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Age and Orchestral Jobs

Discussion in 'Orchestral Auditions [DB]' started by bunmonkey, Dec 9, 2004.

  1. bunmonkey


    Dec 9, 2004
    Any opinions on older (over 30) players and their chances on winning an orchestral job? Is there an age bias?
  2. LM Bass

    LM Bass

    Jul 19, 2002
    Vancouver, BC
    I feel you on this one.

    Well, I think there is an age bias in the world in general, and also in music. That said, it can be donel. One of my teacher's students won a job in a major US orchestra, and he started quite late.
    It can be done, it's just tougher. . .

  3. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Over 30!?

    Man, I'm screwed.
  4. Imagine how I feel?
  5. If age were that much of a problem, players would never be able to switch gigs after a certain age, which they do in some cases. Agism is like sexism. It exists, but it's manageable. Two of the big concerns in the minds of prospective employers is the old dog new trick issue, and expectations of salery. Also, a lot of orchestras are trying to make their orchestras younger (and yes, more visually attractive) to attract a younger audience of prospective lifetime concert goers. That's just show business. However, in my experience no one has ever told me I'm too old and will never be able to get into a good orchestra. It's usually lack of experience and chops that stands in one's way. The myth that musicians loose something when they are over 30 is ludacris. I don't know where that got started but I think it has a lot to do with complacency and boredom brougt about by years in the same job rather than ability. I actually learn things faster now than I did when I was a kid because I am super motivated and focussed. Plus I am arguably more reliable and easy to work with than someone straight out of school. Obviously I am biased being over 30 myself.

  6. Johnnythekid

    Johnnythekid Guest

    Dec 20, 2004
    Oklahoma City, OK
    On the other end of the bill, what about someone who's very young, say, 17-19. What or his (my :meh: ) chances of getting into an orchestra? Besides a high school all-state type situation, that is. Thanks for any reply,
  7. Ben Joella

    Ben Joella Supporting Member

    May 31, 2004
    Boca Raton, FL
    I have to think that the key is when all of the skill sets are set to go. While youth may make for technical chops, aged players might have the edge in the experience of time and repetition on their side. I have to believe that most orchestras just want to have a good combination of chops/experience. I doubt they would care if that came from a 20 year old or a 50 year old.
  8. In the past few years I have not heard of anyone over the age of 40 in the finals for an audition. Erik Harris is the oldest person I have heard of win a major job. He is 37 now and he won san fran and cleveland, but opted not to keep them. Other than him I usually hear of players ranging from 20-30 in the finals for auditions.....not really because of any bias I believe but because these people are usually still students and have nothing to do but practice all day while most people over thirty have jobs and have to work and take care of other things i.e. the wife, the yard, dogs, maybe even kids. In the last detroit audition no one in the finals was older than 25 and the youngest being Ben Jensen who was 20 at the time. But you never know Hal Robinson got his position when he was in his early 40's so if your a freak and can play like him then you have nothing to worry about.
  9. I think you said it. Generally people over 40, or 30 for that matter have either found an orchestra job if they are qualified, or found something else to do. Blind auditions should prevent age bias to some extent.
  10. yes blind auditions can prevent age and gender bias. However the players who are over the age of thirty or forty have a big problem of making it past the screen round because of lack of practice and having other things to do in life
  11. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Harrumphh....glad I'm a jazz bassist. I was just listening to that old, over-the-hill, born-in-1935 relic Gary Peacock on Keith Jarrett's "The Out-Of-Towners".... didn't sound half bad for an old fart :eek: . You can keep yer blind auditions. I'm shooting for what he's doing.

    Paul...am I officially a curmudgeon yet? :smug:
  12. G-force


    Jul 1, 2004
    oslo Norway
    No I think the term is Old geezer..
    Marry christmas or should I say happy holidays
  13. Another factor is that most people who already have jobs find it dissatisfying and thus hard to get all revved up for something you already know isn't the fulfillment of your musical dreams.

    And, yes, students have nothing to do but practice and job holders are devoting all of their finger/tendon/ligament energy to someone else 3-6hrs and day, 5-6 days a week, 45-52 weeks a year. Many have had ot do have playing related injuries, too, esp in the gigs requiring more of your time and energy. Managements often want the most from you for the least money and will do all sorts of things to squeeze it out of you.

