Volunteer Notes Spring 2012


Volunteer Notes
The Newsletter for Symphony Orchestra Volunteers
Spring 2012


Greetings: A Message from Our President
2012 National Conference, A Celebration for Volunteers

The Best Reason to Attend

Special Volunteer Programs
Experience Valuable Leadership Development Sessions

19 Volunteer Roundtables
Meet Peers for Discussion and Exchange of Information

Tell Us More About You and Your Volunteer Organization

The 3 R's of Leadership
A New Online Webinar for Volunteers

Greetings: A Message from Our President

2012 National Conference, A Celebration for Volunteers

“We make a living by what we do, but we make a life by what we give.”
Winston Churchill

The 67th League of American Orchestras National Conference is just a short time away. Volunteers will gather in Dallas on June 5-8, 2012, and will have the opportunity to participate in a very exciting program specifically designed for our volunteer constituency. In addition to featuring this year’s Gold Book Awards of Excellence, there will be programs on leadership and local league development and ample opportunities for networking that include a conference favorite for volunteers – our evening Dine-Arounds. See the articles below for additional information on our special leadership programs and our Roundtables. The Gold Book Awards and our Dine-Arounds were featured in the Winter 2012 issue of Volunteer Notes.

The Conference program also will include a number of outstanding programs for all constituency groups:

  • Toolbox Sessions which are practical, skill-based sessions designed for participants to take new skills back home and apply immediately for your orchestra
  • Perspective Sessions which are interactive workshops which contemplate big-issue topics for the orchestra field
  • Several general sessions including:
    • How Labor and Management Came Together at the Ford Motor Company, a presentation on how labor and management cooperated to help revive a struggling major U.S. automobile manufacturer which may serve as a model applicable even in the orchestra community
    • Driving Innovation: A Roadmap for Practical Implementation
    • League Annual Meeting and Awards Breakfast, the annual address by Jesse Rosen, the president and chief executive officer of the League of American Orchestras
    • A Call to Action
  • Concerts and music, including two spectacular orchestras showing off what they do best

A Japanese proverb states: Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare. It has indeed been a high honor to serve this year as the president of the Volunteer Council. I have had the privilege to serve with a group of ladies and gentlemen who have shown that they possess both the vision and the call to action. Of equal importance, however, is the profound dedication exhibited by the Volunteer Council and, indeed, the League of American Orchestras staff, to the cause of assuring that the symphonic music we now enjoy is perpetuated for the benefit of our communities well into the future. My special thanks go to Meghan Whitbeck, Polly Kahn, and Jesse Rosen for their support and guidance this past year.

See you in Dallas!

Chuck Cagle, Nashville Symphony Orchestra League
Volunteer Council President


The Best Reason to Attend

One of the best reasons to attend the 2012 League of America’s National Conference is MOTIVATION!

Conferences and networking events provide opportunities to meet like-minded and dedicated volunteers and attend great workshops at the same time. The Volunteer Council members are planning stimulating, informative and productive programs for each of you. Sessions are designed to address topical issues and opportunities that will help symphony volunteers become more energized, creative and committed in planning ongoing programs and events.

Another benefit of coming to the Conference is the tremendous networking opportunities that await you – opportunities to learn, share and explore the current issues facing all symphony volunteer organizations today. The value of getting away for a few days to meet with other volunteers, to mix, share, and interact with each other will pay dividends when you return home. It is a time to recharge your batteries and go back to your group with optimism, new contacts, new ideas and a positive commitment to begin your planning for the year ahead.

Plan now to come in early Tuesday, June 5, so you can attend the first session at 2:45pm and a second session at 4:00pm dealing with leadership topics. Be sure to sign up for the Dine-Around opportunities on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. There is also a Networking Luncheon on Thursday for volunteers. The Award of Excellence winners will present their projects on Wednesday and you will not want to miss any one of these. Roundtable sessions will be presented on Wednesday and Thursday covering all types of great projects. You will go home with many new ideas to incorporate into your volunteer organization.

Be sure to include this Dallas National Conference in your June agenda. You and your volunteer organization will benefit greatly from this experience! Y’all come! All of the Volunteer Council members are looking forward to meeting you.

