Volunteer Notes Winter 2010

The Newsletter for Symphony Orchestra Volunteers


The Newsletter for
Symphony Orchestra Volunteers

Winter 2010

GREETING: Message from Our President

HEARING FROM YOU: Contact Us

LEARNING: Regionals to Webinars

EDUCATING: Advocating for Music Education

VITALIZING: Membership Skill Builder

SHARING: Project Profiles

PROJECT OF THE MONTH: Thirsty Thursdays

INTRODUCING: Our New Volunteer Council Members
MEETING: President-elect Heather Moore
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VOLUNTEER NOTES is published four times a year 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.
 
CONTACT VOLUNTEER COUNCIL
NEED A MENTOR? Volunteer Sustainers Can Help

LET’S TALK! Volunteer Discussion Groups

GOLD BOOK ONLINE -- The Resource for Volunteer Projects

 

GREETING: Message from Our President

Volunteer Council President Jane Van Dyk

Volunteer Council President Jane Van Dyk

HELP WANTED: VOLUNTEERS
Volunteers are needed now, more than ever, as orchestras continue to struggle with the effects of the economic recession. Many orchestras are dealing with budget cuts, downturns in ticket revenue, shrinking endowments, and staff layoffs. Volunteers are stepping right up to the plate, helping out wherever needed, taking on more responsibilities, and finding new and creative ways to either save or raise money.

At the Volunteer Council this year, the picture is much the same. We’ve planned our activities with reduced staff support, found a more cost-effective way to bring our popular Regional Workshops to volunteers in cities and towns across the country, and cut our face-to-face meeting time in order to reduce our travel expenses.

We have found these new challenges invigorating and empowering. We are looking forward to working with League staff to transform Regional Workshops into webinars. (See related story). We are working together with mutual trust and respect, strong communication, teamwork, and efficiency. As volunteers, we feel truly valued.

What is the situation in your own home orchestra? How have you been affected by the economic climate? What are volunteers doing to help out? We’ve heard that Spokane volunteers are signing up for a shift at the box office. In Dallas, volunteers run the season ticket renewal campaign. We’d love to hear more about how volunteers are responding this year. Please email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and let me know what your group is doing. We’d love to feature these examples in an upcoming Volunteer Notes issue or at a session at the League’s National Conference June 15 – 19, 2010 in Atlanta.

Speaking of which, we hope to see you there! More than ever, this is the time to get together and share good ideas. In the meantime, good luck with all your events and activities. Keep in touch, and let us know how your association is doing.

Jane Van Dyk
Volunteer Council President

HEARING FROM YOU: Contact Us

Sandra Weingarten, Volunteer Notes editor
Sandra Weingarten, Volunteer Notes editor
In these challenging times, sharing ideas and resources becomes even more important to the success of our organizations. We hope that you will use the resources that the Volunteer Council offers, and that you will contact us with your questions and ideas. Please forward this newsletter on to your board, committee chairs, and symphony staff, and feel free to contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Sandra Weingarten
Volunteer Notes Editor

LEARNING: Regionals to Webinars

Laura Hyde, webinars chair
Laura Hyde, webinars chair
The Volunteer Council is taking another step into the future with plans to transition from Regional Workshops to a new, web-based seminar format known as webinars. Since 2001, the Council has offered sixteen workshops to volunteers across the country on leadership, membership recruitment and retention, and fundraising. The webinars will be based on these successful workshops but will shift the scene from a face-to-face gathering to the League’s website. The workshop materials will be available to many more people, at a time and place convenient for them, and without the expense of traveling.

Over the past eight years, Regionals have been held in Bozeman, Montana; Spokane, Washington; Eugene, Oregon; York, Pennsylvania, and many other smaller cities and communities. While Council members will miss the opportunity to meet face-to-face with volunteers in other parts of the country, we are excited that we will be able to offer this material to so many more volunteer organizations. The Committee plans to work with League staff to tape the sessions and have them ready to be posted to the website by late spring.

