The Engineers’ Orchestra: A Conductorless Orchestra for Our Time
Performance skills—leadership, teamwork, and communication—can make or break an engineering career. Critical for success in life, they empower engineering students to reach their greatest promise as professionals, citizens, and individuals. But how to develop these skills in engineering students through experiential practice? Blurring the line between art and science offers one route via creative engagement: playing in a conductorless orchestra. A conductorless orchestra cultivates leadership, teamwork, and communication week-in and week-out during rehearsals and concerts. The only conductorless orchestra in the world composed of engineers currently resides at Olin College of Engineering, Needham, MA. Its rationale and blueprint nevertheless translate to other institutions. Developed over the past 14 years, that blueprint features a set of core values with clear expectations, a student-focused organizational structure, bonding and team-building pursuits, seriously fun musical games, and professional feedback. In short, the Engineers’ Orchestra offers engineer-musicians a project-based learning lab where they build—emotionally and intellectually—effective leadership, collaboration, and communication, while doing something they love—creating music.
KeywordsConductorless orchestra Leadership, engineering Teamwork, engineering Communication, engineering Music, brain
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