Taking Another Look At Individual Musician Instrument Costs

Adaptistration People 120Recently, my wife, Holly Mulcahy, wrote an article for violinist.com that chronicles her recent work preparing for the concertmaster solo in Mahler’s 4th Symphony. What makes the solo unusual is it requires the concertmaster to prepare an additional violin tuned higher than the instrument’s regular tuning and use that in addition to his/her regular instrument.

The article contains plenty of artistic insight goodies but one item that flies under the radar is the added costs involved with preparing the second instrument. Setting aside the costs of purchasing or renting an additional instrument and case, the higher tuning requirement ends up placing additional stress on the strings, making them more likely to break. Increased breakage means higher equipment costs.

Budget for strings. The whole step raise in pitch for the additional violin puts an enormous amount of pressure on that violin…Also, allow for several E strings to break as tuning an E to an F# is flirting with disaster if there is no backup string. Total cost of two sets plus 3 extra E’s for me comes to about $210.

All of this brought to mind an article I wrote From The Stad magazine back in 2011 about the cost of owning a string instrument (violins, violas, cellos, and basses); meaning everything from purchasing strings and having the hair in their bow replaced along with regular maintenance adjustments and repair work to the instrument and bow. Although single issues are available for purchase, they are currently sold out of that one which makes me think there’s value in writing an updated version to publish here at Adaptistration.

The cost of ownership topic really is one of the more fascinating subjects to examine so I plan on taking the rest of the week to write the updated version. Depending on how much time is available, I may even create a dedicated microsite!

Stay tuned…

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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