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It appears that the board´s latest approach is to emphasize the nature of the musician´s job as "part-time." For many people, "part-time" calls to mind a side job, something you do after school when you are a kid, or something you do to supplement your income.The Bureau of Labor Statistics defines a part-time job as any job requiring less than 35 hours a week. During a week when a musician performs the maximum number of allowable services (eight, at 2.5 hours per service), and including practice time to prepare for those services, it is likely that a musician will work less than 35 hours. However, it is equally true that musicians in “full time” orchestras, such as Seattle, Chicago, and New York, also work less than 35 hours. (It is worth noting that for musicians, practicing and rehearsing beyond a certain point poses dangers of physical injuries, some of which may be career-ending.)The job of the professional symphony musician is unusual, and difficult to compare with other kinds of work. What other part-time jobs in our community advertise openings internationally, and attract applicants to apply in person, at their own expense? What other part-time jobs require workers to prepare by putting in more hours “off the clock” than “on the clock?” Work hours are erratic -- some weeks they will work a lot; some weeks not at all. Some weeks will include daytime services, for which they will need to be excused from other employment, or else request unpaid leave from the symphony. Musicians in the Spokane Symphony came to Spokane with full knowledge that their income would not be sufficient to support them and their families, and knowing that they would need to supplement their incomes in some other ways. However, it was also with the expectation that their symphony income would provide enough of a foundation that they would be able supplement their incomes through teaching, outside performance, and possibly non- music jobs, and still have adequate time for practice and preparation. The musicians of the Spokane Symphony are slated to perform over 50 concerts this season, and that does not include small ensemble events or summer performances. At every performance, musicians will hold themselves to the hightest standards, and that is nothing to take for granted.
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