Just Stop It With The “No, Because!”


If you are in the arts business, especially orchestra business, chances are you have come across a moment or a meeting where you hear the words: “no, because.” There may have been a great idea, a creative way to do something, but the knee-jerk reaction to that idea was predictably: No.

Usually the rejection to the idea was followed up with excuses and reasons why an idea couldn’t be implemented. All that energy spent explaining why something wouldn’t work only adds to the frustration!

Over the next couple months, I want to offer a new way of going about our business. Let’s train our creative brains to think differently and behave more collaboratively. Whether you are an artist, musician, staff or executive, there is a method of thinking that I highly recommend.

First, let’s identify the reading material you need: Lessons from The Second City: Yes, And by Kelly Leonard and Tom Yorton. Buy this book and read it.

Secondly, let’s circle back in August and discuss how this book will improve how we creatively solve problems in the industry.

Problems in the industry include:

  1. People talking or using cellphones during performances.
  2. Concerts and programs aren’t as inclusive and welcoming as they could be.
  3. There are not enough young people coming to concerts.
  4. There are not enough donors.
  5. We keep losing support from corporations.
  6. The community doesn’t appreciate us.

I could go on because it’s an endless list! Yet, the problems in the industry have been talked about for decades with little or no positive change.

That’s why I recommend this book! It will change the way organizations approach problems and turn those problems into solutions discovered by ensembles of creativity.

Here’s a sample from the book:

The beauty of Yes, And lies in the incremental way it allows ensembles to build on big, solid idea out of a multitude of smaller ones. We have developed an axiom at The Second City to explain to new actors and clients how we want them to approach idea generation: Bring a brick, not a cathedral. Sometimes an improviser will fall in love with one fully formed idea before a scene has had a chance to develop and force that idea on his ensemble mates, even when it doesn’t make sense. He’ll “bring a cathedral” to the scene when all the group really needs is another brick. A cathedral stops all creative movement short; bricks allow the innovation process to flourish.

“I know one of these guys, so at least half of this book is pretty good. Yes, And is for anyone looking to be more creative in their work and in their life.”– Stephen Colbert

Here is a short video of Kelly Leonard sharing the concept:

Get the book….let’s return to this topic at the end of August after you all have read it, and let’s share what our take aways were!

About Holly Mulcahy

After hearing Scheherazade at an early age, Holly Mulcahy fell in love with the violin and knew it would be her future. She currently serves as concertmaster of the Wichita Symphony Orchestra. She spends her summers at the celebrated Grand Teton Music Festival. Believing in music as a healing and coping source, Holly founded Arts Capacity, a charitable 501(c)3 which focuses on bringing live chamber music, art, artists, and composers to prisons. Arts Capacity addresses many emotional and character-building issues people face as they prepare for release into society. Holly performs on a 1917 Giovanni Cavani violin, previously owned by the late renowned soloist Eugene Fodor, and a bespoke bow made by award winning master bow maker, Douglas Raguse.

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2 thoughts on “Just Stop It With The “No, Because!””

    • Hi Matthew, I think a few are getting the book but I like the idea about creating a classical music industry online book club. Especially since there (spoiler) are a few other books I found interesting for our field! Can you friend me on facebook (if you are on it, and I will repost my article and tag you in and we’ll get this bookclub going in a more official capacity!


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