Concrete Ideas From Imaginary Program Notes

Violinist Holly Mulcahy posted an article at Neo Classical on 3/4/2013 titled Imaginary Program Notes: What We Can Learn From Children that examines the value in foisting less structure on our listeners. It’s loaded with just the right amount of “Duh” realizations we all need to hear from time to time.

150x150_ITA_Guy025I won’t spoil the details for each spontaneous moment of inspiration (A.KA. the Duh moment) but suffice to say, it’s well worth your time. Once you’re done reading the post, leave a comment there (or pop back here!) and chime in on what you took away from the post and how it might help shape a better concert experience at your organization.

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About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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5 thoughts on “Concrete Ideas From Imaginary Program Notes”

  1. I liked this article very much, and had an idea…wouldn’t it be nice if the back of a program book contained (instead of a giant full page ad from the concert’s major sponsor), an invitation to respond to the music with pictures or words. (“Mercedez Benz is proud to sponsor tonight’s concert…where does the music take you in your mind?”)

    Silly, and won’t happen, but I’d love to have doodle space built into the program book.

  2. I wouldn’t call it silly but the reality is covers are the most valuable space in program books so it’s really more an issue of practicality. That being said, there’s no reason an interior page couldn’t be used. The other practical issue is the type of paper used for the program books etc. I’m thinking that instead of going with program books at all, it would be far more feasible to make it a central theme of a concert and provide the supplies for children.

    I’ve seen this done a number of times via family and children’s concerts as well as in-school programs and I’ve always found the results to be fascinating.

  3. I rather like the idea of doodle space, especially for younger audience members. Wouldn’t it be a nice thing to have a “gallery” of past thoughts and pictures to inspire others who might need a kick start with their own imagination?

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