Originally Posted by ReinerTorheit
In reality substance abuse among professional orchestral players is a growing problem. Pressure of work, depression, lack of advancement, being treated like garbage, poor pay, anti-social hours and other factors all contribute to the scenario.
I know a fine conductor who directs an orchestra here in one of Russia's provincial cities, and a couple of years ago we were working together on a project. I congratulated him on the fine ensemble he'd built, out of mainly younger players.
"Oh, that's your Western imagination playing tricks on you - I didn't recruit younger players especially, and I'd sooner have experienced old pros, frankly. But after 10-15 years they realise their career is going nowhere, and they hit the bottle. A few have to be sacked if their playing or attendance deterioriates - but most just start failing to turn up, and slowly drift away. The blokes more than the women, of course, but to some extent it affects all of them."
Here what appears to have happened is that because there are too many people going to music college and then leaving and trying to scratch a living they will accept more or less anything in terms of pay just to get a playing job. One person told me recently that someone was willing to fly from the UK to Italy to do one concert and only be paid £100 although they had to get up early to get the flight in order to be in Italy in time for the afternoon rehearsal and then arrive back in the UK in the early hours of the next day. If you work this out in terms of pay per hour it is less than the minimum wage in the UK. So I am not surprised if older pros are put off. You can't feed a family on that level of earnings which is why the minimum wage was introduced.
One person I know here fixes extras for an amateur orchestra. The pay for a professionally trained musician is £120 for an afternoon rehearsal and concert on a Saturday. For students it is £80.
From next September it will cost UK students £9000 per year for fees for a music college. Music college degree courses last four years for a music degree. So £36000 for the first degree plus if you are studying in London roughly the same again for living expenses. So a minimum of £72000 for a first degree, fees and living expenses. Most students now do post grad courses as well, so one year post grad will add another £18000, making a total of £90000. If you live in another part of the world not the UK it is still easy to see the difference in the cost of the study compared to the earnings.
Music college fees are paid for by students taking out loans. How long would it take someone to pay off a £90000 loan when earning about £100 pounds every 24 hours?
Would they live long enough?
Will the loan companies continue to lend money for conservatoire music courses?
Will the next generation of music students have to have very wealthy parents, not only to pay for the courses, but also to support financially while they try to make a name for themselves as players?
What happens to talented but poor students?