White tie to office casual - the story of a career change!

Hey! It's Ted here, after a few months of radio silence. I've had a pretty incredible journey, involving me putting my cello down for a job in an office! 20 years ago I never would have guessed this is where I'd be, but this new chapter is a challenging and exciting one. 


It all started with me heading off to the Essentials of Orchestral Management Course at the League of American Orchestras. I was part of the 2022 cohort, and loved every minute of it. Fast forward through 6 months working with an executive coach, revamping my resume and c.v., writing cover letters, one long day of interview later, I'm at my desk here in Dayton where instead of having a cello in hand, I have a balance sheet. 

And while the story is much more detailed and nuanced, I wanted to look back at this journey and offer my take-aways after 6 months on the new job. 


1. Management rarely appreciates how difficult it is to win an orchestral audition.

Winning an orchestral gig is more than showing up in a tux. It's years of grueling auditions, perfecting that one note, and decades of rigorous training. In my first job, which was a mostly-full-time orchestra that rehearsed at night, my full-time day job was practicing 4-6 hours a day so I could win the next audition.
So despite the 24-hour workweeks, life for an ambitious orchestral musician is one of the hardest lives one could pursue. Those who think otherwise, please attempt a perfect vibrato while crapping your pants with anxiety and a tenured job on the line! 


2. Very few of the musicians onstage know how hard the people in management and production work to make sure that the concerts happen!

To the cellists, violinists, and flutists of the world: Trust me, the guys upstairs aren’t just sipping lattes and pushing papers. Planning a concert series, executing the logistics, and ensuring that the curtain rises each night is nothing short of a logistical ballet. And don’t even ask about Opera and Ballet, which we produce at my new job. Think your audition concerto is epic? Try contracting, coordinating and managing a hundred musicians, a feisty artistic director, a CFO on a mission to pursue prudence above all else, and a full tech crew. 

3. Money drives everything, and the budget is king, but money is driven in surprising ways! 

Ah, the elusive budget, the composer of our financial orchestra. It's easy to say money drives everything, but money itself is driven—by commitment, mission, and creating a unique, welcoming and attractive customer experience. Think your favorite symphony sounds divine? Wait till you feel the impact of a well-executed community outreach program, and watch a kids life get transformed by art.


4. Once a cellist, always a cellist! 

Who knew that a hiatus from daily cello practice wouldn’t be the end of the world? Sure, I’ve had some rusty moments, but muscle memory is a loyal friend. This summer, I played at the Classical Tahoe festival after a four-month break. Day 3, and I was back to belting out Brahms like it was nobody's business. Time off isn't a sin; it's a necessary sabbatical for your soul.

5. All kinds of work are rewarding if you bring the right mindset

Working in an office isn't a drag when you see it as a perpetual game—full of personalities to decode, challenges to meet, and new skills to acquire. Think of it as life's endless encore, where the victory is in the journey, not just the final bow.

So here I am, bow in one hand and budget in the other. Whether it's playing a concerto or planning one, I've learned that the key to success is as complex and challenging as Mahler. So adjust your bow ties and power ties accordingly (or my favorite; undermine the dress code paradigm and go no-tie!)—it's going to be an interesting ride.

Wanna learn more?!

Check out our free resources!