Ep. 4: *Always* Communicate

This is the first of a 2-part discussion that, besides being a subject that evokes strong reactions in us – and indeed working musicians everywhere – will be of particular value to music directors, orchestrators, and contractors who are new to hiring and working with freelance musicians, and especially percussionists. When you’re new to being in charge in those circumstances and want to do a great job, it’s understandable to feel a little uncertain – mainly because you don’t know what you don’t know.

You, the person in charge, will want to – we all hope – provide what the hired players need in order for them to do their best work. The next two podcasts aim to cure that uncertainty and replace it with. . . anxiety? . . well, at least less uncertainty.

Our discussion is also going to be particularly valuable for those more seasoned MDs, orchestrators, and contractors who want to improve their experience of hiring professional musicians, and particularly percussionists.

If you’re a person in charge of hiring and have not been getting a good result out of your freelance musician-hiring efforts, grab a notebook, read, and listen.

Always Communicate. *Always* Communicate.

Joshua Mark Samuels

If you’re a musician who’s had frustrating experiences where s**t that could have been avoided ended up keeping the gig from being much better, easier, or enjoyable, YOU are the choir we’re preaching to and we feel your pain.

What is the discussion, then?

It’s a thorough list what specific types of information the hirer needs to:

  • Know themselves, and then
  • Communicate to the potential or engaged player

The most obvious questions – e.g., “when’s the gig?” – have been forgone. It’s the followup points we’re most interested in here. Though it may seem obvious to share this type of information, the number of times we’ve been surprised at a gig because these questions were either unasked or unanswered means this info needs to be spread far and wide.

Though it’s pretty rare that a job will need every single one of the below listed issues addressed, the points laid out are useful to keep in mind so that there are no surprises, no matter the type of job. Not knowing is not cool.

Pete, I can’t apologize enough for not knowing and sending flowers.

Andrew Beall
The actual Edible Arrangements chocolate covered strawberries that Andrew sent Pete after this discussion.

These are the categories we broke things into and the points we discuss:

  • Time and Scheduling – all the “whens” and “how longs”
    • The date music is to be sent out and/or finalized
    • Load-in access times (not always the same thing as call time)
    • Rehearsal agenda or call schedule
    • Performance times (and any exceptions you may need)
  • Logistics and Organization – the stuff that makes it feel more like work
    • Venue(s)
    • Rehearsal and performance venue contacts
    • Are additional players needed?
    • Contact info of section or other players
    • Part assignments (and whose job it is if no clear principal)
    • Instruments and equipment provided (including enough music stands!)
    • Setup and instrument space requirements.
    • On-site instrument storage and security for the time between rehearsals and performance, or show-to-show.
    • Assistance moving equipment
    • Elevator access and restrictions
    • To be continued. . .
  • Pay and Compensation – numbers and negotiation to balance the scales

The exciting conclusion will be in Episode 5 . . .

The stairs at Michiko rehearsal studios

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