Use your opportunities: German orchestras are improving communication and leadership

For many organisations, but particular in the cultural industries, people are the most important resource. Yet while working conditions have changed profoundly over time, the management of many orchestras is still based on structures dating back to the 19th century. Orchestras need a strong case for new approaches to communication, organisation and leadership that understand the active integration of staff as central to institutional success. While there is now greater openness for improved internal communications, there is still resistance to interventions such as coaching and mediation.
In Germany it is the aim of the network “Der gute Ton” (“Good Form”), organized by Ralf Pegelhoff and other professional musicians, to address these issues. Independently run, it seeks to offer workshops and talks, conflict counselling and a platform for informal exchanges. Institutional communication is complex, running on verbal as well as non-verbal levels and often insufficiently reflected upon. Openness for discussion, if need be through mediation, based on mutual appreciation is seen as a principal means for the resolution and prevention of conflicts. It is noted that these aspects of leadership are still neglected during professional musical training.

The “culture of communication” was the subject of a conference in March 2010, organised by the Federal Academy of Cultural Education in Wolfenbüttel (Germany), which attracted great interest. It brought together professional mediators, but also representatives of the associations of German orchestras and theatres, orchestra managers and musicians as well as executives of private companies.


3 thoughts on “Use your opportunities: German orchestras are improving communication and leadership

  1. You certainly deserve a round of applause for your post and more specifically, your blog in general. Very high quality material.

  2. Undoubtedly, one of the best article l have come across on this precious topic. I quite agree with your conclusions and will eagerly look forward to your coming updates.

    • Dear reader/commentator,

      indeed the issue of personel development is one of the most important core missions in the orchestra management field. In Germany discussions started in March 2007, after a very critical report (Ralf Pegelhoff, Hannover State Orchestra) in the magazine “das Orchester” about hidden conflicts between orchestra musicians and open conflicts with the management, conductors etc.

      Today the consciousness in the orchestra field has increased, but much remains to be done.


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