Columbus Symphony Orchestra is having this event where anyone can come in and play with the group.

Oh … and next week I’m going to be assisting in some knee replacement surgery just to see what it’s like. Or was it brain surgery. Hmmm. Doesn’t really matter, does it?

Okay, okay, I realize music is different than surgery. But still.

And I’m certain the Columbus Symphony isn’t trying to say “anyone could be up here” either. I think they are doing this as one little way of getting people more involved in their group. Everyone is looking for new ideas, right?

But I confess … there’s just something that sometimes irks me about how musicians in orchestras are often viewed. I immediately remember the real estate agent who was pretty upset when she learned that I earned money playing in the San Jose Symphony. “I played clarinet when I was in high school! I’m going to join that orchestra and get paid to play too” was her comment. (I carefully refrained from hitting her over the head.)

Do I sound like a snob? Probably. But really … not everyone can do surgery. Not everyone can play baseball professionally. Not everyone can play an instrument well enough to play in a professional group.

Yeah. Life isn’t fair that way.

The other day someone commented about a young player, “I can’t even hear the difference between your playing and hers any more!” Now I’m glad the person was so happy, but there was, if I dare say so myself, a large difference between my playing and the sweet young musician’s oboing. A few years back a parent told me that the high school musical was as good or better than anything professional she’d ever heard and seen. I also had to listen to a high school choral director tell her students that they were better than a local professional organization.

Do these folks really hear it that way? I think some do. It’s not that it’s true that these young and enthusiastic players are as good or better. It’s just that these listeners are unable to hear a difference.

I’m that way with other things. I can’t tell a good jewel from a fake. (Nor do I care.) I can’t always tell an expensive wine from a cheap one. And a purse that costs a thousand bucks looks just the same as my inexpensive bags anyway. (Whew!)

But I can hear differences in music. I’d better be able to, right?

I still can’t decide whether I want to do the English horn book or the principal oboe one, though. Sigh.

Okay. Ramble over and out.


  1. actually, i had thought about this before, why not bring in amateurs as a kind of “fantasy” weekend or whatever, it might test the pros patience, but might bring more into the symphony concerts. I’m sure they could charge for this and they would have plenty of signups, its hard for adults to find something decent thats not just for youth orchestra up and comers. I think its way stretching it for someone to be playing finlandia after only 6 months of learning, but anyway..!
    and good for your restraint in not hitting the agent over the head, she’s obviously never seen orchestra parts.

  2. Well yes, I can see your point! Thanks for the comment.

    Of course things would have to be done carefully; we wouldn’t want 10 oboists and 10 tubas players in the orchestra!

    As to the agent … she was so shocked she even came up the next day and said she was still sure she could play since she played clarinet in high school. Considering other comments I’d heard I just knew to keep my mouth shut. 🙂