Career Conversations: Discussion between YA Librarian Llyr Heller and Los Angeles Philharmonic

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Career Conversations: Discussion between YA Librarian Llyr Heller and Los Angeles Philharmonic

LLYR HELLER: All right. Thank you all for joining us today. We are very excited to be hosting three from the LA Philharmonic and Hollywood Bowl. Thank you so, so much for being here today. I know it's been a long time coming. I'm very excited. So the first question is just going to be ... and this is a relaxed conversation so we'll be pausing for questions from the audience so feel free.

LLYR HELLER:But the first question is, can you talk about the path that you've taken to get to where you are today. Different training, college internships, specialized training, et cetera, and what you studied. Thank you. Oh, and your name, sorry.

FABIAN FUERTES:Yeah. Hi. Can all of you hear me? Perhaps? Yes. Wonderful. Hi, first off, thank you all for having me here today. Thank you Amanda. Thank you Llyr for inviting us. I really appreciate this opportunity. My name is Fabian Fuertes. I grew up here in LA and it's been really great to come back. I just moved back in May of 2018 and I've been in many different states. So I moved to Florida and Texas and Ohio and Pennsylvania. Now I work with the LA Phil in the learning department.

So the question was a bit about how I got here to this position. First off, how many of you are interested in music? Yes? Okay. Okay, cool, cool, cool. That's a lot of hands. That's pretty good. How many of you care for music? You enjoy music? Yes? Yeah. Okay. Usually more hands go up when I ask that question. That makes sense. I think we all care for music.

My affection for music and the clarinet started way back when not that far back. I'm still young. Way back when, when I was in fourth grade. Some of you have heard me tell this story. So in fourth grade, we moved a lot. So I lived in LA, Pasadena, Monrovia, Chino Hills, and then Fontana. By the time we're in Fontana, I'm about eight years old. And I have the opportunity to go to a school where they have a band program and there's this young girl named Jennifer. Jennifer Balag is my first crush and she happens to play the clarinet. So since she played clarinet, I had to play clarinet.

So I went to my parents and I said, "Hey, I really want to play the clarinet." And it was a little, sort of caught them off guard. They said, "Why?" And, "How did this come about?" They knew I had played a little bit of piano at my cousin's house on the organ. In any case, I begged and pleaded and I was very fortunate. They scrounged up money for it so I could get a student model.

So now let's fast forward to the next semester or whatever you call it in grade school. And I'm in the room, right? And I have my friends here in band and I'm like opening up the case and I'm trying to put the parts together because there's several parts and I don't know what the heck I'm doing. And in the process, I look over to one of my friends and I said, "Hey, where's Jennifer?" They said, "She's not here today." And I said, "Well, is she sick? What happened?" They're like, "Oh no, she quit." So I was like, "Oh no." I begged and pleaded to my parents for this instrument and now there's no way I can say, "Oh, I don't want it anymore." Right? I'm sort of stuck with it.

So that's how I first sort of got onto the clarinet. But it came naturally. Anything that you enjoy, right? You like doing, everyone likes doing something they're good at. Right? So I sort of excelled into it. And then in high school, I kept moving around a lot. I moved to Florida and one thing that I didn't know that was consistent within the inconsistency of moving was having the support of my mother and having music and having the clarinet.

Because in that way I always had a community. I always had a band program or orchestra program. And that became my community. Even if I didn't have brothers or sisters, even if I didn't have friends because I was moving around, I'm trying to make them. I knew I had other clarinets, I knew I had other musicians around me. So that was really great to have that in my life. And that coupled with academics of course, which is extremely important, doing well in school. Between those two things, I was able to use my music to help get me a scholarship in college. Because I'm a first-gen Latinx, my mother has no idea about what it means to be a career in music. I had no idea what it meant to be a career in music. So that helped sort of guide me into there.

So I studied music performance in my undergrad and my masters at Florida State University. Then University of Texas, then I went to Philadelphia. Along the way, I started to sort of fall out of love with performing. And at that point, I was playing with a lot of orchestras. I was teaching, which I really, really enjoy and it's close to home and sort of leads to where I am today. And I started going into this arts administrative world and what does that mean? Right? Think about it sort of what happens behind the scenes to help build experiences that happen on stage and any venue you might be in. And so as I was falling out of love with one, I sort of fell in love with the other. And in that process, I got opened up to new experiences.

What I realized was over time through working at the Philadelphia Orchestra in personnel, through working out Oberlin College and Conservatory in operations personnel. Then coming to the LA Phil, how can I make a bigger difference? I was affecting change in a small circle of human beings who I interacted with, but how can I make a broader change? And now through this opportunity with the LA Phil, I work in the learning department and I get to support a program called YOLA, Youth Orchestra Los Angeles. And this program helps provide a positive social change to the vehicle of music in providing free instruments, free programming, free education, academic help, leadership help at four sites across LA to over 1200 students. In this way I get to help support and build experiences for those around me through music. Something that was very close to home to me and something that I'm very passionate about. So now I get to share that with more people here in LA and it's a very beautiful thing.