Laura Hyde, Women’s Symphony League of Tyler, Texas
2012 Volunteer Council Conference Chair


Special Volunteer Programs
Experience Valuable Leadership Development Sessions

Each year members of the Volunteer Council develop special program sessions for the League’s National Conference. We intend for the program sessions to supplement ideas from the Awards of Excellence presentations, the Roundtable presentations, and the networking opportunities. In developing the program sessions, we draw from comments from prior-year Conference participants, emerging themes from current-year Gold Book Online submissions, and input from the League.

For the 2012 Conference, we have selected Leadership – with an emphasis on problem solving – as the theme for this year’s volunteer constituency sessions. These highly-interactive sessions, which are all led by Volunteer Council members, include:

  • A panel for new presidents and presidents-elect
  • An interactive session on planning for leadership transition
  • A panel on a unique approach to get members to assume leadership roles, and
  • A presentation on an education program which highlights the integral relationship between science and music

Finally, participants will be able to post questions on a big board each day. As a wrap-up, at the end of the Conference, the questions will be addressed in a Question & Answer session led by the President of the Volunteer Council.

Here is additional information on our four special Conference program sessions:

Achieving Greater Clarity in Your Leadership Role
Volunteer Council leadership will address the following important and often challenging topics for volunteer organizations, especially for new presidents and presidents-elect. Be sure to bring your most challenging questions and concerns to this distinguished panel.

  • Leadership Development: Developing visionary leaders is a desired goal of all volunteer organizations. Helen Shaffer, president-elect, will address ways to identify, nurture, and educate members to become leaders within organizations.
  • Membership: Increasing membership, attracting younger members, and re-energizing existing members are issues for volunteer organizations. Laura Hyde, president-elect designate, will describe a junior symphony program, ideas for promoting volunteerism, and an easy way to recognize and honor hard-working volunteers.
  • Conflict Resolution: Communication and relationships between and among peers, staff, and board members are frequently difficult. Chuck Cagle, president, will offer suggestions and ways to achieve consensus in resolving difficult issues.
  • League Offerings: Heather Moore, immediate past president, will discuss opportunities available to volunteer presidents and presidents-elect through the League of American Orchestras.

The Show Must Go On: Succession Planning for Your Volunteer Organization
Succession planning is a hot topic for all of us. Who will take the place of your present leadership? Volunteer Council members Elaine Cousins, past president of the Illinois Symphony Orchestra Guild of Bloomington-Normal, IL, and Aaron Nurick, chairman of the Boston Symphony Association of Volunteers, will discuss transitional leadership for volunteer organizations. They will provide case studies based on real life experiences and allow ample time for participants to exchange succession planning experiences. This highly interactive session will feature both the best practices and the pitfalls to avoid when thinking about succession planning for volunteer organizations.

Empowering Leadership at the Grassroots Level
Many volunteer organizations face the following issues: lack of viable new leadership, inability to recruit the younger generations, and lackluster fundraising results. The Symphony Guild of Charlotte will present two of their outstanding organizational/leadership projects in a panel discussion format. Both projects – Leadership Retreat to Meet the Challenges and Chart the Future AND Musical Petting Zoo Job Descriptions – are 2012 Gold Book Award of Excellence winners. The panel will focus on how the Guild re-engaged membership, created new stakeholders within and outside their organization, and how they created new leadership roles and a team concept to recruit new members to help a long-time and much beloved Guild project thrive.

Bach on the Brain
With the support of their volunteer leagues, many symphonies provide free concerts for public school children. For many years, the Santa Fe Symphony has partnered with a private research institute to combine science with the musical experience of their free concerts for area public school fourth graders. Volunteer Council member John Murphy of Fanfare from the Santa Fe Symphony Orchestra & Chorus will show how the latest Santa Fe Symphony’s Voyages of Discovery concert, Bach on the Brain, created a symphonic journey for children about sound, hearing and music recognition. The Voyages of Discovery concerts serve to support the idea that music is not an adjunct to education; rather it is as primary to learning as language and mathematics.

Join us at the 2012 Conference in Dallas on June 5-8. We believe the program sessions will be informative and give meeting participants new ideas and solutions to problems to take home!

Tina Parker, Southwest Florida Symphony Society
Volunteer Council Conference Program Chair


19 Volunteer Roundtables
Meet Peers for Discussion and Exchange of Information

The always popular Volunteer Roundtables are back again this year! The 19 outstanding projects selected for Roundtables are creative, innovative and sure to give you plenty of ideas to take home. Award winning projects will be set up at roundtables for you to visit in 10-15 minute time slots giving you the opportunity to hear several projects of your choice in one session.

