Where can a degree in double bass performance actually get you?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by moopants, Mar 26, 2008.


  1. moopants

    moopants

    Oct 21, 2006
    Lake Charles, LA
    That seems like a good route... maybe I could just major in business or something else and take music electives.
     
  2. moopants

    moopants

    Oct 21, 2006
    Lake Charles, LA
    I'm kinda hijacking my own thread, but what is the average salary for a bassist in a professional orchestra?
     
  3. jallenbass

    jallenbass Supporting Member Commercial User

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    Here's one place that I found. It actually shows how salaries increased from 1952 to 2000 but should be somewhat relevent today. Looking at it though the Big 5 are definitely make more in 2008 than in 2000.
     
  4. moopants

    moopants

    Oct 21, 2006
    Lake Charles, LA
    Wow... in some of those, you could make a living off just the job. Is an orchestra job considered a full-time job, and do you get any benefits, or is it kind of considered "self-employed" in terms of taxes, insurance, etc.?
     
  5. jallenbass

    jallenbass Supporting Member Commercial User

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    Some are and some aren't. Benefits vary like any industry.
     
  6. Jason Sypher

    Jason Sypher Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2001
    Brooklyn, NY
    I read this thread a few days ago and was so impressed by the responses. One thing that came to mind regarding making a living playing music is location. If you live in a town that fits your musical skills and interests AND is a music centric town you can make it work. I lived in New Orleans for years and turned down more gigs than you can shake a stick at because I was either already working or just didn't dig the music. Of course New Orleans is a small town with a thousand clubs, the rent is (was) cheap and the living was e-a-s-y. I think Austin was another place I considered moving to for the same reasons. I had the skills I needed to do the job well and therefore I got work. I am basically self-taught (with a few very fine teachers here and there when I lost my confidence) which has been good for me in some ways and limiting in others. I definitely developed my own voice and musical personality but I also missed some essential professional skills that still limit me to this day (like, for instance, picking up difficult changes on the fly). I've asked ever teacher I ever had if I should just go back to school and get a degree and finally put to rest the nagging sense that I won't be able to handle some musical situation and therefore be less marketable but, time and time again the answer is "no, just study with a teacher, you'd be wasting your time in school".
    I live in NY and I'm not a jazzer. I know a lot of top players and most of them are constantly on tour. They come home to play with their homies but they make their dough backing Abbey Lincoln or Joni Mitchell or Natalie Merchant. I realized that, though I set out to be versatile, I still don't like playing music that doesn't move me. Therefore I really can't just play music for my living. I'm not sure if this helps at all but it's my experience. Good luck, great post.
     
  7. moopants

    moopants

    Oct 21, 2006
    Lake Charles, LA
    I think with all the answers, I've almost made up my mind to just get a degree in something else (business, medical field), but keep getting lessons and playing on the side, and, who knows, maybe I'll get enough attention so I can quit my day job. But, my mind keeps changing every day... I'm pretty sure that would be a good decision, though.
     
  8. mattfong

    mattfong

    Jan 14, 2008
    Toronto, Canada
    I'm getting a performance degree. I've accepted the fact that its going to be extremely hard, and I'm okay with it. I'm just waiting for some university's to get back to me with their desicions.
     
  9. Jason Sypher

    Jason Sypher Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2001
    Brooklyn, NY
    Another point is attitude. You seem to have a good attitude and good head on your shoulders. Believe it or not, this goes a LONG way as far as getting and keeping gigs. A good teacher, solid practice regiment, self-critique and playing experiences. That's all you need to reach your goals. In the meantime it's nice to know the bills are being properly taken care of....good luck.
     
  10. Marc Piane

    Marc Piane

    Jun 14, 2004
    Chicago
    +1,000,000

    This is the thing that I think most music programs are missing. I think there should be a 100-level course called "Common Sense: How to Act Professionally On A Gig Because, After All, You Are Being Paid". You wouldn't believe how many guys I've met over the years that have gone to great schools and can play their ass off but can't get to the gig on time, in the right clothes, with the right gear, be polite to the client, and keep their 'tude in check for 4 hours.


    Oh, and lose the gig as a result.
     
  11. christ andronis

    christ andronis

    Nov 14, 2001
    Chicago
    Oh you know those guys too, huh? :)
     
  12. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Amen. I call that class "Improvisation" here at the U. :) No amount of applied theory/conceptual information is going to help you if you can't be pleasant, professional, and a willing team player.
     
  13. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Augusta GA
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    This was from a few years ago. In answer to your first question - No, you get paid more for tenure and position. It's doubtful that anybody who has a position with the NY Phil/Met etc. did NOT come up through the university/conservatory system. Maybe when you get to the Podunk Phil; but even there you are dealing with the output of every school in America and the world looking for a gig. Podunk symphonies tend to be where the local university /conservatory faculty make their homes.
    In answer to your second question, yes. Sort of. If you look at the list of who's playing at the Phil/Met etc. you'll see that, like unto Podunk, most of the players also teach academically. The ones that don't have an academic position do also tend to teach privately. But as you see below, depending on WHERE you are and what the local standard of living is, orchestra gigs are kind of borderline livable.

