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Category Archives: Sounds Like Fun
For instance, musicians generally just want to play concerts. Sounds simple, but in actual fact it’s quite multi-faceted. We prefer to play pieces that challenge and engage us, constantly striving to create a deeper understanding of the art form. Simultaneously we demand a full house, plenty of concerts, a good salary and all of the backstage amenities required to perform at our peak. On the surface, all of these things are reasonable.
Those most affected by repertoire choices (after the audience of course) are the marketing and development folks. How do they inspire people to donate to our cause? How do they sell our “product”? We, the artists, tend to have a slight allergy to this second question, as our art form is reduced to a word that could just as easily describe a screw driver, or dish-washing liquid! However, the honest truth is that from their perspective we are a product and an experience. Some of our products/experiences are more sellable than others. A balance has to be struck to keep people coming through the doors.
Thirdly, we have finance. I am in awe of people who understand liabilities, assets, and deferred income. It’s impressive. Because they are so close to where the rubber meets the road, they are keenly aware when applying the brakes is needed to stop a head on collision with debt or worse, a complete financial meltdown. Their lens sees everything from the vantage point of the “bottom line.” Many an artist has been undone by the dreaded bottom line!
Each of these areas is represented on the administrative staff by paid professionals. Simultaneously, a group of dedicated volunteers choose to be on the board of directors because of their love of the art form, and their particular expertise in any of the above listed areas. These volunteers take time out of their busy lives once or twice a month, or more, to oversee the workings of the organization and make sure that everyone is on their game. While usually not active in the work itself (this is how it’s “supposed” to be, anyway), they are ultimately responsible to the patrons and creditors of the organization. Each person has something to lose, and faces that challenge in a different way.
In the middle of all of these factions is the music director. We strive each day to complete the picture of all these moving parts, prioritize them, and ultimately make decisions or recommendations as to the best direction forward. We are constantly juggling of all of those widgets to make the whole. This balancing act can be fraught with peril. Creating an imbalance in one direction or the other can topple the entire organization. Get the balance right and everyone leaves happy and the organization succeeds. The margin of error from success to failure is surprisingly thin and fragile, yet for the sake of music we constantly teeter. We constantly seek out the broadest view possible from which a decision can be made to achieve our goals. It is messy and oddly invigorating. When it succeeds it is amazing, and when it fails it is exhausting. No matter what the outcome, the same truth becomes evident. Step one is to understand how our widget fits into the whole. When we start there, we then open the door to a clarity that allows us to succeed and thrive. I wouldn’t trade my position for anything, as I reach towards an understanding of the broader picture and engage in one of the most wonderful arts forms ever created – music!
From Robert Franz’s blog Building Bridges with Music. CLICK HERE to read more of his posts.
Watch this video for all of the incredible performances to come in the 13-14 Centennial Season!
2013 — a great year to begin playing an instrument! The sounds of an instrument being played for the first time may not exactly be beautiful, but in just a few years of studying music, the benefits truly last a lifetime. Here are a few articles we found that describe research showing the effects of music on the development of the brain. The possibilities in Houston are endless… when are you going to begin this rewarding journey?
1) The nature of kids is to be loud and collaborative with their peers while creating fun and interesting things. They like taking an idea to build upon and make different — unique to the individual or group. Going against nature never seems to work in the long run, so why not let children let loose and be who they are through music? This article shows ways in which this form of “play” during childhood supplies them with the essential tools to become great listeners, learners, communicators and team workers.
2) This article discusses recent research proving the life-long impact of even just a few years of musical training. It explains how music is just as important as math, science and language arts in order to be successful later in life. Along with the every day “feel good” moments that music supplies — giving kids a reason to want to go to school every day, allowing a sense of confidence to bloom and bringing out an individual’s uniqueness — music sharpens a person’s response to sound which, in turn, develops stronger learning skills.
3) As the Houston Symphony has been proclaiming for over 20 years through the title of our Education and Community Engagement programs, MUSIC MATTERS! Read this article to see the hand that music education plays in preparing students to learn, facilitating academic achievement and developing creative capacities for lifelong success.
While these articles mainly focus on the importance of music for children’s development, we at the Houston Symphony firmly believe that it is never to late to begin or resume playing an instrument! The benefits of playing music are for both the young and the young at heart. No matter your musical background, make 2013 a year of music!
Conducting the “Sounds Like Fun!” concerts is really fun for me. As a person who is relatively new to Houston, the concerts have given me the opportunity to get to know the city, and more important, lots of great people throughout the metro area. One of the things that makes these concerts special to me is that there is a question and answer period when members of the audience get to ask anything they want of me or of a member of the orchestra. There is no way to know what might be asked, and I really enjoy the spontaneity of that. The orchestra and I love to share what we do, and love to talk to people about being a musician. I’m often asked if I like what I do. I always reply, “no, I don’t like what I do. I love it!” And that’s the truth.
This year’s Sounds Like Fun! concerts are a bit unusual for me. Almost always when I put these together I begin with a theme. Perhaps stories in music, or dance-like music. This year was completely different. I started with a single piece of music and each piece of music that followed somehow connected to it. Sometimes the connections are super obvious (Like a piece called Turbulence next to the flight music from E.T.) and sometimes the connections aren’t that obvious at all (like Chicken Reel next to The Overture to the School for Scandal). Either way, the music is great, the orchestra sounds terrific, and what’s better than being able to drive to a location in your own neighborhood to hear the Houston Symphony?
These concerts have become such a tradition for me, that I can’t imagine a June without Sounds like Fun!
For more information on this week’s FREE Sounds Like Fun! concerts in your neighborhood, CLICK HERE!