Well, the time has come for my last blog post for the GBS as a co op student. Grab a snack and a glass of something cold, this is going to be a long one.
The One With The Thank-You's
I would like to start out by saying thank you, and there is a good list of people to name.
Firstly, thank you to the Symphony’s Business Manager David Adair for his limitless patience as I first learned how to work with the programs that the GBS uses on a regular basis, I like to think that I have gotten the hang of it by this point. Furthermore, for helping me through projects like sorting out the music library, processing subscription renewals, building timelines, putting together program notes, helping out at concerts and so on.
A big thank you also has to go out to Sandy Stevenson, who was the reason I found this placement in the first place. After two years of looking for a co op placement that would fit under the umbrella of the career path that I am following, the connection she made with my school’s program gave me the opportunity to experience what my future job could be like.
In conjunction with Sandy’s message, I would also like to thank Betty Adair. I was blown away by how well these two handled the preparation and running of the Vintners’ Dinner and Wine Auction, while at the same time teaching me how it worked. It was a wonderful opportunity for me to experience how special events are put together, which is something I have always wanted to learn.
Of course, I would like to thank each of the board members that I have been able to work with. I have learned so much about how to make strategic, thoughtful, sound decisions from everyone on the GBS Board of Directors, and their support throughout this placement has been invaluable to me. The Symphony truly does have the best team that they could ask for taking care of them.
I would also like to thank all of the musicians who I have been able to talk to, as they have given me insight towards what the experience is like on the other side of the table. I would like to work in the management/administration area, so having some knowledge of what the artists themselves value is very helpful for my future work.
Thank you as well to the incredible Music Director, François Koh. It has been an honour to be able to work in the same area as the Symphony’s conductor, and to hear his ideas about what is truly important in the world of music. Creativity inspires, and it did especially in this case.
I think that I could probably go on for much longer about each of these people, and others who have helped make this co op placement such a positive experience for me, but there are other things that I would like to say, and I’m not sure how long I can hold your attention for…
The One With The Things I Learned
There are so many things that I have learned over the last few months, but I will take the advice of my teachers and limit it to the “hard skills” that I have acquired.
Although I used to think of myself as skilled with a computer, I have learned just how wrong I was. Even though I grew up during the biggest boom in electronics and social networking that the world has seen, I found myself constantly stumped by the internet and its web of secrets. After about eight hours of training videos, I was still a bit lost with HootSuite (a website that we use to schedule the posts that go on our Facebook and Twitter pages). However, following hundreds of posts and a few trial-and-errors, I think that I have finally figured it out. Unless all those posts have been going off into the deep web and none of you have ever actually seen them…
The other program that I feel has taught me the most is Wix. This is a website that helps you to manage your own websites, blogs and mailing lists. It’s fairly confusing and always slow, but a very useful tool for organizations to stay, well, organized online. A combination of Wix and Hootsuite is how this blog, along with the rest, have reached you.
One of the more recent things that I learned was how to record minutes at a board meeting. This isn’t something that sounds very difficult, but as someone who likes to put a lot of detail into everything I write, it was. Thankfully, I had some help from the board members to make sure that the official minutes were presented smoothly. This will be a great skill for me to bring into the workforce once I have left college!
How could I forget this last one – I learned how to balance a cheque-book. Yes, I know, it sounds ridiculous to hear that someone wouldn’t know how to do this. Keep in mind what I said earlier about growing up in the generation of electronic everything.
The One With My Favourite Experiences
The next thing I would like to share with you is a few of my favourite experiences over the past five months. Since starting here in February, I have been able to do so many great things with the GBS.
Being able to attend the Symphony’s concerts was definitely one of the highlights of the year for me. I had fallen a bit out of touch with classical music before coming here, and I am very grateful that this experience has been able to bring me back to it. There was nothing that happened for me that could top hearing the beautiful performance of Tchaikovsky’s Waltz of the Flowers at the final concert of the 45th season. Hearing from other people about how much they enjoyed each concert, and the individual pieces performed, came very close though. It’s amazing to see the amount of passion for music in this community, and the support that is given to ensure that it remains accessible to everyone.
As I have mentioned, working on the Vintners’ Dinner and Wine Auction was a very rewarding experience for me. The planning for it actually began about a year ago as of now, so I only got to help with the final preparations, but seeing all of the work coming together to produce a lovely event was incredibly satisfying.
I have also really enjoyed writing these blog posts, which kind of took me by surprise when I had the thought. When David originally mentioned the idea of a co op blog, I was a little nervous, since the closest I have come to a blog is posting about my daily coffee intake on Facebook. It has been fun to write though, and I have loved seeing the positive responses to it!
The One With The Big "What's Next?" Question
My next steps were completely unclear to me before starting this placement, if I’m being honest. I had a shaky idea that I wanted to work in the business side of the music industry, but I had pretty much no experience in that world and was unsure if I could commit to it. The last five months have given me the reassurance that I needed to begin to genuinely pursue this career path.
I was accepted to Durham College’s Music Business Administration & Management program in April, and I will be moving to Oshawa to make this possible within the next two months. This is an exciting step for me, and I am certain that the GBS has been a strong factor in getting me to this point, both directly and indirectly.
My endgame goal is to wind up somewhere in Europe, representing musical artists who are working to make a difference in the world. A lot of the content we have published this year has focused on issues that musicians are tackling, and these are some of the same issues that I would like to help people combat through their own artistic expression. In reality, there will probably be a fair bit of time spent in a leaky apartment in Ottawa, trying to sign less than iconic rock bands that I find playing in questionable venues. The dream lives on, though!
The Last Ones
I feel like this has verged into the danger zone of a cheesy graduation speech, so maybe I should back out before I drown in a sea of tasselled caps…
Before I do sign off though, I have to say thank you one more time to everyone involved with the GBS, whether you are a member of staff, board member, musician, concert attendee, volunteer, or someone who just found this blog during a 3am web session. The experience that I have had doing my co op placement with you has been more than I could have hoped for.
I hope to see you during a visit next year!
Alia Reynolds, Co Op Student 2017
(And I only mentioned subscriptions once!)