Frequently Asked Questions
I am a performer and want to keep playing in the orchestra. But I also have an interest in learning about the administrative side of things. How can I begin?
Get involved with committees and non-performance activities that the orchestra does so that you can learn how these aspects of the orchestra work. Look into taking the League’s Essentials of Orchestra Management seminar offered each January in New York City.
I’m a performing orchestral musician. Is it possible to keep playing my instrument and also have a job working for an orchestra behind the scenes?
Yes! There are performers who work in every aspect of the administrative work for an orchestra either on a full time or part-time basis. Read about Scott Faulkner and Steve Collins, two musicians who are working for orchestras.
I love music but may not major in music in college. Will this prevent me from working for an orchestra?
Not at all. Orchestras have lots of different type of jobs and each of these require different skills just like jobs in any other business. This means that orchestras need people with degrees and experience in business, finance, technology, web design, recording and new media, marketing, communications, public relations and writing to name a few. But for some jobs—like working on putting together the concerts for the season—a music degree and knowledge of orchestral repertoire is needed.
Is an MBA or Arts Administration degree required for a management position with an orchestra?
Depends on the position. If you aspire to be the executive director of the orchestra, either of these degrees will provide important learning in the areas of finance, management, and business processes. But many managers gain experience on the job and then add a course or two as needed. Advanced degrees always add to your learning but are not a requirement for working in an orchestra.
I want to work for an orchestra but don’t know what I would be good at or what the best job would be for me. What can I do to learn more about the different jobs available with orchestras?
If you're in school, you can start gaining experience in different roles by getting involved with the operations of your school ensembles and seeking internships with your local orchestra during the year or during the summer. You should also be thinking about your work skills and interests. Consider the following questions:
- Are you good with details?
- Are you able to use technology creatively?
- Are you a good problem solver?
- Can you think and react on your feet?
- Are you able to juggle multiple projects at the same time?
- Are you a good public speaker?
- Do you work effectively with a wide range of people?
- Are you able to organize complex events?
Once you have your list, read through the Job Descriptions and see what areas of orchestra management match your skills and interests. Then, sign up for an Informational Interview so that you can speak with someone working for an orchestra who has the job(s) you are interested in pursuing. In addition, consider applying for the League’s Essentials of Orchestra Management seminar.
I’ve been working in a different area of non-profit administration. Will my job experience translate to a job with an orchestra?
Yes. Orchestras need experienced people in all areas of management including finance, development, marketing, technology, human resources, and facilities management.
Is it better to start working for a small budget orchestra with only a few (2-10) staff, or a large orchestra (15+ staff)?
Orchestras are like other businesses in that the smaller the budget, the smaller the number of staff; the larger the budget, the larger the number of staff. Working for a small organization usually means that you’ll be involved with many different aspects of running the organization, have a range of responsibilities and projects, and work closely with the musicians and the community.
Within a larger organization and larger staff, your job is usually more specialized and your projects and work will have more depth and focus. Depending on the specific job responsibilities, interaction with other department and staff will be limited as most of your work will be contained within your department. For future job opportunities, both types of organizations have their benefits.
How can I find out about job opportunities in orchestras?
The League maintains a job posting board for its members (to join the League, click here). Individual orchestra websites also post open positions.
If you know the city or area you’d like to work in, job websites such as Indeed and Idealist.org are good sources for available positions. Also, check with your college's career center.
If you know which orchestra you’d like to work for and you don’t see any open positions, contact their HR office and ask about internship, summer, and volunteer opportunities. Your enthusiasm for working for the orchestra may lead to something!
If I go to work for an orchestra, will I get to travel?
Travel may be part of your work if you are involved with the jobs within operations, tours, or orchestra personnel. Some examples: smaller budget orchestras may perform in different venues in their community; state orchestras often give concerts all around their state; and the largest budget size orchestras often travel to different locales in the United States as well as Europe and Asia.
I’m interested in working for an orchestra but don’t know where to start. What should be my first steps?
If you are in school, try and get a work-study position working with your orchestra or band in operations or concert production. Contact your local orchestra to ask about available internships or part-time jobs or volunteering opportunities.
If you want to learn more about a certain job, contact the person in your local orchestra who does this job and ask to meet with him or her to learn more.
How can I find a list of the orchestras in my state?
The League has a list of member orchestras by state. Click here to go to this list.
I have lots of questions about working for orchestras. Can the League help me?