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"The Orchestra: A Young Person’s Guide to the Future"

Updated: Mar 21

Whether for a young child or a young adult, the experience of playing in an orchestra is invaluable, even if he or she does not pursue a career in the field. It isn’t just about playing good music – it’s learning skills of community, being team players, and fully experiencing the importance of personal responsibility. All these transferable skills bring us to these insights:

1. University Admissions and Financial Aid Offices Love Orchestra Players Experience in the arts is often viewed favourably when a university decides on admission and scholarships. Academic performance may provide an indication of analytical skills and hard work, but this needs a counterweight in seeing if a candidate has the ability to be a good team player, not to mention having some sense of creativity. Few avenues can compete with the challenges and benefits that an orchestra can provide. Additionally, a candidate can aim to impress with a record of concert performances to complement one’s academic achievements. The orchestra is more than a sum of its parts, and an orchestral player can encounter impressive opportunities that would rarely be available to a young solo musician.

2. Employers Value Soft Skills

Likewise, a university degree to an employer provides an indication of technical skills, that need to be paired with the soft skills of cooperation with colleagues, collaborations with strangers, teamwork, and creative thinking.

Orchestral playing provides all of these, while also boosting one’s discipline, work ethic, and drive for personal development. Beyond boosting one’s resume, it boosts the actual person behind that resume, allowing you to answer the common job interview question: “So, what skills do you have outside of your degree?”

3. Preparing a life-time hobby Beyond being a strategic decision, orchestra playing can be like a lifetime companion. Communities often have orchestras or ensembles that allow someone to quickly connect to society, to find links and bonds wherever one’s journey may lead. In many ways, music is a universal language, and can allow us to connect to others despite differences in culture, creed, or tradition.

4. Orchestras can provide other career paths

Orchestras are intricate organisations, with not only musicians, but a host of other positions, such as the orchestra librarian, orchestra manager, administrator, and stage manager. These avenues – in addition to being a performer – provide opportunities for one who might want to change professions. Additionally, a good orchestra player may well do some music teaching on the side, and being in a local orchestra is key to building a pool of students.

5. Let’s be cultured

The traditions behind the music orchestras play go back centuries – and understanding the music of Bach and Beethoven opens a door to understanding history and building a cultured personality that benefits one as much off stage as on it. The art of expression in playing music also can benefit one’s communication skills in other areas.

6. Improve multitasking and adaptability skills

Quick wits: the ability to adapt immediately to a new conductor or something that happens during a performance that never happened in rehearsal – these are the skills that are hard to hone anywhere else. That, and the multi-faceted challenge of juggling rhythms, chords, balance with other instruments, etc. – all while being both a cohesive part of the team and yet an expressive individual. Which part of any job (or indeed, life) couldn’t benefit from these skills?

7. Be both a humble follower and a proactive leader Orchestra players learn both to execute tasks as well as to take charge. While a conductor is the most prominent leader, players can take roles as section leaders or the concertmaster, learn to lead sectional rehearsals, and in some cases try on the conductor’s baton themselves.

In short, the young person joining an orchestra joins a small society. It is full of opportunities to grow, to learn new skills, to adapt, and to seek and provide help when needed. Most importantly, while being all these things, it is first and foremost a bundle of fun, and in the right circumstances even a source of inspiration. And whether in a university or in a workplace, that sense of being inspired, and knowing how to find enjoyment in whatever one is doing, can lead a young person to future that’s brighter, and more promising.

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