Orchestras and Entrepreneurs

Over the past 6 years Tuesday has been consistently been my favorite day of the week. On Tuesday at 6:30 P.M. I stroll into the empty Arthur Zankel Music Hall and place my things along the row of padded wooden chairs near the stage. Nostalgia overwhelms me as I look around the familiar hall, the rows of chairs, the stage, and recording booth. I open my trumpet case and begin to warm up. Tuesday’s are important to me not only because of my love of music and my community members, but also because playing in an orchestra has real personal and professional benefits. You wouldn’t understand it if you just came to a concert. Let me explain:

Being in an orchestra is very much like being in a young company. Specifically, the orchestra is filled with people of different specialties and skills all brought together to build a meaningful product from scratch. The composer and concertmaster resemble founders in their vision, skill, and commanding presence. They must empower the culture and skill of the rest of the orchestra to operate as one under this vision. Many people think that an orchestra, if up to skill, can play any piece of music in any style. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The same minute details that differentiate direct messaging on Twitter and those on Facebook, resemble any number of changes that can come forth when an orchestra interprets music.

This past Tuesday our Orchestra began a new semester with new music and new members. Pieces including the famous and difficult Symphonie Fantastique by Hector Berlioz and Cappricio Espagnole by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. As we played through these works for the first time mistakes were everywhere. Players missed entrances, played too loud or soft, or in different keys all together. As we worked through each piece our conductor would engage in a process very similar to the build, feedback, learn loop of the lean startup methodology. We would play through a part, regardless of how many mistakes we made; the conductor would provide feedback and would encourage each player to listen more and try again, and slowly by the end of our two and a half hours of rehearsal parts began to come together. This process is embedded in those of us who have been there for so long. We put faith in our conductor and we work as a team to build something from scratch into something beautiful.

I see this too in working at a startup with dedicated entrepreneurs who are just trying to build something that will solve a real problem and that everyone will love. When minor mistakes happen you listen, learn, and pick up and start again. In the end, you work hard, have a lot of fun, and build something beautiful.

About Me

I currently work as an Operations Associate at Morsel, a food tech startup that helps companies make it easy to feed their employees healthy and delicious lunches.

I am also a last semester graduate student at the Rockefeller College of Public Administration and Policy where I study organizational design and leadership within the public and private sector. Previously I obtained my Bachelor’s in economics at Skidmore College and grew up in Port Washington, NY.

Email: itucker33@gmail.com

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