Volunteer Notes October 2008

The newsletter for Orchestra Volunteers


The Newsletter for
Symphony Orchestra Volunteers

October 2008

 

New Beginnings: Notes from our president

Meeting Judy: Profile of our president

Informing You: Our website

Helping You: Mentoring

Getting to Know You: Touch-Base Calls

Advocacy for you

Hearing From You: Contacting us

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VOLUNTEER NOTES is published bi-monthly by the Volunteer Council of the League of American Orchestras, the nonprofit service and educational organization dedicated to the development of American symphony orchestras and to the cultural vitality of the
communities they serve.
 
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NEED A MENTOR? Volunteer Sustainers Can Help

LET’S TALK! Volunteer Discussion Groups

GOLD BOOK ONLINE -- The resource for volunteer projects

New Beginnings: Notes from our president

Volunteer Council President Judy Christl

Volunteer Council President Judy Christl

Dear Symphony Volunteers,

Now that fall has arrived, you’re into your new season, perhaps in a new position, and working hard to plan for a smooth and successful year. The start-up of the orchestral season can be a stressful time for volunteer leaders when everything seems to demand attention at once. A strong leadership team can provide a support system that will sustain you throughout the year. Take this opportunity to focus on your leadership team and create opportunities for ongoing skill development. Here are some questions to think about as you begin the year: 

Who are your association’s leaders?

Is everyone clear on roles and responsibilities?

Have your volunteer leaders had an early season meeting with key orchestra staff to discuss goals for the year? 

What skills does your leadership feel it lacks? Are there opportunities to develop some of these skills this year?

As the year begins, membership tops the list of issues for many volunteer associations. Developing a solid core of members and a year-round program is also key in sustaining healthy leadership. Many of our member volunteer associations find that the volunteer profile is changing; there are fewer “traditional volunteers” and many new groups to engage in volunteerism. Generations X and Y, men, parents of young children, and corporate volunteers are just a few of the groups in your community that you might consider welcoming into your volunteer family.

Each new group you engage has different norms, customs, and ways of communicating. If you learn how to adapt your volunteer tasks to their working styles, you will find yourself with new ideas and an invigorated volunteer program.

In looking at young professionals, for example, you see a group of men and women prepared to make a meaningful contribution, receive due recognition, and move up the ladder quickly. Their pace is faster, and their rules of engagement are different from those of fifteen or even five years ago. Our organizations can incorporate these changes with strength and success. In targeting your leadership for any chairmanship or executive position, you will work with varied styles of leadership, identify the essentials in well-constructed job descriptions, and develop trust in working with your group’s future leaders to promote the mission of your organization. For a quick skill-builder on membership, please click here.

This issue of Volunteer Notes focuses on resources for you. Don’t forget—you have friends in the Volunteer Council! We are 24 experienced volunteers, ready to provide an ear to listen, and to share our experience in volunteerism. You can communicate with any of us by clicking here for the Volunteer Council Directory, a listing of our individual email addresses. 

I wish you much success as you begin this year! Let our Volunteer Council members hear of your triumphs and challenges throughout the coming months.

Judy Christl
Volunteer Council President
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Meeting Judy: Profile of our president
Judy enjoys a small soft drink with former Volunteer Council presidents Lois Margolin and Pam Weaver.
Judy enjoys a small soft drink with former Volunteer Council presidents Lois Margolin and Pam Weaver.

Judy has been a volunteer most of her life, starting in the social service sector (also her professional field)—concentrating on services to children, from child abuse prevention to foster and adoptive care to services for troubled kids. She balanced this emotionally draining work with musical activities. Judy says of music, “It sees me through emotional lows and revives my spirit, bringing me inspiration, solace, and joy.” 

Having grown up with piano, dance, and, later, voice training, Judy was well-qualified to enter into the musical world as a singer with the Milwaukee Symphony Chorus, where she sang for eighteen years. It was during this time that she was contacted for major jobs with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra League. Judy started as co-chair for the Symphony’s annual fund and Symphony Ball chair. As President of the Symphony League from 2001-2003, her duties included supervision of League office staff and work on a major fundraiser and a special task force dealing with relationships among musicians, management, board and volunteers. 

With this background, it is no wonder that Judy was elected to the Volunteer Council. When not involved with her volunteer activities, Judy loves to travel and learn about other places and peoples, especially in England. She says that the research and planning of her trips is a special pleasure, and she would love to be fluent in many languages. Other hobbies are reading and golf, although time for them has been scarce in her very full schedule. 

Of her volunteer work, Judy says, “A consistent highlight has been the people whom I’ve met and those with whom I’ve worked. It’s fun to work together to meet challenges and achieve great things for a cause.” 

Sandra Weingarten
Volunteer Notes Editor

Informing You: Our website

League website homepage

League website homepage

Do you ever wonder what support is available for orchestra volunteers? Your curiosity may lead you to explore some exciting answers at americanorchestras.org. The League of American Orchestras website has tons of ideas and services for you to explore. Just a click of your mouse will allow you to surf through the world of orchestras. 

