If money was not an issue... how many projects/concerts would you have declined?
Hi, I am curious about how many of you would have declined musical projects or concerts that you didn't like, and I'm talking to you violinists that make a living exclusively out of playing the violin in a orchestra, band, group, quartet, etc...
Imagine money is not a problem for you at all, like you receive $2000 each month just because and that's more than enough money for you. How many concerts or projects have you done/collaborated because of the money and not because you found it musically attractive or fun?
For example, your orchestra is asked to play as background music to a pop artist that you think is really bad and the songs makes you cringe, or even you are bored to death to play the exact same classical pieces but you're in the orchestra and need to play the whole season...
How many concerts do you normally do "because of the money", wishing you could play these other pieces or in this other group of musicians?
I will note that many people who play with professional groups are obliged to play whatever that group needs to play. It's part of the job, and people can like most of a job without liking every single concert that's part of that job.
To be professional means you do your best on a job needs to be done, whether it's something you like or not. Money matters but it can't be the sole reason for your decision whether to do it or not.
I used when I played professionally to refuse work if I needed the time off to re-coup or just did not want or need that particular date. When I was a permanent member of an orchestra and recording work was offered as an extra, on more than one occasion I would turn it down. (Two weeks of work everyday without a day off and an extra recording date tagged on at the end is too much in my opinion).
That's pretty much why I gave up on my career on another instrument back in the day. As a freelancer, I could cobble together a meager living if I hustled a lot and took whatever gig came my way. But it was high pressure, low pay, and I rarely had fun playing the same schlock over and over. And since the only reason to deal with the high stress and low pay of being a professional musician is job satisfaction, it became blindingly obvious that I was better off doing something else for a living. So I didn't turn down gigs - I just found another career.
I've never relied on playing to provide anything more than pocket money, but I went through a decade or two in which I would accept any paid gig I was offered (usually choral concerts on a single rehearsal). Now I've happily reached an age when I feel I can pick and choose. Do I enjoy the repertoire (my black list gets progressively longer but Elijah remains at the top)? Is the performance likely to be a decent one? Can I stand the conductor? Strangely invitations have now dried up considerably but I don't care!
I can provide my own perspective on this for sure.
I have a day job so I can refuse gigs. I just prefer certain groups, venues, and days of the week. I could play one or two gigs a week if I hustled but I play about two per month. That's a good rate for me. Played one last night at Mountain Lake Lodge (where "Dirty Dancing" was filmed). Jazz piano trio. Next gig is jazz violin at a local restaurant.
My 2nd teacher, Vladimir Graffman was friends with Heifetz. He once told me this story which happened in the early to mid '70's when Heifetz was retired from the stage: Graffman called Heifetz and at one point asked him "Jascha, why don't you play?"