Wednesday 11th November, 2020

FIVE ORCHESTRAL MANAGEMENT ESSENTIALS 

Every summer AYO National Music Camp offers eight participants the opportunity to learn the ropes of orchestral management under the leadership of a professional mentor. 2020 Orchestral Management participant Hannah Cui shares her top five tips on getting the most out of your AYO experience!

There’s nothing that can prepare you for the wild, wild ride that National Music Camp offers for budding orchestral managers. It’s a whirlwind two weeks of intense fun, learning and growth.

Here are my five hot tips of what you’ll need for the camp experience.



1) MUSCLES

I wish I was joking about this one, but you’re seriously going to need your strongest, fittest self at National Music Camp. Your camp begins and finishes with unpacking, lifting and packing timpani, vibraphones, bass drums, chairs, stands, etc. etc., so you’re going to have to get physical!

You’ll soon be adjusted to ferrying 4 bass stools across campus for that rehearsal that starts in approximately 2 minutes. If you’re orchestral managing a concert, brace yourself for a total of 30,000+ steps and 85 flights of stairs (really).

2) YOUR SHARPEST PENCIL, A HIGHLIGHTER, A BLANK A4 NOTEBOOK AND A SWITCHED-ON BRAIN. 


Whilst the ensembles are rehearsing, you’ll either be:

  • Getting an OM crash course from your tutor – this year our fearless leader was Angela Chilcott
  • Hearing from a guest speaker on every facet of arts management under the sun (think marketing, development, programming, CEO-ing, directing, touring, policy…)

OR

  • Planning – drawing up stage plans and drafting concert schedules for one of the 10 concerts happening over the course of National Music Camp.

Be prepared to absorb everything as it is rapid-fire imparted upon you by industry professionals. You’ll hear from the entire spectrum of the arts community – programmers, directors, CEOs, marketers, orchestral musicians, audience developers, consultants, orchestral managers.

There are so many different routes to go, and everyone who comes to speak is so generous with their life story, general wisdom and career advice. They aren’t shy about getting real with the nitty gritty of the profession either, and are more than happy to answer every ridiculous (and intelligent) question thrown at them!



3) REALLY FAST THUMBS AND A MESSENGER ACCOUNT

The group chat is going to blow up, peaking prior to rehearsals and during concerts. You’re going to check your phone every 2 minutes, and there will still be about 38 unread messages. It’s probably the best platform to relay key information; for instance if you’re missing players/music/stands/stools, need help setting up somewhere, or mid-concert need the orchestra to GET ON STAGE NOW.

4) A SMILE AND A GOOD SENSE OF HUMOUR 

Things won’t always be peachy.

Perhaps it was 40 degrees last night and you barely caught a wink of sleep, or the trombones have requested 3 sounds shields EACH arranged in a special formation, or we’re missing 4 bass stools in Bonython for the third time in the same day (it’s a thing). No matter what the issue is, it pays to smile through the pain and just get the job done. OMs stand in solitude through these things.

5) PINK/ALPACAS/HOT CHIPS



You’re going to bond as an OM team, and it can be through the most weird and wonderful ways. These are people you’ll be eating, working, laughing, learning, crying with and getting mad at over the fortnight. You’ll figure out what works for your team.

For us, it was wearing pink on Wednesday, eating hot chips in our afternoon slump (and having a snack roster), and getting infected by Jordan’s obsession of alpacas. By the end of camp, we had 2 new Instagram accounts dedicated to alpacas doing orchestral managing type things.

(Keep up with their antics at @freddie_meeercury_alpaca and @ferdinand_humsworth_ii!)

If I had to sum up the fortnight in a word, it would be: intense. (Note; if I had to sum it up in two words: bass stools).


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Every single moment is filled with excitement and joy in learning, and a real highlight is seeing your work come to fruition in the amazing music made by the orchestras. Being at camp as an OM gave me practical, hands-on experience of managing people and being part of a team (who become somewhat like your family!), and exclusive, in-depth insights into what goes on behind the scenes at an arts company. I really can’t recommend it enough if you’re curious and want to get equipped for an arts admin job in the future!

Article: © Hannah Cui