A number of readers weighed in with their opinions last Friday…
…and as promised I will take a moment to explain my reasoning behind why I thought the piece way funny. In particular, I want to focus on why I think orchestra managers should have a defined opinion behind why they found “The Onion’s” piece funny or not.
Beyond the surface value gags used in the bit there’s a number of inside points an individual simply wouldn’t get if they weren’t familiar with some of the stereotypes associated with orchestra musicians.
Danette’s comment which refers to the stereotype that viola players are “slow” and MC’s observation that brass players “would spend more time complaining and criticizing than brown-nosing”.
The fact that a manager would know these things is a good indication that they take a genuine interest in the musicians and, as such, want get to know them well enough to appreciate the humor used in the radio sketch.
On a larger issue, Martin and MC noticed that the radio sketch portrayed the orchestra as segmented by their instruments (brass vs. violas). That too is representative of very real problems within some ensembles where players congregate into “factions” against each other. All though they don’t always flock together in like instrument groups, there are numerous historical examples of such behavior.
In particular, MC focused on issues of musicians holding negative feelings against each other during times of financial stress. Given the long memories maintained by most players, that single incident can evolve into a career long series of disrespect toward certain colleagues.
In the end, it’s good for managers to know why they did or didn’t find the sketch amusing (beyond the surface elements). Managers that simply “don’t care” are just as likely to not demonstrate any concern toward the overall well being of the entire organization. And an employee that doesn’t care about the organization is an employee waiting to be replaced.