“The internship experience at the Nashville Symphony has been a dream come true.” says Margie Way-Kiani, one of our summer interns. “I’ve aways wanted a behind-the-scenes view of how the Nashville Symphony functions so successfully, and now I’ve had a small taste of that through the Education & Community Engagement Department.”
One of the Nashville Symphony’s many education programs, our internships provide opportunities for college students to gain experience working at not only a major American orchestra, but also the largest performing arts nonprofit in the state of Tennessee. Typically, an internship lasts a semester and is offered in the Fall, Spring, and Summer, following the usual academic calendar. This summer, the symphony is hosting an intern each in our Operations, Development, and Human Resources departments, and four interns in Education & Community Engagement.
Education department interns started the summer semester in the middle of May, and work varying schedules over the course of the summer depending on other commitments and school calendars. Although the orchestra is now off for eight weeks (July 4 was the final performance of the season), there is a lot of work to be done at the end of the season and through the summer, and our interns have been a tremendous help in accomplishing everything in front of us.
I spent some time with each of our interns over the last week to get their perspectives about the experience.
“As students, we had never been exposed to the multitude of roles that must be filled to ensure that a business is successful.” said Haley Zhu-Butler, a Linguistics major at Tulane University in New Orleans who will be a senior this fall. “A single department cannot function without the collaboration of many other individuals who come from diverse professional backgrounds. We learned how the symphony operates on a day to day basis with occasional glimpses of big-picture plans. We attended Education department meetings, general Operations meetings, and a Board Committee meeting.”
“The main thing I like about this is it’s in a really professional setting,” said Brianna Hugan, a junior at the University of Memphis studying Music Performance and Music Business, “You get to experience what the job would be like as well as the expectations you would have to fulfill. I like the people we work with. It’s nice to work with others who are also involved in music and appreciate music and this environment.”
Education interns assisted with the execution of a number of the symphony’s education programs in May including Curb Open Dress Rehearsals, Is It a Fiddle, Or a Violin?, and our annual Side By Side concert with Curb Youth Symphony. During the month of June, the Nashville Symphony performed community concerts at eight parks throughout Metropolitan Nashville and the surrounding communities. At seven of these concerts, as well as at other locations and events through June and July including day camp programs, Musicians Corner in Centennial Park, and a four day run at the CMA Fan Fair at Music City Center, our interns were the backbone of the team (also including staff and volunteers) that presented Instrument Petting Zoos to attending children and families.
“The instrument petting zoos are my favorite.” said Brianna. “You get to see when kids experience playing an instrument for the first time – they light up and are so happy and excited.”
Margie Way-Kiani finished her coursework towards her Bachelor of Music in Music Education from MTSU this spring, and will complete her degree at the conclusion of her student teaching assignments in December. “As a future educator,” she said, “it has been insightful for me to witness some of the numerous free student programs that the symphony offers such as Instrument Petting Zoos and Is It a Fiddle, Or a Violin?, so hopefully I will be more likely to take advantage of these programs for my own students one day and spread the word to others!”
In addition to all the events, all of the Education interns collaborate as a team to produce curriculum guides and lesson plans under the guidance of Education staff for K-12 teachers to use as a supplement with classes attending our Young People’s Concerts during the upcoming season.
“During our time with the Education department, we have learned project management skills as each of us has taken the lead on different aspects of the curriculum. This ensures that we are using our individual strengths to develop interesting and engaging lessons” said Haley. “For example, Camilla oversaw the creation of the curriculum for K-2 as the program focuses on woodwind instruments and she is an oboist.”
“From writing curriculum, I’ve learned how to combine being creative with following specific academic objectives” said Brianna. “For instance, we made a fun activity for students learning about a composer and a certain piece he wrote; and they had to activate their imaginations and draw amazing pictures while listening to the recording.”
“Working here at the symphony has made me very aware of what I seek professionally and where I still have room to grow.” said Camilla Hester, a junior studying International Business at Belmont University. “The employees here care and are happy about their careers. I really respect that passion and drive. Ultimately I want to achieve that attitude in my career path.”
“The staff at the Nashville Symphony has a special spirit that is evident as soon as you walk through the doors.” said Margie. “They are encouraging to one another and are driven individuals who really care about and take pride in their work. I feel so honored to have been a part of this professional environment and treated like a true member of their family.”
Haley concluded, “To me, the Symphony has been a symbol of excellence that never fails to live up to its commitment to artistry, tradition, and community. Being able to say that I’ve been a part of that, even for a short time, is something that I will always treasure.”