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She ends the entertaining and informative book with some hopeful notions. Perhaps, the situation has again changed since the book was published in Orchestras and music do continue to play an important resource for the communities. Hopefully, they will be more accessible to more people.

Jul 15, Kim rated it it was amazing. Every word is true. She nailed it to the wall. Of course, no civilian will believe it. Tindall began playing the oboe, a difficult but hauntingly beautiful instrument when played well, almost by mistake.

Blair Tindall

When they were handing out instruments alphabetically by last name in band, by the time they got to T there was only a bassoon and oboe to chose from. The oboe being smaller she chose that. Somewhat intimidated by her academically overachieving brother who went to Exeter and with poor grades not to mention a boyfriend who would be closer, she opted to attend NCSA a new founded in school devoted to teaching professional musicians and ballet dancers.

Regretfully, she focuses more on the unwanted sometimes sexual attentions of her teachers this was a time when sexual harassment was more than prevalent and teachers would use the subjectiveness of musical grading to get what they wanted and boys, not to mention drinking and drugs, than on the intricacies of the oboe. As someone who has played the piano, organ and french horn, I have no knowledge of woodwinds and would have liked to learn more.

But, nevermind. A test given on Saturdays? They were prepared for little else. When those affairs fell apart inevitably as they were married and everything was always supposed to be kept secret the jealous reactions would lead to her lack of employment.

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Coupled with many of her friends and acquaintances dying from AIDS this was the early eighties and at one time the list of dead friends topped one hundred when she quit keeping track it was a discouraging time. Much of the book details the trials and tribulations of the orchestral world in general and orchestral musicians in specific. Orchestras had proliferated during the sixties and seventies as federal grants provided the seed money, but soon it became apparent, especially during economic upturns and downswings, that paying musicians from revenue derived from ticket sales was often oxymoronic.

Another problem was too many musicians, often uneducated except for their instrument, were chasing too few gigs. Those privileged few who made it through the auditions to get a position in an orchestra were usually life-tenured so few positions ever opened up.

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Positions that did pay well like those on Broadway could be mind-numbingly boring, playing the same music over and over and over again; some players could read a book while playing the music. As stages became larger and more front row seating was added to sell more tickets, orchestral pits became hellish holes, dark and removed from the performance and audience, almost an afterthought, as the music was piped out through speakers. For long-running shows she played for Les Miserables and Miss Saigon among others it was at least a dependable source of income, health and pension benefits.

Eventually, by her mid-thirties, Tindall realized she had to make a change having been unable to find a long-term relationship and becoming totally bored. A job satisfaction study revealed that Orchestral musicians were near the bottom, scoring lower in job satisfaction and overall happiness than airline flight attendants, mental health treatment teams, beer salesmen, government economic analysts, and even federal prison guards. Only operating room nurses and semiconductor fabrication teams scored lower than these musicians….


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I was in a narcissistic industry that was stuck in the nineteenth century. At that moment, I gave myself permission to escape. Their results were shocking: No reliable causal relationship was found between music education and academic performance except for spatial reasoning.

Creative thinking, verbal scores, and math grades were all unaffected by studying music. About the only common thread is the oboe. I liked it, but the movie is better. Oct 08, Tina rated it really liked it.

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Trying to understand my concert pianist boyfriend's life better Blair Tindall wrote a terrific book about what it's really like to try to earn a living as a classical musician. This book answers just about every silly question I ever had about how that career really works. Tindall didn't hold back on sharing intimate details even when they painted her in an unflattering light.

This book is an amazing resource, and very well researched. Jul 25, Niall rated it liked it Shelves: general-non-fiction. Not quite what I was expecting - slightly less of the sex, drugs, and Chopin, and slightly more of the history and economics of the classical music scene in the US in the 20th century, but generally pretty engaging. I'm always left wondering what those who know the author, and those who feature in such candid autobiographies make of the finished product.

Sep 19, Carissa rated it really liked it. An easy and entertaining read. A must-read for female classical music professionals, as it discusses much of the situations in which we may find ourselves. Oct 03, Shoshana added it Shelves: music. I found this book intensely frustrating on many levels. On one hand, Tindall brings up many very important issues and history of the arts and of music in the U.

On the other hand, I think it is one perspective of a disillusioned oboist who seems to be blaming her unhappiness on anything she can find. As an oboe student music major making my way through college, I find the harsh realities of the industry quite depressing - no one wants to devote their life to the kind of frustrations Tindall de I found this book intensely frustrating on many levels. As an oboe student music major making my way through college, I find the harsh realities of the industry quite depressing - no one wants to devote their life to the kind of frustrations Tindall describes in this book.

The shrinking need for musicians, the condemnation to badly-paying freelance jobs or overly repetitive broadway pits, does not sound at all inviting.

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What gets me, however, is not the facts and figures she puts together explaining why the life of a musician is doomed, but the way she demoralizes the entire industry and makes it out to seem like everything is steeped in drugs, sex, nepotism, and similar low moral standing. Much of what she seems to be thrown into as a young impressionable teenager was a choice - after her violinist boyfriend dumped her at 16, there was no reason she had to go to the male flute professor to insinuate a relationship. She even says that she does this purposefully because of the rumors she has heard about him and past relationships with students.

That was an intentional move on her part. This seems to continue throughout her life - she makes it sound as if as a young, unassuming girl, these relationships presented themselves and she went along with them, while she was the one presenting herself as available in the first place. Also, I can vouch for the fact that not all music schools, and not all musicians are the way she describes. We are not anywhere near to all being completely crazy drug addicts who all hate our life and have sex with everyone in every orchestra we've ever been in.

This is so demeaning to the people in the profession who are respectable, happy people. In addition, she seems to have been almost thrust into becoming a musician, which she seems to blame on the North Carolina School for the Arts, more than the fact that it's just kind of how things happened.

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I have friends who have gone through the high school program as people who have thought through their lives and decided to go into music - for these people, it is a valuable experience that puts them ahead of most people entering conservatories. I respect the fact that she has made a new life for herself and has learned how to be a part-time musician and, it seems, be much happier with her life as a whole. I think it is important to realize that music isn't for everyone and her book does a good job of addressing that, albeit in an extremely blunt way.

It is good for anyone going into music to question that this is what they really want to do and make sure that they are prepared for a difficult time getting started, and maybe not making it to the best orchestra job, especially not immediately. One of the most frustrating points is that she seems to want to discourage young people from going into music entirely.

I understand completely the value of knowing the risks involved, having a backup plan, thinking seriously about what you are doing. These people exist. Sometimes, things don't work out for them. I think most of us understand that. In middle and high school, I took oboe lessons from someone who was trying her hand in the freelancing world.

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She was pretty fresh out of grad school after studying with pretty much the best teachers around and she was working around 3 jobs - one at a coffeeshop, among others and teaching your oboists like me. Also, she had planned on becoming a professional oboists since she was Her story pans out slightly like Blair's. Without the intense cynicism and seemingly hatred of the world. She now continues to teach, play in orchestras in the area, and works in the archives for one of the best orchestras in the country.

As far as I can tell, she really enjoys it. Letting go of dreams from childhood are undoubtably difficult, but do not have to be the end of the world and do not need to destroy you. Feb 16, Rama rated it really liked it Shelves: biography. In this book, she delves into the lives of the musicians and powerful men and women who control the world of classical music.

Tindall spares no punches when she recalls her professional career full of hard-luck, pain, self-loathing, deceit, and total addiction to sex, drugs and alcohol. As a freelance musician, she was introduced to cocaine parties and group sex in the decrepit apartments in and around the New York City.