Leading an Orchestra

So You Want to Lead an Orchestra.

Peter Drucker calls orchestras an example of an organization design that will become in-creasingly popular in the 21st century, in that they employ skilled and talented people, joined together as a team to create products and services. Drucker may hear what he wants to hear. Others say orchestras are autocratic. The conductor dictates what is played and how it is played. Rather than basking in the glow of orchestral teamwork, jokes like the following are common among orchestra members: Q. Why do so many people take an instant dislike to the viola? A. It saves time.

Job descriptions for orchestras look simple: Play the music. (Q. How is lightning like a key-boardist’s fingers? A. Neither strikes the same place twice.) Violins play violin parts; trumpets play trumpet parts. Yet one study reported that job satisfaction for orchestra members ranks below that of prison guards. However, orchestra members were more satisfied than operating room nurses and hockey players.

Exhibit 1 (below) shows the pay structure for a regional chamber orchestra. (Q. How can you make a clarinet sound like a French horn? A. Play all the wrong notes.) The pay covers six full orchestra concerts, one Caroling by Candlelight event, three Sunday Chamber Series concerts, several Arts in Education elementary school concerts, two engagements for a flute quartet, and one Ring in the Holidays brass event as well as the regularly scheduled rehearsals. (Q. How can you tell when a trombonist is playing out of tune? A. When the slide is moving.)

  1. Describe the orchestra’s pay structure in terms of levels, differentials, and job- or person-based approach.
  2. Discuss what factors may explain the structure. Why does violinist I receive more than the oboist and trombonist? Why does the principal trumpet player earn more than the prin-cipal cellist and principal clarinetist but less than the principal viola and principal flute players? What explains these differences? Does the relative supply versus the demand for violinists compare to the supply versus the demand for trombonists? Is it that violins play more notes?
  3. What is the pay differential between the principal viola and next highest paid viola? What about between the principal trumpet and the next highest paid trumpet? Why these differentials be-tween the principal and other? Why aren’t they larger? Smaller? Why is the differential between trumpet players different than between the viola players?
  4. How well do equity and tournament models apply? Do custom and tradition play any role? What about institutional theory?

EXHIBIT 1 Orchestra Compensation Schedule
Instrument/Fee

Violin, Concertmaster $6,970
Principal Bass and Conductor 5,070
Principal Viola 5,036
Principal Flute 4,337
Principal Trumpet 4,233
Principal Cello 4,181
Principal Clarinet 4,146
Trumpet 3,638
Principal Oboe 3,615
Principal Violin II 3,488
Principal Horn 3,390
Keyboard I 3,361
Cello 3,228
Principal Percussion 3,049
Violin I 2,899
Cello 2,882
Principal Bassoon 2,824
Violin I 2,685

    Instrument /Fee

Violin I $2,483
Violin I 2,483
Violin I 2,483
Violin II 2,483
Violin II 2,483
Viola 2,483
Violin II 1,975
Viola 2,212
Oboe 2,206
Trombone 2,137
Viola 2,033
Violin II/Viola 1,784
Cello 1,634
Clarinet 1,548
Horn 1,548
Flute 1,455
Keyboard II 1,392
Bassoon 1,265
Violin II 1,178

Sample Solution

ACED ESSAYS