So I sort of took some twists and turns moving around to Florida and Pennsylvania and Ohio and sort of being that performer on stage to going back behind the stage. And it's really cool to sort of learn what it takes to audition into music, what it takes to be on the other side at the table, sort of adjudicating for it and knowing what it takes. And it's tough, it's really tough. But I think the more important part is the relationships I was able to make and the experiences I was able to have to make me who I am today. And now I'm here at the LA Phil. So I'm going to go ahead and stop talking now and pass it over to my colleagues.

AMANDA LESTER: Thanks Fabian. My name is Amanda Lester and I work in the marketing department at the LA Phil so that now includes Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Hollywood Bowl and now the Ford Theater. And like Fabian, I grew up playing an instrument, probably not the one you would guess. When I was in middle school I decided to play trombone and I remember the band directors and my parents saying, "Don't you want to play flute?" Something you can actually carry. Because I was pretty small then like I am now. But I decided no. Trombone was it. And like Fabian, I loved playing so much and I loved being part of that community.

So for college, I was growing up in Austin, Texas. I went to the University of Texas at Austin. I did study music performance, but I also had so many other interests that I wanted to explore. So I double majored and I also majored in liberal arts. And that was really valuable to be sort of diverse in the skills and experiences I was gaining. And that helped me later on when in the last year of my music degree I got injured and basically my playing career ended. And so it was at that point, sort of like Fabian was saying, sometimes you take sort of a wibbly wobbly path to something that makes you really happy. I knew that music made me happy, but I could no longer play. So I started looking for other ways to be involved. Arts administration is an amazing way to do that.

So I told one of my former music teachers, I wanted to go into arts administration and she told me, "You're never going to be able to make a career in that." And that's obviously not what I wanted to hear. I didn't believe her. Sometimes you get advice from people and you have to sort of weigh it and see is this really advice that I think is true and valuable. And I decided that I would not take that piece of advice and I'm really glad that I did because I found out later that there's tons of opportunities to be involved behind the scenes in the arts.

I ended up going to USC, which is how I ended up in LA for a master's degree, totally outside of music in communications and public diplomacy. Which is essentially building common ground and mutual understanding between groups of people, building community. And I sort of layered in my interest in music on top of that. Eventually, after some internships in communications and the arts, I ended up at the LA Phil where I'm essentially building community around music. Yes, I'm in the marketing department but I'm not in sort of the, "Here. Let me sell you a bunch of tickets," kind of area. I'm in the, how do we build an audience that will be interested in the kind of music that we present in the longterm and how do we make memorable experiences around that.

So I think when I got to the LA Phil, it really struck me that there are so, so many ways to be involved in the arts. None of us perform with the LA Phil, but Fabian works with education. I work in marketing, he'll, as you'll hear, he works in development. But we also have lawyers on staff. We have people who fix our computers, we have people who do all sorts of scheduling, we have production managers. Almost any job you can think of, we probably have someone doing that at the LA Phil, which it's something that I wish more people knew. So I think that's sort of the message that I want to bring to it with my story is that there's so many ways to be involved in something that you love. Maybe not the most obvious one. But there are other opportunities out there that if you look hard enough and if you sort of ignore the naysayers, you can end up doing something that makes you really happy.

JOSEPH FENECK: Thank you Amanda. Hi everyone. Thank you for having me. My name is Joseph Feneck and I work in the development department as Amanda mentioned. Development is actually, it's fundraising and philanthropy. It's not developing music. It's working with donors. In arts administration and working in nonprofit you often have to raise quite a bit of money to help support the organization and the institution and everything that we strive to do. So I, unlike my colleagues, I did grow up playing the piano. I probably didn't take it as seriously as I probably should have. I enjoyed playing it, but I moved down to LA to go to school. I went to Loyola Marymount University. I moved down about 11 years ago and I was very business-oriented. I studied business, particularly entrepreneurship and I wanted to go into entertainment business or music business, something along those lines.

When I was at Loyola, I actually worked in their development department, their fundraising department. So I learned and gained these skills that I didn't even really know existed. A few of my friends from high school worked in a program, it was called Phonathon or is called Phonathon. And it's basically a group of student callers who reach out to parents and alumni and friends of the university to help raise money for the school. So I did that in my freshman year and by the time I was a junior, I was actually the head student running the program.

So like I mentioned, I kind of along the way gain these skills and learned this kind of niche industry that I didn't really know was a career path that people took. And so it led me perfectly into my first role at the LA Phil. I started around 2013. Like I said, I studied business. I kind of always had an interest in going into the music business or entertainment business. And the Hollywood Bowl has always been one of my favorite venues here in LA. Walt Disney Concert Hall right up the street is one of the most beautiful venues here in LA.

