Electronic Media


Volunteer Notes, Fall 2014

Three_line_color_gif.gif October 17, 2014 facebook500.png  twitter2.png  yt_home.png?r=1407251763518
Notes from Margarita Contreni, Volunteer Council President
margaritacontreni(1).pngAs president of the Volunteer Council this year, I serve as an ex-officio, voting member of the League of American Orchestras’ Board of Directors. I look forward to joining the 44 other members and honorary members on the Board who come from all areas of the orchestra field, who are affiliated with orchestras of all sizes, and who share a commitment to American orchestras and the music they play.

I especially look forward to representing volunteers; bringing forward to the Board our perspectives on important topics and the critical issues we face, as well as, enhancing recognition of our contributions to our orchestras and our communities.  I invite you to e-mail me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you have topics you would like me to discuss at League Board meetings this year. Meetings are held in October, January, April, and May.

I would also like to take a moment here to thank all of the volunteers who donated to the League this past year. Your support helps  fund the League’s programs and activities, including programs directly supporting volunteers such as the volunteer sessions at the National Conference in Seattle, our quarterly Volunteer Notes, and our new online webinar on fundraising fundamentals. Your contribution also helps the League continue its wide-ranging efforts to ensure the future of our orchestras by helping them strengthen and improve governance, align with community, achieve fiscal health, and nurture creativity. 

As Jesse Rosen, president and CEO, League of American Orchestras, said at the 2013 Conference:  “The image that represents our field for me is New York’s Hudson River… it flows both north and south at the same time. And, to me, this pulling in opposite directions seems like what is going on across our field. We are deeply anchored in our traditions yet simultaneously swept along by the currents of our new world.”

The League helps our orchestras and our volunteer associations navigate these shifting currents, and your support helps the League do this work.

Webinars - an Easy Resource Tool

Do you ever wish someone would magically appear to you or your organization when you need help, advice, a new idea, or to add to your own experience and expertise?

Well, the Volunteer Council of the League of American Orchestras has made this magic happen in the form of computer delivered webinars that you can access whenever you want -- and they are available at no charge! These webinars, written and produced by volunteers for volunteers, can be viewed by an individual, a small group, or a room full of people.

Webinars are narrated lectures with illustrative graphics created and delivered by League Volunteer Council members with expertise in the subject areas. At the end of each webinar, there are suggested follow up activities and resources for continued learning. The text of the webinar as well as the on-screen slides can be downloaded for review after the webinar.

Present topics include: The 3 R’s of Leadership: Roles, Responsibilities, and Resources;  Strategic Planning for Symphony Orchestras Volunteers; Recruiting Your Next Generation of Volunteers; and the latest, Fundraising Fundamentals: An Introduction to Grassroots Fundraising.

Accessing the webinars is as easy as 1 2 3:
  1. Go to the League’s website americanorchestras.org.
  2. Click on the link for “Learning and Leadership Development.”
  3. Click on “Volunteerism.” From the list of Online Resources that appears, choose the webinar you wish to see.
Here is a sample screen and narrative text from the Fundraising Fundamentals: An Introduction to Grassroots Fundraising webinar.
fundraisingtools.png So let's begin. You and your fellow colleagues will need tools. The best fundraising tools are information and preparation. Gather facts about your symphony: the mission, goals, budget, board member names, corporate sponsors, and 501c3 non-profit status. Promotional materials such as season schedule brochures, special events, and educational projects are also important to have. The history of the Symphony in your community is essential. Facts about orchestras in general are helpful. …
Here are some of the suggested activities that follow the Fundraising Fundamentals: An Introduction to Grassroots Fundraising webinar:
  1. Practice making an “ask” with a partner. Start small by asking for a donation to a silent auction. Then advance to something larger. Remember to be clear for what you are asking. Be able to present three solid values or benefits of their donation.
  2. Brainstorm other non-profit groups in your community with whom you might partner for a successful fundraiser for both groups.
  3. Look through the Gold Book and pick out a new fundraiser that looks interesting to you.
  4. In addition to these and other activities, the webinar includes practical worksheets, sample report forms, and additional resources for further learning.
Tips to get the most out of a webinar:
  • Consider projecting the webinar on a large screen to view with others.
  • Host a "lunch and learn" session for your group, or for your group and other arts organizations in your area.
  • Extend the learning. Set aside time at the end of the webinar to explore new ideas and possibilities with your group. At the end of each webinar there are suggested activities to get you started. There are also suggested readings for further learning.

Advocacy News from the Hill

Greetings from the League’s D.C. office! With midterm election season upon us, now is a good time to get caught up on what’s coming ahead on the policy front and how you can help. If you aren’t already familiar with the League’s website, you will find a wealth of information in the Advocacy & Government section, such as background on an array of issues like tax policy and NEA funding; resources to understand what it takes to travel with instruments containing endangered species material or how to obtain a visa for a foreign guest artist; and tips on how to be an effective advocate.

There are also links for contacting your members of Congress about orchestra-specific issues that matter to you the most. For example, you can help us urge the Congress to approve permanent enactment of the IRA Charitable Rollover – we’ll be continuing to press this message for the rest of the year and elected officials need to hear from their constituents. We are constantly updating the site to provide the latest policy developments, to let you know key moments to contact Congress, and to share what the League has been doing on your behalf.

With many new members of Congress expected to take office in 2015, we are anticipating a very busy year. Advocates across all sectors will be hard at work developing new relationships, educating new Representatives and Senators, and telling their own compelling stories. Please help us by keeping the League’s D.C. team up to date on your key connections to elected officials, what you know about their interests, and how you’re progressing in your relationship-building at home. Together we can make a difference: let’s make sure Congress hears from every orchestra about how vital we are to our communities!

Governance Board Game Goes Viral!

From Seattle and Spokane, WA to Columbia, SC, symphony volunteers are rolling the dice and racking up points, all while learning about governance … most importantly, some are also winning chocolate prizes! Developed by the Volunteer Council for the 2014 League of American Orchestras’ National Conference in Seattle, the board game, titled Charting a Path for Leadership Season by Season, was an unexpected hit with the delegates.

As most of us know, the subject of governance will often cause one’s eyelids to become heavy - but is it really that dull? The concept behind this game is to make learning and discussion about good governance fun – and have we mentioned competitive? The idea is so simple - traverse a game board accumulating positive points for a job well done in a particular aspect of governance, or negative points for, well, bad governance.

A sampling of landing spaces included:
  1. Establish a consent agenda for board meetings (5 points)
  2. Fail to arrange for tax filings (Lose two turns)
  3. Complete your nominating slate for 2015-16 early (5 points)
  4. Lose a turn!  No reason, just life!
At Conference, delegates played in groups of eight – there were 12 tables in all.  At each table, winners by point tally earned delicious Symphony chocolate bars. The overall high point winner received a fabulous box of chocolates from famed Seattle chocolatier – Fran’s. Our very smart delegates helped game developers (and Volunteer Council members) Elaine Cousins and Linda Weisbruch work out the “kinks” on this, the game’s maiden voyage. Following Conference, Elaine and Linda have continued to receive great feedback about how to make the game even better – and have had several requests to share the game.

Interested in playing the Good Governance game in your neck of the woods?  The board graphics, score sheets, and handouts will be available for download soon on the Volunteer section of the League website. Additionally, Elaine and Linda will be happy to advise on where one can locate board pieces and dice for a very small investment. Isn’t it time you charted a path to leadership and laughed all the way there?

Check out these happy hands vying to win at the very first game played in Seattle

Notes from the Field: Holiday Events
In volunteer organizations across the country, holiday events are a time to gather for friendship, festivities, and even fundraising. The following are just a few of many examples of orchestras and their volunteer organizations taking advantage of the season in ways worth sharing:

New Year's Eve Bash - Billings Symphony Orchestra and Chorale
A pre-concert New Year's Eve party for 100 guests was held at The Great Hall, a beautiful, historic setting at a local college. This event was a real collaboration between the Orchestra and Chorale’s board, staff, and volunteers. Read more about this successful fundraiser when it is featured in the Project of the Month Series on the Hub (the League’s daily news site) in December.

