Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra—Backstage Career Workshops

Bring parents and their 7th- to 12th-grade students into an educational setting, preparing them for orchestra administration career guidance

Educational Background:

Sound Discoveries, the youth education program of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, hails from an education tradition dating back to the early 1920s. The current iteration contains three main branches:

  • Music for Life combines classroom experiences, professional development workshops,
  • Music Hall concerts and events while offering opportunities to study, analyze, evaluate, synthesize, and enjoy music as a relevant and enriching part of students' lives and studies.
  • Music for the Community addresses educational issues outside the classroom.
  • Music for a Career provides educational and performance opportunities—and financial assistance where needed—for talented and motivated young musicians who aspire to careers in music performance, music education, or music administration.

The backstage career workshops are a division of Music for a Career. Manager of Educational Activities Anne Cushing-Reid developed the workshops after recalling her own trepidations when facing a career in music. High school students are often unaware of the many non-performance career options available within an orchestra. She tailored the workshops to alert students to the possible careers in orchestra management.

The Workshops:

Backstage career workshops started in the 2006-07 season, and cater to students in 7th through 12th grade. The CSO targeted students in surrounding high schools, in churches that partner with the Music for Community program, and in the Cincinnati Symphony Youth Orchestra (CSYO). The workshops also recruit parents as actively as students, aiming to inform them of the commitment level needed as well as the opportunities their children have.

The workshop starts at 5 pm on a selected Saturday, with the main session lasting slightly longer than an hour. Each day’s workshop has a particular focus. These include:

  • a hall tour
  • an arts administration career with particular focus on possible jobs
  • a college experience summary featuring professors and students
  • a breakdown of the audition process featuring the conductor of the CSYO (This subject sparked the highest volume of questions.)

Dinner for all participants follows the session, and gives students additional opportunities to speak with the featured workshop guests. In the informal setting, the occasionally shy students have a better opportunity to receive advice about their personal situations. The event is capped off with a concert that evening. Everything is underwritten by endowment funds allocated only to new programs.

Future Seasons:

The backstage career workshops have met three times since the program’s inception, and each event brought a group of parents and students numbering around 40. Until a larger meeting room becomes available, the CSO looks on this as an extremely satisfactory number. The workshops are also looking to incorporate musicians from the orchestra; musicians were not originally involved because the initial outcome was unknown. The four workshops were spaced from January through May, though plans are set to move it backward so that one or two sessions happen before the students’ winter break. This will free up schedules during the busy audition season. The CSO considers the program overwhelmingly successful, due both to the number of attendees (which has already created demand for a larger meeting space) and to the intense involvement of students who attend.

For Additional Info Contact:
Anne Cushing-Reid, Manager of Educational Activities, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Sound Discoveries website