Motivation in the orchestra is a key issue

Orchestra musicians often work under conditions of high stress; yet at the same time, personal motivation and work satisfaction tend to be high. The question is how motivation in the orchestra can be fostered and demotivating elements minimised. Given that motivation is largely an intrinsic quality, yet orchestra work mainly other-directed, the importance of leadership qualities and highlights human resources development, communication and team building must be more stressed as success factors. When asked, musicians list a number of motivating factors: job security, a helpful working atmosphere, gifted conductors who also offer good leadership, opportunities for artistic exploration (e.g. through membership in a chamber orchestra), but perhaps most of all – the applause of thrilled audiences.

Professional musicians and athletes, it is argued, share certain characteristic as high-performers. It is worth to be discussed to which extent Frintrup and Schuler’s Sports Performance Indicator (SPI) can be applied to orchestra musicians. A number of indices could usefully be employed to develop motivation, while others – especially those relating to self-directed activities – may be less valuable. Yet a certain freedom for exactly such personal decisions often has positive effects on motivation, and many businesses are utilising this effect to increase staff satisfaction and productivity. Orchestras may be well advised to copy this approach, especially for decisions on (guest) conductors and programming.
Good examples for motivation in the orchestra are cases in which musicians of ensembles have set up self-directed programmes, often run as chamber concerts, in co-ordination with local theatres or concert halls or self-directed outreach and education activities. Another example may be an orchestra, running its own music school where orchestra musicians work as instrumental teachers as well.

At least there are many approaches to improve motivation in the orchestra. Orchestra management has to focus more on this issue.

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