Deck the Hall/Deck the Hall Community Day - San Francisco Symphony
A holiday tradition for Bay Area children and families since 1980, Deck the Hall includes a concert, festivities, and the unveiling of fir trees decorated by local non-profit organizations in the lobby of Davies Symphony Hall. The second day of this two day event is called the Deck the Hall Community Day, as approximately 2,000 low-income children, served by San Francisco child development and social service organizations, and their chaperones, attend the event free of admission. Read more about this successful fundraiser and community engagement event when it is featured in the Project of the Month Series on the Hub (the League’s daily news site) this November.

holidaysocial.pngHoliday Social - Minnesota Orchestra
On a snowy day in early December, in the midst of the orchestra’s lock-out, Friends of the Minnesota Orchestra gathered for friendship, food, and festivities at a Holiday Social. Conversations were held over lunch, followed by an informal fashion show using member models. The Friends Board members enthusiastically welcomed guests and the Friends President gave an organizational update. During a time of unchartered territory for the Friends, this event was a thankful opportunity for sharing friendships, cemented through volunteerism in the name of music.

Dine-Around Contest Ideas from the 2014 Conference
One of the networking opportunities for volunteers during the League of American Orchestras’ National Conference is the Volunteer Council's Dine-Arounds. Volunteers registering for the Conference can sign up for a dinner at a local restaurant with the idea of "comparing notes" with several others from organizations across the country. Last June, in Seattle, the Volunteer Council shook things up a bit and held a contest during each of the two consecutive Dine-Around evenings.
The assignment on Day 1 was to propose a quick fundraiser. The winning idea, called Dine 2 Donate, appropriately used a restaurant to raise funds for a volunteer organization, by suggesting the following:
Select a local restaurant and pitch a partnership for raising funds.
  1. Distribute flyers to any and all restaurant fans, "It's Symphony Day at _____________
  2. Restaurant." Include date; logo, address and email of restaurant; as well as the logo and
  3. name of your organization.
  4. 10% of total bill is donated to the symphony (this applies to To-Go orders as well).
Winners of Dine 2 Donate included: Sherry Amlung, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra Association; Lynn Marquardt, Billings Symphony Orchestra & Chorale; Jane Schwartz, Augusta Symphony Guild; and Debbie Washburn, Huntsville Symphony Orchestra Guild.
The assignment on Day 2 was to propose a Recruitment/New Member event. The winning idea incorporated food and fun.
  1. Hold a champagne brunch at a member's fabulous home.
  2. Have entertainment - an interesting demonstration or influential speaker.
  3. Present your events in an energetic manner that leaves prospective members wanting to learn more.
Winners of the Recruitment event included: Ryan Darwish, Eugene Symphony Guild; Sandra Weingarten, Eugene Symphony Guild; Tricia and Steve Wiggs, Women's Symphony League of Tyler; and Elaine Cousins, Illinois Symphony Orchestra!

Planning: Save the Date!
2015 National Conference
May 27-29, 2015
Cleveland, Ohio

"It's May, it's May, the Merry Month of May."

Join us this coming May for beautiful springtime in Cleveland at the League of American Orchestras’ National Conference. The parks will be blossoming, the museums filled with art, and the neighborhoods welcoming visitors with open arms. There are progressive restaurants like the Happy Dog Tavern where members of The Cleveland Orchestra perform late night sets; The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is just around the corner; and University Circle, a collection of great institutions, surrounds Severance Hall, winter home to The Cleveland Orchestra.

In performances at home and around the globe, The Cleveland Orch­estra remains one of the most sought-after performing ensembles in the world, and Northeast Ohio’s most visible international ambassador. In concerts at its winter home at Severance Hall and at each summer’s Blossom Music Festival, in residencies from Miami to Vienna, and on tour around the world, The Cleveland Orchestra sets standards of artistic excellence, creative programming, and active community engagement. With the 2014-15 season, Franz Welser-Möst enters his thirteenth year leading the ensemble, with a commitment extending to the Orchestra’s centennial in 2018. This artistic partnership continues to move the ensemble forward through a series of new and ongoing initiatives.

Plan now to attend the Conference’s volunteer track! Take advantage of the learning opportunities including best-practices and best-projects in fundraising, membership, music education, service, and community engagement, as are being done by volunteer organizations across the country. Come network at our restaurant Dine-Arounds. Don’t miss the acclaimed Cleveland Orchestra!

Online registration and hotel reservations will be open in January 2015. The Conference will be held at the Cleveland Convention Center, with events happening throughout the city.

Sharing innovative ideas, making friends from around the country, learning project structures - all for the love of music - comes once a year at Conference. See you in Cleveland in "the merry month of May!"

Summer 2014

League of American Orchestras - Education

August 20, 2014

This edition of the Update Newsletter brings you reflections and recaps on League Conference 2014 EDCE sessions (click here for the complete constituency agenda with descriptions). Writers in this issue are:

The League Conference: aka Orchestra Olympics
by Kelly Dylla, Vice President of Education and Community Engagement
Seattle Symphony

So… what is it really like to host the League of American Orchestra’s Annual Conference?  Here are some answers from Seattle Symphony staff:

“It felt like a baby Olympics: you’re doing something that other cities have already done, and you want it to be unique and memorable.  Also, helping to plan the sessions was really enlightening, as we were able to grapple with the topics and issues that are important to the industry as a whole.” – Kristen NyQuist, Primary League Conference Liaison, Executive Assistant and Board Relations Manager

“I especially enjoyed welcoming people to Soundbridge, our learning center at Benaroya Hall.  It was fun to watch seasoned arts administrators giggle as they tried the trombone and clarinet.” – Thomasina Schmitt, Community Partnerships Manager

“The League conference was an incredible culmination of energy that had been building over the entire season. The conference seminars created a reason for the EDCE Community to work together remotely to collaboratively design a presentation, which then made meeting in person with new and old colleagues a much richer experience.” – Laura Reynolds, Family Programs Manager

In short, hosting the League’s national conference was truly a memorable experience that continues to enrich our work here at the Seattle Symphony.  Thank you to everyone who attended, and to those who missed this year, see you in Cleveland!

Pictured above: EDCE folks trying out instruments at Soundbridge; Visiting Pike Place market between sessions

Learning to Think 360
by Danielle Rossbach, Community Engagement Manager
The Florida Orchestra

As a new community engagement and education manager, I found the League Conference to be especially valuable. Throughout constituency meetings, conference sessions, and conversations with others, the idea of a broader, 360-degree approach to community engagement, education, and even music in general, challenged my somewhat narrow vision of our orchestra’s role in society. In Wednesday’s EDCE meeting, “The Changing Role of Education and Community Engagement,” Aimee Halbruner, Mark Kent and Doug Borwick discussed community engagement as a mutually beneficial relationship -- something that’s done with rather than for the community. This necessitates a thorough assessment and true understanding of the community’s needs, which are enhanced by a personal, non-musical investment in the community. My eyes were opened, thanks to Sarah Johnson in our EDCE half-day meeting on Tuesday, to the importance of meaningful inquiry and assessing impact not just on participants, but also the staff, artists, facilities, and systems involved in our programs.

I was inspired throughout the conference to think about things like empowering the whole musician (in “A New Generation of Musicians”) as well as engaging people through an arc of experiences across their lifetimes, rather than specific events. An orchestra is not just about its musicians being excerpt machines or kids hearing a short instrument demonstration or youth concert. While these are both valuable, neither fully unlocks the amazing potential of music to transform lives.

We have the distinct responsibility and privilege of serving our communities in a long-term mission – one that begins with a comprehensive view of both our musicians and the people we serve. I am grateful to have learned this at the League Conference and through subsequent explorations of all the resources the League has to offer.

Not the 'Same Old, Same Old'
by Leni Boorstin, Director of Community and Government Affairs
Los Angeles Philharmonic

Participating in the Education & Community Engagement Committee meetings at this year’s League Conference was a breath of fresh air. It is always, always wonderful to see friends and colleagues. But what a pleasant surprise this year to experience how far we’ve come as a cohort and as a field. I first came to meetings more than a quarter century ago. This year, I heard far fewer discouraged expressions of education and community engagement as the step-child of an orchestra’s mission, activity and attention. No more sessions on the frustrations of working with artistic or marketing or other senior staff. By position, title and action, progress could be noted about the recognition of the key role education and community engagement plays within most all orchestras in service to their communities. Sure, there is concern about finances and funding, but the tone was different. With ‘growing up’ comes more visibility, responsibility and accountability. Are we measuring impact? And, are we effectively part of our orchestra’s storytelling? As for the conference itself: the creative ways that we held our meetings was so much more….engaging. Panels of experts? Sure. But we all worked assiduously to avoid ‘show and tell’ when it made sense, and instead, structured our time together to tease out issues and constructive responses to them. Paper was up at the front for notes, and yes, there were some power point-type presentations, but much time focused on our talking to one another at tables, and offering our collective best thinking as part of reporting out. Our sessions and conversations felt as though they were integral to the healthy forward movement of our field. Hats off to us!