Laura Hyde
Regionals/Webinars Chair

EDUCATING: Advocating for Music Education

In-school music education is essential in every curriculum. Many studies have proven that students’ academic and social skills improve when music is a part of their educational program. If you are wondering why you should advocate for in-school music education, here are some reasons to support such programs. When music education is included in the curriculum benefits are seen in the following areas:

Listening Skills: Being able to listen carefully is valuable not only in music performance, but also in relationships, jobs, and school.

Cooperation: Performing in an orchestra, band, choir, and other ensembles teaches students how to work together as a team. This experience builds social skills as well as community.

Memory Skills: Learning to play an instrument helps develop the ability to memorize complex ideas. These skills are important in other academic areas and in life.

Academic Success: Math skills are improved by the study of music notation. Studying music from different eras and places enhances learning about history, geography, language, and other academic areas.

Coordination: Instruments like the strings, winds, brass, and percussion require different physical skills. The senses of sight, hearing, and touch are refined with musical training.

Ability to Accept and Implement Constructive Criticism: Students learn to hear corrections and are encouraged to improve and refine their abilities. It is most effective to focus on one small point at a time and then build steadily on the student’s progress.

Confidence: Learning to play an instrument well offers the life-long ability to play in musical groups, productively channel emotions, and share performances with others.

Concentration: Concentration is critical in all areas of study and is essential to musical performance.

Discipline: Students learn to work for long-term goals when studying music. Mastery of an instrument can take years of disciplined practice. This is not an “instant gratification” experience, but something that can give joy throughout life.

“If a child hears fine music from the day of his birth, and learns to play it himself, he develops sensitivity, discipline, and endurance. He gets a beautiful heart.” -Dr. Shinichi Suzuki

Janet Barb
Arts Advocacy Chair

VITALIZING: Membership Skill Builder

Do you need to recruit new members? Who doesn’t? How many times have you said, “If only we had more volunteers to…”? Finding a way to engage individuals in a meaningful way is key to transforming your organization to one of abundant resources.

It is the responsibility of an organization to show prospective members that their time is valuable, and that the work each volunteer does is not only making a difference, but is also personally rewarding. There is no magic key to a good membership campaign; it requires good planning and good leadership. Good planning begins with a Membership Committee with a strong overall chairman, and is helped by having subcommittees for recruitment, retention and integration.

A good membership brochure lets prospective members know the background and purpose of the organization as well as the options for participation. It is important to let prospective and new members know how valuable their participation is. Precise job descriptions and flexibility in scheduling will help new members know how to fit in and contribute. Social activities will promote friendships and camaraderie which are essential to a successful organization. For more details and how-to’s of membership, follow this link for a detailed article, and stay tuned for more information on our upcoming webinars.

Laura Hyde
Regional presenter

SHARING: Project Profiles

Does your association host some version of Parties of Note—dinners to raise funds and develop new membership or concert attendees? Check out goldbookonline.org to find over 50 variations on this theme, ranging from intimate in-home hosted parties to gala dinners built around specific events, such as the Derby Day Run for the Roses (Brazos Valley, TX) or Jazz to the World featuring the Phil Orch Jazz Ensemble. If a dinner doesn’t suit your audience, what about hosting lunch or bridge, or even an outdoor activity?

Jazz to the World highlighted a special musical group from within the The Philadelphia Orchestra for a fun-filled evening of cocktails, hors d'oeuvres, dinner, music, and live auction. The Brazos Valley Symphony Orchestra Friends Association built a dinner gala around the annual Kentucky Derby, with big-screen television for the race, betting, auctions, and hat contests; dinner and a symphony performance followed the race.

On a more intimate scale, many volunteer associations sponsored themed parties and hosted small dinners to attract new members and help raise money. Friends of the Colorado Music Festival in Boulder have fine tuned their Festival of Dinners, Plus to incorporate diverse activities such as hiking and biking, garden parties, and bridge. The result was more money and new concert-goers.

You can learn more about each of these volunteer projects at goldbookonline.org, where you’ll find lots of other ideas as well.

