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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000027.txt from 2002/06

From: "Forest E. Aten Jr." <>
Subj: Re: [kl] Just for fun....value of what we do.
Date: Sat, 1 Jun 2002 17:40:09 -0400


While I perform about 38 weeks a year as a professional clarinetist...I
really make a living owning a tour operation business that specializes in
SCUBA travel. I also employ and work four SCUBA instructors in local YMCA
and city pools. I pretty much have the SCUBA business running itself. This
business and the fact that my lovely wife is a dentist has allowed me the
luxury (justification) of continuing on as a professional musician. I love
to perform...but I do want to retire someday.
I have a very smart daughter at Boston College currently and would never be
able to help her financially with my music career alone. My youngest
daughter is just as smart and will probably pursue her education at an
equally expensive school. (hey, if they can get into BC.....why not
sacrifice) My kids and their future are currently the most important thing is a few years off. Like you, family first.
I hope we have more MBA managers (like you) filter into the arts mix. People
who choose to be advocates of the artist....especially when it comes to pay
and working conditions. You'll be well received by the huddled masses in the
pit. It's an uphill battle...but I think worthwhile.



----- Original Message -----
From: "Steve White" <>
Subject: RE: [kl] Just for fun....value of what we do.

> Forest,
> I sympathize completely. After having no real luck gaining a symphonic
> position that would actually support more than a snail, I came to realize
> that as good I could be at clarinet and bass clarinet could in fact win
> positions, but would cost my family greatly in stability. As a child I
> moved to much and never belonged to anywhere and I'm doing my damndest to
> not do this to my child. Therefore, my choice was made and I now have BM
> in clarinet performance and an MBA in finance. I hope to pursue a career
> arts management in the hope that I could bring both points of view to the
> negotiating table and save organizations from doom. Lofty dream I
> All the same, I have hopes that perhaps someday I might be the rare
> administrator who actually PLAYS in the ensemble/company that he is
> responsible for.
> Insights and thoughts welcome.
> Steve White
> BM Clarinet Perf. Northern Arizona University
> MBA Finance Specialization National University
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Forest E. Aten Jr. []
> Sent: Saturday, June 01, 2002 12:13 PM
> To:
> Subject: [kl] Just for fun....value of what we do.
> This past weekend I had the pleasure of hosting Mark Charette on his way
> home, moving truck and all. (I'm not sure my neighbors mailbox will ever
> the same :-)) After a pleasant dinner, Mark and I heard a cascade of water
> coming from a downstairs bathroom. Soon the worst was realized, the
> (40 gal) water heater had catastrophically failed. The events that
> were pretty standard fair. Cleaning up the mess, calling the insurance
> company and of course contacting a plumber. The plumber arrived bright and
> early the next morning (very nice shinny new truck) and reviewed the
> situation. A bid came shortly after and I was a bit stunned. After
> the bid, I argued almost every line. It was (in my opinion) abusive in
> way. The plumber listened quietly and after my review of his bid was
> complete he simply said, "you've got to love us, don't you", to which I
> said, "NO".
> This plumber then proceeded to give me a history lesson. He pointed out
> the entire Roman empire failed because the society didn't have good
> nor good plumbers. :-) The people of Rome had to live in their own sewage
> and so as a result they and their culture died out. :-) This expert
> historian plumber then pointed out that if every client complained and
> refused to pay what plumbers were "really worth" to would go
> our current culture. Failure. (I was having a very difficult time keeping
> together.....:-) I am sorry that Mark had to leave early that morning. I
> know he would have enjoyed the lecture.)
> I informed the plumber that people have more choices than he thought
> existed. I listed a few below and I'm sure many more exist.
> 1 another plumbing company
> 2 I could shower in cold water (not really)
> 3 I could do the job's not rocket science
> I then sent him out the door telling him I would not contribute to the
> purchase of his next car or big screen TV.....and did the work myself. I
> a $500 pay check as a plumber on Monday. Employer: ME.
> So where am I going with all of this?
> To the books by Norman Lebrecht, "Where has all the music gone" or "The
> of Classical Music". This topic hits close to home. The Dallas Opera
> orchestra went through a bitter contract negotiation this past year. I am
> embarrassed to say that the musicians in this very fine orchestra suffer
> some of the poorest compensation offered by a major musical arts
> organization in the world. The orchestra made some but not a lot of
> progress. (It's a long story) The musicians in the Dallas Opera suddenly
> to become well as do their job as artists. We were will
> prepared and fought a good fight but had to identify and manage risks in
> end. It is important to realize that the businessmen working for the
> Opera (board and management) have choices just as I did with my plumber.
> Musicians have one advantage....the business men involved can't do our job
> as I did the plumbers. We do have a serious disadvantage....they may not
> need us as much as they need that plumber. Remember Rome....:-) God, I had
> to laugh out loud when that plumber passed the door.
> What are your thoughts...what is having a top professional arts group in
> your community worth? Is it worth a fight? Paying more for tickets? Paying
> more in taxes? Donating money? Helping to raise money?
> I and other professional musicians do not want to be in the shoes of the
> ex) plumber, with the board and management of the Dallas Opera laughing
> loud as I walk through the doors of the hall for the last time. Yet I and
> other professional musicians need to make enough money to justify
> on. The musicians of the Dallas Opera are not the only musicians in this
> spot. More than a few very fine professional musicians have had to change
> careers as the job market shrinks....Symphonies, opera companies and
> companies failing all about the U.S.
> The value of what we do.......any thoughts are welcome.
> I'm in it for the fight.....I love what I do.
> Forest Aten
> Clarinet/bass clarinet
> Dallas Opera
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