The Engineers’ Orchestra: A Conductorless Orchestra for Our Time
- 617 Downloads
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
Many thanks to Founding Librarians Lydia Carver and Dee Magnoni of the Olin College Library, Administrative Assistant Paul Coveney for his organizational and artistic help with the OCO concert programs, Asst. Vice President and Director of Communication Joe Hunter for his skill and creativity producing music videos of OCO, photographer Michael Maloney for documenting the Music Program at Olin with panache, artist Ellen van Deelen for allowing use of her imaginative photo in Fig. 2, Assistant to the Dean of Admission and Financial Aid Susan Johanson for generously giving her time since 2002, Founding Dean of Admission Charlie Nolan for his inspired and steadfast support of OCO, current Dean of Admission and Financial Aid Emily Roper-Doten for continuing momentum, President Rick Miller, Provost Vin Manno, and Boston University neuroscientist Judy Schotland for suggestions on the manuscript, and to past and present members of the Olin Conductorless Orchestra—all of whom made this orchestra a reality. On a personal note, deep appreciation to the OCO navigators of the past 4 years: Philicia Chow, David Pudlo, Jacob Kingery, Evan Dorsky, Shreya Rangarajan, Katie Hite, and Eric Westman.
- Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. (1997). Engineering criteria 2000 (2nd ed.). Baltimore, MD: ABET.Google Scholar
- Belbin, R. M. (1993). Team roles at work. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann.Google Scholar
- Brandsford, J., & Schwartz, D. (1999). Rethinking transfer: A simple proposal with multiple implications. Review of Research in Education, 24, 61–100.Google Scholar
- Catterall, J. (2005). Conversation and silence: Transfer of learning through the arts. Journal for Learning through the Arts, 1(1), 1–12.Google Scholar
- Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1996). Creativity: Flow and the psychology of discovery and invention. New York: Harper Perennial.Google Scholar
- Drath, W., & Palus, C. (1994). Making common sense: Leadership as meaning-making in a community of practice. Greensboro, NC: Center for Creative Leadership.Google Scholar
- Felsing, C. (2007). Introducing Dr. Richard K. Miller, meet our honorary board members. American Suzuki Journal, 35(4), 17–19.Google Scholar
- Froyd, J. (2011). Problem-based learning and adaptive expertise. In 41st ASEE/IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference, 12–15 October 2011. Rapid City, SD: IEEE. pp. S3B-1–S3B-5.Google Scholar
- Gage, F. (2002). Neurogenesis in the adult brain. Journal of Neuroscience, 22(3), 612–613.Google Scholar
- Gardner, H. (1983). Frames of mind: The theory of multiple intelligences. New York: Basic.Google Scholar
- Grinter, L. (1994). Summary of the report on evaluation of engineering education [Reprinted from, Engineering Education, 46, 25–60)]. Journal of Engineering Education, 93(1), 74–94. Retrieved June 13, 2013, from http://www.asee.org/papers-and-publications/publications/The-Grinter-Report-PDF.pdf. (Original work published 1955)
- Hackman, J. (2005). Rethinking team leadership or team leaders are not music directors. In D. M. Messick & R. M. Kramer (Eds.), The psychology of leadership: New perspectives and research (pp. 115–142). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
- Khodyakov, D. (2008). Trust and control in counterpoint: a case study of conductorless orchestras. Ph.D. thesis, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ.Google Scholar
- LaBarre, P. (1998). Leadership—Ben Zander [online]. Fast Company. Retrieved May 16, 2013, from http://www.fastcompany.com/35825/leadership-ben-zander.
- Lehman, E. (1999). The berlin philharmonic orchestra. Harmony, 9, 11–25.Google Scholar
- Levitin, D. (2007). This is your brain on music. New York: Penguin Group.Google Scholar
- Lubans, J. (2006). The invisible leader: Lessons for leaders from the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. OD Practitioner, 38(2), 5–9.Google Scholar
- Miller, R. (2008). Beyond study abroad: Preparing engineers for the new global economy. Needham, Olin College of Engineering. Retrieved June 19, 2013, from https://olin.edu/about_olin/docs/pdf/study_abroad.pdf.
- Morrison, J., & Baxter, M. (2012). The ageing cortical synapse: Hallmarks and implications for cognitive decline. Nature Reviews. Neuroscience, 13, 240–250.Google Scholar
- National Academy of Engineering. (2005). Educating the engineer of 2020: Adapting engineering education to the new century. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.Google Scholar
- National Science Foundation. (1996). Shaping the future: Strategies for revitalizing undergraduate education. In Shaping the future: New Expectations for Undergraduate Education in Science, Mathematics, Engineering, and Technology Conference, 11–13 July 1996, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
- Reader, S., & Laland, K. (2002). Social intelligence, innovation, and enhanced brain size in primates. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, 99(7), 4436–4441.Google Scholar
- Seifter, H. (2001). The Conductor-less Orchestra [online]. Leader to Leader, No. 21 Summer 2001. Retrieved June 1, 2013, from http://www.seifterassociates.com/uploads/4/0/5/9/4059165/drucker_foundation_-_the_conductorless_orchestra.pdf.
- Seifter, H., & Economy, P. (2001). Leadership ensemble: Lessons in collaborative management from the world-famous conductorless orchestra. New York: Holt and Company.Google Scholar
- Senge, P., Scharmer, C., Jaworski, J., & Flowers, B. (2005). Presence: Exploring profound change in people, organizations and society. London: Nicholas Brealey Publishing.Google Scholar
- Witkin, H., & Goodenough, D. (1977). Field dependence and interpersonal behavior. Psychological Behavior, 84(4), 661–689.Google Scholar
- Woods, D. (2006). Preparing for PBL [online]. McMaster University, Hamilton, ON. Retrieved June 15, 2013, from http://www.chemeng.mcmaster.ca/pbl/pblbook.pdf.