The Mississippi Community
Symphonic Band










Planning Document #2

This document is the product of a brainstorming session prior to the second meeting of the Band Organizers. You should read this document second (after Planning Document #1), to see what's already been thought of.

The information in this document is not binding, nor is it set in concrete -- it is put here merely to serve as a foundation for discussion and future concept development.

If after reading this document and the other planning documents, you have suggestions to make, please get in touch with the Band Organizers.

To download a Microsoft Word version of this document (71k), click here.


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Planning Document #2, February 2, 2004


There is no particular order to these points – they’re simply jotted down as they occur. Feel free to take notes right on your copy here, and be sure to send a copy of any suggestions to David P. Miller at so I can include them in the next planning document.



The organizational meeting:
Getting the word out:
What “word” do we get out?
The name of the group:
Getting sponsors – startup money:
Board of directors:
Band member’s handbook:
The website:
Section leaders:
The music committee:
Copyright permissions:
Concert admission:
Social events:
Planning committee: 
Finalization and organization of details.


First, we need to set a big organizational meeting. It should probably be before the first rehearsal (March 22) if we can swing it. How does February 16 or 23 (both Mondays) sound? 

The objective of the organizational meeting would be to gather names of people who would love to see community music come (back) to central Mississippi. They don't even have to play an instrument. All that's needed is that they want the music and are willing to help make it happen.

We should try to get as many people to the meeting as we can. It would be wonderful if we could get a couple hundred people to the meeting, and get enough volunteer workers to make sure we have enough people to make things happen the way they should.

For this organizational meeting, we need two maing things: a place to have it and people to attend. To get people to attend, we need to get the word out.


Some ways we might consider getting the word out would be

Ø     Go to ALL the churches we can find. Ask them to make announcements each week between now and the meeting, and to print it in their bulletin and post a notice on their bulletin boards.

Ø     Go to all the high school and junior high bands, get the word to PARENTS as well as band directors. Lots of kids are in bands because their parents were in band, and had a great time. They might want to play again.

Ø     Get the word to all the newspapers, flyers, bulletins, and newsletters we can learn about

Ø     Get the word to radio stations. See how many Public Service Announcements we can get them to broadcast. See if we can find a “Champion” at some of the radio stations. I suggest William Fulton at PBM, he’s a former tuba player. Hey, he might even want to join!

Ø     Get the word to all the local television stations. They also broadcast public service announcements, and perhaps they would cover this as news. See if we can find a “Champion” at a TV station as well. This could become a cause celebre.

Ø     How many spots on how many channels can we get with RoadRunner? Would they possibly even become a sponsor of the band?

Ø     Get the word to all musicians we know about. Encourage musician-to-musician word of mouth.

It seems to me that the more we can do of this in person, the more effective it will be. For example, we could just send a letter or email to a church or radio or TV station. But a phone call would be better, and a personal visit even more effective. 


We need to figure out exactly what “word” it is we get out when we do get the word out. We probably need to come up with a press release and a flyer.

It should be brief, meaty, and hard-hitting.

It should have on it WHAT we’re doing, WHY we’re doing it, WHO we want to come to the meeting, the Date, Time, and Location, and a phone number to call for more information.

The phone number will also be for people who want to get involved, but for some reason can’t make it to the organizational meeting.

Here is a start with some suggested wording for the press release/flyer. As with everything at this stage, it’s wide open to discussion and improvement.



Are you one of the thousands of people in Mississippi who love good band music and would like to see it return? Well, it’s coming back, and YOU can be part of it!

Whether you play an instrument or just want to help out, we have a place for you! We are looking for instrumentalists and staff workers. Whether you’re a virtuoso on the piccolo or would simply be willing to make phone calls, we need you!

Come to our first organizational meeting on Monday night, February 23, at 7PM, at the Xxxxxxxxxxxxx Xxxxxxx Center in Ridgeland.

For more information, call 601-605-2786, or email You can also visit our website at

This is your chance to be in on the ground floor of the Symphonic Band that will be the Pride of Mississippi.

Mark down February 26 on your calendar and be a part of history!


(Additional Details)

The Mid-Mississippi Community Symphonic Band will give several concerts a year. We will feature local musicians and fun music.

Membership in the performing group is open to anyone who plays an instrument and is willing to put in the time and practice necessary to play the music. High school students call or see our website for special instructions.


We also need people who want to participate outside the performing group. We need people to work in the music library, to handle the instruments and equipment, to be in charge of uniforms, and to make phone calls. We need people to coordinate concerts and rehearsals. We also need an executive director, to handle the non-profit organization business, we need an accountant, and we need a legal advisor. There are dozens of ways to become involved, even if you’ve never touched an instrument in your life!


