Volunteer Notes February 2009

The Newsletter for Symphony Orchestra Volunteers

The Newsletter for
Symphony Orchestra Volunteers

February 2009


GREETING: Notes from our President

PRESENTING: President-Elect Jane Van Dyk

PROMOTING: Arts Advocacy

TEACHING: Regional Workshops

LEARNING: Membership Skill-Builder

AWARDING: Award of Excellence Projects for 2009

ANNOUNCING: Conference


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

LET’S TALK! Volunteer Discussion Groups

GOLD BOOK ONLINE -- The resource for volunteer projects


GREETING: Notes from our President

Volunteer Council President Judy Christl

Volunteer Council President Judy Christl

Dear Volunteers, 

We are all facing challenges and change in 2009. Volunteers have the opportunity to adapt and join the new parade, or to find ourselves out of step. Our changing economy offers a chance to redefine our role in our communities. Across the country, volunteers are seeking new avenues for partnership with staff and community, as well as methods for streamlining their work and raising hard to find dollars. Effective collaboration with the orchestra staff takes time and listening skills on both sides, but the reward will be focused service and mutual support. Now is the time to get together with your orchestra staff and invite them to ask for different or additional support.  

Audience Development, Community Engagement, and Service can seem routine or unfamiliar, so we miss opportunities to be of value to our orchestras. No one can support your symphony more eloquently or enthusiastically than you, a passionate and dedicated volunteer. You can be the best advocate your symphony has by telling, in ordinary conversation, of your commitment and the work that you do as a volunteer. 

If you’re looking for projects that will enhance orchestra visibility in your community and attendance at performances, the Gold Book Online can immediately give you more than 60 ideas for creating or tweaking projects that can reap benefits for your orchestra. On the search page, select Audience Development, and see what ideas pop up. If you see something that interests you, use our contact information to get in touch with the volunteer who chaired it. The resource file covers large and small orchestras and gives a starting point to develop projects that best suit your group.  

Volunteer Council members look forward to hearing how you meet the challenges facing your orchestra. We strive to find ways in which volunteers across the country can support each other, and orchestras nationwide. We’re ready to talk with you individually or meet you at Regional Workshops and the League National Conference (Chicago, June 9 – 12, 2009). 

Judy Christl
Volunteer Council President

PRESENTING: President-Elect Jane Van Dyk

President-Elect Jane Van Dyk at the League's 2007 Conference in Nashville
President-Elect Jane Van Dyk at the League's 2007 Conference in Nashville

The Volunteer Council’s President-Elect, Jane Van Dyk, hails from Billings, Montana, and has been a member of the Volunteer Council for six years. Her lifelong passion is playing and fostering the appreciation of music. An amateur musician, Jane plays the French horn with a community band, sings with her church choir, and enjoys playing the piano. Live symphonic music is usually Jane’s first choice, although she likes all kinds of music. “One of the real perks of being on the Council,” she notes, “is getting to hear some of the best symphony orchestras in the country—even the world.” 

In her professional life, Jane is the Associate Vice President for Services for Academic Success at Rocky Mountain College, a small, private college in Billings. Jane enjoys an open-door relationship with her team, most of whom have worked with her for several years.  

Jane’s support of classical music includes several roles at multiple organizations. Most notably Jane has served for more than twelve years on the Billings Symphony Board of Directors, including two terms as president, and has been active in the Yellowstone Chamber Players, serving as manager and grant-writer. She has also made several guest appearances with the YCP, playing castanets. 

When she isn’t busy volunteering, Jane enjoys spending time at her lakeside cabin with her husband, Tom, her sons, and her eight-year-old grandson. Jane loves to be active and outdoors, whether she is hiking, cross-country skiing, or running. When you see Jane at Conference in June, be sure to say hi!  

Sandra Weingarten
Volunteer Notes Editor

PROMOTING: Arts Advocacy

Caryl Kassoy

Caryl Kassoy

A couple of months ago Volunteer Notes suggested that organizations reach out to newly elected officials and introduce them to the wonderful music of our orchestras. Have you had the opportunity to participate in this effort?  

I think that volunteers throughout the country would enjoy hearing what successes you have had and what ideas are being explored. Please share your outreach attempts with us. We would love the opportunity to celebrate your successes in reaching out to the greater community in order to advocate for the musical arts.  

Do you have some interesting educational programs? Have you sent invitations to concerts and events to your local, state and national elected officials? Will there be a campaign to inform the community of specific issues? 

You are welcome to share your ideas by contributing to our Email Discussion Group. We look forward to hearing your stories! 

Caryl F. Kassoy
Arts Advocacy Chair

TEACHING: Regional Workshops

Wendy Kelman

Wendy Kelman

Need new members? Need new fundraising ideas? Don't miss the next REGIONAL WORKSHOP

Join the Eugene Symphony Guild and the Volunteer Council of the League of American Orchestras for a day of training, presentations, and interactive discussion about orchestra volunteerism. This workshop is open to volunteers, staff, board members, and anyone else interested in networking and sharing ideas of best practices in volunteerism. Sue Ashby of Jacksonville, FL and LaDonna Meinders of Oklahoma City will engage everyone in lively discussion of best practices. Participants will gather for coffee at 9:15 am, with presentations from 10am to 3pm. Take advantage of this opportunity to network with other volunteers facing similar challenges in the areas of fundraising and membership. Registration deadline is March 13. Please click here for the most current information on this program or contact KC Skolnik at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

What if you don’t live in the Northwest? Another Regional Workshop will be held on April 24, 2009 in Charleston, West Virginia. For details visit our Regional Workshop page of the website.  

