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#1493847 - 08/11/10 09:55 PM working over-time on rehersal, what to do?  
Joined: May 2008
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etcetra Offline
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I recently had a gig that was paying for rehearsals, and on the last rehearsal the band leader made us stay an hour longer because he felt like we weren't prepared.

I let it go because it was the first time working with them, but I had a major disagreements with local musicians about this. I told them that they are paying me for rehearsal time, and they cannot make us stay any longer than what we agreed upon. And I need to protect myself from being taken advantage of, because who knows, they might ask for 2 more hours next time, and so on. I mentioned that professional orchestras in US are required to take breaks and stop rehearsals in time by law to avoid potential abuse by the conductors.

What bothered me was the fact the people I was arguing was telling me how I was being a brat for not wanting to practice, and that I was rude when I told them, "it isn't my problem if the band isn't sounding good, and if they need more rehearsal, they still need to compensate for that time"

Also, the conductor was spending majority of time fixing problems in the horn section, which wasn't very professional. I admit I didn't do everything right, but I did practice&fixed my problems on the 2nd rehearsal. As far as I know I did my job and I was staying longer to help fix other people's problems. Some of them even admitted that they didn't practice their material.

So what do you guys think and what do you guys do in situations like this?

Last edited by etcetra; 08/12/10 12:26 AM.
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#1493870 - 08/11/10 10:38 PM Re: working over-time on rehersal, what to do? [Re: etcetra]  
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GretchensPianos Offline
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Payment and overtime can always be dicey issues with music gigs, unfortunately.

I'd say that what's important is to be pleasant but very firm, keep track of your own hours, discuss the situation with the person who actually writes the checks, and don't back down.

I had a similar situation at a college last Spring. New conductor, one additional very long gig, earlier call times, but the administration was clueless.

After 4 emails to the President's office, I eventually got paid.

BTW, it won't help, even if you're feeling frustrated and angry, to let that be part of the conversation. And I'd guess that the other players have nothing to do with your pay.

If I were the only one being paid by the hour, I'd keep that to myself, or between me and the treasurer of the group.

Good luck!

Oh, and next time, get a written agreement before the first rehearsal.

Gretchen Saathoff
Director of Music
Christ United Methodist Church, Northampton, MA
http://gretchenspianos.wordpress.com ~ website, blog.
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about making steady progress!
#1493888 - 08/11/10 11:14 PM Re: working over-time on rehersal, what to do? [Re: GretchensPianos]  
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etcetra Offline
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Thanks so much for your advice. I do try to be nice about things, but I do realize how important it is to be firm about my position sometimes. When I was starting out I experienced several situations where people were taking advantage of me because I was too nice to speak up for myself.

Part of the problem is that I live in Asia, and Asians tend to avoid situations that may seem "confrontational" (even though discussing the situation really isn't that confrontational to me). It's also out of the fear that they might lose the gig. But I think it's a bad idea to not speak up, because you are on a slippery slope and people can take advantage of you for that.

For example, I have been working with bands that are very lax about time. They would often start 30 min late, take long breaks, and the gigs would end on 2am because of that. I did let the band leader know that situations like that makes it really difficult for me to work with them because I have to wake up the next day early to teach students.

I was shocked when some people suggested I say nothing and put up with it, because I might lose the gig. it's kind of hard to understand where they are coming from, because I would like people to be very straight forward if I am not doing something right, and a I've seen how major performance problems never gets fixed because no one was willing to speak up.

BTW I am speaking up only because the situation serious, like people showing drunk to gig, or the instrument they provided was not in playable quality (like toy casio or severely out of tuned piano), or finding out that there was no bass player on the day of the gig. I usually let go of small things, but I do think it's important to draw the line somewhere.

I think that's why people here discourage me ask for written agreement too, which makes it hard for me to protect myself from things like students canceling lessons last minute.

Last edited by etcetra; 08/12/10 12:17 AM.
#1493909 - 08/11/10 11:53 PM Re: working over-time on rehersal, what to do? [Re: etcetra]  
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etcetra Offline
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Double posted

Last edited by etcetra; 08/12/10 12:15 AM.
#1494061 - 08/12/10 07:35 AM Re: working over-time on rehersal, what to do? [Re: etcetra]  
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uk south
Hi Etcetra,
getting paid for a rehearsal is a rare treat (probably not for a jazz gig i guess) but I reckon being a little bit flexible and not seeming too money grabbing has got to be a good thing.
At the next rehearsal make it obvious that you have somewhere important directly the rehearsal finishes (ie another gig) and hopefully they will get the message. If they are paying for rehearsals then you won't mind doing another extra one but dragging the rehearsal on for a few hours extra (unpaid and without advance notice) is not really good form.

