Life and Work in Symphony Orchestras
- Pages: 3
- Word count: 552
- Category: Career Goals
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Imagine going on stage in front of thousands of people to play a sold out show. This sounds like something that Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, Post Malone, or other famous musicians do regularly, but most people do not know that this is also regular for some of the top orchestral musicians in the world. Orchestral musicians are one the last groups of people who bring classical music to the masses. Even though this may seem like an easy career, these musicians have to go through rigorous training to be competitive in this world. Being an orchestral musician is one of the hardest careers of this century. Future orchestral musicians usually have to go through many years of education before they even have a chance of winning a job with an orchestra.
Rob Knopper, percussionist with the Metropolitan Opera, explains why having a college education is important. “without school, you’d have to put all of those things together: lessons, practice, orchestra experience, music history, music theory, ear training, etc”(Knopper) Knopper is describing some of the many reasons why it is important for a musician to go to college. Without college it would be very difficult to put all of those things together and still be motivated to keep practicing. A college education is also needed to just get to the audition, most orchestras won’t let an applicant audition if they do not have at least a bachelor degree or an amazing resume. Musicians in general have to dedicate hundreds of hours to be proficient on their instrument and thousands of hours to be at the professional level. You need to start years before you even go to college to get that competitive edge.
People might see the life of an orchestral musician who as a cushy job where you only work six hours a week, but rehearsals, outside practice, teaching lessons, playing fundraisers/outreach concerts, and performances can add up to a forty hour work week. In an interview with Alex Wilborn, principal trumpet of the Charlotte Symphony, he talks about the average day of an orchestral musician. An orchestral musician can expect a few rehearsals Tuesday through Thursday, and performances Friday through Sunday and sometimes Monday(Wilborn). Then on days without performances, musicians will practice two to three hours at home. This can add up to thirty five to fifty hours a week before you add lessons most of the musicians teach. An average Friday usually includes a morning rehearsal, that lasts about two and a half hours, then they will play a concert that night. With less and less young people going to see classical music concerts, the orchestra can be seen as a dying business/career. Smaller orchestras around the United States and the UK are experiencing a string of pay cuts and bankruptcies.
The smaller orchestras usually starts musicians at about $30,000 with not a lot of growth. With such low pay n the entry orchestras, this is causing many talented musicians to not go in to the music industry, since many of them have to pay off student loans and a buy expensive instruments, and with more orchestras defuncting, there’s less spots to be filled. To keep making money, orchestras have started to bring in big name guest soloists and a do special concerts, which include playing a movie score to a movie on screen.