So when I saw my first position posted online, I felt like it was a great fit because it was kind of everything I wanted to do. It was the music business, it was the entertainment business, it was arts administration, it was fundraising. It was really just the perfect fit. And as time has gone on over the last almost seven years now, I've been very fortunate enough to work my way up, and I'm on my fourth position now within the development department. So it's really amazing once you get started and once you get your foot in the door, how your career path can move and move up. So yeah, that's that.

LLYR HELLER: Thank you. I'm excited to hear this answer because sometimes with our guests there are no opportunities, but can you tell us about opportunities for those in high school or college or maybe even adults?

JOSEPH FENECK: Sure. Well, we have some business cards up here, specifically with the LA Phil, right? Yeah. Yeah. The Hollywood Bowl season, I don't know if any of you have ever been before, but it's our summer season at the Bowl. It takes place mid-June through mid-September and have to bring on board a lot of seasonal staff for the concerts and everything that takes place there. So our human resources team, they left us with some business cards kind of describing where to go to sign up if you're interested in helping us out at the Bowl. We love having new folks come on board. It's an awesome place to work over summer. A lot of times if you're ushers you get to enjoy the concerts because you're kind of standing right there in the venue. So those are some work opportunities.

There are other positions, entry-level positions that open up for anyone who is close to graduating college or has graduated college. So you can check out our website for those or I specifically work with the volunteers. Our volunteers are interesting on in terms of the requirements that our human resources team has for them. But I brought some ... our volunteers are called the affiliates. So if anyone does want to take a look, you're welcome to take some of the brochures that I brought to kind of see how to become involved in that capacity too. So I don't know if either of you has more to say on that.

FABIAN FUERTES: I don't. However, there's a couple other opportunities in our learning department. In addition to what Joseph said, we have a music festival that happens in the summer called YOLA National Festival and there we usually hire an intern there. We have up to two positions during the summer and then we also have a position that's a part time position that we have throughout the year. And it's flexible because we all know, I see a lot of young faces like myself, perhaps a little younger. And so I know you're busy with school and many other things, right? You have so many things on your plate. And so we try and be flexible with that and know that you might be able to come a few hours here on Saturday or Sunday or in the evening and we understand that. We've all been through those opportunities. So we have those as well in the learning department.

But I would highly recommend as Joseph mentioned, to check out the opportunities that are online. And also, especially it's fun to work at the Bowl. I've had a couple colleagues and students who are part of the Youth Orchestra Los Angeles Program who work as ushers or cashiers or whatever at the Bowl. And it's a lot of fun because you get to meet so many people, you get to watch some shows. You might be in an opportunity where, who knows backstage, maybe there's an artist that you enjoy that's performing that summer and you happen to get to see them or they say hello. So those might be few and far between, but it's possible.

AMANDA LESTER: I don't really have anything to add except to say if you go to the careers page right now, there are some opportunities listed, but the date you should check is, I think it's February 1st is when the Hollywood Bowl seasonal opportunities will be posted. So you can sign up on our careers page to get an email notification when something that you say is interesting to you pops up. But yeah, I would definitely go back and check-in early February.

LLYR HELLER: Thank you. I'm opening it up to the audience. Any questions so far? Not yet. Oh, all right.

SPEAKER 1: Do you have any community ... what do you call this? Like junior orchestra group or string quartet for high schoolers?

FABIAN FUERTES: So I could see my colleagues were like, "Oh we should hand over the mic." Yes. At a Youth Orchestra Los Angeles, part of YOLA we do. So this program is designed for those aged six to 18 and we have sites located in East LA towards high school. We have a site in South LA at Exposition Park. We have a couple others, one in MacArthur Park, and another in West Lake area. We have a fifth site that's opening up in Inglewood. And to directly answer your question, we have different programs for different levels. So we have those who have never played an instrument before that are younger who may start out just learning to sing and a little bit about music in general before they go onto an instrument. And then we have multiple levels of orchestras.

So we have, let's say, I'll take out the acronyms we use that mean nothing to you and let's start with like beginner, intermediate, and advanced type orchestras. And they do have chamber ensemble opportunities. And a lot of our students, it's incredible actually, the amount of opportunities they get exposed to. I mean, for some of them, every year they get to perform at Walt Disney Concert Hall as an example. Some of them have performed in a side-by-side opportunity with our LA Phil members or others at the Hollywood Bowl.

This past ... the concert you went to Angel. I'm sort of pointing someone out in the audience. Her first performance at the Hollywood Bowl, we did a side by side opportunity with our YOLA and LA Phil musicians and John Legend was there. So they got to be on stage with him. And Common had this cameo. So he came out and that was really cool. They've played under John Williams and Katy Perry. And they went on tour to Mexico City this past November. And they've played at the Super Bowl with Bruno Mars and Beyonce and Coldplay. Yeah. I mean, I wish there was a program like this for me when I was that age, but in any case, the answer is yes and I'm more than happy to connect after this. If you'd like to speak further about that or with anyone who is here, please. I'd be more than happy to spend some time to speak with you.

LLYR HELLER: Thank you. Any other questions or any other comments? Okay. Oh, all right.

