Why I left the orchestra

I got the question on YouTube:

Why did you retire from orchestral playing?

Well, it’s pretty simple. When you’re bass clarinetist in an orchestra, you have no real ability to play the way you want to play. If you’re playing with another principal part (clarinet, oboe, etc.) you have to follow their lead. It’s just what you have to do, and it makes sense in context. If you’ve got a solo, you have to shape it the way the conductor wants. So you are essentially a really talented, flexible “tool” in the timbral arsenal.

Now, that’s cool. And it’s fun…for a while. But once you’ve run through most of the rep, it just becomes a job. And one where many of my colleagues were pretty jaded.

No job is perfect, but I felt like I would rather be my own boss as a musician. But of course, that doesn’t really pay the bills, so I “switched majors in life” and decided to throw my energy into my second love: advertising. So took a job in a big ad agency in NY, and have since moved around to a few others (I’m currently, as of this writing, at Amazon). This allows me the freedom to do what I want, and play what I want, and say what I want on/with the bass clarinet, and not have to worry about “playing the game.”

That decision isn’t for everyone, but it was the best decision I’ve made regarding my career, and I am happy I made it!

There you go. Thanks for writing!

Mike

Michael Lowenstern1 Comment