Double Reed Musicians: Armed and Dangerous

In response to the Friday’s post about an orchestra memo banning firearms in the workplace I received this note from oboist and blogger Patty Mitchell,

NO firearms to rehearsals or runouts? Geesh. They sure take the fun out of everything! (But they can’t take away our reed knives.)

Patty is always successful at making me smile. 

And for those of you who have been writing in asking if that memo really was an April fool’s joke or not, I can assure that it wasn’t. 

For some more double reed humor, here are some excerpts from Garrison Keillor’s The Young Lutheran’s Guide to the Orchestra:

The oboe is the sensualist of the woodwind section, and if there is one wind Lutherans should avoid, it’s probably this one. In movie soundtracks, you tend to hear the oboe when the woman is taking her clothes off. Also a little later when she asks the man for a cigarette. You start playing the oboe, you’re going to have babies, take my word for it.

The English horn sounds Christian, maybe because we think of it as the Anglican horn, but it’s so mournful, so plaintive. And so are English horn players. They all have deep complicated problems. They’re all down in the dumps, especially at night, which is when most concerts are. Maybe because they want what oboists have, I don’t know.

Should a Lutheran play the bassoon? Not if you want to be taken seriously, I don’t think so. The name kind of says it all: bassoon. It’s an instrument that isn’t playing with a full deck of marbles. Maybe it’s something you’d do for a hobby (“Hey honey, let’s go bassooning this weekend!”), but not as your life’s work. Some bassoonists filling out applications for home loans just say “orthodontist.”

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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