Case Study: Professional Orchestra Player

Posted on March 15th, 2012 by Kristin Thomson in Financial Case Studies, Participant Data. 3 Comments

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Reflections on the Nature of Orchestral Work
Finding a place in a thriving institution – even after years of education and practice – is no guarantee. The landscape for secure orchestral positions is extraordinarily competitive.
This case study of a young professional orchestra player helps us to better understand how highly-skilled performers make a living. One thing that this audit cannot convey, however, is how difficult it is to secure these positions. There is an incredible amount of competition for a tiny number of open seats in orchestras, and our case study subject is one of just a handful across the country who are accepted into these prestigious positions on an annual basis, when thousands – if not tens of thousands – will audition. And even when these seats are won, the challenges can continue. Many orchestras in the USA are facing severe financial losses and shutting their doors, pushing hundreds of highly trained and experienced instrumentalists back into the freelance market. For young players entering the marketplace, they often rely on their teachers, coaches and mentors to help navigate this competitive terrain.
Mentors and teachers can sometime play a large role in helping young musicians to navigate their path.
Finding a place in a thriving institution – even after years of education and practice – is no guarantee. That being said, there are about 10,000 players in professional orchestras in the US today, full-time musicians who make a decent middle-class wage and are paid for their mastery of their craft. This case study provides us a glimpse into that world.

Back to Key Findings

Going to Music School
Orchestral Recordings and Performer Payments

Other Case Studies:
Contemporary Chamber Group
Jazz Sideman-Bandleader
Indie Composer-Sideman
Jazz Composer-Bandleader

About the Case Studies

Graphs do not have a Y-axis dollar value in order to observe the conditions of our privacy policy. In addition, graphs and visuals in case studies are not comparable within or between case studies. For more details about this, read about our financial case study protocol.

Information detailed in case studies is based on data received directly from the artist or their authorized representative. The data analysis and lessons learned here are based on individual experience, and do not necessarily reflect the experiences of all musicians in genre or roles.

Case studies are one of three ways this project is looking at music creator income.

3 responses to “Case Study: Professional Orchestra Player”

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