SPEAKER 2: Do you have any tips for a person who's trying to learn how to play an instrument? Like the piano or ... yeah. It's my favorite instrument.

FABIAN FUERTES: I'm going to start with Joseph.

JOSEPH FENECK: Keep practicing. Like I said, I took piano lessons for 10 years and I went to the same teacher every week for those 10 years and I really enjoyed it. I thought it was great. I didn't take it as seriously as I probably should have. So if it is something you're interested in and if it's something you're passionate about, I say go for it and just keep up the hard work. And it will take time. It can be tedious as I'm sure other instruments are too. And I think that's kind of why I did it, but I didn't take it...I didn't study it as much as I should have. So yeah, just keep it up and go for it. I don't know if you two have anything. The professional musicians over here [inaudible 00:22:11].

AMANDA LESTER: So before trombone, I did play piano for about 10 years. It was a similar situation where my mom insisted that I learned how to play piano because she has learned how to play piano and I wanted to play soccer and she said, "Okay, let's make a deal." And I would say, I was like Joseph where it was sometimes a struggle to be interested in it, but it's one of the most valuable things I've ever done. And it carries through not just learning other instruments and having more of an appreciation for some of the music that we present, but also just learning how to practice is really important, not just for musicians. But when you get out into the real world and you need to practice learning how to use some sort of computer program or you to practice public speaking, it's really critical.

But to get a little bit in the weeds, if you want a real tip, I would say something that really helped me with piano and what made me more excited to practice was if I found a piece of music that I really enjoyed playing, that really just...I could feel it. I would learn how to play it in every key and I would just have fun playing it in every key and just sort of savoring that. And that was not just helpful in learning that piece better, but also learning piano can be incredibly helpful because you really learn the theory and structure. Then if you ever want to learn any other instruments, knowing the keyboard and knowing chords, it's essential. And when you learn how to play piano, you sort of get all of that already. So that's just sort of a specific tip that I have.

LLYR HELLER: Thank you so much. So the three of you have very different jobs within the different companies. Can you take us through a little bit of a day in the life or a week in the life?

AMANDA LESTER: Sure. We all wear many hats at the LA Phil and I think if you work in the performing arts or an arts entertainment, in arts administration, you'll find that everywhere you go from large companies to small companies.

My job encompasses three very different areas. One of them is, I do market research for the LA Phil for the whole organization. So that's doing projects like focus groups, surveys, all sorts of things to better understand who our audience, who our customers are. What they're interested in, what they don't like. And this is so important for all of the people who are creating these experiences. So that's a third of my job.

Another third of my job is keeping our core customers, so the people who come like every month or so to a concert, keeping them happy and loyal and making sure that they feel like they're getting their money's worth because they keep our organization going. So I do a lot of programs to make them feel valued because they really are. So that's events, inviting them to rehearsals, doing special little programs to give them opportunities to interact with musicians, which is always a really cool experience.

And then the third of my job, that's probably my favorite is I'm responsible for bringing in new and young audiences to the LA Phil. It's so important because sometimes you go to an orchestral concert and you see a lot of older people. I don't know if any of you have ever had that experience. So that's a national, international trend. But I think those of us who work at the LA Phil, we think that there really is still value in that music, even though it's old. It can be really relevant if presented in the right way. And it's something that's sort of an important experience for everyone to have, to hear some of this great music performed live.

So I think it's incredibly important to make sure that young people have access to our concerts. I am sort of an advocate for them in making sure there are low priced tickets available, free tickets available, making sure that members of the community who maybe otherwise wouldn't be able to come to a concert, have that opportunity and feel welcome. That's, I think, the part of my job that I'm most passionate about. Yeah. I don't know if that answers the question.

FABIAN FUERTES: I don't know that I can...there's not a short answer to that. I don't have a typical day. I don't think any of us do. Right? I mean it's supposed to be a nine to five, but that just does not exist. There are some days where you come in earlier, there's some days where you stay away later, you come in on the weekends. And part of that is because of what Amanda started out by saying is we wear many hats.

So part of what I do is help support the programming of our youth orchestra program. And that could be many things, right? That could be designing a curriculum on what our students are learning. That could be designing the scheduling of what the day looks like if you're in this orchestra versus that orchestra. That could be helping figure out what venue we should be at. That could be helping figure out how many teaching artists do we need? How many students are we trying to serve? What are the professional development opportunities for our teachers? What are there for our students? How are we helping figure out what type of creative youth development programs we have? So that's sort of the programming part of it. There's so many things I can go on and on about that.

Then there's also the production part of it. There's producing concerts. So there are opportunities where I'm helping support our musicians be a part of a concert, whether it's at the concert hall, whether it's at each of their sites, whether it's in Mexico City or London, or in Northern California or Edinburgh or wherever that may be. And the touring part of that as well. And there's lots of logistics that come with that. But sort of putting on these types of concerts.

