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I love music. I love the fact that people can communicate and share a clear message with one another, regardless of the fact that they may come from different backgrounds, cultures and beliefs. I love the shivers that are felt as the lights are dimmed. The anticipation, slowly rising as the Conductor walks up to the stage. He taps his Baton, turns the page- and it begins. 

He captivates the audience by leading a unified and magical experience. 

I love that everyone watching is feeling exactly as I am, and in that moment, all of us are aligned in our appreciation and awe of such immense beauty. 

The love for music has been in my family for several generations. My Grandfather would tell me stories of him as a young boy running through the streets of Zanzibar1; the classical Indian music and its elegant rhythm offered a form of serenity amidst the chaos of the cramped streets, tiny shops, and food vendors. I grew up watching the way the tasteful compositions of Mohamed Rafiq and Jagjit Singh would light up his eyes.  He would sing whilst combing and patting down his hair, crossing the street, or in the car on the way home from work. 

My Grandmother and her siblings shared a nostalgic sentiment for Von Karajan, Tchaikovsky, Schubert and others. I too, therefore grew up grateful for such treasures. I still enjoy listening to classical music with my Maa 2 ; We particularly enjoy Swan Lake by Tchaikovsky. 

As a child, I basked in the mesmerizing compositions of musical geniuses including Amir Khusrow, Bulleh Shah, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Abida Parveen.  My father introduced me to Brian Silas and Jim Reeves whose work is also very special to me. I grew to explore the works of many great musicians around the world, and to this day love the innovative and modernized compositions offered from groups like the Piano Guys and Simply Three.  

Even with this appreciation, music was still simply an art to me, and therefore had a seemingly limited place in the work environment. I knew of great scientists and doctors who would play Mozart’s symphonies whilst in the operation theatre- but that was about it. The concept of ‘Music and Leadership’ therefore, and the ability for me to bring it into a corporate context, sounded multidimensional and innovative- and I knew it had something exceptional to offer. 

Before pursuing this course, I always assumed that the music industry was a lot more clear-cut in its expectations as opposed to other sectors. I had the impression back then, that we as business people could never share the same problems we experience at our distinctive work places with the problems of Doctors, Mechanics, Architects, and Chefs- let alone Musicians. Might I say, I could not have been more wrong (and gladly so)! 

The Music and Leadership course taught me that regardless of sector, practices and job descriptions, unvarying problems primarily related but not limited to goal setting and performance, HR, communications and other aspects of the workplace environment will definitely exist.  It was an important realization therefore, that the challenges we face at work are not exclusive to our professions alone. I was enlightened of a great quality to inculcate in my leadership style; and that is to duly appreciate and take advantage of the fact that we as professionals could come together to devise solutions to potentially mitigate such problems. We also have so much we could learn from one another that could benefit us personally. 

Secondly, the music and leadership course imparted me with a crucial lesson; the importance of building and nourishing a self-developed leadership style. It was fascinating to learn about Music history and its evolution, Music ensembles and other fascinating musical extensions, which I was also quite interested in.  

In regards to the actual leadership element in the music industry, I studied the lives and leadership styles of five of the greatest music conductors throughout the ages, under a microscope. Herbert Von Karajan, Leonard Bernstein, Arturo Toscanini, Claudio Abbado and Gustavo Dudamel were in my opinion the perfect examples to take lessons from.  Apart from being the Da Vinci’s of their time, they worked towards one common legacy that expanded beyond themselves as great music conductors- and that is to make and propagate sincere, innovative and soulful music in hopes of uniting the masses. 

From such leaders, I learnt phenomenal lessons. I appreciated Herbert Von Karajan’s unapologetic task oriented nature, Leonard Bernstein’s magnanimity and intelligence, Arturo Toscanini’s intense passion for his music, Claudio Abaddo’s communicative and persistent nature and finally, Gustavo Dudamel’s empowering and ‘big picture’ mindset that he maintains throughout his career. 

In terms of delivery and the studying process, I attribute a large part of my success to Ms. Bibi Pelic who was the creator and instructor of this course, and Interactive, which was my online course provider. Ms. Pelic was there to discuss, guide and inspire me every step of the way. Being an experienced leader in both the music and the business industry, I could not have asked for a better teacher. The content was interesting, relevant and offered full coverage of each learning outcome. Ms. Pelic’s questions encouraged critical thinking and promoted in depth evaluation on what we were studying. She would lead me to think in all the right directions, and prepared me for my final assignment; for which I gratefully earned a perfect score! 

I would definitely recommend this course to anyone who wishes to learn about leadership in an innovative way. I’ve learnt skills I will be able to apply as a student, a future business manager, and, one day as an aspiring entrepreneur and an innovative corporate leader. 

I am deeply grateful to Ms. Pelic and the Interactive team for catering for all my educational needs for the three months during which I was studying under their care. I’m grateful to my family for instilling in me a love for music and art. 

Leonard Bernstein once said ‘If you are a good composer; you steal good steals.’ 

I am definitely ‘stealing’ important elements that will equip me to play a better symphony in all aspects of life; not just the plain old second fiddle. 

Kulsum M. Nasser, AMABE. Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. 

1. Zanzibar- Zanzibar is a Tanzanian archipelago off the coast of East Africa. 

2. Maa- (मा)   A hindi word to call on one’s mother/grandmother.

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