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Wise Words on Moving Forward

Jordan Randall Smith conducts Symphony Number One at the Baltimore War Memorial.

Jordan Randall Smith conducts Symphony Number One at the Baltimore War Memorial.

Founding a start-up organization can be a monumental task, but Music Director Jordan Randall Smith shares some inspiring insights on his journey to Symphony Number One's creation, after sitting down with John Lim on the podcast Be Moving Forward. Have a listen!

*Below is an excerpt from the podcast show notes*

Moving Forward continues its extraordinary individuals in music series with Jordan Randall Smith.  Jordan is an award winning conductor and founder of Symphony Number One, a cutting edge chamber orchestra that uses a start-up model to combine music from great composers of the past with today’s emerging talent.  Learn Jordan’s secret for becoming a maestro at the pivot and how to re-frame failure as a “potent catalyst” to move forward.

“You decide to try something new and unexplored, only to be declined, with no chance return to what you did best prior. Many of us would stew in bitterness and kick ourselves for having taken a chance.”

How Jordan gets inspired to conquer the day:

For Jordan, a large part of his inspiration is built in from his chosen career. Given that music is a endeavor that requires an incredible degree of discipline, passion and practice, it’s no wonder that Jordan’s mornings are wired with inspiration to make the most of the day.  Candidly, Jordan also admits that caffeine plays a role in this as well!  In terms of routines, Jordan finds walking to be a great way to clear the mind.  This practice was necessitated by city living but became a meditative practice after reading Jobs and discovering that Steve Jobs did the same with his team.  Moving Forward listeners, incorporating physical activity is one of the easiest and most effective ways you can jump start your inspiration engine and get those creative juices flowing.  Start moving and moving forward today!

“...setbacks, even crushing ones can open doors you never imagined.”

Setback or failure that led to pivot and shift:

First, it’s important to point out that Jordan is not afraid of using the “f” word.  He doesn’t shy away from talking about or sharing his experiences with failure.  Jordan also indicates how unlike other cultures, we tend towards an overtly negative reaction to failure to the point where it is considered taboo to talk about it much less admit you’ve experienced it.  This alone demonstrates a mindset that is prone to taking risks to achieve great things.  Specifically, Jordan removes its negative stigma and reframes failure as a “potent catalyzer” for change.  On today’s episode, Jordan shares a particularly impactful and painful failure that ultimately led to a huge pivot in his career trajectory.  Jordan was a percussionist in college for his alma mater’s marching band.  In 2003, he auditioned for the highly prestigious and competitive Drum Corps International and made it into The Cadets Drum and Bugle Corps, based in Allentown, PA.  Since musicians could only participate until age 21, in 2004, Jordan returned for what is called his “age out year” and decided to audition for a different section.  However, this time after making the first few rounds, Jordan didn’t make the cut.  On top of this, because he wanted to try out for this new section, he had missed the deadline to audition for his prior percussion section.  While many would wallow in self-pity, Jordan didn’t allow himself to spiral downward.  Instead, and in his own words, he “took action.”  On the recommendation of a mentor, Jordan went to the Interlochen Center for the Arts in Michigan, which exposed him to the world of the orchestra, ballet and musical theater.  Being exposed to world class and world famous orchestras and guest conductors, inspired Jordan to make a huge pivot into the world of conducting.  Instead of closing a long journey in music, Jordan became a maestro at the art of the pivot and found himself on a career path that has led to incredible success.  Imagine Moving Forward listeners: you are at the top of your game in a section, profession or path, that you have worked very hard at.  You decide to try something new and unexplored, only to be declined, with no chance return to what you did best prior.  Many of us would stew in bitterness and kick ourselves for having taken a chance.  This is why so many of us are drawn to following the “safe” path and not take a risk.  However, as Jordan’s story demonstrates, setbacks, even crushing ones can open doors you never imagined.  Had Jordan played it safe, he may not have taken the pivot into the world of conducting and started Symphony Number One.  Remember this when you face a setback or failure that seems completely insurmountable.  

You can pivot and create a new composition for your life, your career, your business.  With every failure, there are new notes you can discover, new libretto that you can write.  Start seeing failures as those “potent catalysts” so that you can pivot and move forward.

Symphony Number One

SYMPHONY NUMBER ONE is Baltimore's newest chamber orchestra, dedicated to performing and promoting substantial works by emerging composers. Led by Music Director Jordan Randall Smith, SYMPHONY NUMBER ONE brings together great composers of the past, virtuoso performers of the present, and the leading compositional voices of the future.

Symphony Number One is Baltimore's Newes Chamber Orchestra, devoted to substantial works by emerging composers.