Volunteer Notes October 2009

The Newsletter for Symphony Orchestra Volunteers

The Newsletter for
Symphony Orchestra Volunteers

October 2009

CONNECTING: Message from Our President

MEETING: President Jane Van Dyk

REACHING OUT: Field Communications

SEEKING: Membership Recruitment

EDUCATING: Arts Advocacy

ASSISTING: Mentoring



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 

CONNECTING: Message from Our President

Volunteer Council President Jane Van Dyk

Volunteer Council President Jane Van Dyk

The 21st century has brought us a “new reality” and many challenges—has your volunteer organization made the leap yet? Financial challenges top the list of new realities that volunteers are now facing. We’ve seen a drop off in attendance and income from some of our best fundraisers, sponsorships are down, and many orchestras have had to cut budgets and staff. We are all under pressure to make do with less, and this presents us with opportunities for creativity.

In these challenging times, volunteers are needed more than ever, and our work in support of our orchestras is more valuable—and valued—than ever before. Staff are looking to their volunteers to help out in ways not anticipated four or five years ago.

The best way for us to deal with these issues is to make connections with other volunteers across the country and find out how they are coping creatively with these challenges. You can connect with colleagues and get ideas and advice in many ways via your membership in the League of American Orchestras. The Volunteer Council is the League’s outreach arm, whose mission is to put resources into the hands of volunteer associations.

You can find all kinds of answers to your “how can we?” questions by just going to your computer or telephone. Some specific examples: Are you looking for a new fundraiser that will take less work and bring in more money? Browse the Gold Book Online (goldbookonline.org), where you can find a compendium of award-winning projects from all different size orchestras, not to mention projects to attract and retain new members, whether they be millennials, men, seniors, young professionals, or digital generation-types. Look for our new special feature – Project of the Month.

Watch for new features in Volunteer Notes highlighting successful projects from across the country, and articles about leadership development and trends in volunteerism.

Go to the League’s website, click on “Volunteers” as your interest area, and browse through an extensive list of resources, contacts, ideas. You can also request a telephone consultation with a mentor or an experienced volunteer.

Perhaps the best way to get connected and stay current with the field is to go to the League’s National Conference, meet face to face with other volunteers, and enjoy many opportunities to network. Plan now to set aside money in your budget to help send volunteers to the Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, next June.

Take a few minutes, get connected, join the volunteer list serve, start a conversation with peers, and share your good ideas.

Best wishes for a productive and successful year.

Jane Van Dyk
Volunteer Council President

MEETING: President Jane Van Dyk

Jane, who lives in Billings, Montana, has served on the Volunteer Council for six years. She has supported classical music in Billings by volunteering with the Billings Symphony Orchestra, holding the positions of president of the board of directors and chairman of the endowed scholarship committee.

As an amateur musician, she plays French horn in a community band, sings in her church choir, enjoys playing the piano, and has “developed a recent craving for opera.” She has even made guest appearances with the Yellowstone Chamber Players—playing castanets!

Her job as a college administrator at Rocky Mountain College keeps her busy in addition to her work on the Volunteer Council.

When not volunteering, Jane enjoys outdoor activities—hiking, cross-country skiing, running, and more. She and her husband, Tom, retreat to their lakeside cabin, and are often visited by their sons. Tom and Jane recently welcomed a second grandson into their family.

Her multi-faceted and busy life has prepared Jane well for her role as Volunteer Council president.

Sandra Weingarten

Volunteer Notes Editor

REACHING OUT: Field Communications

Grace Seitz, Co-chair, Field 
Grace Seitz, Co-chair, Field Communications
If Field Communications sounds like something out of the U.S. Army Field Manual, you might be right! However, for the Volunteer Council, it is the umbrella committee whose mission is to reach out and stay in touch with orchestra volunteers in a myriad of ways. These methods include:
  • Developing the Volunteer Council’s information brochure
  • Maintaining our presence on the Web through the Gold Book Online and its Project of the Month
  • Addressing and promoting Arts Advocacy issues
  • Touch-Base Calls and e-mails to organization presidents
  • Maintaining the optional E-mail Discussion group
  • Producing the Web-based Volunteer Notes
  • General marketing of all of the above

Some consider these activities to be the most important that the Volunteer Council does outside of the planning for the National Conference. And rightly so, since reaching out and making our presence known and available to orchestra volunteers is our top priority. This committee always works together with the League of American Orchestras’ marketing department to identify ways to promote our products, programs, and services in a coordinated and timely fashion.

