Tiffany Chang

conductor

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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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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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Legitimacy

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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Perks & costs

Posted by Tiffany Chang on February 21, 2021 at 9:50 AM

Title has nothing to do with leadership. Leadership has everything to do with trust.

 

When we are given the privilege of being the leader, we enjoy many perks: the bigger office, higher salary, fancy title, name on dressing room door, people bringing us coffee, the authority to tell others what to do. All those perks come with a cost. When we are faced with danger and threat, leaders are expected to protect those in their charge, even if it means sacrificing their own comfor...

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To go first

Posted by Tiffany Chang on February 15, 2021 at 10:45 PM

What does leadership mean in music? First, we must consider that to lead means to go first, to be the first to do something. Once the leader goes and does it, everyone else follows because they think "oh, I can do it too."

 

I'm interested in why don't more musicians want to go first? Musicians are creative, curious, courageous people, so why are there not millions of musical innovators and leaders pushing the envelope? Why would we rather sit there and be told what to do? Th...

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Conductor as CEO - starting the conversation

Posted by Tiffany Chang on February 15, 2021 at 2:20 PM

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


Why is there growing dissent and declining job fulfillment for ensemble musicians? Why are there more stories about conflicts between orchestras and conductors compared to stories about conductors fighting for their orchestras? Why don't conductors focus on making things better for musicians? I'm thinking beyond matters of artistry, salary,...

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