangible feelings of people and their experiences that are impossible to measure.


Today I want to talk about this idea of happiness, and to share with you Za...

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We're in the business of... people

Posted by Tiffany Chang on 13 May, 2021 at 8:30

I want to tell you about Zappos, the online retail company well-known for its obsession with providing the best customer service. The record for the longest customer service call is currently at 10 hours and 43 minutes! Of course, that employee's goal was not to beat the previous record (because he would've stopped at 9 hours 38 minutes--one minute beyond the previous record). Instead, he was living out one of Zappos' core values of "delivering WOW through service." His exceptional ser...

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Fitting in, Belonging, Status

Posted by Tiffany Chang on 6 May, 2021 at 8:00

Today's post was prompted by reflecting on the frustrations I experience in my work (that I shared recently in a social media post). I touch on a collection of topics, including belonging, fitting in, status through the work of Ron Carucci, Brené Brown, Simon Sinek, and Seth Godin.


I am very fortunate to be a conductor at a name-brand conservatory. From the outside, i...

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The Stories We Tell

Posted by Tiffany Chang on 29 April, 2021 at 8:40

What are the stories we tell ourselves in rehearsal? What are the thoughts that go through our minds? Do conductors and instrumentalists tell the same stories?

Consider these pairs of stories: 

- CONDUCTOR: This is the most important thing in my life right now.
- INSTRUMENTALIST: This is not the most important thing ...
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After Action Review (AAR)

Posted by Tiffany Chang on 22 April, 2021 at 9:00

One of the things I do after each rehearsal is to reflect on what happened (what didn't go well, what went better than I thought, where did I miscalculate). I then try to find ways to recalibrate the plan and strategies moving forward (tweaking the rehearsal schedule, what kinds of notes do I have and how do I give them). I'm always frustrated by something and my goal is to relieve or find a solution for that frustration. This is normal for all conductors...

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