Customary Wage

Discussion in 'Orchestral Auditions [DB]' started by Darth_Linux, Feb 18, 2003.

  1. Darth_Linux


    Oct 12, 2002
    Spokane, WA

    I hope this is an appropriate place for this type of thread.

    I'm wondering what the customary wage is for people who play in a city's symphony/orchestra.

    I checked out the Louisville Orchestra's page and found that the position open for 5th Viola pays $900 a week with full benefits and vacation!

    Is this about average, or higher or lower than average? With a full family and a mortgage payment to make each month, a symphony gig would help make ends meet a whole lot better when combined with a teaching job or something.

    thanks in advance.
  2. Just thought i'd bump this. I'm in school right now studying to be an orchestral bassist, and I'm curious about this also. My teacher (who will remain nameless) plays in the Philly orchestra, which one would think pays really well, yet he still teaches, which makes me wonder if he teaches for the cash, or if he really likes teaching, or both.
  3. You study with J.H.? Nice. There was an article in the Business section of this past Sunday's Philadelphia Inquirier that mentions musician's salaries in the Philly Orch. The principles all make in the neighborhood of $150k, some make more. I don't remember the exact numbers it mentions, but most section players are making between $80-100k, or something like that. I don't think J.H. is teaching to put food on the table.
  4. And I sold the mysterious JH a Sue Lipkins bow for one of his students. You?
  5. Not JH, but the other Philly player who teaches at Peabody.

    JH IS a total stud, though.
  6. crbassist


    Mar 25, 2003
    Ahhh... so you're a Kesselman student then.

    Do me a favor?? Tel Rob that Chris Rosina, Orin O'Brien's student from New York, says hello!

  7. Joe Taylor

    Joe Taylor

    Dec 20, 2001
    Tracy CA
    I think the SFO pays about $93K a year but it is not enough to live in SF at that rate you will live in Livermore or Tracy and commute 70 miles to work.

    I think it not so much how much you get paid but how much you get paid vs the cost of living where you pay.

    Out here in the Bay we see new engineers get hired in at $60k or $70k per year and they are in heaven until they try to find a place to live then they find out you need about $90k and a 60 mile commute to make it here. The cost of a 650sqft house in around here is in the $500,000 plus area (in a working class setting)
  8. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Good Lord. I love the Bay Area, but I'm glad I was able to score my house here, where prices are a bit more reasonable:eek: .
  9. Darth_Linux


    Oct 12, 2002
    Spokane, WA
    That's just insane. I have a 3400 sq. foot house that I paid $115,000 for in a middle class neighborhood of Spokane. Granted, I think the symphony here probably pays $800 a week for 42 weeks a year, which equals about $34K a year, but combine that with a k-12 teaching job and you could do alright, at least in this town.

    These are all full-time professional orchestras.

    The Louisville Orchestra's salary is 43% lower than the national average, here in the 16th largest city in the USA.

    The Louisville Orchestra's board, management and the local arts fund have not done their jobs over the last few years and are being hit by the slowing economy, having put "all their eggs in one basket" and not doing enough outside fundraising - so naturally they're trying to pin the problem on the musicians.


    Our current salary is $33,559 - which is more than I ever made as a "freelancer" in the midwest, but still not enough to support me and my wife, and all the expensive instruments and school-debts we have. The training and instruments are absolutely critical to be top notch, but board and management apparantly don't think profesisonal pay should go along with that?!?! On that "salary" , which is poor for a full-time professional orchestral musician, I qualify for and am forced to take an ECONOMIC HARDSHIP DEFERRMENT on my school loans!!!

    You're right, a PART-TIME teaching gig would supplement that nicely, but there's one bass teacher at U. of L., so the other 5 of us are floundering. And there's one LO violinist at U. of L., so the other 30 are floundering... you get the picture.

    In this full time position, there's no other job besides teaching that I could do, unless I tried to sell Mary Kay or worked graveyard shift at Winn Dixie.

    But a professional orchestra should support its musicians well enough that none of this should be necessary, right? Of course, right.
  11. I've read the Save the LO website, and all relevant 2xbasslist mailings pretty thoroughly and I think that the situation really really sucks.

    I really hope everything ends up working out for you.
  12. Darth_Linux


    Oct 12, 2002
    Spokane, WA
    KPO, thanks for answering my post. I kinda thought no one ever would, but that chart has really been helpful. I wish you the best of luck in making ends meet while continuing to play the best instrument in the world.
  13. It would be great if you could send your comments to "the musicians" via the email address at that site; it'd be even better if you could write a land-letter to the board and Arts Fund people with any comments you deem appropriate....