On Saturday, the Colburn office of Community Engagement and Career Development will launch the Fortissima Fellowship. Designed and implemented by Jazmín Morales, Fortissima is an artistic and leadership development fellowship for young women of color in classical music. The program provides private instruction and leadership development training to a cohort of young women of color with high ability on their instrument and an interest in pursuing a career in music.
The program will bridge gaps in the pipeline of music training by providing critical tools that are otherwise inaccessible to many young women of color studying music — specifically, private instruction, which can be extremely cost prohibitive even for middle class families, and leadership development training, which is often overlooked, yet imperative for young artists of color who have to advocate strongly for themselves in order to succeed — so that they may thrive in a competitive environment like a collegiate conservatory of music, and eventually, a professional orchestra.
Fortissima fits well with the programmatic offerings currently offered at Colburn. For the past six years, we have been building a pipeline of learning for a small cohort of students with a deep interest in the art form. Our programs offer a minimum of seven hours a week of instruction, including a weekly private lesson. Fortissima will give our students the depth of leadership training and mentorship as an added aspect of our programming.
Interested in launching a leadership program like Fortissima at your organization? Here are some strategies to consider:
- Hire people who’s vision aligns with the organizational vision: We are so fortunate to have Jazmín Morales here at Colburn. Not only is she a great worker, but her values match the values we hold in the Community Engagement office. Tip: When you hire a new employee, make certain you ask questions that let you know the person you’re interviewing understands the strategic vision of your programming.
- Launch utilizing your already existing budget: Fortissima will utilize funding from a budget that has already been approved for the year, making it relatively easy to get the program off the ground. Tip: Make certain a new program like Fortissima stays small in the first year so you can easily cover anticipated expenses.
- Start and stay small: In order to stay flexible and build a beautiful program, make certain you keep any new initiative small and flexible so you can make corrections quickly. Tip: After you launch the program, don’t grow until you have funding in place to build capacity for the initiative. After funding starts to come in, make certain you set expectations to ensure that the program doesn’t grow beyond your capacity to serve your constituents deeply.
- Start as a pilot: Launching new initiatives can be difficult and building consensus around an idea with internal stakeholders can be a challenge. Tip: Calling any new initiative a pilot program gives you the space to try and a longer runway to build interest in the idea. My suggestion is that any new programmatic offering should be called a pilot program.
We are incredibly proud to be able to support the emerging careers of the six young women who will enter the Fortissima program this fall and I’ll be certain to post updates on the program as they come.