Lessons from Jazz Bands and the New Conductor-less Orchestra for Organizations Practicing Collaboration

Lessons from Jazz Bands and the New Leaderless Symphony for Organizations Practicing Collaboration

Both the creative “in the moment” improvisation of jazz bands and the studied and practiced leadership in the context of a leaderless symphony offer real and important insights into the practice of collaboration in any organization. While the product and the goals may be different, the processes in Jazz bands and leaderless symphonies are similar to the dynamics found in a Waldorf School.

Jazz Bands

In his significant book, Arnold Cho, Jazz musician and IT professional, discusses in depth the process of creating Jazz music and its relevance for organizations and teams. In a follow-up article written for IT professionals, he lays out 14 guiding principles and describes in detail the benefits and risks in each of the areas. If one were to imagine Waldorf schools as jazz ensembles and the overall progress of the community, (including children, parents teachers and staff) as the performance, his list and insights take on new meaning.


1.         Use Just Enough Rules
2.         Employ Top Talent
3.         Put the Team First
4.         Build Trust and Respect
5.         Commit with Passion


6.         Listen for Change
7.         Lead on Demand
8.         Act Transparently
9.         Make Contributions Count


10.         Reduce Friction
11.         Maintain Momentum
12.         Stay Healthy


13.         Exchange Ideas
14.         Take Measured Risks

To read the whole article go to     Jazz and Collaboration

Screen Shot 2014-01-15 at 8.46.34 PMLeaderless Orchestra

In an article on the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Harry Seifter (an author, consultant and leading authority on organizational creativity and arts‐based learning), describes the processes and skills involved in operating a conductorless symphony and the insights the members have gained about collaboration. These insights mirror the principles that we practice every day in our schools. It is encouraging to read that the lessons we learn in our schools are applicable and articulated in other successful organizations.  For more information about the process involved, read the article [The Leaderless Orchestra, Harry Seifter] . -MS

Read the article here: _the_conductorless_orchestra.pdf