Ever Wonder What It’s Like To Work In The Orchestra Field?

I had the genuine pleasure to be a guest on Doing What Works with Maureen Anderson, a weekly radio talk show that originates from WZFG AM 1100 and runs on Sundays from 10 to midnight Central on the Radio America network. Maureen covers a variety of topics on her program and the focus of our interview was all about what it’s like to work in the orchestra business; typically, these sorts of interviews come from sources inside the field but chatting with Maureen was a real treat because we were able to look at so many items that may otherwise be taken for granted through brand new eyes.

Adaptistration People 143Maureen is every bit as charming as she is graceful at crafting a seamless conversation and as a result, our time simply flew by; so much so that we didn’t even get to examine some of the heavier topics in the field such as labor relations.

We examined what aspiring orchestra musicians need to consider to maximize success, how to get into consulting (and not fail), career satisfaction, what it is like to keep the administrative gears of making art grinding along at a steady pace, fulfilling the role of being a steward of public trust, how stakeholder compensation functions, and we even touched on what parents can expect if they discover their children have musical talent and gravitate toward a career in performing.

You can listen to a streaming copy of the program through the end of the month at the show’s website (and check out some of the other programs currently available) or listen via the player below.

Doing What Works with Maureen Anderson

What’s it like to work in an orchestra?

January 10, 2015

So you want to be an orchestra musician. You might want to listen to this show first! Drew McManus is as honest as he is in demand as an orchestra consultant. We talk about everything from whether you’ll have any time for yourself after traveling from gig to gig, and just how much hassle you can expect from airline personnel when you’re trying to get a musical instrument onto a plane. And yes, the rewards can be worth it!

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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