Tiffany Chang



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, or job security (though important and part of it), but rather the everyday work culture.

Many musicians feel a lack of trust, safety, and purpose in their work. We don't end up doing our absolute best and we refrain from risk taking without even knowing that's happening. Music that was once a deep passion becomes merely a job--clocking in and clocking out, off to the next gig. The result is unexciting art, hollow work culture, and unhappy people.

Musicians deserve to feel fulfilled by everything they do every time they do it and to know that their work matters. Conductors are crucial in facilitating and encouraging this kind of work culture. 

How can we work toward this? I hope to consider how we can be:

  1. Creating a culture of trust and safety in the work environment
  2. Infusing the group with a shared vision and goals
  3. Being empathetic to the musicians' needs and desires
  4. Exploring pitfalls, biases, and limitations of our hiring processes and organizational structures 


Imagine an organization where its people stand up for those to their left and right; where every individual can clearly articulate a collective, unified purpose; and where this energy, passion, and humanity transmit naturally to their audiences. That's the world I want to work in. I don't have all the answers, but I want to start the conversations.

I'll be sharing my ideas here and also in the form of short videos. I'd be interested to hear from you if this resonates with you. Thanks!


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