4 Lessons From The Orchestra - FocusU

4 Lessons From The Orchestra

musiciansWhen we hear the word team, we think of a group of people coming together to create, produce, or accomplish something together. Some of the best and most common examples of good teams are sports teams. But let’s take a step outside of the stadium and into the theatre. A less-used, but equally apt example is the orchestra: the world’s greatest team. Okay okay, perhaps I’m biased (being a musician) but let’s take a look at the components of the orchestra to see how they continually create harmony.

The components: An orchestra has many parts, or sections as they are referred to in the music world. The four main sections to any orchestra are the strings, winds, brass, and percussion. But that’s not to say these are all the players. Let us not forget the leader of the group – the conductor. Not to mention the guest players that make an appearance from time to time – the soloists.

A team is never the summation of its players; at least it shouldn’t be if you’re doing it right. Instead, a team is the product of all the players’ talents combining and compounding with one another. The workplace of many musicians, the orchestra, mirrors many corporate workplace environments. There are the main sections, or departments (human resources, sales, business development, marketing, etc.) along with the leader, the boss. In the world of business the guest players come in many shapes and sizes – consultants, clients, partners, other branches, and more. The analogy goes on and on. But much like in the orchestra, the departments do not function independently; the sections must rely on one another to fill the rests, balance the melody, and accompany the soloists.

So how is the orchestra so effective?

1. Musicians rehearse in groups. Two heads are better than one, at least we are told. This could not be truer in the orchestral world. While the strings, winds, brass, and percussion are all individual sections, they are made up of smaller groups. The winds are made of the clarinets, flutes, oboes, and bassoons. And as any musician knows, the first clarinet part may seem to shine the most, but without the support of the second clarinet and the bass clarinet, the first wouldn’t stand out like it does. Working in a large team is wonderful, but different individuals thrive in different environments. Create environments for smaller formal and informal groups to develop to allow those individuals usually playing the secondary roles to mix it up and take the lead. Change the power dynamic in any team and you’re sure to see some sparks.

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2. Musicians practice alone.  No musician ever rose to section leader on hopes and dreams alone. They put in the hard work, sweat, and likely tears across many, many hours. It’s said that it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill. In the world of music, there is no quitting or easing up, even once you’ve surpassed your 10,000th hour and mastered a technique. Similarly, at the end of the day, not all of your best work will happen in a group setting. Take the time to work on your own, push your limits and find your happy place. For some it’s an hour in the morning before others arrive for the workday, for others it’s an evening run while planning that big presentation. Whatever it is, make time for yourself to do your best thinking. It’s easy to get distracted by the thoughts and ideas of others and let your independent thoughts fall to the wayside.

3. Musicians know when to solo and when to accompany. No one will ever solo for his or her entire life. Even the greatest soloists accompany others. Knowing how to play your part, when to play forte because your part is needed and when to support another more important part, is essential for a successful musician and a successful orchestra. It’s human nature to think what you are doing is important, and while it is important, sometimes it is not the most important part at that particular moment.

4. A good leader makes a big difference. The most important key to a successful orchestra is a good conductor. Without a good conductor, the best musicians can all sit in one room and not perform. Proper management and direction is key to a successful group. The leader, in this case the conductor, has to know his players, know their strengths and weaknesses, know where they perform their best, and then push them to grow beyond that. If you’ve ever seen an orchestra concert, you know the conductor receives applause separate from that of the group, but, if you wait and watch until the end of the concert, you will undoubtedly see the conductor pass the attention and the direction of the applause back to the group. Why is this? Because at the end of the day – a conductor isn’t conducting anything without his orchestra, just like a leader is leading no one without anyone following him.

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So the next time you see a group of musicians playing together, orchestral or otherwise, take a second to pull yourself out of the music and look at the musicians. Look at how they look at one another; look at how they connect and communicate seamlessly and how it affects the music they are making. If you’ve ever witnessed that bond or had the good fortune to experience it yourself, then you know there is nothing quite like creating music together and the connectedness that comes from it. If you are a music lover or want your team to experience this kind of connection to gain first hand experience of playing together and creating something completely in-the-moment, innovative, and inspired from the group dynamic, take a look at our music experiences that will provide your team a gateway into the world of music and unlock the benefits that stem from group music making.

If you’ve ever had a musical or artistic experience that moved you in ways you couldn’t imagine before, let us know. We’d love to try to create a customized experience for your whole team inspired by your past experiences!

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