Volunteer Roundtable sessions will take place on Wednesday, June 6, from 9:30-10:45am and on Thursday, June 7, from 10:30am-noon.

The Roundtable session on Wednesday will focus on education, service, and community engagement projects. This session also will include two special Volunteer Council projects – information on our Gold Book Online collection of award-winning projects and our new webinar, The 3 R’s of Leadership.

Wednesday’s 11 Roundtables include the following projects and their presenting organizations:

  • Friends of the Music League of the Orchestra of Southern Utah: Science & Art Complement the Music. Children of all ages delight in hands -on science and art projects exploring the concert theme after family matinees.
  • Women’s Committee for the National Symphony Orchestra: Haunted Hall-Halloween Instrumental Petting Zoo. This is a special version of a musical petting zoo complete with spooky costumes and loads of fun.
  • Arkansas Orchestra Symphony Guild: Orchestra and You and You. A children’s program about instruments and the orchestra was instead presented to adults, who showed as much enthusiasm with the instruments as did the children.
  • Symphony Guild of Charlotte: Youth Festival: Celebrating Our Symphonic Future. This classical music event develops audiences, provides community engagement, and raises funds.
  • Dallas Symphony Orchestra League: Up Close and Classical. An intimate buffet dinner served in a gracious home is the perfect setting to host an evening with a visiting guest artist and bring the symphony and its members closer together.
  • Waco Symphony Council: Painted Strings Art Contest. Talented high school and college students submit artistic designs, and the winners are commissioned to produce the painted instruments for auction.
  • Dallas Symphony Orchestra League: Orchestra Appreciation. Volunteers prepared a home-cooked meal as an inexpensive yet thoughtful way to thank the orchestra musicians. The musicians appreciated the delicious meal, the League made money on ticket sales, and everyone loved having time with their fabulous musicians.
  • Southwest Florida Symphony Society: Symphony of Treats. This program created twelve events which engaged community businesses, artists, organizations and individuals and helped promote musical knowledge, increased membership, and supported the orchestra.
  • Symphony Guild of Charlotte: Have a Heart, Play Your Part. This innovative grassroots approach brought awareness and support of the Youth Orchestra and a clever way to help raise funds to send young musicians to summer camp.
  • League of American Orchestras’ Volunteer Council: Webinars. Learn how you and your organization can enhance skills with online webinars produced by the League’s Volunteer Council. Webinars are available on fundraising, membership, and leadership. The creators of the newest webinar, The 3 R’s of Leadership, will be introducing the webinars and discussing ways in which you can use them to maximize learning for your organization.
  • League of American Orchestras’ Volunteer Council: Gold Book Online. Go For The Gold! The award-winning projects presented each year at Conference are selected from those submitted at the League’s goldbookonline.org website. Volunteer members will offer complete information on how to navigate the application process and tips on what makes a project entry a winner.

Thursday’s Roundtables will focus on fundraising. The ten fundraising projects and their presenting organizations include:

  • Spokane Symphony Orchestra League: Upscale Sale. Having an “upscale” sale of new and gently-used items in a vacant building proved to be a winning event for both the symphony and the building owner and a fun way to raise money and engage the community.
  • Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra League: @Home with the MSO. This is a month-long and very innovative “virtual” event to raise money right from the comforts of your home.
  • Richmond Symphony Orchestra League: 2012 RSOL Designer House - Rothesay on the James. An historic home, community involvement, and a dedicated group of volunteers helped make this beautiful showhouse a great success for the benefit of their symphony and their volunteer organization.
  • Symphony League, Kansas City Symphony: Symphony Ball. The Symphony Ball is an annual and proud tradition in Kansas City. This project is a good example of how to build upon a continuing event.
  • Eugene Symphony Guild: B&B Christmas Tour. Instead of its annual Christmas Tour of Homes, the Eugene Symphony Guild enlisted the help of five Bed & Breakfast owners and, to the delight of the community, added a new and exciting twist to a twenty-five-year-old project.
  • Dallas Symphony Orchestra League: City Living Tour. Reach to the sky in a high-rise 21st century showhouse setting and learn how to implement all the new elements of technology to stream line your approach and build profits for your project.
  • Oklahoma City Orchestra League: A Progressive Dinner and Garden Tour. This was a fun fundraiser that started with cocktails and appetizers at the first house and then progressed to other homes along the way. Beautiful homes, beautiful gardens, and beautiful music all earned rave reviews for this special fundraising event.
  • Waco Symphony Council: Celebrity Conductor Contest. This popular fundraiser was given a new twist by adding a reality TV slant and was transformed into So You Think You Can Conduct an Orchestra?
  • Women’s Symphony League of Tyler: Senior Tributes/Endowment Revival. Hear about two thoughtful projects – one involving fundraising by honoring the memory of friends, relatives and Women’s Symphony League members; and the other a meaningful way for family and friends and League members to honor the special volunteer efforts of the Junior Symphony.
  • Augusta Symphony Guild: Symphony of Kitchens. Tour a variety of indoor and outdoor kitchens while enjoying live music and sampling delicious food prepared by local chefs.

