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Common Health Problems for String Players

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The life of a string player is fraught with all sorts of potential health hazards. In her second article, Samantha George, Associate Concertmaster of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, defines some of the most common maladies afflicting string players: tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow, and focal dystonia. She describes common symptoms and offers some advice about treatment, along with links to some helpful websites.

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The Music Director Search

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Bruce Ridge, bassist with the North Carolina Symphony and President of ICSOM, served as the Chair of his orchestra’s Search committee when they were looking for a new Music Director. Bruce has agreed to share his expertise in this area, and to solicit articles from other orchestras with innovative Music Director Search stories to tell.

In this introductory article, Bruce explains the elements he believes are essential to a successful Music Director search, and describes the additional topics he plans to cover in his column.

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Musicians as Educators: Reflecting on Learning Experiences

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How should you go about designing your personal teaching style or your orchestra’s educational programs? What of your early music learning experiences should you carry over to your own teaching?

Ruth Cahn, Director of the Eastman School of Music’s Summer Session, percussion instructor in their Community School, and former member of the Rochester Philharmonic for over 3 decades, presents some fascinating questions for you to consider when contemplating your personal educational plans.

Ruth describes several different styles of teachers that helped formulate her own musical passage, and details some methodologies she recommends. She then presents a list of quotes about inspirational teachers, made by the students in her Arts Leadership Course, and discusses the importance of sharing this inspiration with symphony Board members.

Ruth’s article will help you remember that “understanding and reaffirming our musical roots is a powerful step in connecting others to music.”

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Marketing the Orchestra

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Chris Stager, a nationally-known consultant in audience development for the performing arts, has agreed to answer all those questions we musicians have about the proper way to market an orchestra. Is it a science or an art? Or a little bit of both?

His first column explains the difference between PR and Marketing, an often misunderstood distinction.

Please send in your marketing questions so that Chris can address them in a future column.

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Introduction Accounting & Finance

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Past attendees at ICSOM and ROPA conferences will recognize Ron Bauers as “the” authority on not-for-profit accounting. Ron is a CPA and college professor, but he’s also a professional guitarist and a member of Local 70-558 in Omaha, NE. He has given many presentations to symphony musicians about how to read a financial statement, the structure of endowments, and similar “dry” accounting subjects. Yet conference after conference, his presentations are extremely popular and have been voted among the best sessions at the conference.

I asked Ron to prepare a course on not-for-profit accounting for orchestra musicians who serve on their Orchestra Committee and/or Board (or for any interested musician), so we can all learn to understand all the figures a symphony deals with: budget forecasts and reforecasts, monthly cash flow numbers, endowment restrictions, yearly audit statements, etc.

In his introductory column, Ron presents an overview of his plans for his course, plus a course outline.

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Empty Seats – What Can We Do?

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Looking out at the audience during a performance and seeing lots of empty seats is a disheartening experience for any orchestral player. We’ve all heard that old adage about “the graying audience members,” but is it really so? Is there anything we as musicians can do to reverse this trend?

Tina Ward, a clarinetist with the Saint Louis Symphony, has been very active in her own orchestra as ICSOM delegate and has served on many orchestra committees. She was also an American Symphony Orchestra League (ASOL) Orchestra Management Fellow, which gives her a unique perspective on many aspects of orchestra life.

Tina offers her thoughts on what we musicians can do to improve the concert experience for the audience, in terms of employing audio-visual elements, making the concert more exciting for the audience, and enhancing the concert experience as a social event. Her lists of action items for orchestra musicians should instigate some lively conversations among your colleagues!

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Mouthpiece Pressure - Fact or Myth

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For brass players, mouthpiece pressure is a hot topic! Most have been warned against it since they started playing. But is it really so bad?

Lucinda Lewis, French hornist with the New Jersey Symphony and author of Broken Embouchures, a book dealing with the overuse and performance-related injuries of brass players, offers a second look at mouthpiece pressure. She cites the lack of scientific evidence that mouthpiece pressure is damaging, and discusses the mechanics of how healthy playing can protect brass players from mouthpiece-pressure damage.

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