What I’ve Learned after Organizing a Symposium

Earlier this year I was voted to be a Student Committee Member for the Royal Music Associations (RMA). With this role, the Student Committee (made up of 6 dedicated students) engage with the RMA student community and aim to bring students and research together: The RMA Student Committee liaises between the wider student body and the RMA, acting as a voice for students in the RMA and taking an active role in shaping and promoting student-related activities of the RMA.

This year the RMA teamed up with Netherlands’ Koninklijke Vereniging voor Nederlandse Muziekgeschiedenis (KVNM) to organize a student symposium which took place on 3rd & 4th July 2021, via Zoom.

About the symposium

KVNM-RMA International Postgraduate Symposium in Music Research, 2021

The two oldest musicological organisations in the world, the UK’s Royal Musical Association (RMA) and the Netherlands’ Koninklijke Vereniging voor Nederlandse Muziekgeschiedenis (KVNM), brought together postgraduate researchers from the Netherlands, Belgium and the UK, with the aim of stimulating and developing national and international collaborations across the field. The two-day symposium featured paper presentations showcasing current research related to music in the broadest sense.

What was my role?

As someone who has a degree in media & communication, I took on the task of promotion and communication. This involved using social media to promote the event and encourage participation, as well as drafting/ monitoring the email communication between the RMA/ KVNM and the speakers.

Another task was to read each submission and help decide who would be offered a speaker position at the event.

Finally, I also chaired the 3rd session on 3rd July 2021. This role was to ensure each speaker used their allocated speaking time appropriately.

What have I learned from this experience?

The biggest lesson learned from organizing this event is how vital it is to work as a team. Each person who volunteered to bring this event to life had unique skills and abilities which made for delegating tasks easy and splitting the work-load effortless.

In order to stay as organized as possible, we held meetings, took meeting minutes, made agendas, set goals, and overall used a collaborative approach when making decisions. We had a mix of volunteers, some with previous symposium experience and some not, which allowed for a flow of direction and welcoming of out-of-the-box ideas.

Overall, there are a lot of little details that need to be sorted out in order to organize a symposium. From establishing an email, to a website landing page, to ticket orders, to drafting a booklet, there is plenty to be done. I thank all volunteers who joined me to make this happen and admire the hard work everyone put in to making this symposium such a success.

Below is a snippet from the KVNM-RMA International Postgraduate Symposium in Music Research 2021 booklet:

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