Digging Into Assessment and Evaluation
by Jon Weber, Director of Learning Programs for the Negaunee Music Institute
Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Perhaps surprising to some, I have grown to enjoy rigorous program evaluation and consider it essential to stewarding our orchestras' educational and community assets – not to mention our precious time and human resources. I was pleased to be a part of a presentation on June 5 with Dr. Dennie Palmer Wolf and Alan Brown, Principals from WolfBrown, which focused on the development and implementation of inquiry based program assessments to understand the successes and opportunities to strengthen the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's Family Matinee concerts serving children ages 5–11. The research at the CSO's Negaunee Music Institute includes analysis of patrons’ cycle of engagement with the concert programs (before, during, after); artistic, social, and emotional impacts of the concert based on Alan Brown’s Intrinsic Impact research; and the development of loyalty across different series. The specific tools, data, and findings may be interesting to many EDCE staff members and I would encourage everyone to review the session’s PowerPoint. A brief description of the process is below. 

Form questions. The CSO’s team articulated several questions to guide their investigation, including:

  • What draws patrons to these concerts?
  • How, when, and where do families engage with the concerts?
  • What are the most impactful elements of the concerts?
  • What leads to long-term engagement?

Collect data: The CSO and WolfBrown used several methods to build a multi-dimensional understanding of the program, including focus groups which informed the development of a survey (electronic and hard copy) and analysis of patrons’ ticket purchasing data to investigate long-term loyalty.

Analyze results: Sometakeaways were immediately clear; others required assistance interrogating the data to identify. WolfBrown provided excellent support and resources—in particular the Intrinsic Impact dashboard—but the CSO’s staff have also developed significant skill throughout the experience.

Implement changes: CSO staff are acting promptly to implement changes and plan additional research for the 2014/15 season. We hope to transfer the tools and process to other CSO programs. The extent to which this will impact artistic planning, selection of repertoire and guest artists for the Family Matinee concerts will become clearer over time, but this is absolutely on the table. Finally, the CSO team is already in a much stronger position to make informed decisions about program changes and engage in rich conversations with internal and external constituents about the program’s unique value.

A collaborative process: This process, from beginning to end, has involved a cross-organizational team with diverse perspectives and skill sets. In particular, the CSO has energized marketing colleagues as critical friends.

I encourage others to consider how this process can offer insight into your own programs.  A commitment of time and energy is essential, but there are significant implications for program and staff growth based on a deep understanding of audience needs and impact. For more information, please feel free to contact me by email!

What Happens After Family Concerts End
by Dennie Palmer Wolf, Principal

In June, at the League conference in Seattle, there was a palpable feel of orchestras listening — to their audiences, and to their not-yet audiences spread throughout their communities. To walk through the halls to hear Claire Chase or Alan Brown, or just to eavesdrop in the coffee line was to be aware of a sea change in orchestra thinking — a growing curiosity about the way music works beyond the concert hall. I was in sessions about music and health care, re-thinking family concerts, sustaining the work with El Sistemà orchestras. But a colleague, Jon Weber, of the Chicago Symphony, who has been thinking about the life-long pathways for audiences, pointed out a surprising gap:  the empty space between the end of youth concerts and the start of adult engagement, education, and concert going. He made me think about this scenario: Imagine a young girl who has grown up going to hear an orchestra, with her family or through school, and who is becoming a person who loves listening to live music. Imagine she doesn’t play an instrument, or not seriously. Suddenly around age 12 her trips to the performance hall end. There are no concerts designed to pique her interest, teach her how to listen, introduce her to contemporary classical music, or let her continue to enjoy music with the father or grandmother who took her to the hall on Saturdays from the time she was five. 

I have been thinking about Jon’s observation since June. Early adolescence is the moment when young people decide how to spend their own free time and where they will invest their attention. It is a time when they re-work relations to parents and grandparents, uncles, and family friends, deciding which family values will be a part of who they are. These are the years when they grow up to be adults, parents, teachers, or voters who make a place for music in their lives and communities or not. So what better moment to make live classical music a part of what they enjoy? Why not think about hosting and presenting events that make this possible?

Imagine a next conference with an entire session on ways to engage 12 to 21 year-olds!

hank you, Polly!
by Jamie Allen, Director of Education
Dallas Symphony Orchestra

When I first started working as the Education Director for the Dallas Symphony, I was new to orchestra administration.  My background had largely been in the artistic and academic realms, so there was a learning curve my first few years.  But I will never forget a phone call I received within my first week on the job that helped me feel both excited about and ready for the challenges ahead.  It was from Polly Kahn, vice president for Learning and Leadership Development for the League.  I admit, I was a little intimidated by the title, but she quickly made me feel at ease, and warmly welcomed me into the fold.  She also mentioned that I would soon come to find that my colleagues around the country were some of the most caring, creative, and intelligent people I would ever meet, a prophecy that indeed proved to be true.

As time passed, and my involvement with the League increased, I came to realize that Polly was more than just a nice person in an office in New York. As I grew to know both her and my colleagues in the field better, I discovered that she had planted an important seed in that field. A seed that is nowbearing tremendous fruit. With her background at Lincoln Center, the 92nd Street Y, and the New York Philharmonic, she knew firsthand the importance of building an orchestra’s level of value and engagement in its community, and she knew how to do it. From her position at the League, she took that knowledge and lovingly passed it on; encouraging, mentoring, and nurturing wherever she could. She also developed data, incentives, and resources for all of us to do the same.

At the conference in Seattle, Polly officially stepped down from her role at the League, moving on to the next chapter of her life. In honor of this moment of transition, a number of us Education & Community Engagement folk enjoyed a celebratory dinner with her. As I looked around the table at that dinner, I was moved by the sheer amount of motivation, resourcefulness and innovation I saw. And it’s no exaggeration, whether we know it or not, to say that we all find ourselves at the vanguard of our field, doing the important work we do, largely due to the groundwork Polly has laid and the support she has given. Over the years, she opened so many doors and shed light on so many areas of opportunity for our field that the field is forever transformed.

I, for one, am incredibly grateful for the transformation, and look forward to the future. So wherever you are, I hope you’ll join me in a resounding “Thank You, Polly!"

Conference Materials

Please visit the League's Conference 2014 webpage to find links to videos, session highlights, and selected resources. If you have questions or suggestions for next year's EDCE Conference sessions, or would like to learn more about the constituency, feel welcome to reach out to any of your colleagues on the Leadership Committee or contact your constituent liaisons.

Hope to see you next year!

Donate Join the League Subscribe americanorchestras.org

Volunteer Notes Summer 2014

Volunteer Notes
The Newsletter for Symphony Orchestra Volunteers

Summer 2014

Letter from Outgoing President, Laura Hyde

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.” - John Quincy Adams

This June, over 120 volunteers from across America came together at the League of American Orchestras’ National Conference for three days of sharing, learning, and inspiring, all in the goal of supporting symphony orchestras. For those who came, it was a privilege to meet you and to spend time discussing the great work that is being done in your organizations. As a group of strong compassionate volunteers, we do make a difference. And as each volunteer association goes into another year, and as leadership turns over in your organizations, there will be new goals and challenges - and we hope that the information and networking gained from Conference will be an asset. I also hope that each of you will take advantage of the resources in volunteer section of the League’s website, share your successful projects by submitting to goldbookonline.org, and begin making plans to attend the National Conference in Cleveland, May 26-29, 2015, now.

As volunteers, what we do today will affect tomorrow. Thanks to each of you for all the work you do to support your hometown orchestras. As the League of American Orchestras’ fiscal year comes to a close on September 30, we ask you to consider joining the Volunteer Council in supporting the League. Donations to the League’s annual fund are what allow the League to continue the wonderful work they do to support not only our orchestras, but our orchestra volunteers. To make a gift, please contact Natalie Kimball at 646 822 4008 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , or visit the online donation page. We hope that you will consider this opportunity to support orchestras on a national level. Your gift will help to ensure orchestral music remains relevant, exciting, accessible, and sustainable for years to come.

It has been an honor to serve as president of the Volunteer Council this year. I must thank the group of special leaders on the Volunteer Council, who possess vision and dedication to working with other volunteers. Our mission is volunteers helping volunteers, and they embody that. Additionally, a special thank you to League staff Samara Ungar, Polly Kahn, and Jesse Rosen, for their support and guidance this year.