To that end I encourage all of you to go to http://www.americanorchestras.org/interest_areas/volunteers.html< /a> and goldbookonline.org and begin to find out what the Volunteer Council can do for you.

Grace Seitz
Co-chair, Field Communications


SEEKING: Membership Recruitment

The Membership Recruitment Committee is responsible for identifying and recruiting new members for the Volunteer Council. We look for leaders from symphony Volunteer Associations whose orchestras are members of the League of American Orchestras. Our search encompasses Conference attendees, recommendations from former Council members, volunteer leaders we meet through our Touch Base Calls, and recommendations from orchestra executive directors.

The goal is to have a broad representation of volunteer leaders from orchestras of all sizes and all parts of the country. If you know an outstanding volunteer leader whom you would like to nominate, information and nomination forms are available on the League website. There is a form for the nominator to fill out and a form for the nominee. These forms as well as letters of recommendation and references are submitted to the Volunteer Council membership to be voted on. The new members are welcomed to Council membership at the October meeting. The term of office is two years and members are eligible to serve three terms.

Sue Ashby
Membership Recruitment Co-chair

EDUCATING: Arts Advocacy

The start of a new school year provides the opportunity to emphasize the importance of music education to our school boards and legislators.

Studies citing the positive connection between music education and improved learning, attentive listening, enhanced creativity, and greater self-esteem among America’s school children are abundant. Because music education is an indispensable part of life-long learning, we must engage in advocacy on behalf of in-school music education in our communities. One need not look far to find articles that advocate for more music education in schools.

Have you checked the League of American Orchestras website lately? Click on Advocacy and Government to find a plethora of information. Follow the links found on the left side of the page for music education advocacy tools including benefits of arts education, tips for launching music education advocacy efforts, and much more.

As you plan your approach to advocating for increased in-school music education, consider the following example. One of the objectives of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra is to create understanding among members of the state board of education that the arts are an integral component of a complete education for every child. The orchestra’s vice president of education will create a sequence of short, powerful statements defining and outlining the positive connections between arts education and student learning. In addition to being delivered at the monthly board of education meetings, these statements will also be communicated on fine arts radio broadcasts and in letters to the editor of the local newspaper. If your orchestra does not already engage in local advocacy, these are all vital ways to form important relationships and communicate how your orchestra is a valuable member of the community.

For more information on how volunteers can be effective advocates, don’t forget to check out the Advocacy for Volunteers part of the League website!

Janet Barb

Arts Advocacy Chair

ASSISTING: Mentoring

May we be of assistance? If your volunteer organization has questions, please contact us for help in securing the answers. If you have situations in which you would like guidance, we have Volunteer Council Sustainers (former Council members) who will be happy to assist you with problem solving.


If your organization is struggling with attracting new members, drawing up bylaws, creating job descriptions, or any other needs, our Sustainers are here, ready and waiting to help you. To establish connection with a mentor, please contact Mary Lou Turner at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Marylou Turner
Mentoring Chair



Sandra Weingerten, Volunteer 
															Notes editor
Sandra Weingerten, Volunteer Notes editor
The goal of Volunteer Notes is to inform you, our readers, of the opportunities you have to learn from the Council and the League and to read of volunteer projects and trends. We encourage you to forward this newsletter to your board and committee chairs. and we welcome questions, comments and feedback. Please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Sandra Weingarten
Volunteer Notes Editor


To subscribe, unsubscribe, or change your email address, please send your name, title, orchestra or organization name, mailing address, and email address to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and put “VOLUNTEER NOTES” in the subject line.

League of American Orchestras
33 West 60th Street, Fifth Floor
New York, NY 10023-7905