Why All Leaders Should Take Conducting Lessons

22 11 2011

I came across this interesting list while learning more about conducting on the site developed by Michael Hyatt on leadership skills.  Give it a read. It made my heart sing!  🙂  The original article is found here. Give it a good read and see if you agree.

8 Things Leaders Can Learn from Symphony Conductors

Saturday night, Gail and I went to the Nashville Symphony with our daughter, Mary, and her husband, Chris. Mary had bought tickets for Gail’s birthday. It was a magnificent evening.

The orchestra was conducted by the renowned Hugh Wolff. He and the orchestra performed Beethovan’s Concerto No. 4 in G major for Piano and Orchestra. Horacio Guitiérrez played the piano. After the intermission, the orchestra performed Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances, Op. 45.

We are privileged to have seats on the second row. I was less than 20 feet from Hugh Wolff. I was fascinated just watching him lead the orchestra. Toward the end of the evening, it occurred to me that conducting and leading have a lot in common:

  1. The conductor starts with a great score. Conductors have a plan. They start with a musical score and a clear idea of how it should sound. Only then do they attempt to recreate in real time their musical “vision.”
  2. The conductor recruits the very best players. Great conductors attract great players. Mediocre conductors attract mediocre players. The very best players want to work for the very best conductors. Like attracts like.
Question: How do these items relate to leadership? What else can we learn from conductors?



3 responses

24 11 2011
Piano Lessons Vancouver

I have felt the same way about music and leadership. Not a lot of people realize just how much responsibility there is on the person who organizes a concert, whether it be for a 4 person band playing on a Friday night at a pub, or a 50 person orchestra at the opera house.
From my own experience organizing small concerts with my musician friends, the less in control I seemed to them, the less support I got from them in return. Within days of starting my first few projects, I quickly had to learn to at least pretend that I knew what I was doing, even if I was scared to death and panicking on the inside, or else I would have musicians dropping out of the group or let the reliable musicians down. And somehow, pretending that I knew what I was doing eventually became a self-fulfilling prophecy.
I couldn’t get away with not having a plan for each rehearsal. My musicians needed to know what we were playing that day, when the next rehearsal was scheduled, when the gig was, what the dress code was, etc and most important of all, they needed me to be consistent. Directing the group is frightening too if you have stage fright, but you have to get over it pretty quickly to gain support from your peers.

24 11 2011
Brad Johnston

I would agree. Conducting and organizing events with artists is a
demanding job. Especially trying to cope with the varied personalities
involved. They can eat you up whole if you aren’t prepaired. I thought
your insight into being a novice was interesting as well. It really is
sink or swim. That old music phrase comes to mind. “A musician is only as
good as their last gig.” Thanks for sharing.

14 01 2012
Food Fan Frank

I took a few conducting classes in college, and an opportunity to conduct the college band. You really think you know what you’re doing before you get up there and the musicians are all expecting you to lead them. It takes a while. Plus, you have to know the score so well that you can the slightest mistake if it is being made repeatedly. You’ve also got to know the strengths, weaknesses, and capabilities of all the instruments. There’s some much that goes into conducting that people don’t realize.

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