Laura Hyde
Immediate Past President, Volunteer Council

2014 National Conference – Bringing Seattle Home

“There’s always a first time for everything,” or so the saying goes – and the League of American Orchestra’s 69th National Conference overflowed with firsts for our volunteer delegates. If you attended the Conference in Seattle, you are probably already in the know. If you couldn’t join us this year, here’s a brief overview of what happened… AND what happened for the first time!

Naturally, we offered our most popular, traditional sessions, including:

• Gold Book Awards of Excellence: the best of the best projects from 2012-2013 were presented, and table discussions followed each of the nine award-winning projects’ presentations.

• Showhouse Best Practices – Something for Everyone: four Gold Book Award-winning showhouse projects were featured in a panel discussion focusing on the fundamentals that can make any project (showhouse, petting zoo, or membership drive) successful.

• Dine Arounds: these Dutch treat small dinner groups are always in high demand. This year, volunteers dined at some of the best Seattle’s vibrant dining scene had to offer – two nights in a row.

• Roundtables: top projects from 2012-2013 were presented in an expo-style setting, with 14 groups presenting in two fast-paced sessions. Four 12-minute rounds, with a change-up of topics in the middle, kept the room swirling with activity until the very end.

• Networking Lunch: volunteers gathered for a delicious lunch and exchange of ideas.

• Leadership Programming: we offered insights into how to better run your organization, including board development, nominating, membership, finance, strategic planning, and more.

BUT, every volunteer session featured either a twist on tradition or a completely new invention. We:

• introduced the Conference registration family plan: volunteers and board members could register three or more delegates from a single orchestra for $1,200. It paid off handsomely for many.

• introduced polling technology into the Gold Book Awards of Excellence sessions: thanks to Purdue University for providing us with polling clickers and reporting software, we were able to capture audience behavior and sentiment following each presentation with real-time display of the results. Everyone loved to click.

• opened our traditional volunteer-networking luncheon to all delegates. This luncheon featured the Classic Award-winning, 46-year-old Peoria Symphony Guild’s puppet troupe. Attendees were treated to a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to enthrall primary schoolers with Hansel and Gretel, and Peter and the Wolf.

• initiated a dine-arounds competition for the best solution to pre-determined topics. Each evening, best ideas per table were judged by Volunteer Council sustainers. Prizes were awarded, nightly, for the overall best idea.

• designed and implemented a competitive board game to educate volunteers about volunteer organization governance. We took a very dry (for many) leadership training subject and turned it upside down/inside out. Dice were flying in all directions, discussion never stopped, there were chocolaty prizes, and the winners were not at all humble.

• curated our first open to all-delegates Elective session – Grassroots Fundraising: Partnerships Between Volunteers and Development. We identified the content and panel participants, and Stacy Wilson Margolis, vice president of development, League of American Orchestras, took the lead from there with expert coaching and moderating. We were delighted to see that this particular Elective was standing room only!

The League has placed copies of Conference session handouts and presentation slides on their website. If you want more information about sessions you attended, this is the ideal place to review presentations and find contact information for presenters. If you didn’t attend Conference, you will find the session materials online are the next best thing to being there. There are video and transcriptions from several sessions, as well as opening and closing session performances. Materials from constituency group meetings, including the volunteer track Roundtable handouts and Awards of Excellence presentations, pre-Conference sessions, and Elective sessions are all there. Check out this amazing resource and share it with others in your volunteer organization.

Looking for other ways to keep the learning going? Here are two of the many ways you can contribute and stay connected throughout the year:

• Join the Discussion – Subscribe to League360 and enter the volunteer group.

• Submit Your Projects – We welcome every project for our searchable archive at goldbookonline.org.

• View a webinar – Check out our library of webinars, written and produced by volunteers for volunteers. Our newest webinar is called Fundraising Fundamentals: An Introduction to Grassroots Fundraising, and as always these webinars are available to you free of charge through the League’s website.

Sorry you missed Seattle? Be sure to mark your calendar for the League of American Orchestra’s 70th National Conference: Cleveland, May 26-29, 2015.

Welcome to the New Gold Book! We are Now Accepting Submissions!

We are proud to announce we are in the beta-testing phase of the new and improved Gold Book website. We invite you to be among the first to take it for a spin - search for new project ideas, add your own projects, and let us know your thoughts.

In case you are unfamiliar with Gold Book, it’s all about sharing, learning, and volunteers. The purpose is to highlight volunteer organizations’ projects, and provide successful examples for other organizations to adapt and follow. Gold Book is a treasure trove of good ideas in the areas of fundraising, community engagement, audience development, membership, technology, education, service to your orchestra, and leadership/organizational structure.

As we fine-tune the new site, we hope you will find it to be the go-to resource that Gold Book has been for nearly 40 years.

And YES! We are now accepting submissions for Gold Book Awards! Submit your 2013-2014 projects* by September 2 - the most outstanding projects will be selected by the Volunteer Council, and awardees will present at the League’s National Conference in Cleveland. The new Gold Book site makes it easier to submit – all you need to do is register and fill out the submission form.

We look forward to hearing your This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. about the new site – and of course ask for your patience as we make adjustments along the way!

*To be eligible for an award, your project must have been completed between July 1, 2013 and June 30, 2014.

Orchestra Volunteers Shine in Their Home Communities

Laura Street
Diane Shelton
Jane Van Dyk

The Volunteer Council would like to recognize recent awards received by orchestra volunteers. Former Volunteer Council member, Laura Street of Amarillo, Texas, is the recipient of the 2013-2014 Texas Association of Symphony Orchestras (TASO) Volunteer Award of Excellence. Winston-Salem Symphony volunteer, Diane Shelton, is the recipient of the 2013-2014 Virginia Dossinger Volunteer of the Year Award. Former Volunteer Council member Jane Van Dyk was awarded the 2013-2014 Montana Association of Symphony Volunteers (MASO) Award of Excellence. We congratulate Laura, Diane, and Jane for all they do and for the well-deserved recognition they have earned. We congratulate all of you for the volunteer service you provide to your home orchestras. They couldn’t succeed without the time and talents you so generously give.

Shared Resources for Shared Challenges
A letter from Incoming President, Margarita Contreni

About a dozen years ago, the Lafayette Symphony Orchestra board asked me for help. I was a development director at our local university, and the symphony needed assistance with its fundraising. It took me about a second to say yes. Although the board member who called would have no way of knowing it, I had played the piano in high school and college many, many years earlier. He tapped a long-lost love. So I joined the symphony’s volunteer association and its board, and enjoyed the experience immensely, especially meeting new friends who shared a passion for music and whom I never would have known otherwise. A few years later I was elected president. It was a time of significant transition for the orchestra: we were searching for a new music director, addressing musician compensation, and facing other challenges. Honestly, I didn’t have the experience to effectively deal with these issues. One day I picked up the phone and asked for assistance which I received on the phone and in two follow-up visits to our mid-western community. Do you know what I really learned from all of this? Two things: one, the challenges our orchestra was facing are common challenges shared by all orchestras; and two, the League was there with outstanding leadership and resources to help us.

As the incoming president of the League’s Volunteer Council, I want you to know that you can count on the Volunteer Council for valuable support for the work of your volunteer associations. I would like to personally invite new presidents and presidents-elect to join Linda Weisbruch, our president-elect from The Symphony Guild of Charlotte, and me for our Strategic Conversations this fall. This conference-call series consists of six 60-minute calls on the following Tuesdays at 3:00pm EST: September 23, October 7, October 21, November 4, November 18, and December 2. Together we will talk about governance, leadership, membership recruitment and retention, fundraising, and other topics. Agendas and resource materials will be emailed in advance of each call.

To register for this Strategic Conversation, please complete the following online form no later than September 12, 2014. Limited space is available, in order to keep these conversation groups intimate, so sign up early and join the conversation!

The tuition fee is $50 for this program.

Exclusive Offer for Volunteer Notes Readers!

If you book before 11:59pm EST on August 15 and enter the discount code VOLNOTES you will receive a 20% discount on this Strategic Conversations series. This $40 rate is being offered in this issue of Volunteer Notes exclusively, as a thank you to our readers.

*If neither the president nor president elect of your organization is available for this series, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. about the possibility of having a vice president or chair (particularly fundraising and/or membership chairs) attend this call series.




Join the League        Donate        americanorchestras.org  

Volunteer Notes Spring 2014

Volunteer Notes
The Newsletter for Symphony Orchestra Volunteers

Spring 2014

Notes from Laura Hyde, Volunteer Council President

“Volunteer not so you can build your resume, but so you can build yourself.”
~ Anonymous

The 69th League of American Orchestras National Conference in Seattle is the place to be June 4-6, 2014. Everyone has critical questions to be asked, and the Conference is offering countless solutions to these questions.