    Just FYI, from the AFofM paper this week

    TAMPA - section position $770 per week, no calendar listed (but all others list a 37 to 42 week season, so that's a range of $28,490- $32,340)
    MISSISSIPPI - Concertmaster $26,000
    Principal Horn $12,650
    RICHMOND - principal English Horn or principal 2nd violin $32,874
    CHARLOTTE - principal flute $990/wk, 38 week season $37,620
    LOUISVILLE - 4th horn $844/week 42 week season $35,448
    assistant concertmaster $987/week $41,454
    KC - Assistant principal cello $46,673 (reg season + 8 optional small ensemble performances)
    Section cello - $40,000 (+8 optional as above)
    JACKSONVILLE - Principal bassoon $42,920 (37week season)
    CHARLESTON - Principal bass $21,829
    DALLAS - principal trumpet $80,860


    According to the Study of the Worklife of Jazz Musicians done by the Research Center for Arts and Culture, the majority of jazz musicians (62%) reported their income as being "below $40,001"; the largest percentage of THAT figure (26.2%) reported their income was in the $20,001 - $40,000 range.
    The major difference between that Charleston bass player with the symphony and the other bassist who lives in Charleston and plays jazz isn't income. It's that the jazz player has fewer opportunities to make that income by being part of an organization that performs primarily in the same venue, that has health benefits, that is connected to funding organizations at the city, state and federal level etc and instead has to get on a bus or scuffle a variety of local and regional venues or play music that they really aren't that interested in. You play a certain music because you HAVE to...
     
  14. moopants

    moopants

    Oct 21, 2006
    Lake Charles, LA
    What is a "good" yearly salary? I know it depends on where you live, but what's an average yearly salary that's considered "well-off"?
     
  15. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Augusta GA
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    That's an unanswerable question. It's not a static number, it ALWAYS relates to where you are and what the local standard of living is. Look at a couple of things - what the Fed has defined as the POVERTY LINE (and that will be a static dollar figure) and what it costs to buy a house. Look at the house prices and the square footage, do the calculation and figure out how many dollars per square foot space costs. The higher the dollar per square foot costs, the (generally) higher the cost of living.

    The other thing you can do is calculate housing costs as a percentage of yearly income. What most people define as "affordable housing" comes to spending 25 - 30 % of your yearly income on housing. So, looking at Charleston's principal bass chair ( of which there is only 1 and all the other bassists will be getting LESS than that $21K, right?), he's going to be looking at a mortgage payment + real estate taxes/rent payment of about $456 per month. Go to CraigsList for Charleston and see what you can buy (most real estate sites will have a mortgage calculator so you can see what your mortgage payment will be) or rent for that much money a month. That will tell you if $21K is a "good" yearly salary.

    Look, if the most important thing is making money, be a doctor or lawyer.
     
  16. moopants

    moopants

    Oct 21, 2006
    Lake Charles, LA
    Well, I have those options, but I want to enjoy my life and make money, and my original question was pretty much if I could both at the same time. Music is pretty much the most enjoyment I get.
     
  17. Uncletoad

    Uncletoad

    May 6, 2003
    Columbus Ohio
    Proprietor Fifth Avenue Fret Shop. Technical Editor Bass Gear Magazine
    You can do both, not always at the same time.

    You can't really plan ahead as much as you are trying to.

    Do what you are compelled to do today. Do what your muse tells you to and you will be happy. Enough money will come your way if you follow your instincts, your true motivations. The artistic gift you are given will guide your choices.

    If you try to do it in your head you won't get there. If you try to plan it years ahead you won't get there. You'll will yourself into a place where it's hard to move out of.

    Do what's right in front of you. Choose the thing that seems most right today. Do that long enough and you'll look back over a unique and beautiful path that has been rewarding, rich, and exactly what you wanted weather you knew it when you started or not.

    Trust your instincts and trust your process and you'll be fine.

    Try to figure it out in your head all in advance and you'll probably be miserable.
     
  18. christ andronis

    christ andronis

    Nov 14, 2001
    Chicago
    Listen to Toad-ee-wohn Konobe...he speak great truth!!
     
  19. You might want to check out this link:

    www.owlnet.rice.edu/~navmusic/

    It leads to a page called "Navigating Music Careers," on the Shepherd School of Music's website. It's a collection of audio and video clips of various musicians (including Paul Ellison) discussing everything from gig etiquette to the choices students make in choosing a career path.
     
  20. moopants

    moopants

    Oct 21, 2006
    Lake Charles, LA
    Thanks for the link. It seems like a good one, but the .ram files aren't working for me. =(
     
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

     
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