06. December 2010 · Comments Off on Careers Lost, Careers Changed, Careers Combined · Categories: News

There are two articles on musicians and this wacky career. One is a bit more depressing. The other is about changing careers — or adding a career while keeping music — and that one seems more upbeat to me. Maybe it’s because it begins with an oboist. Hmmm.

It was a good living. But the New York freelance musician — a bright thread in the fabric of the city — is dying out. In an age of sampling, digitization and outsourcing, New York’s soundtrack and advertising-jingle recording industry has essentially collapsed. Broadway jobs are in decline. Dance companies rely increasingly on recorded music. And many freelance orchestras, among the last steady deals, are cutting back on their seasons, sometimes to nothingness.


In the sunny front room of her Little Italy apartment, at a work table filled with unusual tools, Diane Lacelle uses a gouger, a micrometer and a guillotine to make a reed for her oboe. Lacelle is 45, and has been playing oboe professionally for 25 years. The reed is key to the instrument’s sound and for an oboist, the painstaking preparation of reeds is part of the job description.

“If you scrape at the wrong place and remove too much, you ruin the reed,” she said as she shaved off a fraction of a millimetre. “Students want to know the secret of making reeds. There’s no secret, just practice and lots of reeds in the garbage. Oboists are like beavers, we spend half the time scraping away. You have to be patient, meticulous, precise.”

When a dentist friend suggested that Lacelle could apply these qualities to a career in his field, she was intrigued.


I sometimes think about what I’d do if this career of mine fell apart (or if it was taken away from me). I love research. But I’m not exactly a brain. I sort of enjoy busywork (yeah, that’s what a person with little brain enjoys sometimes). Is there some way I can combine those two and find a new career? I wonder.

Someone want to hire a neurotic oboist? C’mon, you know you do!

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