    Students generally don't know the reality of the other side and the excitement helps them prepare.
  14. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I don't even want to hear about this age bias crap in orchestras. You want age bias? Try playing rock and roll or pop, where if you're over 27, you are considered too old to even think about playing it unless you were famous when you were 21. Age bias is nothing new. You either find a way to roll with it or you don't. But before you get all discouraged about it, I'm 43 and I'm making more money playing music now and playing with much more high caliber musicians than I ever did in my 20's. Hell, I just made close to $600 tonight by sitting on my butt in front of the computer and recording for 4 hours. Got another 4 to go, but still...it ain't Trump money, but it ain't bad. I found a way, and I'm not even that gifted a player. Don't get me wrong, I'm damn good, but any jazz or classical musician could smoke me.

    So quit yer complainin', get off your butts, and figure out a way to overcome the age bias. And if you can't, you can always sue :rolleyes:
  15. That hits the Nail On The Head!
    Being in school is the biggest advantage possible. You don't have to pay off loans, you don't have a 9 to 5 job, you are doing nothing but Playing The Bass, and getting better daily. You have Free access to masterclasses and performance situations. You are typically unmarried. You are typically optomistic and HIGHLY motivated.
    Most of those things CHANGE (even if only subtly) when you leave school, whether or not you win a job - suddenly, other things occupy your time, and you must focus on THEM as well. It's a different stage of life, that's for... shizzle.
    SO... if you're in school right now: The sun is shining on You, so get out there and MAKE YOUR HAY!
  16. BrokenElevator


    May 24, 2005
    Being in music school can sometimes get in the way. Classes, papers, orchestra rehearsals, and any part-time jobs/gigs to pay for school can get in the way of good woodshedding. It wasn't 'til I got out of school and in my first job when I felt I was actually prepared when I went to an audition. That was when there were no more papers, orchestra rehearsals, part-time jobs, and theory assignments to supplant practice time.

    However, after a decade of strikes, lockouts, politics, mean conductors, collegues with bad attitudes, declining revenues, etc. "can" remove some of the excitement and motivation from getting really prepared for an audition.

    On the other hand, seasoned vets, I think, can be more relaxed about an audition and rebound better from a bad audition just because they have a rounded perspective about the profession.
  17. Pete G

    Pete G

    Dec 31, 2001
    Northern Virginia
    A top pro bassist I know (not local) told me not long ago that, even though he's played professionally for decades, he doubts that his chops are any better now than they were at age 24.

    Realist? Fatalist? Exception?

    Made me pause, I'll tell you...
  18. Very interesting discussion. You've inspired my username.

    How can people compete at a professional level when they're 20 if they're from the middle of nowhere and have had no formal training? Does that mean that they will never be able to attain the same level as people, who as kids, were lucky to enough to live in places with actual bass teachers who had an actual clue about how to play (and have gone on to conservatory training)? I choose to not believe it.

    However, the points about how when you find yourself older with more responsibilities (I would bet) is probably the closest to the most true reason for the more rare case of older players winning auditions. As many people age, the priorities must change for most of them.

    But is an audition even the best measure of success or ability? Isn't that the big question!

    Thanks for the interesting discussions...all the best to everyone. If you want to win, go and do it, no matter how old you think you are.
  19. G-force


    Jul 1, 2004
    oslo Norway
    well when I was at conservatory my best friend and made a pact. if we didn't win gigs by the time we were 25 , well then it was driving a UPS truck for us. ( I have the utmost respect for UPS and today realize that to drive a truck is hard to achieve as well...)

    Well we both made it BUT to what extent.
    My progress litterally stopped for some years because i achieved my goal of economic security through the bass.at the time this goal was the meta goal unaware to myself.
    Well that was a tough nut to crack.

    It is now 11 years later and play much better than I did when i was 25 but in different ways. Ways that I believe are good to have in a section but maybe not good for winning an audition.
    I am not dead therfore I have the capacity to learn more. Hopefully not from too many mistakes but these are the true teachers.

    If i am able to listen and see what I am doing then it becomes easier for me to do what I want..
  20. Well, hey, I grew up in central WI (no pro orchestra, no teacher[!!!!]), undergrad at U.W.-Stevens Point (no pro orchestra), masters in Bloomington, IN (no pro orchestra), sarted a Doctorate in Bloomington, IN (no pro orchestra)... and I won a job after all that. :ninja:
    That doesn't mean I wouldn't have been better developed earlier if I'd had more resources, but just to prove that you don't have to study with some great Powerbroker and grow up listening to Chicago Symphony live just to have a chance.

    I *DEFINITELY* took every opportunity, though, to go to a lot of festivals, see and hear a lot of classes and lessons. I put a whole summer of Aspen on a credit card! It was worth it (should be paid off soon... :meh: ) Took every sub audition and "weekend gig" I could.