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Since 1995, hundreds of organizations have benefitted from Roger Nierenberg’s one-of-a-kind leadership experience, the Music Paradigm. An esteemed symphony orchestra conductor, Nierenberg showcases lessons on leadership and teamwork as he conducts a professional orchestra through a series of roleplays that model organizational dysfunction, how it comes about, and how to turn it around.
Nierenberg has over 40 years of experience at the conductor’s podium. He has served as music director for the Stamford Symphony Orchestra, the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, and the Pro Arte Chorale. The Music Paradigm began as part of Nierenberg’s community outreach efforts. While with the Stamford Orchestra, he invited children to sit within the orchestra to help them cultivate a passion for music. Later on in Jacksonville, he asked orchestra board members to sit in on rehearsals as a means of building connection and inspiration. As he continued to strengthen community ties in Jacksonville, Nierenberg realized his orchestra was like a powerful “laboratory” that could allow him to bring crucial issues of organizational development to life to the local business and civic leaders he often found himself collaborating with.
Nierenberg has carried out Music Paradigm sessions in 23 different countries with organizations ranging from government employees to hospital staff. Participants frequently rave about the program’s effectiveness, because it actually allows attendees to live the lessons through witnessing the interactions between musicians and the conductor. Nierenberg and the Music Paradigm have been profiled on ABC, CBS, CNN, and PBS and the BBC′s Money Programme.
After a distinguished career at the helm of two American orchestras, Roger Nierenberg is now emerging as a creative force for innovation in the presentation of symphonic music. For 14 years, he led the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra in Florida, where he succeeded in building one of the great concert halls in America. The pinnacle of his time in Jacksonville was the orchestra′s appearance in the Carnegie Hall Festival of American Orchestras. During his lengthy tenure with the Stamford Symphony in Connecticut, the orchestra developed a reputation as one of the finest in New England. Nierenberg has guest conducted many of America′s most distinguished orchestras and opera companies and has performed at some of the world′s most prestigious music festivals. His recording with the London Philharmonic Orchestra can be found on Sony Classical Records.
Nierenberg is the creator of the highly successful experiential learning event, called The MUSIC PARADIGM, in which an orchestra is used as a metaphor for any dynamic organization. With participants seated among the musicians, Nierenberg leads a series of exercises, carefully crafted to address the sponsoring organization′s specific themes and issues. The MUSIC PARADIGM provides a creative framework for rethinking leadership style, philosophies, teamwork, and effectiveness. Since its inception in 1995, MUSIC PARADIGM sessions have been held for hundreds of major companies, government organizations, leading educational institutions, and global consulting firms throughout the United States, Europe, South America, Asia, and Latin America with over 90 different orchestras. It has been the subject of reports on ABC, CBS, CNN, and PBS and was the sole feature of an hour-long broadcast of the BBC′s Money Programme.
Roger Nierenberg demonstrates how leadership and self-awareness can be explored through symphony orchestra. Self-awareness, he remarks, is one of the biggest challenges leaders face because they might either view criticism as a challenge to their authority or never hear criticism because their employees are too scared to offer it. Additionally, leaders can’t always detect their mistakes by examining their company’s performance, good or bad, since there are so many other intervening factors that affect that performance.
As a symphony orchestra conductor, Nierenberg quickly discovered he had a unique laboratory where you could safely discover your weaknesses and the pace was so fast you could always see the cause and effect connection between behavior and results. Through photos and videos he shows how he places professionals from numerous industries alongside orchestra musicians for a one-of-a-kind experience that will help them understand better the different realities that leaders and their teams often live in and how to bridge the two.
Rather than digging deeper into what you already do, Nierenberg provides an enriching experience to expand your self-awareness by venturing outside your comfort zone and into a unique laboratory where the connections between behavior and results can be seen immediately. Audiences are treated to seats alongside symphony orchestra musicians – a safe enjoyable environment that will open up the minds of the strongest skeptics. Nierenberg takes his musicians and your professionals through a series of musical role plays that serve as metaphors for organizational dynamics, allowing attendees to make connections between different styles of leadership, their effect on talent, and ways they can improve as leaders and managers.
The Music Paradigm
The Music Paradigm is an experiential learning event. It uses a symphony orchestra as a metaphor for any dynamic organization, particularly one dealing with a period of challenge or change: a merger, restructuring, new leadership, change initiatives, stretch performance goals, and many more.
During a Music Paradigm session, the executives are seated among musicians of a live, professional orchestra. The musicians, however, are asked to do more than simply perform. The conductor leads them through a series of exercises that powerfully demonstrate critical truths about the functioning of organizations. These exercises are designed specifically for the sponsoring group. Executives discover themselves in the middle of a business simulation that invites breakthrough insights about themselves and their working relationships with colleagues.
The interface of the musicians and the conductor is similar to that of an organization and its leaders. The conductor may be viewed, for example, in the context of a company CEO or team leader and the instrumental families (strings, woodwinds, brass, percussion) may be seen as business units or teams. The orchestra′s response to the conducting is almost instantaneous and their interactions are strikingly direct. This mirrors the leadership, teamwork, and communication that must take place in any organization.
The Music Paradigm is an unforgettable and inspirational learning experience that provides a creative framework for rethinking leadership style, philosophies, and effectiveness.
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As the creator of The Music Paradigm, a unique program that invites executives to sit inside an orchestra rehearsal, renowned conductor Roger Nierenberg has shown thousands of people how to “lead by listening,” improve teamwork, and draw out any organization′s full potential.
Now, in Maestro, he draws on his real-life experiences to tell the story of a struggling executive who finds an unlikely source of wisdom and inspiration – the interplay between a symphony orchestra and its conductor.
The executive faces the daunting challenge of turning around a struggling division with a deeply divided, bickering team. Puzzled by his failure to establish a new vision, he gets into a conversation with a musician, who invites him to sit in on a series of orchestra rehearsals.
As the conductor says, “Eventually I realized that a great performance would happen only when the motivation sprang as much from them as from me. I learned to see my job as simply creating an environment where that could happen. Once I learned to engage their artistry, everything felt so much easier.”
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