As a volunteer you will have the opportunity to participate in a very worthwhile and informative track created just for the volunteer constituency. A full schedule of networking and interactive sessions will give volunteers the chance to share and grow at Conference, and attending a performance of the Seattle Symphony at Benaroya Hall is sure to be wonderful. Please take the time to peruse the Conference information below, along with the League’s
Conference website, and plan to join us in Seattle. I promise you will go home motivated and inspired.

National Volunteer Week is April 6-12, 2014. This week celebrates people doing extraordinary things through service. Thank you symphony volunteers for your extraordinary service.

Though my term as President does not end until June 30th, this will be the last issue of Volunteer Notes before then. It has indeed been an honor to serve as president of the Volunteer Council this year. I have had the privilege to serve with a group who possess vision and a call to action. The dedication exhibited by the Volunteer Council and the League staff assures the future of symphony music. My special thanks to Samara Ungar, Polly Kahn, and Jesse Rosen for their support and guidance this past year.

Laura Hyde
Volunteer Council President
Women’s Symphony League of Tyler (TX)

Boost Your I.Q.* – Join Us at Conference!

You’ve got projects? We’ve got ideas …

At this year’s League of American Orchestras National Conference in Seattle, you’ll discover a world of sharing – the successes, the challenges, the solutions. Every year, the best and brightest volunteer organizations across North America gather together for three days of collaboration on what’s worked, what’s wowed, and what’s next.

Plan to be take part in this dynamic symphony volunteer assembly – you will definitely take home a whole host of plans for future successes. Here’s a brief snapshot of what awaits you:

Conference offerings will include nine Gold Book Award of Excellence presentations in two interactive sessions, plus the ever popular Roundtable expo-style session. This year, 15 projects will be offered (see article below). In addition, the League’s Volunteer Council will host two tables highlighting League online resources and services for volunteers.

To further entice you, here is the lineup of some exciting programming offered this year:

  • Showhouse Panel: There’s more to a showhouse than you might think and even more ways to tailor a showhouse event. Four orchestras have defined the showhouse in very different ways to raise money for their orchestras, engage volunteers, and introduce their orchestras to their communities. You will take away some winning fundraising and community-building strategies for your volunteer organization whether or not there is a showhouse in your future. The panel includes four 2014 Gold Book Award winning projects submitted from Dayton (OH), Richmond (VA), Milwaukee (WI), and Oklahoma City (OK). (Wednesday, June 5 at 9:30am)

  • Networking Lunch: The Peoria Symphony Orchestra Guild will enthrall you with their 2014 Classic Award-winning Puppet Troupe. Video, Q&A, and much more about this one-of-a-kind education project founded in 1969 await you. This session will be open to all Conference delegates; cost per person is $40. (Thursday, June 5 at 12:45pm)

  • Chart a Path for Leadership Season by Season: Put on your game face as you compete with tablemates to win points and prizes – all with the throw of the dice. This session is designed to provide a fun, interactive way to learn more about the do’s and don’ts of good governance. Take home some great tips on creating an infrastructure that will help your organization run smoothly. (Friday, June 6 at 8:00am)

  • Grassroots Fundraising – Partnerships Between Volunteers and Development: Explore ways to create and sustain productive partnerships. Whether in a large or small orchestra, healthy, professional relationships between these two groups can create a symbiotic relationship that is a win-win for all involved. This session is an all-delegate Elective which will be moderated by Stacy Wilson Margolis, vice president of development, League of American Orchestras. She will be joined by delegates from the Madison Symphony Orchestra, The Charlotte Symphony, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. (Friday, June 6 at 11:15am)

Remember – the 2014 League of American Orchestras Conference dates are Wednesday June 4 through Friday, June 6 in Seattle. Registration is now open on the League’s Conference site (early-bird registration closes on April 25th). We’ll see you there!

*I.Q. – IDEA Quotient!


League of American Orchestra’s 2014 National Conference Family Plan

In recognition of the important role played by volunteers and board members in serving America’s orchestras, the League would like to offer the following special group rate:

$1,200 flat rate registration fee for three or more volunteer and/or board member delegates from a single orchestra.

To secure this rate you must register your group of three or more by the April 25th early registration deadline, by calling member services at 212 262 5161. This offer is only valid for the 2014 National Conference, June 4-6, in Seattle.


A Record Breaking Number of Roundtables in Seattle!

Seventeen Roundtable sessions will be offered to the 2014 Conference attendees. The subjects are varied and sure to provide a new idea for your organization or a face-lift to an existing project.

  • Learn how knowledgeable guest speakers can present a short seminar to your volunteer officers on fundraising or strategic planning…for free.
  • Add a new twist to your Young Artist Competition.
  • Learn about several successful fundraisers that were specifically targeted to attract younger volunteers!
  • Rebranding your volunteer organization? Learn how one volunteer organization accomplished this project.
  • Conduct a growing symphony by partnering with a local nursery, and raising money with every new flower/sculpture purchased.Halloween Haunt and the Symphony… provide a memorable experience for 8,000 children.

Roundtables are a quick and efficient opportunity to learn from seventeen projects across the country in fundraising, community engagement, education, and membership! This year’s Roundtable projects/presenters include:

  1. Afternoon in the Gold Room – Metropolitan League San Francisco Symphony
  2. Bloom in Tune – Spokane Symphony Associates
  3. Board Job Descriptions – East Texas Symphony Orchestra
  4. Bordeaux on the Bayou – Houston Symphony League
  5. Children’s Halloween Concerts – Symphony League of Austin
  6. Concert Chats – Illinois Symphony Orchestra Guild
  7. Donate to Celebrate – Illinois Symphony Orchestra Guild
  8. Music Makers, a school concert – Plano Symphony Orchestra
  9. Rebranding Initiative – Friends of the Minnesota Orchestra
  10. Red Haute Valentine Party and Children’s Style ShowSymphony League of Austin
  11. Singing Creates Symphony Support – Orchestra of Southern Utah
  12. Spring Fashion Show - Eugene Symphony Guild
  13. Symphony of Wines – Waco Symphony Council
  14. Volunteer Council Services and Membership – Volunteer Council members
  15. Volunteer Ushers – Seattle Symphony Volunteers
  16. Webinars offered by Volunteer Council and other on-line LAO resources
  17. Youth Orchestra Competition- Arkansas Symphony Orchestra Guild

10 Ways to Raise More Money at Events

Fundraising for the symphony is one of the main goals of many volunteer associations. Adding to the ideas or thinking “outside the box” is something volunteers are always interested in doing. Below are a few ideas you may want to use if your organization is planning an event in the future.

  1. On the enclosure/RSVP card with the invitation, always include the line “Sorry, I am unable to attend but enclosed is my donation of ______________.”
  2. Before the event, keep those emails going… Emails are a great way to encourage people to send in their reservations and/or put a table together, to notify if the event is almost sold out, and to let all know once again what to look forward to in the way of entertainment. It is important that the invitees know the association is looking forward to seeing them at the event. Publicize, publicize, publicize!
  3. Do a little something special to set the Underwriting Tables apart from the regular tables. This makes donors feel special, gives them status, and encourages underwriting for the next year, as patrons will remember their table was outstanding.
  4. Greet guests at the door with a beverage before the check-in table. Have a photographer taking pictures of guests as they enter.
  5. If raffle tickets are sold at the event, put a sticker on the lapel to show the person has purchased a ticket. During the event, have a few volunteers, carrying baskets with helium balloons tied to them for easy spotting, walk around to tables looking for guests without a sticker to solicit a ticket purchase and give them a sticker if they do.
  6. If you have a live auction chair or reservation chair, here is an “out of the box” suggestion. Put your conductor’s voice on your voicemail stating “This is Conductor ____________of the ___________________Symphony. Mrs. _____________ is not available to take your call. At the sound of the tone, please leave your name and number.” This would bring added interest to the event.
  7. Email information about auction items before event to build up interest. Have auction rules included in the program book.
  8. Announce time left before silent auction ends-15 minutes, 5 minutes. Encourage last minute bidding.
  9. Mystery boxes for sale at the event all wrapped alike –for example 75 boxes at $75 each. All boxes contain gift certificates to a store and one contains a gift valued at $5,000 (any amount) donated by the store. The store needs to underwrite the boxes.
  10. Go into an event with as many expenses underwritten as possible. At the beginning, committee members need to work on finding underwriters for invitations, valet parking, centerpieces and anything related to the event that is an expense. Give these underwriters publicity in your newsletter, at meetings, and at the event.

