Last week’s mega-article examining how much orchestra string musicians spend to equip, maintain, and repair their instruments over the course of their career generated a tremendous amount of reader feedback/questions across social media and email. Throughout those discussions, a few items popped up more than others and I wanted to take today’s post to cover those.
Do the figures include purchasing the instrument and bow?
No. In addition to the exclusions mentioned in the article via the “What The Numbers Don’t Include” section, the figures do not include actual instrument and bow purchases.
Why doesn’t the employer pay for these costs?
Good question. Currently, the are no US employers who cover these expenses in full. Having said that, some do provide minor stipends for all musicians via the collective bargaining agreement while others absolutely refuse to provide any compensation or reimbursement.
Simply put, there’s no universally accepted best practice and thanks to this being a very sensitive and contentious issue for some stakeholders, the topic is rarely examined in an open forum.
If you’re curious to know if your local ensemble covers any of these costs for musician employees, I encourage you to ask them.
Can I get a copy of the information in text-only format?
While I appreciate this request, the reply is no. There are two reasons why the information is presented in an interactive infographic format as opposed to a text-heavy table based format.
First, it’s fun and looks cool. Those two elements help make otherwise stuffy numbers more interesting. Having said that, I fully understand that it precludes anyone from easily printing it out or taking the info via simple copy/paste. But that leads directly into the second point which is while I’m happy to provide this information freely, that doesn’t mean I give away all my high-value research free of charge.
When are you going to publish figures for other instruments?
It would be lovely if there was enough time to perform an equal amount of research to compile figures for woodwind, brass, and percussion musicians but without funding, I wouldn’t expect anything soon. If anyone is interested in funding the research and analysis, please get in touch.
If you have any additional questions, feel free to post them as a comment or get in touch directly.