Both Wednesday’s and Thursday’s Roundtables will be a valuable experience for all. Don’t miss them!

Terri McDowell, Chattanooga Symphony & Opera
Volunteer Council Roundtables Committee Chair


Tell Us More About You and Your Volunteer Organization

The Volunteer Council would like to communicate more effectively with volunteer organizations in order to better represent your perspective and challenges and to offer programming, both online and at the League's National Conference, that is relevant and timely. To achieve this goal, we need to know more about you and your volunteer organization.

You can help us by taking one of our two volunteer surveys - one for the president of your volunteer organization requesting information on your organization, its structure, activities, fundraisers and other data, and the other for all volunteers about your needs and how we can better serve you. The surveys will only take a few minutes to complete and you can easily take the appropriate survey now by clicking on one of the links below.

Survey for Volunteer Organization President
Survey for Volunteers

Thank you for helping us to better meet your needs and those of your volunteer organization!

The 3 R's of Leadership
A New Online Webinar for Volunteers

When we were young we all learned the 3 R's of reading, writing, and arithmetic. Now that we are grown and responsible for an important part of the cultural and economic life in our communities, we need to know the 3 R's of Leadership -- Roles, Responsibilities, and Resources. This is the title of a new webinar produced by the Volunteer Council of the League of American Orchestras. The webinar features Aaron Nurick of the Boston Symphony Volunteer Association and Elaine Cousins of the Illinois Symphony Orchestra Guild. Both Aaron and Elaine have a wealth of volunteer leadership experience. Aaron also teaches Management and Psychology at Bentley University in Waltham, Massachusetts.

Drawing on their experience and the writings of other experts in the field of leadership, Aaron and Elaine have created an engaging and informative webinar to showcase what you need to know to become the leader you want to be. Learn the seven roles a leader takes on and the responsibilities associated with each role. Leadership lessons from the toys of your childhood, the important differences between a leader and a manager, and the vital role of stewardship are but some of the many topics touched on in this webinar.

The new webinar joins a growing library of webinars available for downloading free of charge from the League of American Orchestras’ website. You may want to view these with a group from your volunteer organization and engage in a post-webinar discussion. At the end of all the webinars, you can download the webinar slides and a transcript of the narration. All webinars also include activities and resources for further learning. You can maximize this opportunity by applying what you learn in each webinar to your own situation and by following up with the activities and resources that conclude each webinar.

Elaine Cousins, Illinois Symphony Orchestra
Volunteer Council Webinars Committee Chair

Help Us Serve You Better

The Volunteer Council wants to serve you and your association better. From Volunteer Notes to Mentoring Circles to webinars specifically designed for volunteers, we have many resources to help enhance the functions of your organization. For associations who are struggling in these tough economic times or organizations that just need an impartial opinion, the Volunteer Council is here to offer one-on-one mentoring and much more.

To do this, we need email addresses for the members of your association. Without these, we can’t effectively reach each and every member of your association, keeping them abreast of all the services available to volunteers. Help us help you and send email lists for your association members to Samara Ungar at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Communicating: Let Us Hear From You!

In an effort to be more in touch with all our constituent volunteer associations, we ask you to put the Volunteer Council on your mailing list. Please add us to your database for sending e-newsletters, and send us photos of volunteers working on your special projects at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . This helps us to keep up with your organization and provide the most relevant resources for you.

Also, remember to forward this newsletter to your organization’s Board of Directors and encourage any of those members to sign up to receive this information directly from the League by contacting Samara Ungar at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . We look forward to hearing from you!




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