Judy Christl
Awards Committee

PROJECT OF THE MONTH: Thirsty Thursdays

Involving new members at the moment they join is key to retaining as well as recruiting new people to your volunteer association. If you are looking for a fresh approach to membership, read about the award-winning project, Thirsty Thursdays. The Guild of the Jacksonville (FL) Symphony created a project that would allow new members to work together, form new friendships, and at the same time, contribute to the goals of the Guild.

The project created by Jacksonville involved a wine tasting event associated with the already established Symphony Showhouse. To adapt this unique idea to your organization, design a project that will be facilitated by new members only. Immediate involvement of new members will enhance their commitment to your organization and improve membership retention. For more information go to goldbookonline.org and search for Thirsty Thursdays. You might also want to check out some of the 92 other projects that can be found under the membership heading.

Janet Barb
Awards Committee

 

INTRODUCING: Our New Volunteer Council Members
At our October meeting, the Volunteer Council welcomed five outstanding volunteer leaders to our ranks. They wasted no time in becoming involved with committee work and making valuable contributions.

Margarita Contreni, from Brookston, Indiana, is a volunteer with the Lafayette Symphony Board. She is president of the Bach Chorale and Retired Professor at Purdue University. Margarita is currently employed as director of development and leadership gifts for the Purdue University School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Margarita is also involved in her community through the Greater Lafayette Cultural Planning Committee.

Elaine Cousins, from Bloomington, Illinois, is a member and past-president of the Illinois Symphony Orchestra Guild. She chairs the Education Committee for the Blooming-Normal-Vladimir, Russia Sister Cities Program and is a volunteer for the McLean County Museum of History in Bloomington. In addition, Elaine has managed and taught computer classes for the University of Michigan, and enjoys singing with the Cantus Novus choral group.

Charlotte McNeel, from Jackson, Mississippi, has a wide range of interests including Garden Club, Junior League, and Goodwill Industries board of directors as well as her work and leadership with the Symphony League of Jackson and the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra board of directors. She has served on the Art Advisory Council for the University of Mississippi College of Architecture and Design, Community Foundation Women’s Fund and Debutante Mothers Club.

Christina (Tina) Parker is from Fort Myers, Florida. A respected community leader and volunteer, Tina is actively involved with the Southwest Florida Symphony and the Symphony Society. Three years ago, she created a new fall tradition with a classy pre-concert event, A Champagne Salute. She was also instrumental in designing a celebration to kick off the Pops season, which was the first joint effort between the Symphony Society and the Symphony office in many years.

Joan Powell, of Austin, Texas, is a member of the Women’s Symphony League of Austin and the board of directors for the Austin Symphony Orchestra. During her year as president of the Women’s Symphony League, when the orchestra was having financial difficulty, her leadership helped raise a record amount for the orchestra...58% over what was pledged. Currently, she is on the Executive Committee as assistant vice president, Guest Artists.

LaDonna Meinders
Member Recruitment Chair
MEETING: President-elect Heather Moore
Heather Moore, Volunteer Council president-elect
Heather Moore, Volunteer Council president-elect
Heather began her volunteer career for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra League in 1978, eventually becoming DSO League president. She has remained active with the DSO League and is currently a member of the Governing Board. Her leadership skills have been well-honed by serving as president of the board of the Greater Dallas Youth Orchestras and the Texas Association for Symphony Orchestras. She has also been conference chair and president of the board of Association of Major Symphony Orchestra Volunteers. In her sixth year as a member of the Volunteer Council, she will add that presidency to her list of accomplishments next year.

Before beginning her career as a symphony orchestra volunteer, Heather received her nursing degree from Texas Women’s University and worked as a neonatal/pediatric intensive care nurse at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas. Heather and her husband Gerald have two grown children, two dogs, and a kitty. Besides time with her family, Heather enjoys ballet, opera, travel, cooking, and gardening, and is a member of other philanthropic organizations.

With her stellar background, Heather is sure to be an outstanding president of the Volunteer Council next year.

Sandra Weingarten
Volunteer Notes Editor
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