The Power of Free Tickets for Kids

I’ve never been a fan of complementary (comp) tickets for orchestra concerts. I’ve written about that extensively and still firmly believe that having a value attached to a ticket purchase is good for the organization. Here’s what I wrote in 2018 about the comp situation: “Comp tickets are a bad habit! They are continually justified by people in the orchestra industry because: We want a full hall, no matter how. If people like this concert, surely, they will pay for the next. Comps are basically like a musician’s privilege or benefit; musicians … Continue Reading

Breaking the Clapping Trap: Building Bridges, Not Setting Traps

“I didn’t even know what a ‘movement’ was.” My mom said as she recalled the time she took my brother and me to our family’s first symphony concert. Here’s the horror story in my mom’s words: “We arrived early so we could direct the kids to the front row where we assumed they would have the best view. But all they could see was the conductor and a few violins and cellos. By the time we figured this out, the auditorium had filled and the music had begun. When the orchestra stopped … Continue Reading

The Freedoms We Ignore and Forget

In concert halls, a familiar scenario unfolds with remarkable consistency: some of the audience will approach a classical concert with trepidation. They often mention the same things, “I’m not sure if I’m listening correctly,” or, “I read the program notes but I’m not sure if I could detect the intricacies mentioned in the notes.” I hear this a lot from patrons. There is a desire to follow perceived rules, to be correct and proper, and assume that program notes are the key to enlightenment and acceptance. However, people learn and listen differently … Continue Reading

Does Anyone Know Ryan Reynolds? It’s An Emergency

It’s not a super big secret that the classical music field is suffering in the marketing and promotion categories. Just look at the perspectives most organizations tend to lean into. Focus is typically on the conductor and/or the orchestra, not the consumer; ads are basically just mentions of the concert date or guest artists; copy tends to be either too stuffy and elitist or sways to the counter opposite. Both miss the mark.  The problem is that non-profit groups typically don’t have revenue to cover salaries of top-level marketers, or if they … Continue Reading

The Laughing Goat

The tuning began and a small part of the audience erupted into laughter. Eight residents of Walker State Faith and Character Based Prison were sitting in the front row of the audience, laughing with their violin instructor who was on stage standing with her husband, a guitarist. Tuning. Two hours earlier in the rehearsal, violinist and instructor Mary Margaret Neel joked with the violin class of prisoners that her guitarist husband would take “forever to tune.” This rehearsal was the first time I’d seen the violin class since I started it back … Continue Reading