The mission of this band is twofold – first to provide a place for local musicians to play fun and challenging music, and second, to provide great music concerts to the communities we serve.


With your help, we’ll do just that!


So come to our organizational meeting. Bring your enthusiasm and your best ideas! Together we’ll make history for Mississippi!




(Thoughts, discussion, & Suggestions) How about Mid-Mississippi Community Band instead of Mid-South ? Mid-South sounds too general to me. It seems to cover a larger territory than Ms.Just my thoughts on this.

Perhaps we should get a "working name" then hold a contest among all the supporters (maybe those who come to the organizational meeting?) to come up with the official name for the group. That way, people would feel more involved.

I had more thoughts myself. Just "Mississippi Community Band," "Mississippi Pops Band," "Magnolia Community Band," "Magnolia Pops," and "Mississippi Symphonic Band," to name a few.

I kind of like the "Symphonic Band" part because it seems to exude more of an air of professionalism, and less of the 'adult beginner' aura that "community band" seems to have. Maybe if we grow to two groups, we can have the Symphonic group and the Community group.

It would probably be best to let’s decide soon HOW we’re going to decide the name.


One thing I think we need to pay attention to early on is getting some sponsors. Both individual supporters and corporate supporters. Namely because it's going to take some money to make this happen the way it should, even in the early phases.

One of the things I’ve learned through my association with the Mississippi Center for NonProfits is that one of the first questions potential sponsors ask when they are approached for support is “Do ALL the Board Members contribute?” This pretty much means that anyone who wants to be a member of the Board should be willing to kick in some seed money.

Getting startup money is going to be a bit difficult, since we don’t yet have official 501(c)(3) status, and most donors require that before they’ll give any appreciable amount. There are two ways around this. First, we could get ourselves associated with an existing 501(c)(3) organization, such as a church, and have the money donated to them to be passed to us. This shouldn’t be a problem. The other way around it is that once we apply for 501(c)(3) status, any donations given are deductible, once the status is approved, retroactive back to the day we applied. I should think the first way would be easier.

Is there any chance we could “take over” the old community band’s 501(c)(3) status? (No.)

Regardless of how we do it, we do need to get some startup money. In the beginning, it’s going to have to come from people who are so determined to get the band going that they’re willing to give some money even if it might not be deductible.

I have every confidence that all monies donated WILL be deductible, but until we get some kind of status or affiliation, we can’t tell people that it is.

We need to get someone SOON to handle this part.

On another note, I went to the "Mozart By Candlelight" concert Saturday night (Jan 31), and I have the program. In that program are the names of HUNDREDS of people and corporations who support the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra. It’s obvious these are people who like music, and want to see it come to the community. We need to get someone to head up a team to call on each of these people (eventually, not all in one week) to see if they will support the community band as well. This should be part of the Operations Division or the Executive Director Division.

Maybe at the organizational meeting we'll find enough volunteers to handle that.


The Interim BOD. Before the organizational meeting, I think we need to see about assembling an Interim Board of Directors. I recommend we start with us three, and add volunteers until we reach about seven or nine people. It needs to be an odd number. Our criteria for membership on this board should be this: That members of the BOD are dedicated enough to getting the band started that they’re willing to put in time (at least two evenings a week), effort (willing to actually do something besides attend meetings), and money (whatever they can afford) to help get the band started. We don’t want drones. We don’t want people on the board just for the status of it. We want people who will get things done.

The IBOD will need to get all the initial activities rolling. This includes

Ø     Getting a (volunteer) executive director who will get the ball rolling on getting us granted non-profit status. The ED will be the principal liaison between the BOD and the non-profit business of the band.

Ø     Writing and approving a constitution and bylaws

Ø     Doing initial fund-raising.

o       We will need approximately $1000 just to pay for all the things we need to get non-profit status.

o       We will also need about $500 for initial music purchase so we can have our first concert.

o       We can probably borrow the instruments and equipment we need until we can purchase our own.

Ø     Complying with all Mississippi State requirements for NP organizations. This includes registering as a NonProfit corporation, filing with the Secretary of State so we can solicit contributions, and any other actions that might be needed.

Ø     Recruiting and qualifying Permanent Board of Directors members.

I know from experience getting non-profit status takes most of a year. So we can't wait for NP status before we do anything else. We’ve got to just keep rolling, anticipating that NP status will come.

The IBOD will serve in interim status for not more than one year. During the year, they will work on the taskings above. By the end of the one year interim period, they will either convert to permanent status or turn over their Board membership to the permanent members.

