The Listener

Evaluation is a key part of creative projects, and observing and listening are key elements in the evaluative process. Yet, by honing in further on these elements, this etude seeks to explore how evaluation can be given a different lense: through an employee adopting the role of the Listener. Through the Listener, orchestral projects (particularly those with experimental formats) can benefit from a new form of evaluation – one that is both personal and informal while still providing critical insight. The role of the Listener is particularly applicable and relevant for special projects, where existing evaluation formats may fall short.

As the employee in the role of the Listener will also bring (and challenge) their own forms of evaluation, deciding who will take on the role will also be relevant. Perhaps, depending on the project, appointing a musician as the Listener would provide a unique opportunity for the musician to discover new forms of evaluation whilst also bringing in their own unique lense. In other projects, perhaps an employee from marketing or management might bring in a new lense, whilst again challenging themselves with different ways of thinking.

The benefit of this role is two-fold. On the one hand, members and staff benefit from having ‘new eyes’ (and different perspectives) on project processes and can learn from the observations made and heard. On the other hand, the employee in the role of the Listener also benefits from practicing and challenging their own forms of listening, observation and evaluation. Overall, this etude seeks to encourage orchestral organizations to implement a reflexive form of evaluation that can be sustained within the project-oriented practice of orchestral work.


An employee is appointed (or volunteers) for the role of the Listener in a project.
  • Ideally, for time management, the Listener should not be fully involved in the project.
  • As the listener, consider which orchestral departments are less known to you.
The Listener observes and asks questions of all employees working on a project.
  • Attend rehearsals and chat with the musicians and conductor.
  • Talk with the technical staff and crew of the project about their work.
  • Attend programming meetings with staff members and hear their thoughts.
  • Visit the marketing department and ask about their work.
  • Aim to take multiple elements of a project into account – from artistic criteria and the rehearsal process, to marketing and management – seek to take the entire process into view.
The Listener compiles an observation report.
  • Summarize the main findings from all the areas approached.
  • Consider and write down what you feel you might have missed or wish to follow up on.
  • Consider and write down what was particularly meaningful for you.
  • Consider some key findings that might improve this project, or future projects.
The report is shared among the project employees (with consent from the Listener).
  • Employees and the Listener should arrange to meet and discuss the report.
  • Employees voice their interests and concerns.
  • The Listener voices their findings and perspective.
  • The group works to consider any changes or improvements, particularly in relation to any future projects.
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Etude Outcome 2