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Discussion Panel

Driving for Dollars

0 Christine Coyle

At first my husband and his family could not make heads or tails of my lifestyle. I am the only musician amongst “nine to fivers.” Showing up at family events in long black and not seeming to notice that everyone else is wearing jeans and T-shirts was odd for them. Leaving in the middle of

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Driving for Dollars

0 Paul Castillo

I’m not sure that driving for dollars puts any more strain on the social aspects of living for a musician than, say, working in an office 10+ hours per day, six days a week does for a mid-level executive. I do have a few non-musician types in my own social circle and they tend to

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Driving for Dollars

0 Ann Drinan

For today’s discussion, I asked the panelists to describe how spending so many hours in the car impacts their personal lives. Do non-musician friends and relatives understand the nature of driving-for-dollars schedules? How do you accommodate both the needs of getting to all your gigs and the demands of your family?

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Driving for Dollars

0 Tal Skloot

During the filming of Freeway Philharmonic, I spent a good amount of time in the car with the musicians. I noticed, especially with musicians who carpooled, that the camaraderie and banter in the car often seemed like an Episode of ‘Friends’ on wheels. Even during a 2.5 hour drive to a rehearsal, a carpool of

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Driving for Dollars

0 Todd Jelen

Exhaustion does take its toll when I’m driving long distances. When I drive to Wisconsin, I usually drive up the day of the first rehearsal to save on accommodations. After that drive, it’s difficult to concentrate and fully function in the rehearsal that evening. I will stay there for a week at a time to

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Driving for Dollars

0 Marjorie Goldberg

I HATE DRIVING! For me it is the worst part of freelancing. We used to average about 25,000 miles a year on one car and maybe 15,000 on the other, which isn’t as bad as in some cities, but the hours spent in the car make up for those few miles. Our major highway heading

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Driving for Dollars

0 Kale Cumings

Fatigue and stress are both things that take a huge toll on me, but that I also tend to underestimate in everyday life. Sometimes what is most trying is just worrying about how I am going to get the bills paid. I know it doesn’t really help the problem to worry about it, but does

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Driving for Dollars

0 Christine Coyle

I try very hard to drive as little as possible. This year I was down to 25,000 miles. My car is a 2002 (bought in December) and I have 157,500 miles on it. I have to do an oil change and routine maintenance every six weeks so those costs add up fast. Also as my

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Driving for Dollars

0 Bruce Chrisp

This is the time of year when I start getting tired of driving, my right leg starts to hurt, and I look forward to the summer. This happens to me every year, and then by August I’m ready to start in again. I drive between 30k and 40k miles a year, which is a huge

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Driving for Dollars

0 Paul Castillo

Stress and fatigue are the most difficult aspects to driving for dollars, at least for me. I do what I can to be organized, but there are always things that come up that are unanticipated. I’ve had to learn to build time for those things into my schedule. I’ll schedule one or two hours for

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Driving for Dollars

0 Meredith Brown

I’m assuming everyone else is also noticing those little aches and pains creeping in and then flitting away again as we get older. Are those really just starting to happen or am I noticing them because I’m paranoid? I’ve seen too many wonderful musicians bite the dust in the past few years. Is that little

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Driving for Dollars

0 Ann Drinan

Our next topic is fatigue. What toll does doing all this driving take, on both your car and your body/spirit?

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Driving for Dollars

0 Todd Jelen

Each of the groups I play with has vastly different attendance policies. If one is to ask off for a rehearsal during a series, most of the time it is granted provided you’re missing the first rehearsal. It also helps if you’re asking to be excused to play with an orchestra of better reputation and

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Driving for Dollars

0 Marjorie Goldberg

Scheduling conflicts seem to be one of the biggest problem with freelancing when you are depending on regional orchestras for the bulk of your work. In the Philadelphia area it seems that all the orchestras tend to schedule for the same weekends. Of course much of this is due to holidays, sharing concert halls with

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Driving for Dollars

0 Kale Cumings

I find the logistics of scheduling to be one of the most disheartening aspects of this job. Sometimes it seems that the two sets I find most musically rewarding in a year happen at the same time. Since I only have two orchestra contracts, juggling requirements isn’t as crucial to me as trying to balance

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Driving for Dollars

0 Christine Coyle

Conflicts are a big problem. It is very difficult for boards of our orchestras to understand when we ask for them to provide more services but then at the same time ask for a lenient absence policy so we do not have to play them. The idea that we can’t move anything in our schedules

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Driving for Dollars

0 Bruce Chrisp

In the San Francisco Bay Area, all of the union regional orchestras allow any musician to miss one rehearsal per subscription set. The San Francisco Symphony, Ballet, and Opera do not allow this, but for most of us, that is not much of our income, and if you’re playing a week with them, you’re making

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Driving for Dollars

0 Paul Castillo

Today I would like to start with a few comments about health insurance. The Los Angeles musicians do have access to a plan provided through their local union, and it’s a very good plan. It’s been in place for about 30 years. There are qualification standards, and you do need to work enough under union

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Driving for Dollars

0 Meredith Brown

Since I am currently contracted in nine orchestras in the Bay Area, I am definitely qualified to speak about scheduling conflicts! It seems like every set I choose to do means opting out of at least one other-and with the Murphy’s Law way things seem to happen, often I’ll have 3 or 4 “options” in

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Driving for Dollars

0 Ann Drinan

For our second round, I’ve asked the panelists to talk about logistical and contractual problems with juggling so many different schedules and contracts. What are the absence policies in the orchestras you play with? How difficult is it to get excused from a rehearsal in one orchestra in order to play a series in another?

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