And to try and put one more broad stroke. I would say being a liaison across many different stakeholders. And what I mean by that word stakeholders, are people who are interested who are a part of what we do. So what that means is, in one way I might have a phone call from a student who's saying that they're curious and concerned about financial aid for their college. I could have another one who's saying, "Hey I forgot my shirt and I need one for the concert." It could be with a parent who's wondering how they could get private lessons with their students and a LA Phil musician. It could be with our teaching artists and I'm having a conversation with them and we're working about how can we teach something to a student in multiple different ways. Because not everyone learns the same way. So how can you teach something 10 different ways? Because we all learn differently.

It could be with a site administrator who's trying to figure out how can I design a schedule and and figure out ways to make sure that our teachers are supported to help provide that programming to their students. It could be with our learning department and my colleagues where now I'm trying to figure out, okay, how can we invest in ourselves and our programs to help support that. It could be with our LA Phil musicians and having them come over and teach private lessons or do coachings with orchestras. It could be with our board members and external partners where in one way on letting our CEO know how things are coming along with the YOLA center that's happening in Inglewood. I'm having a discussion with a board member about what they think might be valuable to have in our programs. I'm speaking with a partner. I'm speaking with a government official and advocating for what we can do.

It's learning how to be flexible, to be able to speak to different stakeholders and in that way. And we all do a bit of this. We absolutely all do a bit of it. So it's important to know to figure out how you can prepare yourself for these opportunities in the same way that you asked about how I can learn how to be better at piano. It's finding meaningful questions to figure out how can I prepare myself for that and what is the purpose you have and what is the vision you have and what are the ideas that you're going to implement and the actions and et cetera, et cetera. So there are many different things that sort of come into what we do that sort of makes it not so much of a typical day to day.

JOSEPH FENECK: Thank you. It's definitely not a typical day to day, but it's interesting. And listening to my colleagues, we all have very different roles, obviously, within the organization, but as they mentioned, we wear many hats. It's funny how much our jobs overlap and intersect and how it all comes down to the same mission, the same goal. It's really amazing. It's one of the things that I love so much about my job is I'm fortunate to work with all the various departments within the organization.

So I work with the marketing team, I work with the learning team, I work with orchestra management and production, all across the board. I work with venue management. So it's really great. I'm just thinking back at this this past week for example, and this is a seven day week for me and it often is with development and in working with. Donor relations involves building relationships. My role specifically, it's a front facing position. So I work with external stakeholders who are very important to the organization because they give us their money, whether it's a small donation or a multimillion dollar gift. We have to be cautious and grateful those relationships at the same time.

So it's fun. It keeps me busy. I like being busy. I like kind of the regular nine-ish to five-ish or as mentioned it's often earlier or later or whatever it might be. I having that structure during the week, but then I like the additional dinners on weeknights or events on the weekends. Like this weekend for example, we had a youth concert this morning, so I was at Walt Disney Concert Hall starting at eight o'clock and was there until I walked over here. And tomorrow night one of the committees that I work with has a fundraising event in Beverly Hills. So it's just kind of all across the board but a lot of fun at the same time. So as they both mentioned, it's many hats, but I enjoy wearing those hats. And I think they do too. We have fun working together.

LLYR HELLER: Thank you. And that brings up a question that we sometimes ask, is this a good field for both extroverts and introverts?

JOSEPH FENECK: Yeah, I think so. I'll let these two touch on it a little bit more, but I mean I'm thinking within my own department. With development, like I mentioned a lot of us in the development department, we do work with donors and so you have to have those people skills. You have to be willing to interact with people pretty frequently and answer the phone a lot and go to dinner a lot and whatever it might be. But then we also have roles for people who do research and data entry and whatnot. So it's more of sitting behind a desk, not answering as many phone calls or emails, but doing just as important work as the rest of it.

AMANDA LESTER: Sure. Well, I am definitely an introvert and I would not have expected that I would have gone into marketing, but a lot of our jobs these days, at least in my area, are online. So I probably spend about 70% of my time on a computer emailing back and forth with people, arranging things, doing research. But another big part of my job is running events. And so that often means throwing parties for young professionals, giving them free drinks and making conversation and having an atmosphere. And that's not my strength, but I think it's good to sort of push yourself a little bit and have parts of your job where you're sort of inching into territory that might make you a little less comfortable because that's how you grow. It also means that you are bringing a different perspective to the table.

So as an introvert, I noticed that at some of these parties that we often throw for young people that there are some people there who, yeah, maybe they're not really wanting to talk to everyone and they're sort of hanging by their self and might be feeling a little bit lonely. So I've started thinking about, okay, how are there ways that we can bring them into the conversation, make them feel more welcome and like they're a part of the conversation. And I don't think anyone would've thought of that if an introvert hadn't been running that program.

FABIAN FUERTES: So I would consider myself an ambivert. I learned this term not too long ago and it's sort of like you're extroverted at times and you're introverted at times. I can enjoy this opportunity speaking with you all. I can also enjoy putting on my headphones and having my own space and being away from everyone, especially when I might want to focus in or just read a book or just be away and enjoy that. I don't mind that I don't feel lonely about those moments. I'm pretty happy about this moment in addition to these moments.