Wendy Kelman
Regional Workshop Chair

LEARNING: Membership Skill-Builder

The single most important function of a symphony volunteer organization is membership. With a strong and vibrant membership, you will be successful in your fundraising, programming, and educational projects, and thus, your organization will be a meaningful partner in your orchestra family.  

The Volunteer Council provides a Membership Skill Builder to help volunteer organizations develop a successful membership campaign. Recruitment, retention and involvement are addressed, and a membership plan is provided. Click here  to access the Membership Skill Builder and find concrete steps to enhance or develop your membership!  

Jo Ellen Saylor
Volunteer Council Member

AWARDING: Award of Excellence Projects for 2009



Since the Gold Book has been available online, over 300 orchestra volunteer projects have been submitted to this free resource. This year’s submissions were reviewed by the Volunteer Council at our October meetings, and we are pleased to give you a sneak peak at the projects you will see presented at Conference in Chicago this June.  

We are happy to announce the following winning projects – along with some brief words from the volunteers behind all the success. Congratulations and thank you all for sharing your achievements!   

2008 Designer Showcase: The Art of Design
Volunteer Association: Southwest Florida Symphony Society
Orchestra: Southwest Florida Symphony Orchestra & Chorus Association 

How do you find a Designer Showcase home in a housing market free-fall? By thinking outside the box! Discover how we found a unique venue, expanded our market, and formed a profitable partnership with local businesses. 

Thirsty Thursdays
Volunteer Association: Guild of the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra
Orchestra: The Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra 

After work, what would be fun for Symphony Showhouse visitors? How about hors d’oeuvres from the new Guild cookbook served with wine? This project gives new Guild members an exciting project to develop their leadership in the Guild as well as drawing in extra visitors to the Showhouse. 

Musical Petting Zoo
Volunteer Association: Symphony Guild of Charlotte, Inc.
Orchestra: Charlotte Symphony Discover how

The Symphony Guild of Charlotte revamped our Musical Petting Zoo from pre-school visits to a collaboration with a community leader enabling people of all ages to play our orchestra instruments and develop an appreciation of music. 

Young Peoples Concert Preview Nature in Music
Volunteer Association: Dayton Philharmonic Volunteer Association
Orchestra: Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra 

We present educational and informative previews of upcoming Young People’s Concerts to elementary school students. This program uses recent technology, Power Point Presentations, to engage children. This project also provides insight into the music and promotes acceptable concert behavior. 

Volunteer Association: Friends of Music Guild
Orchestra: Orchestra of Southern Utah 

Experiencing life on the African plains through hot strings and cool percussion, local and international audiences traveled through space and time to “Africa” with demonstrations, concerts, workshops, displays, activities, and interactive podcasts reaching over a million listeners throughout the world. 

The Instrument Loan Program
Volunteer Association: Fort Wayne Philharmonic Friends
Orchestra: Fort Wayne Philharmonic Orchestra 

Children in Fort Wayne, IN can and will learn to play an instrument, if the Philharmonic Friends have anything to say about it! Our Instrument Loan Program will provide instruments, even if students cannot pay our small monthly fee. 

1st Annual Pictionary Tournament
Volunteer Association: Nashville Symphony Orchestra League
Orchestra: Nashville Symphony 

Do you remember that popular TV game show “Pictionary?” The Nashville Symphony Orchestra League reinvented the show as a fun way to recruit and retain members. Let us show you how… 

Symphony Celebrities
Volunteer Association: Illinois Symphony Orchestra Guild of Bloomington-Normal
Orchestra: Illinois Symphony Orchestra 

How do you launch a new gala fundraiser in a city that already has many? How do you guarantee that people will attend? Learn how the Illinois Symphony Orchestra created a unique and popular event that puts the fun back in fundraising! 

Alex Fleming Memorial Bowl
Volunteer Association: Women’s Symphony League of Tyler
Orchestra: East Texas Symphony Orchestra 

Bowling Bucks Generate Scholar Dollars! Learn how the Junior Symphony League of Tyler generated funds for a scholarship in memory of a classmate. 

Laura Hyde
Awards Chair

ANNOUNCING: Conference

2009 Conference Chair Grace Seitz
2009 Conference Chair Grace Seitz

Chicago, Chicago, that toddlin’ town, will certainly be the place Where Art and Community Come Together in June of this year. The League of American Orchestras’ Annual Conference will be June 9 - 12 at the historic Palmer House Hotel. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra will welcome us with our first concert on June 10th and we will bid Conference farewell with another wonderful concert in waterfront Grant Park on June 12th 

Between world-class concerts there will be many learning opportunities, networking with colleagues, wonderful speakers, and the ambience of a great destination. The Volunteer Council will be issuing news of schedule and speaker plans shortly, so be sure to check the League’s website for updates.  

In the meantime, be sure to register for Conference. We also hope you consider joining us for an opportunity to drill down into the deepest Volunteerism challenges with an OLA (Orchestra Leadership Academy) session with Jill Fixler on Wednesday.

Jill will provide a great kick-off to the Conference for anyone who wants to learn more about cultivating and fostering volunteer leadership. Come early and stay late to enjoy this fabulous city and the League’s Conference for 2009. See you in June! 

Grace Seitz
Conference Chair


In this issue of Volunteer Notes we are sharing upcoming events as well as giving you resources to use in your volunteer organization. I encourage you, as volunteer leaders, to forward Volunteer Notes to your Board and committee chairs, urging them to make use of the help we offer. We are also interested in providing you with the most helpful information, and your feedback is important to us. Please take a few minutes to respond to this four-question survey. Thank you for your participation. 

Sandra Weingarten
Volunteer Notes Editor


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