No matter the size of the organization, the rules for fundraising are the same.

Lessons from Candy Crush

The game Candy Crush Saga has taken the world by storm. By the end of 2013, more than half a billion people had installed Candy Crush Saga and was the most downloaded app of the year in 2013, according to Apple. Have you been able to resist the urge to try out this incredibly popular game? Or were you, like your Volunteer Notes editor, curious to find out first hand what all the buzz was about and found yourself addicted to it? I was so fascinated by the appeal of this game, that I started wondering what lessons there were to be derived from it for the programs of my symphony guild. Here is what I found:

Lesson 1) Colorful and fun.
The game builds on something colorful, familiar, engaging, and fun -- candy. We may not want to use candy in all our events, but why not use color and fun themes in all of our programs to invite and engage?

Lesson 2) Something new each round of the game. Boredom never sets in because there is always something new. While we like the “tried and true”, we should think about something new to refresh our repeated programs -- the promise of a new twist for people to look forward to and to inject an element of surprise can be very appealing.

Lesson 3) Challenging and rewarding. Give people a challenge to rise up and reward them for their success. This is perhaps more for our volunteers than our audiences, but very important to success. Perhaps with a little more thought, you can think of ways to make this work for fundraising events or education projects.

Lesson 4) Share with friends. Candy Crush recognizes our desire to share what we are doing with friends and socialize. So embedded in this solitary computer game is the notion of sharing. We need to always encourage our audience to share their experiences with us and within their circle of friends. Encourage people to host a table of friends at events, write about their experience at an event on Facebook or other social media, and invite new people via an online invitation.

Lesson 5) Online community for help. Many websites and blogs offer help to the weary Candy Crush player who needs help getting to the next level. How often do you reach out to others via the internet for help getting to the next level of raising money? One such resource is the League’s online discussion group League 360. Post a question and get a helpful response or offer tips from your own experience that will help others. Join the discussion at League 360!

Join! Comment! Win!

In recognition of National Volunteer Week, the Volunteer Council wants to hear about your favorite volunteer moments...

Join the conversation on League360 and post your favorite symphony volunteer stories and moments bewteen April 6-12 to qualify for a complimentary ticket to the Volunteer Hosted Luncheon at this year's Conference.

To be eligible for this prize, you must not only join League360, but post bewteen April 6 and 12. You must also be a registered Conference attendee as of April 25 to be eligible to redeem this prize.

Join the conversation and participate in our online discussion group specifically for orchestra volunteers on League360. This is a great way for you to be in touch, share ideas, and ask questions of your colleagues from across the country. If you already have a username and password to access The Hub, then you can use this same login to access League360.

Once you are logged in click on “Groups,” then search for "Volunteers," select that group and then click on "Join Group." The more people who join and participate in this group the more valuable it becomes! Encourage everyone in your volunteer association to take advantage of this powerful resource. Beginning discussions include education concerts and fund-raising ideas. You can start a new discussion or add to an existing one.

For any questions regarding
League360 contact Jim at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , he can help you set-up or reset your username and password. Please include your name, title (if appropriate), the name of your orchestra, and the name of your volunteer association in your email.

Offer from The Berliner Philharmoniker

The Berliner Philharmoniker invites all League members to explore their online concert venue, the Digital Concert Hall, for free.

In this virtual concert venue, all concerts are broadcast live and later become available in a video archive. By now, the Digital Concert Hall includes 250 complete concerts with the Berliner Philharmoniker, their chief conductor Sir Simon Rattle, visiting conductors and soloists as well as more than 180 interviews with the Who’s Who of classical music, classical music documentaries and education films.

To explore the Digital Concert Hall for free for 48 Hours, just enter FREELEAGUE at
http://bph.de/vic00. This offer is valid until July 1, 2014.

They are also offering a 20% discount on Digital Concert Hall tickets for all League members. To receive your discount, just enter 20PCTLEAGUE at
http://bph.de/vic00 at any time.

Should you need any additional information or support, do not hesitate to contact the Berliner Philharmoniker at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .



Join the League        Donate        americanorchestras.org  
Twitter facebook You Tube
Unsubscribe here.

33 West 60th Street, 5th Floor, New York, NY 10023

Orchestra Update



February 14, 2017  




Making the arts accessible to all: Gustavo Dudamel in Symphony
Los Angeles Philharmonic Music and Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamel's inspiring words at a ceremony for recipients of the National Medal of Arts and the National Humanities Medal are excerpted in the current issue ofSymphony magazine. The Winter 2017 Issue of Symphony also examines next gen artists, how orchestras are connecting with millennials, and innovative ways of marketing of works by contemporary composers. Read it at no cost online!





Dallas Chamber Symphony takes it to the streets
From homeless shelters to DART stations, Dallas Chamber Symphony brings the music to wide swatch of the city, with a particular focus on underserved communities. This feature on NBCDFW.com lays out the group's plans for the future.



Orchestras Feeding America, the League's national campaign to help end hunger 
Orchestras across the country come together in March, and throughout the year, to take part in Orchestras Feeding America, the League's national effort to collect food for the hungry. Over 500,000 pounds of food has been donated through this collective action. Register here. Pictured above: concert attendees donate food to the Walla Walla Symphony's recent drive. 




El Paso's cross-border concert: music has the power to unite
Youth orchestras from both sides of the Texas-Mexico border, including our member, El Paso Symphony YouthOrchestras, and Mexico's Orquesta Sinfónica Esperanza Azteca Ciudad Juárez, performed a joint concert titled "The Bridge." Watch The Dallas Morning News  video here.





Out of Many, One: a message from the League for orchestra advocates
"The League, and its advocacy team in Washington, D.C., will continue to directly represent orchestras before Congress, the White House, and federal agencies, and mobilize our members for action when pivotal policy moments are upon us. The most impactful advocacy, especially now, requires ongoing, collective action by our members" - Jesse Rosen, President and CEO, League of American Orchestras.  Here are some ways to start taking action now:




Upending the audience experience
Audiences sitting side-by-side with the orchestra? That's what The Park Avenue Chamber Symphony did recently, and according to this news New York One segment, audience members loved it, finding the experience sonically intense and exciting. Watch the video here.



The Seattle Symphony addresses homelessness
How does an orchestra address social issues in its community? The Seattle Symphony launches Simple Gifts, a multi-year program for the homeless which uses music to provide inspiration, give hope, and help alleviate trauma.Watch the launch video here, and read more in this extensive article in The Stranger.



Immerse yourself in new music: EarShot's composer archive
Introducing a fantastic resource for enthusiasts of new music! EarShot's newly launched archive features audio excerpts, program notes, and score samples from some of America's most exciting composers. The screen shot, above, is just a small sample from this new archive, which spotlights more than 140 composers. The archive is free and accessible to the general public. Click here to access it!

Photo credits:
Gustavo Dudamel: Khue Bui
Dallas Chamber Symphony: Mike Itashiki
Jesse Rosen: Chris Lee


December 2013

December 2013
There's No Place Like Home

When The Philadelphia Orchestra's New York City performance was abruptly cancelled, the orchestra quickly rebounded with a free "pop-up concert" at their own venue. View the home-town action here.
Tweet This: New Trends in Classical Music

Other than a broad category encompassing popular music, classical music is the musical genre most watched or listened to on TV, radio, or the Internet, according to the NEA's 2012 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts. One in three adults (a whopping 80.4 million) use handheld or mobile devices to download, watch, or listen to music performances. Read more about trends in arts participation.
Tuning in to Tax Reform

Orchestras are weighing in as Congress continues to debate – well, nearly everything. Negotiations over budget priorities and comprehensive tax reform leave federal policy areas like NEA funding and incentives for charitable giving hanging in the balance. Find out how to join orchestras raising their voice in support the public value of the nonprofit arts.
Ingredients for Successful Labor Negotiations

League President and CEO Jesse Rosen recently spoke with George Cohen, director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, about achieving successful labor negotiations. Read more in the Fall 2013 issue of Symphony, available online.
Alive and Kicking – Music Alive Composer Residencies

Nearly $1 million has been awarded to composers Sleeping Giant Collective, Stella Sung, Gabriela Lena Frank, Narong Prangcharoen (pictured), and Trimpin as participants in Music Alive composer residencies with partner orchestras in Albany, Dayton, Detroit, Santa Ana, and Seattle beginning this season. Read more.
Did you know... Orchestras provide nearly 36,000 performances annually, with almost 1 in 3 events offered free of charge. Read more Quick Orchestra Facts.

