Tiffany Chang



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

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Fitting in, Belonging, Status

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

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 April 29, 2021 at 8:40 AM

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 April 22, 2021 at 9:00 AM

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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What are your fears?

Posted by Tiffany Chang on April 15, 2021 at 9:00 AM

I wonder what are you afraid of as a musician when you do your work? Are my fears the same as yours?


If we could learn more about our fears, we can gain more perspective. Perhaps we could even develop strategies to help ourselves achieve more and be happier doing so. 


So I decided to do an informal poll. 60 people responded and I want to thank each and every one of them for taking the time to help! 


I asked the participants to...

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What's your mission?

Posted by Tiffany Chang on April 8, 2021 at 9:30 AM

On a whim, I decided to explore the mission statements of orchestras across the country in all 50 states. I was curious what they are, whether there are any similarities, and whether examining them would reveal any insights. I didn't really know what I was looking for, and it seemed like a fun activity for midnight on a Saturday.


So I looked at every state and a total of 71 orchestras in March 2021 (by no means a comprehensive list). Here are some interesting statist...

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The Peter Principle

Posted by Tiffany Chang on April 1, 2021 at 8:30 AM

How many times have you heard that despite a musician's exceptional artistry, they are just lousy leaders and not good at managing a group of people or at dealing with administrative tasks?


This could naturally refer to a conductor - but it could also refer to a section leader or a department chair. You love their music making, but just can't stand it when you have to be in a rehearsal or m...

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Do what they think matter?

Posted by Tiffany Chang on March 25, 2021 at 9:00 AM

Today, I''d like to begin with a story from my Oberlin school days...

I wrote my master's thesis on leadership as a conductor. I decided that I was going to put on a conducting recital and explore some leadership qualities along the way in the form of a paper. I remember that I created a survey that polled the musicians in the orchestra about their thoughts regarding the rehearsal process, leadership qualities, etc. I was trying to gather some empirical data so that I could ...

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Flying rehearsals

Posted by Tiffany Chang on March 18, 2021 at 9:00 AM

Musicians who have worked with conductors: Have you ever felt like with some conductors, a two hour rehearsal goes by like no time has passed at all? And for other conductors, 10 minutes feel like an unbearable hour?

Have you ever wondered why that is? What is so special about those conductors that make rehearsals feel bearable - or perhaps even productive?

Instead of focusing on what the conductor is doing, let's consider for a moment what's special...

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Trusting Musical Teams

Posted by Tiffany Chang on March 11, 2021 at 9:00 AM

As professional musicians, we all share the background of competitive environments, high-stakes auditions, and things never being quite good enough. High performance is the primary marker of success, and we spend the majority of the time alone making our work better. When we finally get a job and join a large artistic organization, we suddenly become part of a team. And this mindset of high performance = success becomes only part of the equation--and sometimes even a problem.


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Posted by Tiffany Chang on March 4, 2021 at 8:55 AM

I want to begin with a passage from Malcolm Gladwell's David and Goliath:


"...legitimacy is based on three things. First of all, the people who are asked to obey authority have to feel like they have a voice--that if they speak up, they will be heard. Second, the law has to be predictable. There has to be a reasonable expectation that the rules tomorrow are going to be roughly the same as the rules today. And third, the authority has to be fair. It can't treat on...

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