I think we have opportunities for both. Absolutely. As Joseph and Amanda said. I think more importantly it's sort of trying to find that right space and trying to find that right opportunity, whatever position you're looking to be in, where you can be comfortable but yet still present opportunities. Because I think that's really important what Amanda said as far as pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and that's how you grow. Whatever way, you're going to have your ups and downs, right? You're going to be comfortable or uncomfortable. And I think it's really important to just...I'm going to use this example.

I've read this book called Getting Things Done by David Allen and earlier today I was looking for a Ted Talk about it because I was thinking maybe I'll bring this up. And he talks about having a mind like water. What does this philosophical thing mean? So I want you to picture something for a moment. I want you to picture a still pond and you're going to throw a pebble into it. Now, how does that water react? Well, the answer is it reacts that's absolutely proportionate to the mass and force that was inputted into that action. And then after that it goes back to calm. It doesn't overreact, nor does it underreact. So what I'm trying to get at is that whether you're extroverted, whether you're introverted, whatever. You're going to get pushed out of your comfort zone, but your actions in that process can help you stay even keel.

So if you have a mind like water where you know you don't necessarily overreact or under react to the things like an email that has a tone that you're not care for or if someone texted you or something and you're not happy with it. If you can stay sort of even keel. I'm not saying don't enjoy the highs and don't cry when someone passes away or something. But if you can stay sort of even keel, it sort of keeps you close to your core values, right? It keeps those actions consistent and it doesn't let those things overpower you or just seize in your mind and your heart and your soul. So just sort of keep that mind of having a mind like water in these experiences.

LLYR HELLER: Thank you. That was lovely. Any audience questions come up?

SPEAKER 3: Thank you. Thanks. I'm sure you probably had some bumps on the road on to this career. What did you do or say to yourself to motivate yourself to keep going?

JOSEPH FENECK: I'll take it. Yeah, For me personally, in working with donors and volunteers and having a lot of in-person interaction with people, very opinionated people who do a lot for the organization. Kind of going back to what you just said, in terms of staying even-keeled and ... I hate to use the phrase developing a thick skin, but you kind of just have to accept whatever comes your way and just do the best to stay positive and to realize that ... like for me, going back to what I was saying, if I ever have a negative donor interaction, I try to think first of all, is it something that I did? And if it is, then, of course, they take ownership of it and figure out how to resolve it. If it's not, and if I know it's not something that I did or the way the reacting isn't necessarily because of something I did, then it's a matter of just kind of thinking, this person might be having a bad day or this person...whatever it might be.

Staying true to yourself and knowing that you're doing the best that you can. As long as you know that you're doing the best that you can and giving it 100%, I think that's validation in and of itself to keep moving forward and to keep doing your job and to be doing it well.

AMANDA LESTER: So when I finished college, I started looking for full-time jobs and I spent a couple of months living at home trying to get jobs, applying to everyone that I could possibly find that looked interesting. And there were some ones that looked like the perfect job for me and I didn't get any phone interviews. I definitely didn't get any jobs, but I didn't even get calls back most of the time. That can be discouraging. But what ended up happening was I needed a job, any job at that point. And so I took a part-time job doing data entry at a random company where I was living. At first, maybe I was a little disappointed that that's where I had ended up, but I decided to make something of it instead. And I worked really hard and I anticipated some things that it turned out the company needed and I worked my way up to a full-time job there doing something a lot more interesting than data entry.

Again, this was in an industry and a company that I was not really interested in it at all, but I made the job something that was a little bit more enjoyable. I found out a year after I was hired at the LA Phil that one of the main reasons why my boss decided to hire me for this entry-level marketing assistant position was because of some of the skills that I had gained at that random job and not the skills that I thought would be important to her. So things like research and data quality control and things that I had sort of put on my resume like I don't think they'll care about this, but I need to fill up my resume. I took a disappointment and I turned it into something that ended up being really helpful to me in the long run and made that job a lot less boring I would say.

LLYR HELLER: Thank you. Any other questions? All right.

SPEAKER 3: I have a question. So for doing this for a full-time job, are there any music jobs or musical orchestras that include violin players?

FABIAN FUERTES: The short answer is yes, absolutely. I'd be curious to know what you want to do because there's so many opportunities, right? You could perform violin, you could teach violin, you could do both. You could lead coachings on violin. There are absolutely opportunities within the LA Phil, within a professional orchestra world. There are regional orchestras, there are youth orchestras that I work and support that you could be in or that you could eventually work in one day. Absolutely. There are definitely opportunities for violins and there's plenty of violins. If you look in an orchestra for example, you see a lot more violins than you do of clarinets or tuba or trombone or piano even, right? There's so many more violins in the world. So there are a lot of people that you can work with.