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn Share Share 33 West 60th Street, 5th Floor, New York, NY 10023

February 2014

February 2014
Open Cello Surgery

Phoenix Symphony musician Laurie Stearns Selby literally dissects a cello in this video of fifth graders taking part in Mind Over Music. This Phoenix Symphony program helps teachers integrate music into STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) concepts. For more on the importance of multi-disciplinary arts education, see Arts Education for America's Students, A Shared Endeavor, just released by the League, in partnership with twelve national arts and education organizations.
Incubators of Innovation

The orchestra field can be inspired by the vision, experimentation, and creativity of musician-led ensembles and innovative performers, says League President and CEO Jesse Rosen. Read more about why orchestras need entrepreneurial musicians. Photo Credit: Carrie Schneider
Youth Orchestra Partners to "Save the Music" in Public Schools

San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory's collaboration to restore music education in the Chula Vista Elementary School District is receiving one of two new prestigious VH1 Save The Music Foundation grants this semester, followed by four more in 2014-15. SDYS is also one of 23 orchestras strengthening communities with support from 2013-14 Getty Grants awarded by the League of American Orchestras.
Powerful New Works Reflect the Toll of War

The Alabama Symphony Orchestra, Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, and Louisiana Philharmonic are among those exploring complex themes of conflict as they connect with veterans and the public in the wake of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Read coverage on this topic and more in the Winter issue of Symphony magazine.
On the Leading Edge

The League of American Orchestras is developing future orchestra leaders with the launch of the new Emerging Leaders Program. Seven orchestra administrators between the ages of 25-35 are participating in an intensive, two-year program combining on-the-job learning with strong mentoring and peer network-building opportunities. Learn more about the participants.
Did you know... Community engagement activity in America's orchestras is growing fast, with nearly three times as many events as a decade ago. Read more Quick Orchestra Facts.

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn Share 33 West 60th Street, 5th Floor, New York, NY 10023


Resources for Educators

Resources for Educators

Marvin Makes Music
Marvin Hamlisch

Marvin loves to play the piano and compose his own songs. But performing music over and over that's composed by some old guys name Ludwig and Wolfgang just gives him knots in his stomach. When his father tells Marvin he has an audition with the most prestigious music school, how can Marvin overcome his nerves and get swept away by the music?

This classroom guide offers great ideas for teaching Marvin Makes Music to your students!

Buy now


Recommended Children's Music Books


Visit the Children's Literature Network for more books about classical music.

Volunteer Notes Winter 2014

Volunteer Notes
The Newsletter for Symphony Orchestra Volunteers

Winter 2014

Notes from Laura Hyde, Volunteer Council President

The Volunteer Council met in Seattle, November 8-11, where the Seattle Symphony will host the League of American Orchestras 2014 National Conference: Critical Questions, Countless Solutions. The Council is already planning a volunteer track with award winning volunteer project presentations and incredible networking opportunities. I know each of you will want to budget now to attend the Conference, June 4-6.

Another great opportunity available to delegates, in conjunction with Conference, is a week-long Alaska cruise on Holland America’s ms Westerdam, departing Seattle on June 7 (see additional information below). Make your plans now!

This year’s Strategic Conversation conference calls were attended by nine presidents/president-elects from across the United States. These six one-hour sessions covered topics such as membership, fundraising, and leadership. It also gave participants the opportunity to connect with other volunteer leaders facing similar challenges and questions, and share new ideas and perspectives. These conversations will be held again next fall and I hope many president-elects will consider being a part of this valuable experience.

Thank you again for your support of last year’s Volunteer Council 50th Anniversary appeal. This tremendous effort exceeded all expectations and put a spotlight on the extraordinary commitment of orchestra volunteers to each other, their home orchestras and the League. It has been wonderful to see the basic tenets of leadership, service, connection, and commitment that form the foundation of robust volunteerism in the orchestral field.

In 2014, the Volunteer Council leadership will again be reaching out, to ask you to please consider contributing to a group gift supporting orchestra governance. So many orchestra board members develop from the ranks of their organization’s volunteers. This year’s Volunteer Council appeal will recognize the great value of volunteer development to the field, and will also give an opportunity to honor the legacy of outgoing League Board Chair Lowell Noteboom. Please consider joining your fellow Volunteer Council members by supporting the League and paying tribute to Lowell. To make a gift, please contact Samara Ungar at 646 822 4083 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit the online donation page.

I would also like to invite you to participate in a special opportunity to share your unique volunteer-staff collaborative fundraising efforts described in the article which follows.

The Volunteer Council looks forward to meeting each of you at Conference, and hearing how you work to fulfill the mission and tackle the challenges facing your orchestra. We are available to support your volunteer association in any way we can. There is a saying by Michael Jordan, “Some people want it to happen, some wish it to happen, others make it happen.” You, the volunteer, make it happen. Thank you for promoting and supporting the mission of symphony orchestras.

Laura Hyde
Volunteer Council President
Women’s Symphony League of Tyler (TX)


Call for Collaborative Fundraising Projects

Do you have a successful project that benefited from the collaboration of volunteers and your development staff? Please share it with us!

This year, the Volunteer Council is focusing on fundraising and the collaboration between volunteers and development staff. We would like to hear about successful fundraising collaborations to be part of a potential session that is open to all delegates at the Conference in June, an article in Volunteer Notes, or a Project of the Month in the League’s online newsfeed, The Hub. We invite you to complete this questionnaire and submit to Samara Ungar at the League (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ) by February 15. If you have any questions, please contact Elaine Cousins, Volunteer Council member, by sending email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Why Attend Conference? An Interview with Mike Minor, President of the Association of Major Symphony Orchestra Volunteers

VOLUNTEER NOTES: Mike, you attended your first League of American Orchestras Conference last year. Why would you recommend it to others?

MIKE MINOR: The Volunteer Council activities at Conference present a unique opportunity for you to meet volunteers supporting orchestras of all sizes. At the Conference you will have the opportunity to attend enlightening seminars, network, and share ideas with volunteers from other orchestras, and return to your orchestra with valuable information to support your volunteer organization. Whether you are in search of an innovative idea for a new fundraising project, need information on how to engage the next generation of volunteers, or simply want to share your experiences with volunteers from other orchestras, Conference is a great opportunity for you.

VN: What was a highlight of the Conference for you?

MM: A highlight of the Conference was the presentation of the Gold Book Awards of Excellence. These awards are given each year for outstanding projects submitted to the League of American Orchestras' Gold Book Online. Members from the organizations for each of the award-winning projects were on hand to discuss their projects and share their best practices with you.

VN: Any last words you’d like to share with our readers?

MM: Start making your plans now to attend the League of American Orchestras Conference in Seattle, June 4-6, 2014. Attending a conference is also a great way to build enthusiasm among your volunteer organization membership. I am hopeful to see you and other members of your volunteer organization for the Volunteer Council's sessions, seminars, and events next June.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Conference registration will open at the end of February. Watch for special group pricing for attendees from a single orchestra. In addition to the Awards of Excellence presentations, there will be project presentations in RoundTable format, concerts, dinners with other attendees, and a wide variety of engaging sessions on topics of interest to all.


League of American Orchestra’s 2014 National Conference Family Plan

In recognition of the important role played by volunteers and board members in serving America’s orchestras, the League would like to offer the following special group rate:

$1,200 flat rate registration fee for three or more volunteer and/or board member delegates from a single orchestra.

To secure this rate you must register your group of three or more by the April 25th early registration deadline, by calling member services at 212 262 5161. This offer is only valid for the 2014 National Conference, June 4-6, in Seattle.


2014 Gold Book Awards of Excellence Winners: Great Ideas for Your Volunteer Association

Innovation, volunteer involvement, return on investment and impact are the primary criteria the Volunteer Council utilizes to evaluate volunteer projects submitted each year to the League’s volunteer project website, goldbookonline.org. The Council had a record number of outstanding award winners this year. Thirteen projects from ten states will be recognized as winners of the Gold Book Awards of Excellence and presented at Conference this June.

