When I signed up for a life of conducting orchestras, I didn’t realize I’d also need to learn how to handle enormous audiences

Aerial photo of a concert attended by over 40,000 people.
Aerial photo of a concert attended by over 40,000 people.
Credit: Roll Focus Productions

When I signed up for a life of conducting orchestras, I was only thinking about conducting music. No one told me that I would be talking to audiences all of the time, and I didn’t expect my first concert as Music Director of the Victoria Symphony to be in front of 40,000 people.

“Lead and let go” to transform the potential of your team.

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L’Orchestre Métropolitain du Montreal with Tania Miller

Leadership is about being the fuel and the fire — creating a spark and lighting your team into motion. It’s about infusing and communicating purpose — so that it is what compels your team’s greatest passions and interests and brings them together in a common quest. And I learned as a conductor, that sometimes it’s about letting them play and standing back to enjoy the performance.

True leadership is a unique combination of actively leading and inspiring direction while, at other times, being a conduit for your organization’s own will to shine through.

As an orchestra conductor, if I get the balance right, I have the capacity to enable something extraordinary to emerge through talented people who are all committed to the same thing. …

How music can help every child grow into a happy and successful adult

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Samoylova Svetlana via Shutterstock

As an orchestra conductor, I can attest to how music has empowered my brain and changed my life.

I started out as a simple kid growing up on a farm in Saskatchewan and through music I learned the potential that I didn’t know I had.

Music is invaluable to children in many ways — brain development and growth is a major one, but there are so many other empowering ways that music will change your child’s life now and for the future.

Whether your child is a budding scientist, contractor, teacher, doctor, entrepreneur, or professional hockey player, they will have a more enriched, perceptive and creative life if they experience performing music in their youth. …

Six simple but powerful ways to ignite the creative spark within you

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Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

When we sit down to write, we seek the spark that will light up our minds with new inspiration and start us on a fresh creative path.

But finding that spark every time can be a challenge.

Creativity is like the lighting of a fire. The right conditions are necessary — dry wood, good oxygen and a calm breeze. Everything needs to conspire together harmoniously in order for the flame to ignite — if anything is off, the fire can’t seem to begin.

Creativity is also like tending a beautiful garden. We can’t make the plants grow. But we can create the environment that creates the possibility for their success — we can water our plants, give them good soil, and protect them from too much sun or wind. …

It’s an understanding force

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Photo by OC Gonzalez on Unsplash

You might feel like you are pent up at home, working in a bubble with no real way to get out. Or you might feel cut off from your normal socialization with friends and family and that there is too much silence around you. I know I do.

But there is something that you can do right now to make your days during the pandemic more joyful. And it will sustain you through your frustrations and fears, as well as making you feel like you’ve got a friend and understanding force in your life.

Honestly, in the last long while, we’ve been so distracted, so busy, that we haven’t had the time to focus on the good stuff in life. One of those deeper experiences is spending time with music. Really taking the time to listen, to look, to experience. …

Experiencing live music together would help the world right now

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Danny Howe via Unsplash

If you’re like me right now, you’re feeling alone and cut off from what was once a freely spontaneous and social life where we connected daily with people who empowered us and brightened our days. But the pandemic has cut us off from each other and with the US election right now on top of it, all I can think about is —

What will bring us together again?

I’m a orchestra conductor and I miss being on stage regularly sharing music with an orchestra and especially an audience.

Just this past week I recorded an online concert with the Victoria Symphony in Canada. It was a beautiful concert of incredibly moving music — Copland’s Appalachian Spring and Barber’s Adagio was part of it. Performing such expressive music with the Victoria Symphony was inspiring, especially at this time when making music together is rare, challenging to organize, and with great potential to be cancelled at any moment. …

Expectations create our reality and change our future

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Karsten Würth via Unsplash

This photo reminds me of my rural upbringing on a farm in Saskatchewan. For me it would have been a stretch of golden grain for as far as the eye could see, but this photo captures how my own youthful eyes symbolically saw life— with a defined and beautiful path carved out ahead of me.

When I grew up I had no idea that I would become an orchestra conductor. I had no idea that the path to this was almost impossible. I had no idea that there weren’t many women in the field. Or that it was a challenging profession. …

We work with being, but non-being is what we use

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Credit: Otar Gujejiani via Shutterstock

When I read Stephen Mitchell’s beautiful translation of Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching, poem №11 singles itself out to me as I view it from an orchestra conductor’s perspective and causes me to think about leadership in a new way.

Is leadership about what we create ourselves — the tangible things that we accomplish and build — the energy and guidance that we outwardly project to other people and situations?

Or is it found in the space that we open up for others — enabling connections and ideas to conspire together to create something special in a unique, (albeit perhaps a guided and curated), space? …

And help you write from your unique perspective with spontaneity and flow

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Alexia Rodriquez via Unsplash

You can be the curator of your own mind’s potential to ignite new ideas continuously and spontaneously.

Sometimes our own ideas are waiting for someone else’s perspective to release a particular relationship or idea that is our own. Flashes of new thought come to us when new ideas conspire with our old ones.

Creativity is the spontaneous spark that mysteriously hides in waiting — ready for us to find the right path to connect to it.

But timing and strategy is everything and we can regularly create the potential for these moments of inspiration to happen if we are thoughtful about how we spend our time. …

Leo Tolstoy’s Question Made Me Think About My Answer

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Sharon Pittaway via Unsplash

Leo Tolstoy opens his 1897 book What is Art? with a humorous account of a rehearsal that he attended for what he called “one of the most ordinary” of new operas he’d ever experienced. Cynically, he relates his observation of the conductor yelling at a despondent chorus — “Are you all dead, or what? Cows that you are!”, while they process onto the stage in bumbling, awkward lines, singing “Home I bring the bri-i-ide!” again and again to no avail. “Why or how could this be considered art” and “what was it good for”, he asks?

And so Leo Tolstoy begins his book in search for the meaning of Art. …


Tania Miller

Orchestra conductor, writer. Exploring life through music, creativity, mind and performance. taniamiller.com

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