AMANDA LESTER: I would also add that we all have full-time jobs at the LA Phil, but there are many people who work at our organization who have part-time jobs or who we contract out with. I work with some people who I've hired who are essentially freelancers or they've their own companies and we hire them to help us with all sorts of things. Creating videos, creating podcasts, building our website, I mean almost anything. One of the people who I work with who I've hired to help with many projects, she is a violinist, a professional violinist. She plays part time, she does a bunch of gigging around town. She does some teaching on the side, but she also works for the LA Phil as a contractor helping with our student program, helping with grassroots marketing. And she started her own company, which is now growing very fast. So I think there's also opportunities to work in multiple roles and if you're really passionate about it then it's something you can absolutely do.

LLYR HELLER: Thank you. Speaking of career outlook, how does the next five years look for the LA Phil and talk a little bit about the diversity you may have or not have.

JOSEPH FENECK: Sure. I think we have a lot of diversity at the LA Phil, which is fantastic. And we're really working on our DEI, diversity equity and inclusion initiatives, which has been fantastic. It's an organizational-wide initiative that we're working on. The next five years look amazing for us.

We just acquired a ... not acquired, well kind of I guess, the Ford Theater. Which I don't know if any of you are familiar with, but that venue is now under the LA Phil. So we're really excited about that. We just had a staff meeting there last week to see the venue and what it's like. That venue is having its centennial, so its hundredth birthday this summer. The Hollywood Bowl is having its hundredth birthday next summer. Then the LA Phil just had its hundredth birthday last year. So we're kind of on this trend of a hundredth birthdays, which has been a lot of fun and really exciting.

But we're very lucky because the organization is growing. And I think as we look towards the next five years, our goal is to just continue bringing as many people as possible to our venues, to our performances, and to continue connecting the various communities of Los Angeles, which is all very exciting. As Amanda mentioned earlier, something that she and the marketing team, us in the development team, something that we kind of do have to start really thinking about is bringing in a younger audiences and younger donors for development in particular.

The scope of how philanthropy works is kind of shifting and changing because people in this day and age tend to support a lot of different organizations, which is great. But what we've kind of seen in the past is individuals supporting just a handful of organizations making larger gifts. And now with people making gifts to more places, which like I said is fantastic, the money that comes through isn't necessarily as much as it used to be. So we kind of have to figure out how to continue attracting donors and getting individuals to make that extra step of not only buying tickets or volunteering or whatever it might be, but making gifts to help our organization grow.

AMANDA LESTER: Yeah, I think Joseph did a good job explaining how our organization is. It's growing like crazy and who knows what will happen in the next five or 10 years. But we have all these other plans for spaces, online ventures, media ventures, lots of things. We're, I guess, technically an orchestra or performing arts organization, but we're sort of stretching ourselves and moving into different areas to stay relevant and to stay financially solvent.

But I think one thing to know about the industry as a whole, at least like nonprofit arts organizations, is that I don't think they're ever going to go away. And there are people who that is the perfect job for them. Maybe it doesn't pay as much as some other jobs do. Maybe you have to have a certain set of skills or have to have a lot of different skills to succeed. But for me at least, I think the trade-off is an easy one to make because it's a job that I'm passionate about and I feel like I'm making a difference. That, at the end of the day, for me is more important than how much money I'm making.

If you are interested in music and you want to make it happen and either you want to be a musician or you want to be involved, I think you should really go into this field only if you truly love it. Because that's the only way that you're going to get the kind of returns that you're looking for. Because like they were saying, this is more than a nine to five job. That's partly because we care so much. It can be really hard to let go when you go on vacation or when you go home at night because you care about the work that you're doing. So yeah, you really have to love it.

LLYR HELLER: Thank you. We have about eight minutes. Any questions? All right.

SPEAKER 4: Are you also affiliated with LA Opera and also do you do any anything to do with LA Endowment? Down here in downtown Los Angeles?

AMANDA LESTER: So I can answer the first half of that. We are a resident company at Walt Disney Concert Hall. So Walt Disney Concert Hall is part of the Music Center, which includes Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and all those venues downtown. So we are a resident company. Walt Disney Concert Hall was technically sort of built for the LA Phil, but we are resident company there as is LA Opera. So while we're technically different organizations, we work very closely together because we are both resident companies of the Music Center. I don't know the answer to the second one.

JOSEPH FENECK: LA Endowment for the arts. I don't know if there is a current relationship. I should because I work in the fundraising department, but I know that in the past there has been some overlap there. But I don't know at the moment exactly what type of ... we have a specific team in our development department that works specifically with foundations and endowment funds. So I'll have to get back to you on that.

LLYR HELLER: All right, I have one. How comfortable do you have to be with tech, technology and is there anything specific?

JOSEPH FENECK: I think it depends on the job, but we are all very comfortable with email and Microsoft office, I'll say. I also, and I think Amanda, you probably do too, we work out of a database called Tessitura, which is a huge donor and ticketing database. It's kind of everything that we both do all into one. I mean eventually learning, maybe thrown into there as well. But I mean, for my role, I think it's kind of a combination where, yes. I do have to. I'm comfortable with technology and working a computer and whatnot. But a lot of what I do too, as I've mentioned, is working with people in person. So there's a little bit of a balance there for me at least.

