This is an older article from Polyphonic.org, but it is illuminating reading for those thinking about a career in music or those wishing to understand the life of a professional musician. Douglas Fisher makes some great points here. The article reads:
Among the highly educated and skilled professions, orchestra musicians make some of the greatest professional sacrifices in order to earn a full-time living. Just ask yourselves the following questions:
Except for business owners or partners, how many professionals do you know who must spend thousands of dollars out of their own pockets to purchase and maintain the equipment necessary to do their jobs?
How many highly skilled professions can you name where someone with an advanced degree and thirty years of experience earns about as much as a newly hired employee in their early twenties?
Are there any other professions where one might sit next to the same person for decades doing the exact same job the day before retirement that they did on the first day with no promotion and no raise in-between, other than cost of living?
With all of these sacrifices, how many professions do you know where there are thousands who compete like Olympic athletes for at best, a few dozen openings each year?
Indeed, life as a professional orchestra musician is filled with unique sacrifices. When I compare notes with close friends in other professions they are amazed that in some cases we must spend as much as a full years’ salary to buy an instrument and sometimes spend thousands more each year to supply and maintain it. The thought of having to buy and maintain their own computers along with the business related software they need to do their jobs horrifies them.
Read the complete article here.
It is hard to think of other professions that require laying down the amount of cash a musician must to secure professional equipment. My basses and bows cost more than my college education, and basses come cheap compared to other string instruments. I look around the warm-up room of a professional audition and sometimes try to calculate the combined dollar value of the instruments in the room plus the cost of the tuition spent at expensive music schools.