Some Beginning Of The Week Absurdity

It seems that every other year or so we come across an instance where an ensemble is considering paying musicians based on how many notes play. For some time, that was just about the craziest thing one could run across in this business, at least, until now…

According to an AP article published at on 9/7/2007,

A European Union directive on noise abatement contains a provision that will limit the "noise" of symphony orchestras beginning early next year.

Although the new directive has been in place for five years, EU’s entertainment industry has been exempt from the provisions during that time. However, beginning 2/15/2008, those provisions kick in for orchestras.

The article continues by reporting about how some ensembles are attempting to cope with the impending guidelines, which state that the "maximum noise limit set at the work place [should not exceed] 85 decibels on an average work day." Although issues of hearing damage are a very real concerns for orchestra musicians, and therefore their managers, placing restrictions on noise limits won’t do very much to help the problem.

Nevertheless, some of the early solutions being explored by some organizations to reduce the impact of hearing damage cover the gambit of potential solution, such as hiring two full sets of orchestra musicians to use: one for the first half of a concert and one for the second half.

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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1 thought on “Some Beginning Of The Week Absurdity”

  1. In a lot of the DVD-Videos I’ve been watching, there is a clear plastic shield behind the heads of the players (usually the brass) in the row of seats in front of the percussion.

    Since that doesn’t seem to meet the guidelines, the obvious thing is to place each player in his/her own isolation booth with the horn of the instrument sticking out thru a hole in the front door (so the player is not subject to damage from his/her own instrument).

    So, you see, there is a solution to every challenge.

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