The 2014 winning organizations and their projects are:

  • Dayton Philharmonic Volunteer Association (OH): Designers’ Showhouse and Gardens, a fundraiser that capitalized on the history of a historic home and gardens, and on the estate’s link to the orchestra’s performing arts center to draw record crowds and revenues.
  • Houston Symphony League (TX): Maestro’s Wine Dinner and Collector’s Auction, a fundraiser that provided a salute to the orchestra’s maestro and his passion for food, wine, and music.
  • Huntsville Symphony Orchestra Guild (AL): Silver Tea, a fundraising project that showcased talented young musicians at a beautiful traditional tea in a historic 18th century home.
  • Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra Association (IN): Music is Magic Symphony Ball, a fundraiser whose magic show astounded the crowd, and whose live auction generated magical profits.
  • Los Angeles Philharmonic Affiliates at Large (CA): Music Appreciation Classes, a community engagement project that sparked interest in classical music and in concert attendance.
  • Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra League (WI): Holiday House, a “mini” showhouse fundraiser centered around the holidays.
  • Oklahoma City Orchestra League (OK): The Trio in the Abbey Showhouse, an annual fundraiser that this year tripled the number of houses featured, yet kept the same number of volunteers.
  • Richmond Symphony Orchestra League (VA): Symphony Designer House, a perennial favorite fundraiser that added new twists and was its most successful ball ever.
  • Symphony Guild of Charlotte (NC): Engaging Membership Meetings, a membership project developed to spark volunteer participation and leadership development.
  • Symphony Guild of Charlotte (NC): Virtual Office, a leadership/organization structure project that slashed expenses, and used the cost savings for educational projects.
  • Symphony League of Kansas City (MO): Fountains of Music Symphony Ball, a fundraiser that drew from the city’s 200+ fountains for its theme and drew a flood of in-kind donations and sponsorships.
  • Women’s Symphony League of Tyler (TX): Board Retreat, a leadership/organizational structure project that tapped a prominent national consultant to facilitate training and discussion.
  • Women’s Symphony League of Tyler (TX): Sips for Scholarship, a unique fundraiser that parlayed simple donations of dimes and quarters into two youth music scholarships.

In addition, a special Gold Book Classics Award will be presented to the Peoria Symphony Guild for its Puppet Troupe. Over the past 45 years, Guild volunteers have presented staged puppet productions to more than 618,000 school children in more than 60 schools in Peoria, IL, and surrounding areas. The Puppet Troupe will be featured at our Networking Lunch at Conference.

You won’t want to miss learning about these award-winning projects. Join us at Conference and take home great ideas to share with your volunteer association!

To search the Gold Book Online for all projects submitted since 2006, go to goldbookonline.org. You are sure to find projects that you will want to adopt or adapt.

Top Ten List for Volunteer Associations
By Henry Fogel

Having worked with affiliate volunteer associations for almost 50 years, beginning with the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra’s Women’s Association in the mid 1960s, I have seen a lot, and perhaps that qualifies me to emulate David Letterman and come up with my own top ten list of thoughts for truly effective volunteer organizations. The difference is that my list is not done tongue in cheek.

1) Your volunteer association is a part of a larger organizational structure. Even if your group is a separate 501c3, it is almost certainly registered as a support organization. What this means is that governing decisions are appropriately the responsibility of the board of trustees of the orchestra. Certainly the leadership of volunteer groups should be a part of that governing process, with ex officio membership on both the board and executive committee of the orchestra (ex officio does not mean non-voting). However, when volunteer groups attempt to direct spending priorities, beyond participating in discussions in the orchestra’s boardroom, the governance process itself is weakened. When an orchestra’s board has determined to cut a particular program, even a much-loved educational program, a volunteer association’s attempt to reverse it by essentially saying “you may only use our funds to support that program” is, in fact, a usurpation of the governance role.

2) I have had many experiences, while visiting orchestras, where I learned that the volunteer group and the orchestra management or board were not in alignment on the subject of mission and roles. It is critical for there to be an institution-wide consensus on the mission of the volunteer organization(s) and their relationship with the orchestral institution and its mission.

3) Take advantage of the good national models available through the Volunteer Council of the League of American Orchestras and through the League itself, for exploring the issue of mission and organizational relationships, as well as for a good overview of successful projects done throughout the country.

4) Assess projects and programs, and assess them honestly. If the principal purpose of a particular project was revenue, did it meet its goal? Was the goal a rational one? If the principal goal was not revenue, what was it? If it was “friend-raising,” did it really raise new friends, or merely entertain old ones? Projects that require a considerable amount of human resource and result in a net income of $5,000 may not be worth the investment of human resource. You might think it is stating the obvious that the important number is the net revenue, not the gross, but I have over the years seen organizations congratulate themselves over a high gross total while glossing over the fact that the actual net was minimal.

5) Always, always, always keep an open mind in re-assessing old projects and considering new ones. “We’ve always done that or “we’ve always done it that way” are rarely constructive approaches to self-examination.”

6) This one is really hard, but important. Do not continue individual volunteers in roles that they are clearly not performing well. I understand the human value of being kind and supportive, particularly to someone who is volunteering her or his time, and I understand the difficulty of asking a volunteer to step down from a role. However, I also understand the damage done to everyone, including the organization, by a job done badly over and over again.

7) Maintain healthy, constructive communication between the volunteer organization and the orchestra’s management and board. If there are issues of concern, they should be raised early, and in a constructive way, before they build into serious frustration. I frequently encounter an “us-and-them” mentality – often fostered by both management and volunteers. But it is never healthy. Cooperation, communication, and coordination are three very valuable C’s.

8) Then there is the other all-important C-word: Credit. No one can deny the importance of appropriate credit and expressions of gratitude for good volunteer work. After all, the management staff has been monetarily compensated for its work. Credit and gratitude are the units of compensation for volunteers, and it is incumbent on the management and board to always remember this. But it is also important for volunteers to be willing to share credit on projects that involve more than one volunteer group (or even those that involve volunteers and staff).

9) Acknowledge the importance of benchmarking and measuring results. Before a project is undertaken, establish realistic goals and outcomes. Use metrics from like organizations across the country in setting these goals. And, when it is over, assess the effectiveness of the project. If the project did not come close to achieving its goals, an honest assessment of why it didn’t will likely lead to success next time.

10) Have fun. Create an atmosphere where fun is valued. The work accomplished by volunteers in American non-profits, including symphony orchestras, is truly astonishing. It is fair to say that our orchestras would not be what they are without the dedication, passion, and hard work of volunteers. That being said, there is no reason why the work cannot be fun. I have seen far too many situations involving volunteer groups where the operative descriptive words would be “tension,” “drama,” “negative energy,” etc. People choosing to work for a cause in which they believe without monetary compensation seem to me to deserve to be able to find genuine pleasure in the experience.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Henry Fogel, dean and professor of the arts, Roosevelt University's Chicago College of Performing Arts, is a much sought-after consultant to orchestras around the country. He was president of the League of American Orchestras (2003-2008) and president of the Chicago Symphony Association for 18 years beginning in 1985. We are very pleased that he was able to take time to share some of his orchestral wisdom with us.

Explore Alaska with Holland America Line: a special offer for League of American Orchestra members

If you are planning to attend the League Conference in Seattle, Holland America Line and the Seattle Symphony invite you to extend your visit and embark on a round trip cruise to Alaska, June 7–14, 2014, following Conference. Special group fares have been arranged and opportunities to meet other League members and their guests are being planned.

Holland America Line, a Seattle Symphony corporate sponsor, is offering the League of American Orchestras’ members the following:

  • Special group pricing on a variety of rooms. Many include ocean views and verandahs. Make a deposit early for the best selection of rooms.
  • Package includes 7 nights in a Stateroom or Suite, delightful dining options, and onboard amenities on the ms Westerdam, one of Holland America’s newest mid-sized ships.
  • Watch the sun set over the Olympic Mountains while cruising the beautiful Puget Sound, after a 4:00pm departure from Seattle on June 7.
  • Invitation to a League cocktail party while at sea on Sunday, June 8
  • Dine with League group members by selecting the early dining option at 5:45 in the Main Dining Room.
  • Itinerary includes cruising scenic Glacier Bay National Park and visiting Alaskan ports at Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan and Victoria, BC (passport required).

For reservations call 1 877 SAIL HAL (1 877 724 5425) and ask for the League of American Orchestras group pricing (Group Code: TQJ, Voyage W450)

For questions e-mail Group Contact, Linda Stevens, board member, Seattle Symphony at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

To learn more, visit Holland America Line Alaskan Cruise June 7-14

Please note that there are a limited number of rooms allocated for the League group, so book early to get your choice of staterooms or suites. The group room allocations will be released March 7, 2014, and revert to published pricing at that time. The deposit will vary by room size, but is required within 48 hours of booking. Final payment is due March 24, 2014. Gratuity (approximately $12/day/guest) and tax additional.



Join the League        Donate        americanorchestras.org  
Twitter facebook You Tube
Unsubscribe here.