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Topic: Orchestral Musician Job Satisfaction ???

  1. #1

    Orchestral Musician Job Satisfaction ???

    I ran across an interesting article in IEEE Engineering Management Review: "The Conductor-Less Orchestra" by Harvey Seifter (http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/iel5/46/4...d=c1&arAuthor=, http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/xpl/tocre...number=4534150 -- sorry, looks like you have to order reprints of the article).

    It's an interesting article about how the "New York City based Orpheus Chamber Orchestra has become a model for [a] new kind of loose and flexible organization." Quite interesting to me, since my day job is as an Engineering manager at a rather large high-tech company.

    What really struck me, though, was the following statement:
    Orchestral Musicians are a notoriously unhappy class of employees. Paul Judy reports that when Harvard Business School Professor J. Richard Hackman studied job attitudes among people working in 13 different job groups, he discovered that symphony orchestra musicians ranked below prison guards in job satisfaction. Further, when asked about their satisfaction with opportunities for career growth, symphony orchestra musicians fared even worse, ranking 9th out of the 13 surveyed job categories.
    Wow! Any symphony orchestra musicians on this forum who can verify or dispute this statement?

    PS -- The article "The Behaviors of Jazz as a Catalyst for Strategic Renewal and Growth" by Michael Gold and Steve Hirshfeld in the same issue was also really cool. Who would have thought that such stuff would make it into an Engineering journal?!?
    Best Regards,

  2. #2

    Re: Orchestral Musician Job Satisfaction ???

    Well, lessee,

    They practice all their lives until their fingers bleed.
    They play inane parts on lots of music they don't really like.
    The conductor can make their lives a living hell.
    The solo chairs are on pins and needles half the time.
    The lead horn is usually on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
    They have to fight to get the job.
    They have to fight to keep the job.
    The orchestra is often on the verge of bankruptcy, or at least subject to continual budget issues.
    And only the top 20 orchestras or so pay more than 75k per season per chair (i.e., $37.5/hr).

    So, I'd say maybe they're overstating their dissatisfaction (after all, they are making music full time), but on the other hand, perhaps they really just want a raise.

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