Archive | Volunteers

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Revisiting Orchestra Docents

One of the advantages of being Editor-in-Chief at ArtsHacker is getting to see what’s in store before everyone else. To that end, there’s a good post on the way about volunteers and it made me think of a four-part series here from 2004 on the topic of orchestra docents and how those programs could grow and evolve into something even more effective than the way most were designed at that time. At the heart of the series was an exhaustive examination of a very successful docent program from that time at the […]

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Orchestra Docents Study Part 3

The final installment in this series will outline how orchestras can adopt and develop their own docent program similar to the Denver Zoo system.  In Part 1 I detailed the similarities between zoos and orchestras and Part 2 provided a comprehensive look at what motivated individuals to become a volunteer docent as well as how the three major stakeholders in that organization perceive the impact of the program on the zoo’s success. In order to see just how much a docent program can benefit an orchestra, I’ll outline individual problems and then demonstrate […]

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Orchestra Docents Study Part 2

To continue where we left off yesterday, we will begin to learn how the Denver Zoo docent program enables members of the community to become active participants in helping the zoo achieve its stated mission.  In order to fully understand how much of an impact the docent program has on the organization, I conducted a study involving the three primary stakeholders in the program; the volunteer docents, animal keepers, and zoo administrators. I distributed questionnaires to the docents and animal keepers and conducted telephone and email interviews with administrators. After all of the […]

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Orchestra Docents Study Part 1

062Certainly, a number of US based professional orchestras maintain docent programs, the bulk of which focus primarily on children’s educational outreach programs in the public schools.  One of the largest of these programs utilizes approximately 40 volunteers that lecture visiting school children on the music they are going to listen to and they also visit classrooms to teach children about classical music. Although these programs certainly generate positive results, they are representative of one of the greatest shortcomings of and orchestra’s education and outreach programs; they only focus on providing direct interaction with […]

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Orchestra Docents Study: Introduction

Recently, I completed an analysis of the Denver Zoo volunteer docent program.  A docent is traditionally an individual who is a lecturer or tour guide in a museum or cathedral.  But contemporary avenues of service include many non profit organizations which have a great deal of public contact, such as zoos. I became introduced to the world of docents through my in-laws, who have been zoo docents for 15 years.  Throughout that time they developed such a close relationship with the zoo that my wife and I were even married there.  And […]

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