The Permanent BOD. The makeup, quantity, duties, and terms of service for members of the PBOD will be set out in the Bylaws.

I suggest there be between 15 and 25 PBOD members, and that they serve three year terms, staggered so that approximately 1/3 of the members are new each year.

We need to discuss what the PBOD duties will be.


It might be a good idea to begin thinking of generating a Band Member’s Handbook, something we’ll give to each member of the band. We should also make it available on the website.

The Band Member’s Handbook should contain such things as

Ø     The Band’s Vision, Mission, Philosophy, and Goals

Ø     The Code of Conduct (see below) for Members

Ø     Rehearsal schedule – tells what time to show up, what time the rehearsal starts, where it will be (if known), and any sectional rehearsals.

Ø     Dress expectations – what members will be expected to wear at concerts.

Ø     Contact Information – Who the current staff members are and how to get in touch with them

Ø     Staff Structure – how the different divisions of the band are laid out, what the responsibilities are, and how to get in touch with them

Ø     Music Committee Guidelines – what guidelines the Music Committee follows in selecting the music for rehearsals and the program for concerts

Ø     Suggestions – how to submit suggestions for the band, the music, the operations, fund-raising, or non-profit activities.

Ø     Membership Requirements – what’s required of performing members

Ø     Composer Guidelines – What to do if you want to write music for the Band

Ø     Feature Performer(s) Guidelines – What to do if you know of a soloist or an ensemble the Band might feature in a concert

Ø     Awards – What awards are available to people in various capacities

Ø     Events Calendar – should contain as much as we know about rehearsals, concerts, social events, and other activities.

The Band Member’s Handbook needs to be a dynamic, easily updated, and easily distributed. This pretty much means digital format. However, we need to consider that there will be members who don’t have computers, so we need to have it available in a paper-based version as well.

We might also consider having as our primary or only criteria for being a performing member are that the member has (a) received, read and understood a copy of the Band Member’s Handbook, and (b) they agree to abide by the Code Of Conduct contained in it. We should probably get their signature on a document that says all this before they are allowed to participate in a concert. Getting this document should be the responsibility of the Section Leader.


One of the highest priority items that will make this band a success is how well we communicate among all concerned, including, members, staff, and volunteers

We should have a notification tree for each division of the Band – the Music Division, the Executive Division, and the Operations Division.

Each person affiliated with the Band should have a preferred and alternate means of contact.  I suggest that for any communications with an action date of 1 day or more in the future, we have a default preference of email, because it is least expensive and easiest to administer. For any communications with an action date within 24 hours, we use the telephone. I would suggest that U.S. mail and printed communications be the lowest priority, because they are slowest to deliver and cost the most.

We can also use the website as a means of broadcast communication, but should not rely on it to communicate critical information to members. In other words, if someone shows up to a concert wearing clown shoes, we can’t point to the website and say “Well it says on the website you were supposed to wear swim fins!” Critical information should be individually communicated.


As soon as we get an official name, I’ll get us a website up and running. It will be an information-only website, and I will be able to give all the staff members their own email address at the website.

For example, if we become the “Mid-Mississippi Community Symphonic Band,” we might get as our website, and your email could be or I can also have those email addresses forwarded to your main email address so you don’t have to check it all the time.

Until we get a permanent website, we can use as our website. I’ve already put some information up there, and as we get more information, I’ll post it there as well.


In this band, perhaps more than any other, it is important to have strong section leaders.

Section Leaders should get to know everyone in their section very well. A section leader does not have to be the best player in the section, but rather should be the person in the section who (a) can play (or is willing to learn) all the music, (b) is willing to do the work necessary to make sure everyone in the section can and will play the music, and (c) is willing to do the work necessary to stay in touch with all members of the section.

This means occasional sectional rehearsals, it means making an unpopular decision or demand once in a while, and it means doing a bit more work than everyone else, for the good of the band.

It means making special efforts to be at every rehearsal and concert, and staying in constant touch with all the members of the section to be aware of when they’ll be there and when they won’t.

I believe that having strong section leaders is one of the key issues that will make this band a roaring success.


The music committee will consist of the Music Director and at least two other people. I don’t know if we ought to put an upper limit on the number of people on the committee, but we need to remember if we put too many people on it, nothing will ever get done.

The job of the music committee will be to (a) select the music to be played at each concert, and (b) to determine which music to purchase or borrow.

