Orchestrating a New Career

“My art is still my focal point—I may not be playing or teaching as much now, but I am working towards the greater goal of fostering arts in our community, thanks to the Arts Administration online graduate certificate program.” – Daniel Brandl, Arts Administration graduate


d_brandlDaniel Brandl, graduate of the Arts Administration certificate, is making
a big impact on the performing arts community in Eastern Connecticut as
the Executive Coordinator of the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra.


After many years as a successful musician, playing the jazz circuit in clubs around the country and serving as music director for several different organizations, Daniel is now having an even greater impact on the arts community because of the new job he landed. He credits having earned his Arts Administration Online Graduate Certificate from UConn for his current career success. 

Daniel has always loved music—no small wonder considering he grew up in a musical family. His dad is an organist; his mom, a singer; and his sister, who graduated from UConn, teaches music.

You could say music is in his blood and he’s done it all—he’s played piano as part of a jazz trio in various clubs across the country and served as Resident Music Director for the Spirit of Broadway Theater (SBT) in Norwich, CT. He’s also given his time as music director at his local church, served on many arts committees, and helped dozens of friends in the business find gigs.

“I realized I wanted to do something that was bigger than myself—something that would enhance the local performing arts community. I wasn’t sure what that something was until I served on the board of directors during the time when the SBT was transitioning into the Chestnut Street Playhouse,” says Dan.

Yes, you can do it all online!

As Dan tells it, the company was floundering after its executive director had left. “I got very interested in understanding why the theater fell into financial and artistic turmoil. At the same time, I was becoming interested in working on the business side of performing arts. So I Goggled nonprofits, 501C3, and arts administration. The UConn online graduate certificate program website came up immediately. That’s when I said to myself, “You can go back to school for this? And you can do it online? I thought that would be so cool!”

When he began the program, Daniel—who is married with two young children—taught music at the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts, while performing in various community theaters at night. Because the program was offered online, he was able to work on assignments when it was convenient for him. “There were deadlines, but I never felt pressured because I could learn and work at my own pace. I set aside time on the weekends, later in the evenings—even during the day when I knew I had some extra time here and there. I really learned to multi-task.”

Understanding how to be fiscally responsible.

It’s a good thing, too. In his current job as Executive Coordinator of the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra, Daniel handles everything from cultivating new donors to managing social media to deciphering financial statements—all skills he took away from the certificate program. “I now know how to develop relationships with potential donors and how to write direct mail letters and press releases that get results. I can look at a budget or audit report and know what it means, which is critical to running a fiscally responsible organization.”

Dan also learned a lot about dealing with conflict. “When I joined the organization, both the executive director and I were new. There were some volunteers who weren’t sure they wanted to stay on. The Governance and Leadership for the Arts course helped me learn how to nurture our volunteers so that they feel vested in the organization.”

So what was the online aspect of the program like? As Dan recalls, the online interface was extremely easy to use. And he never felt lost because, at any time, he could reach out to the professors and they always answered his questions quickly. And he adds: “The people who teach the courses are all UConn professors.”

The bottom line?

Daniel says that taking the certificate program led to his being able to get interviews with several outstanding nonprofits. “I went into interviews with real skills and even a portfolio of sample letters, press releases, capital campaign fliers, and other materials that I could give to a prospective employer and show them that I had the skills they would need on day one. My art is still my focal point—I may not be playing or teaching as much now, but I am working towards the greater goal of fostering arts in our community, thanks to the Arts Administration online graduate certificate program.

“There are a lot of for-profit online programs out there,” he adds. “I could have chosen another program. But I chose UConn because I knew I would get credentials from a highly reputable institution with a great name. And if I want to continue with my education, I can use the credits I’ve already earned toward a master’s degree.”