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Taking my first steps, how do I begin?

Hello,
 
I am a professional singer; with much choral singing experience as well as experience leading and starting childrens choirs in the past years at my church and other organizations.  
 
I am so eager to persue my dream of creating a community children's choir(and possibly music school).  I have a passion for serving my community through music, and for sharing and bringign the joy of music to children who otherwise may not have had expusure.
 
I am writing because I am not sure where to start..
 
Should I go back and get an MA in conducitng? (I have a BM and an MA in musci Ed.)
 
Look for internships?
 
come up with a plan for non-profit?
 
Does anyone know where to start?
 
Thank you!
 
Mara
Replies (6): Threaded | Chronological
on November 9, 2012 7:07am
Mara,
 
This must be an exciting time for you. Here are some strategies that have worked for me:
  1. Model (study/gather) the best practices of other successful arts organizations you admire;
  2. Have a dream and create a plan to make that dream a reality; the mission and vision of your organization must be clearly defined and communicated to all stakeholders;
  3. Build your organization with the end in mind;
  4. Surround yourself with talented, well-connected people;
  5. Create opportunities for your singers to have fun;
  6. Expect more, and get more - from your member singers and leaders;
  7. Present/maintain a quality product and image;
  8. Implement sound marketing/PR strategies;
  9. Create/nurture a customer service culture that permeates all levels of the organization;
  10. Educate, inspire, recognize, and monitor the effectiveness of your volunteer leaders;
  11. Become known/recognized for service to your community; service beyond the singing;
  12. Build alliances - seek partners that complement your mission, and leverage the talent within those alliances;
  13. Make sure your organization is attractive to member singers AND funders;
  14. Secure funding to implement your plans and programs;
  15. Focus resources where they are needed most;
  16. Embrace technology and the internet;
  17. Preserve the core/stimulate progress – keep clear the difference between your core values, which never change and the operating strategies and cultural practices which endlessly adapt to a changing world; Learn from and respond to change;
  18. Make a commitment to analysis and feedback. You must must gather accurate information about your members and other customers (patrons) to make data-driven decisions to better meet their needs;
  19. Be willing to explore and implement modifications to your governance and management structure to improve efficiency.
  20. Resist the fear of failure;
Please keep us all posted on your progress.
 
TODD WILSON
Executive Director
Director of Music
Nashville Singers, Inc.
615-852-SING (7464) office
615-669-TODD (8633) cell
615-523-TODD (8633) fax
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on November 9, 2012 8:37am
Mara,
 
I suggest getting in touch with Dr. Ann Usher at either websites of the Cleveland Orchestra or the School of Music, Akron University. 
 
Regards,
 
Michael Seredick
Broadview Heights, Ohio
on November 13, 2012 8:27pm
Thank you,
I will do that
I went to Oberlin so that is familiar territory.
 
Best,
 
Mara
on November 10, 2012 11:34am
I probably don't have the credentials to answer you (other than common sense and parenthood), but I'd suggest that getting an MA in conducting is not going to teach you how to plan a non-profit or entice parents to enroll their kids in a newly-created children's choir.
 
Parents choose a children's choir for their kids in the same way they choose a piano teacher.  Is this person friendly and good with kids?  Can this person teach the basics?  Does this person have enthusiasm for music and for working the kids?
 
If you have a Bachelor's in Music and an MA in Music Ed, you are more than educated for this.  Your joy in music and genuine liking of children is what will give you success, not another credential.
 
Your other challenge is to think of what age groups, repertoire, frequency of performances, and what kind of financial structure to make this viable in the long term. 
 
A good place to start is do research, which you are doing here.  Also, I think it's worth taking a peek online at websites of other children's choirs, just to get ideas.
 
Best wishes.
 
Gail Mrozak
on November 10, 2012 6:48pm
Brilliant advice Gail.  Your heart is your first guide I agree.  Love what you do and share it with those in your choirs Mara. That first step will take you the farthest.
Kitty
on November 12, 2012 1:17pm
Hi Mara,
 
My organization, Grande Prairie Choral Arts, recently started a children's choral program, the Children's Choral Workshop. We are in our second semester, and I am finding daily that the key to a sucessful program is for you to have patience. My tale is that I am a music teacher with two children of my own, who wanted to find a musical outlet for them. We are in the near south suburbs of Chicago, and a stones throw away from the Chicago Children's Choir. However, up until this year, my Son was too young for both CCC and his own elementary school choir. So, it becane apparent that if I wanted the kids to have a choir, I would have to create one. Being a musician myself, I knew that I wanted the group to me more than a "sit and sing" choir; it needed to be a comprehensie choral program with the right condctor (which wasn't me!) This is where the power of networking came in to play: I was able to secure a donation that is covering all of the expenses of the program for the first 3 years (salaries of a conductor and pianist; an additional stipend for Grande Prairie's Administrator; and some very inexpensive rent,) and I made enough phone calls until I was able to secure the right person to teach the group (Mary Ellen Pinzino, founder of the Come Children Sing Institute.) We started out with a small group of 8 very eager kids, and now in our second semester, we are up to 13. Next semester may or many not be bigger, but I know how valuable this program is to all involved so I will continue to nurture it, knowing that it will eventually bloom into a very powerful program. ll:patience, perseverence:ll If I remember accurately, I first hatched my plan to start the program in the summer of 2010, and as I said, we are just in the middle of our second semester.
 
Best of luck,
 
Rob Calhoon, President
Grande Prairie Choral Arts
facebook.com/gpchoral
twitter.com/GPChoral
 
 
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