It’s January again.  Festivals are securing their line ups, musicians are organizing their tour and travel, people are planning Winter holidays, and here at KLKP headquarters ( my couch in Forget, Sk.) I am also building our amazing staff for 2018.

One of KLKP’s strengths as a music camp is the quality of our staff, and the new vibe which is created each week/ each year.  Since we have expanded to the Two separate weeks, we have ended week one, looked at each other and asked, “how can we ever top that?”  and then the following week happens, with new instructors and new participants, and inevitably do.

And each year brings new people to meet, new musicians to get to know, new types of tunes.  We think that the NEW is important.  But the familiar is also important.  People who we love to see year after year, to catch up with, to engage with their families, to enjoy the challenge they present.

So – it’s all about balance!   And balance is tricky at the best of times.  Here are some of my major stumbling blocks.

  1. I want to hire every awesome musician who I know.  I want to bring every amazing personality, and explore what they have to offer in a camp setting. I want to pay every one a lot of money so that they can continue to make amazing music for all of us to enjoy.
  2. There is only so much room at the camp.
  3. There is only so much money in the budget.
  4. There is only so much sense in this house, and most of it resides in Will’s brain.
  5. I have a budget I have to follow.  And the budget is based on keeping the camp affordable for participants, because I really want every person who has ever come to the camp, and every awesome person I meet who utters the phrase ” I wish I could play ____________” (fill in the blank yourself here! LOL)

    Michele trying to balance the pieces of budget, space, talent, learners, fun and schedules

    So, how do I do it ?  ( and I confess to tooting my own horn a bit here, because I’ve assembled some totally rock star casts!!)

I start with my budget. Always begin with the end in mind.   I figure out the money first.  KLKP has amounts allocated for the camp rental, for all the pieces of the camp, and for instructors.

We have a magic number based upon how much space we can create at the facility!  As Will continually reminds me – it’s great to HIRE 25 instructors, but where the heck are

we going to put them?  And how many people can the facility comfortably hold  – because if we HIRE 25 musicians, we then need to find enough students for 25 teachers – and then we’re jammered into every corner!!

Then I start building a  GIANT wish list – based upon all of our criteria:

a) each must be  a wonderful musician,

b) each must  be a great person, who is willing to help build the culture of inclusiveness and participation at KLKP.

c) I need to like them. This means that I seldom hire a musician that I have not personally met and used my “Spidey Sense” on!

d) KLKP  priorizes working musicians and music teachers

e) KLKP  priorizes Canadian musicians. We are free to make exceptions, when the musician fits many of our other categories – because ultimately we choose our best person for the job at hand. 

f) KLKP pays attention to the future and future forward planning, ensuring that we provide employment  opportunities for some up-and-coming-camp teachers/ musicians. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending upon your perspective) we have SO MANY of these amazing musicians who have interned with us – and we cannot possibly hire them all!

g) I need to include veteran teachers and musicians so peer collaborations and modelling can best occur. In a camp setting, experience is golden.

h) I need to balance out my genders – because it’s 2018!

i) I need to create variety from year to year so that the camp does not become stagnant ( Sometimes this involves the hardest decisions!)

One of the largest budget items on our list is transportation.  Of course KLKP pays to fly in/ transport our instructors to the camp – and that involves some complicated numbers.  If they are flying from the EAST, for instance, those flights are way more expensive than flying from the WEST.

If I am flying people in for ONE week, or TWO weeks, that is a significant difference on my budget line!

So I start with groups. If I’m trying to hire a band ( ie the Fretless or the East Pointers, or The Goodbye Girls, or Beolach)  then I need to have their commitment first and I continue to build the staff around that.

For instance, perhaps I try to hire a whole band, and the musicians in that band play fiddle, guitar, piano and mandolin, then I need to insert each into that spot on my staff list – and then continue to build.

What are the delays?  FESTIVALS.  Sigh! Because we hire such amazing people, they or their agents are also booking summer Festivals.  At Festivals, bands and musicians become much more visible to the listening audiences, which increases CD sales, which increases popularity – and leads to things like JUNO awards! And we want that for our friends – so we wait!!

And like the bottom stone on the balanced rock pile above, until ONE piece of the puzzle is secured, we cannot move on to the next piece.  So it’s a lot of waiting, and offering, and waiting, and offering!

The really awesome part of this, though, is imagining how awesome the pieces are going to fit together once it all is booked.  Then I get very excited about possible collaborations, how each person’s talent is going to affect our programming – what that allows us to add/ schedule/ change to best enhance the talents on the table this year.

We don’t get to hire everyone we want to – and as each piece of the puzzle is secured, that means that there are a few others that we have to pass on for this year – and hope to include them again.

So it’s not that we don’t LOVE each person. It’s just a complicated bit of building.

Here’s what I know for sure right now:

  1. JJ and Gordon have commitments on the West Coast this year, so they will not be able to join our staff in 2018.  Here’s hoping for 2019!
  2. Daniel Koulack is taking his long-anticipated drumming trip  with his son to the African continent this August. But we’ll see him back in 2019!
  3. The Goodbye Girls are not able to come as a group this year.  And I was super-hoping  that this powerhouse girl-band would be available!  But just for fun, check out this amazing group on Youtube
  4. and we’re waiting on two other offers ( all about the Festivals) before we’ll be able to move on.
  5. As soon as I have completed signed contracts for this year’s KLKP, I’ll be emblazoning it everywhere – so you’ll all be the first to know.
  6. We are sooooo lucky in Canada to have a plethora of amazing musicians and people from whom to choose.  I also get recommendations from participants about amazing musicians they think would be a great fit.

We sure live in an amazing place – especially when a good chunk of our regular staff comes directly from a 2 block radius of my house! But they have not yet signed contracts, so I can’t publicize them!

Welcome to the insider’s view about hiring for KLKP!

I’m sure that there is another whole blog post about balancing:  personalities, gender, ethnicity, music styles, teaching styles, instrument flexibility, ability to make the best pizza – you know – the important things!

And yes – I know – this is probably more than anyone every wanted to know about what goes on in my head.

You are welcome.