Aw, Shucks…

I’m a data geek. I collect far too much of it. To me, an hour romping in survey results is like heaven.

At the end of each season, our artists are encouraged to respond to a survey so that they can really tell us what they think about the summer that just ended. It’s anonymous, so they can whine and complain with impunity. And we do learn things. Some of their survey answers are predictable, outlining a problem that we knew existed, or an aspect of our program that we are refining but haven’t quite nailed yet. Others come out of the blue – insight into important issues that no one ever told me about, even in their one-on-one exit interviews.

Today’s trip through the 2011 data netted a predictable range of information, most of which we will take into account while refining the 2012 program. The part of the data that I often ignore comes at the end of the survey, when folks have the opportunity to submit comments on their general WTOC experience. Why do I ignore it? Well, it’s kind of embarrassing to read it.

I don’t do well with compliments, although as an occasional performing musician I have learned the (rare but important) skill of graciously accepting them. And I can usually sniff out insincere gushing. But these untraceable positive comments on the survey? I guess there’s no way to account for them except to accept that many of them may be true. Sincere. Without ulterior motive.

I give you some of these remarks here; not to pat myself on the back, but because so many of this blog’s readers are, well, for lack of a better word, WTOC’s stakeholders. (It’s a useful term but always feels pretty clinical. And always makes me thinking of someone holding a sharp stick and threatening me with it :)) ¬†You are the ones who keep us going, in so many ways, and I thought you might appreciate a nice bloggy dose of positive feedback. So here goes.

  • Wolf Trap shows the highest level of care for their artists, and creates a wonderful atmosphere for creating music.
  • I felt very free to explore new artistic territory this summer.
  • I felt very challenged artistically and yet very appreciated at the same time.
  • I learned most about letting more of my artistic instinct take charge of my rehearsal and performances.
  • I appreciate working in an educational environment, but where I feel like there is freedom.
  • Risks were taken and that’s one reason why Wolf Trap is so successful!
  • It is a professional experience of the highest caliber in the most wonderful and supportive environment possible.
  • Wolf Trap is by far the top summer program for young professional singers.
  • There was so much positive reinforcement and artistic freedom.
  • Many opportunities to get on stage working with great people doing different types of performances = the best possible education!
  • Wolf Trap Opera is the crown jewel for young artists in the U.S.

Phew. I’m kinda blushing.

But if you support us by coming to our shows, offering your resources or following us from afar; or if you are a family member, friend or mentor of a young opera singer; or if you’re just feeling cranky and despondent about all of the bad news out there in the arts these days, take heart.

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