Re: Life in tubadom

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Posted by Jay Bertolet on October 27, 1999 at 22:23:45:

In Reply to: Life in tubadom posted by Daryl on October 27, 1999 at 21:30:38:

Wow!!! What a great topic! Here is my take on some of the questions and issues you raised.

When I first started taking auditions (Pittsburgh in 198?) I thought I was absolutely ready to be a contender. I didn't make it past the first round. On the drive home I remember thinking that Pittsburgh was such a dirty city (it was winter and all the snow was sooty from the pollution) and the orchestra wasn't the Chicago Symphony (my all time favorite) and if I couldn't even get out of the first round, what kind of chance would I have to ever win any job, let alone my dream job? Boy, did I have alot to learn!

The truth is, every job draws a crowd of really fine players. If you believe that auditions for lower tier orchestras are easier to win than the more presitigious groups, you're sadly mistaken. Take the audition I won here. 15 years ago (has it REALLY been that long????), the audition for my position drew 53 candidates. This is for a job that paid a little more than $13,000.00 per year. After the first round, the field was narrowed to 9 players. After the semis, the field was further narrowed to 3. Those 3 were myself, Lee Hipp, and Mike Saltzman. Anybody ever hear of those two other guys??? My experience is that the only difference between the smaller auditions and the bigger ones is the number of really fine players and their relative notoriety. There really isn't much difference in the level of playing. Just about every audition these days draws at least two really great players and many draw more than that. Frequently, looking at the finals of any given audition will be looking at the winners in future auditions. So, are you needlessly scaring yourself with how difficult it is to win a job? I don't think so, because I know it is exceptionally difficult to win a job.

But more to the point, should any of these considerations matter in your decision to pursue a musical career? I think not. Either you love the job or you don't. Either you're willing to put up with the shortcomings of the job because you love it or not. Either you have the very real need to play or you don't. Either you're willing to do whatever it takes to achieve your goals because they are all you ever wanted or you haven't found what you truly want to do with your life. I know this must sound corny and not just a little insane but I believe it is this kind of single minded approach that is required to be successful in performance. The competition is just too stiff and the jobs too few to allow any less of a commitment.

And let's be honest, nobody ever got any chicks because they had a gig. And the pay sucks. And the job stability sucks. And the hours suck. Do you want to spend the rest of your working life working every Friday and Saturday night? Really, if the money or the job security or the hours are an issue, then why bother? There are lots of other jobs that give you all these things, pay more, and are easier to get. I think the common thread you will find among the professionals is their desire to be exactly where they are, doing exactly what they are doing. It is that desire that drives the player to be more.

And I don't know about using the term "God" in reference to tuba playing. I never heard any player who couldn't be doing things better so maybe I haven't met a tuba playing "god" yet. I think you said it best. If you're making great music, you're on the right track. Now, you just need to figure out if you're addicted or not...

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