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4 Business Success Secrets I Learned in the Symphony Orchestra

Music is one of the most important parts of our culture and daily lives, from workouts to hobbies and events. For those of us who have had the opportunity to be part of a large performing group — a symphony orchestra, choir or band — the lessons learned are building blocks for life, leadership, and business.

Creating music, especially live music, takes skill and dedication. As a kid and through college, I performed in concert bands, marching bands, drum and bugle corps and symphony orchestras. I was fortunate to have been a part of some amazing ensembles. Groups like the prestigious Denver Young Artists Orchestra gave me the opportunity, while still in high school, to play with other incredible local young musicians and exposed me to music normally only performed by professional symphony orchestras.

Today, I am the co-owner of a successful roofing and window business based near Denver, CO. I attribute much of my success to the skills I learned through music and I work hard to pass them on to my kids and my employees.

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1. Practice

Everyone knows the saying “Practice makes perfect”, however, I prefer the version “Practice makes possible.” No performance is free of mistakes, but achieving a high level of performance can only be attained through hard work and dedication in and outside of rehearsal.

Imagine a swimmer showing up to compete at the Olympics without training every day or a doctor showing up to do surgery without many years of perfecting his or her craft. In most businesses, you can’t just show up and “wing it”. Developing your skills and striving for improvement is what allows you to perform at the highest levels.

2. Commitment

There’s no shortcut on the way to success, and it’s easy to quit when things get difficult. You have to put in the individual practice time and go to rehearsal for an ensemble even when you’d rather be doing something else because other people are counting on you. Without each part, the whole does not come together.

Commitment in business is no different. Our commitment to perfecting our craft, our team and our customers really shows at the end of each year. We’ve succeeded in a highly competitive industry and marketplace by staying true to ourselves and focusing on our goals everyday.

3. Excellence

“If you’re going to do something worthwhile, you might as well do it at a high level.” I remember these words from my high school band director like they were yesterday. Because it is challenging to find folks that believe in this sentiment, going beyond the status quo in music and in business sets you apart from the field.

To be the best you also have to know what that excellence looks like. Whether it’s music, sports or business, it’s helpful to watch, listen to and learn from others who are top performers in their field. The best aspiring musicians spend time listening to and playing along with recordings, going to concerts and taking private lessons with great teachers.

In business, this looks like taking classes, listening to Ted Talks, finding a mentor, listening to audiobooks and podcasts getting involved with digital or in-person networking groups, etc.

Sky Manor has been able to set our company apart from our competitors by constantly improving our skills, our team, and our processes, and never being satisfied with where we’re at. Excellence is part of our culture and it shows in our results.

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4. Teamwork

Putting together a symphony orchestra concert with around 60 to 80 musicians is a lot of work. Individual practice time is where each musician learns the fine details of their part and rehearsals are where it’s all brought together. The conductor is counting on every musician to know their individual part coming into rehearsal so they can bring each piece to life.

In business, the same holds true. Every person on our team has specific responsibilities that are crucial to keeping our operations running smoothly. We support each other and help think through challenges that arise. It’s easier and more fun working to accomplish great things with an amazing team of people around you!

Every day I think about four things: practice, commitment, excellence, and teamwork. These principles from music are foundational not only to our success as a company but also to me, personally. The opportunities I’ve had over the years have been worth the effort!


Dustin PitneyDustin Pitney is co-owner of Sky Manor Roofing & Exteriors, a Thornton, CO-based roofing and window company. He is a former member of the Denver Young Artists Orchestra (1994-1996) and a current board member. His main instrument is the French horn. Dustin and his wife, Aline, play the marching equivalent, the mellophone, for the Denver Broncos Stampede where they perform at Broncos home games.