We need to write into the bylaws or the Band Member’s Handbook the guidelines for the Music Committee to follow. Some suggestions for Music Committee guidelines are:

Ø     The music should be fun to play and fun to listen to

Ø     The Music Committee should always listen to suggestions, whether the suggestions come from members, helpers, or the audience. A very important issue here is that whenever anyone makes a suggestion, the suggester should ALWAYS receive a reply from someone on the committee. The reply could be along the lines of “Thanks so much for suggesting this! We’ll play that in our October concert,” or “We’d love to play it, but we can’t afford to buy it yet,” or “We’d love to play it, but there’s no arrangement available, so we’re getting in touch with the copyright owner to see if it’s okay for us to write our own arrangement,” or even possibly “That was a great suggestion, but unfortunately we feel that tune would cause too many bad feelings in some of our audience, so we must regretfully decline your generous suggestion,” or even “What a great suggestion. Thanks. We have our concert schedules pretty much set until mid 2005, but if you’ll re-suggest this in early 2005, just to show us you still want it, we’ll try to get it on the program.” This will ensure that people don’t feel ignored.

Ø     The program should follow a sequence that will keep the audience interested and entertained.

Ø     The selected music should give consideration to the desires and sensitivities of ALL our audience.  For example, some people might want to hear “Dixie,” but it might offend others, so it should not be in our repertoire.

Ø     While it would be good to put an occasional “serious” piece of music on the program, we must exercise great care to make sure it’s not too long or too boring. I’ve heard it said that when writing copy there’s no such thing as copy that’s too long – there’s only copy that’s too boring. I believe that’s true of music as well. We need to be absolutely sure that everything we play is fun to listen to.


We need a committee (part of the Operations Division) to make sure we are absolutely clear on copyrights. There should not be even a hint of impropriety or infringement.

We need permission from copyright holders

Ø     to play the music at a concert for which we charge admission

Ø     to arrange music when applicable

Ø     to record the music and sell CDs when applicable


We should probably establish a precedent of charging an admission fee for each concert. Since this is a community group, it should be nominal, something everyone can afford. There might even be group rates for schools, churches, or other groups. But there should be a charge, if only to cover the rental of the facility, music purchase, and equipment moving and purchase.


If possible – both physically and legally – we ought to record all our concerts.

We could create CDs of our concerts and sell them to anyone who wants them, for funds to help finance the band.  Just a thought.


It would be an absolutely GREAT idea to have periodic social events for the entire group. We could have a summer picnic and a Christmas Banquet.

We might consider several types of events:

Ø     Instrumentalists Only

Ø     Sectional Events (brass, WW, percussion)

Ø     All associates – players, staff, volunteers

Ø     All supporters – invite all contributors and associates.

It would also be a good idea for each section leader to have a social get-together for the section once or twice a year.


We should probably set up a series of awards for various categories, such as

Ø     Most improved player

Ø     Most dedicated member

Ø     Most contributory staff member

Ø     Most contributory volunteer

Ø     Best Suggestion of the Year

It would be good to have a couple dozen awards. There can’t be too much recognition of people who help out. They could be designated and administered by the Awards Committee.

The AWARDS committees should be under the direction and supervision of the Operations Division.


There should always be an active and continuing Suggestions Program. We want the band to be the best it can possibly be. There will be a wealth of intelligence and ideas among the members, staff, volunteers, and supporters.

The Suggestions Program will be a way for people to get their ideas to the people that can do something with them.

Just as with the music committee, one of the primary guidelines for the Suggestions Program will be to give timely and appropriate feedback to suggesters.


The Planning Committee will consist of at least the three Directors, the President (if different) and a representative of the Board of Directors. There may be additional members as needed.

It will be the job of the planning committee to determine the future shape and direction of the Band, to suggest to the Board any changes in Vision, Mission, Philosophy, or Goals, and to lay out the Near Term Plans, the Mid-Range Plans, and the Long Range Plans.

The Planning Committee will meet at least quarterly, for as long as it takes, and will issue new planning documents after each meeting.

The committee will accept suggestions from any source.


There’s a lot of information here, and we don’t want it to get lost. This means we have to organize it.

It might be best to organize it into the Band Operations and Policy Manual. This book would be the official policy book for the entire organization. It would contain the Constitution, the Bylaws, the Band Member’s Handbook, and all other guidance, details, resolutions, and procedures under discussion and approved by the Board of Directors.

Essentially, it would be the current official position of the group.

Because it would be expected to change rapidly, it should be a digital document, and it should be available to anyone at any time.


We’ll need a lot of printing done. It would be a good idea to see if we can get a corporate sponsor who is a printer. I know a great trumpet player who owns a print shop in Long Beach but that’s a bit far away. However, if we can’t find a local person (we ought to be able to!), I’ll ask him. He loves music, and might give us a great price on printing. But for sure, let’s try local first.

Respectfully submitted,
David P. Miller
February 2, 2004


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