LLYR HELLER: Oh, also, sorry, social media. Do you have to deal with any?

JOSEPH FENECK: I don't personally, but Amanda will cover that.

AMANDA LESTER: Yeah. So in the marketing world, you do have to be very technologically ... you have to have a lot of expertise in that area and you have to be always learning. So you have to learn quickly how to use new programs. So some of the programs that I use all the time and that I sort of wish that I had built up more skills in before I got here and I've sort of had to learn on the job, are Excel. PowerPoint, I make a ton of decks, presentations. Tessitura, like you said, it's very specific to our industry, but within our industry, almost everyone uses it. We use Slack now, which has been great and it's pretty easy to learn. I've found it very helpful to know how to use at least some kind of survey platform, whether it's Survey Monkey or Qualtrics, any of them will sort of do. Yeah, I think I would just say it again if you can learn how to learn quickly and learn on the job, that will get you everywhere.

FABIAN FUERTES: Yes. The answer is yes. And it's many, many programs. If I were in your position, you probably are already using Microsoft Word and you're writing certain essays, perhaps. Definitely start spending some time in Excel. Microsoft Excel. I've had many different positions and I very much used that a lot, a lot, a lot. In addition to PowerPoint as well. So definitely get to know those two programs especially.

I'll back up for a second. I remember taking a typing class when I was in high school. I'm not sure if they still do that. You probably are looking at me like what are you talking about? I started typing when I was three years old. I don't need to take a class. But that was something I invested in and I got faster at it and that's helpful, right? If you have the whole QWERTY keyboard sort of memorized. Not just on your phone but actually on a keyboard. So I would definitely recommend putting some time into that. And it's helpful. It's super helpful because you're going to be doing it, right? You're going to need it for essays. Whether it's in school or whether it's for another school opportunity or whether you're constructing your resume, which will ultimately happen as you apply for positions. So definitely in that.

We also have things like Clark that we use to manage our calendar. We have things like, so it's project management tools. We also have Salesforce that we use as a database to sort of track our customer relationship management. In this case it's our student relationship management and to help with attendance and to help with communications. We have Slack, what Amanda mentioned before is basically a way to's another way to communicate through an app or on your computer where you get notifications, push notifications to you.

So there's many different programs, but at the very, very least, before you go off to all these other specialized programs, whatever you go into, definitely get to know the basics very well. And there's so many stuff available on YouTube alone to help you learn how to use Excel and Word in ways that you never did before. Take advantage of that because that's that's the world you live in.

I sort of became a hybrid. I had that moment where I used to go to a library and I used to have to look up things through a card system. I'm not sure if you're familiar. Some of you are nodding. Some of you are like, I don't know what the heck you're talking about. There's like a card system in alpha order where you would look up books as opposed to on a computer. And then eventually I had that function where I could look on it through a computer. So definitely take advantage of those programs.

AMANDA LESTER: I forgot to mention social media since you asked specifically about that. So yes, it's very important to know how to use social media and it's important to know how to write for social media. That's something I have to do almost every day. To write things that are very to the point and eye-catching and say a lot with very few words. But I think it's also, every industry, pretty much, our industry included, the more skills you have in social media, which we have multiple jobs now with the LA Phil, which are just social media.

But if you know social media if you can do video editing if you can do audio editing if you can do photography and graphic design on computers, there are definitely jobs in those areas. And those are skills that I think are just going to...there's going to be a lot of payback in the future. There are going to be jobs there and well-paid jobs and they're not going to go away.

FABIAN FUERTES: May I say one more thing?


FABIAN FUERTES: I'm glad we're bringing up social media. Social media, everyone. Raise your hand if you have a Instagram account. Yeah. Okay. Facebook, perhaps? No, not so much. That's like older people now. Whatever you have, right? You've posted it. And keep in mind that depending on your privileges, many people can see it. Many people. Right? And it's important to take a step back and think about what that means, right?

Because as you start to go into the world of applying for positions, sometimes someone will tell me, "Oh, do you know about this person?" And I'm like, "Oh no, but let me check my Facebook or Instagram." Right? And all of a sudden I can quickly make certain judgements that may not be fair by the way. But make certain judgments of the person simply by what they've posted or what they've said on Instagram or Facebook. Some people have multiple accounts to help for this. Right? But be very careful. That's one thing that I was very happy to learn in my undergrad. I had a teacher say, "You may want to take off certain pictures off your account. You may want to delete certain posts as you get into the career world because once you share it, it's there to see and it's very easy to access." Right? So keep that in mind as you continue to grow.

LLYR HELLER: Thank you. Yes, job people. Definitely Google others to see what you've been doing. And also thank you for bringing up Excel and YouTube, but I do want to give a shout out to one of our databases, Linda. So with your library card, you have access to a ton of databases, but Linda is great because it can teach you very specific things such as Excel or PowerPoint. So join me in thanking our awesome guests today. That flew by. Thank you all for joining us, the audience.



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