The League’s home page will provide you with access to information pertinent to volunteers. At the top, you’ll find a white box labeled “My Interest Area.” If you scroll down to “Volunteers” you will have everything at your fingertips! There you will find information about the Volunteer Council and how to contact its members, guidelines for creating bylaws, archived issues of Volunteer Notes, access to The Gold Book Online and Email Discussion Groups, as well as much more information that is sure to be useful to your organization. 

For example: The Gold Book Online screen pops up with plenty of choices for you to make. By clicking your mouse on any one of the words—Home, Search, Submit, Awards, Resources, About—you will find yourself in a gold mine of volunteer projects and helpful information. Click on the word Search, and you’ll arrive at a list of topics all volunteers are familiar with: Education, Fundraising, Technology, Audience Development, plus many more. Choose your topic and the results pop up right in front of you. This is where you find answers about what other volunteers just like you are doing to help their orchestras. What a fantastic resource!  

Click Submit to take a look at the form that you can use to send in your exciting projects to be included in The Gold Book Online. The submission form has helpful hints and is easy to navigate. Completing your reports online, reviewing, saving, and submitting these forms eliminates lots of paper and postage, but most importantly, adds to our volunteer resource database for all to use and enjoy.  

Volunteers will find all sorts of exciting topics to explore and we’ll uncover a few more favorite surfin’ spots in the coming issues. We urge you to explore these valuable resources and make use of the information therein. 

Mary Ann Okner
Field Communications Chair

Helping You: Mentoring

Is your organization struggling? Do you need some one-on-one help?

As a volunteer leader, you may have questions or concerns regarding the operation of your organization. The Volunteer Council has a group of experienced former Council members who are ready and waiting to mentor you. They can give you needed information and assist you with problem situations. For example, you might need assistance in establishing a volunteer group, determining a strategic plan, or drawing up bylaws—perhaps you want to revamp or enhance an existing project or start a new project. These are all areas in which a mentor can help. The Council encourages you to take advantage of this valuable resource to increase the success of your organization. 

If you have questions or would like to have a mentor contact you, please contact Marylou Turner at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .  

Marylou Turner
Mentoring Chair

Getting to Know You: Touch-Base Calls

Pat Howard, Touch-Base Phone Calls Chair

Pat Howard, Touch-Base Phone Calls Chair

The purpose and pleasure of the Volunteer Council is to help volunteers achieve greater success in support of their orchestras. We want to make friends and expand the scope of contact with other volunteers. Our website and newsletter are great, but there is nothing like a chat on the phone with someone who has “been there and done that.” 

Each fall and spring, the members of the Volunteer Council contact the presidents of volunteer organizations throughout the country. These conversations give the Council a better understanding of what our member volunteers are dealing with right now. These conversations also give us an opportunity to share the resources of the Council with volunteer leaders and enhance the success of their organizations. Who knows what great friendships may develop! 

This year’s fall Touch-Base Calls have just been completed. If you, as a president of a volunteer organization, have not received a Touch-Base Call, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we will be sure that you are added to our contact list for the spring.  

Pat Howard
Touch-Base Calls Chair

Advocacy for you

Caryl Kassoy, Arts Advocacy Chair

Caryl Kassoy, Arts Advocacy Chair

Do we love our orchestras? Do we wish there were more musical education opportunities for our children in our schools? Would we like our volunteer organization to play a more prominent role in our community? One way volunteers can promote their organization and their orchestra is to be an advocate for the arts. As the League points out, “You are the best advocate your orchestra has.” The Volunteer Council will lead you in the right direction throughout the year to help you be an advocate for the arts, and the League, in its email news service, will keep you informed of important arts-related issues that are before Congress.

But we do not need to go to Washington DC to do this. We can advocate in our hometowns. We can develop partnerships and write letters to our local newspaper editors about the importance of music in the community and schools. We can encourage neighbors to buy concert tickets or give them tickets someone is not using. As knowledgeable volunteers we are capable of persuading public officials to take action when necessary. We can educate the public on various issues that come to light in order to support our orchestras and music education programs in our schools. The League’s website, americanorchestras.org, has a wealth of information on how to be an effective advocate. 

During the National Performing Arts Convention in June, in Denver, CO, the Caucus and Town Meeting referred many times to arts advocacy and how we are getting better at demonstrating value and advocating for the arts as a public good—but that we need to continue to communicate the relevance and value of the arts to the local community. We should all advocate for the arts on the national, local, organizational, and individual level. We all have something to give and we can meet the challenge! 

Caryl Kassoy
Arts Advocacy Chair

Hearing From You: Contacting us

Sandra Weingarten, Volunteer Notes Editor

Sandra Weingarten, Volunteer Notes Editor

In this issue of Volunteer Notes we have shown you the many ways we can reach out to you. Now we encourage you to reach out to us! Let us know if the information we provide is relevant and useful. Please ask questions and let us know what you would like to see in this publication. Your input is important to us and I urge you to contact me with your comments and suggestions at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . 

Sandra Weingarten
Volunteer Notes Editor

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