Time is precious and a rarity — especially for artistic directors of musical ensembles. There’s already a multitude of work that goes into managing ensembles and planning large-scale productions. On top of that, directors often hold multiple jobs leaving them with little time to achieve the things they want to with each ensemble. Saving time is therefore imperative to one’s survival in the arts, as well as one’s mental well-being : Tori Cook, Director of Sales & Marketing at Chorus Connection shares her 7 best time-saving hacks for musical directors of musical ensembles to do just that.
I spend most of my days finding ways to streamline ensemble operations and save time for musical leaders, which I then share with the music community at large. Experience has taught me that the key to saving time lies in our investment in technology to automate menial tasks, help us stay organized, and keep our musicians informed and motivated.
Today, I’m going to share seven time-saving hacks for conductors and artistic directors.
1. Listen to music streaming playlists to find new repertoire
Spotify, YouTube, or Pandora, provide an easy way to listen to and find new repertoire. Instead of scouring the web for new repertoire, try bookmarking relevant playlists — such as Spotify’s “Choral Music” or “Orchestral Music” playlists — and listen to them throughout the day. As you listen, “favorite,” “bookmark,” or “pin” the repertoire that you enjoy.
Revisit these favorites when you’re actively planning a new program!
2. Keep an ongoing repertoire wishlist
Use spreadsheets or project management software to keep your repertoire wishlist organized from the get-go. Drop in repertoire ideas as they come to you and categorize or tag each piece with concepts, themes, eras, composers, or any other data point you want to collect.
This way, when you’re ready to plan programs, you can easily sort and filter your ideas!
3. Create rehearsal planning roadmaps in project management software
Ever heard of a Gantt chart or roadmap? These are common features in project management software that help people plan complex projects and break up work into smaller sprints for a team. Artistic directors, instead of planning week by week, try putting down the long-term vision for your concert or project into a roadmap and then break up that work into bite-sized pieces for your weekly rehearsals. Be sure to share that roadmap with your singers! Long-term planning like this up front will save you time and stress from having to make up rehearsal plans as you go.
Plus, your roadmap can help your musicians prioritize their practice amongst their own busy lives, inevitably making your rehearsals more productive as well.
Don’t worry! Things may change along the way, but the beauty of roadmaps is that they are flexible and allow you to easily reassess and rearrange tasks as you go.
4. Start working with digital scores
I cannot stress this enough: whenever possible, get digital scores! A digital music library makes it easy to organize and search your entire sheet music collection. Plus, digital scores let you take and share musical markings directly with your ensemble members, eliminating the need to manually write and send musical notes. Some digital sheet music apps will even auto-create audio tracks for you, such as the accompaniment part or individual voice parts, to help your singers quickly learn their music. Once again, this saves you time from manually creating these and makes your rehearsals even more efficient.
5. Use arts management software to streamline administrative tasks
Taking attendance, creating riser charts, organizing and sharing music files, managing email lists — all of these administrative tasks can feel like a waste of precious time. Arts management software automates and streamlines your administrative work, so you can spend more time making music.
6. Lean into other online arts management systems
Is it painful to manage your donors and fundraising gifts? Try donor management software. Tired of manually selling tickets? Try online ticket sales solutions. Invest in a complete arts management tech stack to get the best time-saving results.
7. Delegate, outsource, and continue to invest
When you find yourself wasting time on something, take a breath to reflect. Consider this: can this task be delegated to someone? Should you consider outsourcing this work? Or should you invest in technology or tools to help you do this more efficiently? Taking the time to invest in efficient strategies now will save you more time in the long run.
About the author
Tori Cook is the Director of Sales & Marketing at Chorus Connection. She sings with the Tanglewood Festival Chorus and is a board member of the Greater Boston Choral Consortium. In a past life, she was the Music Director of the Harborlight Show Chorus and President of Chorus pro Musica in Boston. When not making music, she daydreams about adopting a golden retriever puppy and scuba diving to exotic locations around the world.
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