#1494063 - 08/12/10 07:38 AM Re: working over-time on rehersal, what to do? [Re: etcetra]  
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Guy Offline
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I can recall two sort-of similar situations for me, but both were big band gigs, not rehearsals:

In the first one, I recall it was a four-hour gig, and it was supposed to be 3 sets with breaks. Brass players need breaks! Not want, but need. Anyway, when we were all set up, the event hadn't really started (a dinner-dance). Starting at about the half-hour mark, we played for maybe 10 minutes. The organizers asked us to stop playing for dinner. So we sat. For well over an hour. Then we finally started. What was then supposed to be a set, a break, and a last set, turned into one long set. After playing for about an hour, we were supposed to play some kind of "endless" tune for a "grand march". So we did that, and then we kept playing another set. At the end of four hours total, we'd been playing for about 2-1/2 straight, and I was exhausted, mentally and physically. We were already overtime, and he started to call out "one more tune." I lost it, and I freely admit I was unprofessional (but I also felt it was after an evening of being treated unprofessionally -- by the way, our remaining audience didn't see the interaction). After that particular gig, I told the bandleader that I was going to take a month off, and in fact I never returned to the band. They also didn't call me to return. I didn't lose any sleep over it.

A couple of years later, I was with another band and we were scheduled to play a dance that ran from 7-9pm. The regular bandleader wasn't with us that night, and somehow some communications got crossed up. A couple of band members didn't show up until almost 8pm (that, in and of itself, really pisses me off -- band members are usually asked to show up an hour early for setup, soundchecks, etc. -- but there's always the slackers that show up with ten minutes to go, and it almost always causes gigs to start late). Anyway, I could tell the way this one was going, and given my other experience with getting cranky when running overtime, I headed this one off at the pass by telling the sub bandleader that I really had to leave at 9pm. Sure enough, when 9pm rolls around, he's starting to call more tunes. After about 5 extra minutes (one tune), I told him again that I really had to leave and started to pack up. They continued to play. I left.

(there's more to this story -- it wasn't really a paying gig. It was a dance group that allegedly would "pass a hat", but that never seemed to happen -- same people, month after month, but nobody was really paying)

But here's another situation: same band as this last one. Scheduled to play 3 hours for a wedding. About halfway through, the party is really going strong. Somebody talks to the bandleader, and then he says to us, "we've been asked to possibly stick around for another hour. They'll pay us for it. Can you do it?" Everyone agreed (even me!). That's how to treat band members with respect. Ask them, don't keep calling "just one more tune" without an end in sight.

I know that I have strong feelings on this topic, and some of you probably think it is prima donna behavior...it is sort of like I budget myself, physically and mentally, for a gig. I'm there for setup, at least an hour early, and I expect to help tear down. A four-hour gig lasts 5-1/2 hours (plus travel time) minimum. I want to know how many sets there are, and how long do they last. I budget myself for those sets. I leave everything on the table, and after four hours I'm tired. Even if I've been not playing for half the gig, I'm still tired after four hours. If you ask me at the two hour mark if I can play another hour, I'll agree and reset my thinking. But if you ask me with time expiring, I'm pretty much done.

Rehearsals -- I hate wasting time. Rehearsal time is not for practicing individual parts, especially for band members that don't practice at home. I suppose I've been in rehearsal situations (but not as a paid accompanist) where things have run late, or just before an important gig, we're really polishing things. But I would be extremely peeved if rehearsals went long because someone else wasn't prepared.

That reminds me of another big band gig I had. A saxophonist, artist-in-residence at a local university, hired ringers to fill out a big band. I did that for maybe 6 years or so. He was a great player, and could arrange things in mere minutes, but the problem was that his scores were pencil scratches on paper. Rehearsals were spent deciphering the chicken scratches. I didn't have a problem with that, but there were other band members that did. They wouldn't remember his direction from rehearsals, and wouldn't listen to understand what the guy was talking about, and they didn't make good enough markings on their parts. They would really struggle in rehearsals, and I got frustrated with it too because it seemed like I was always waiting around for the other guys. How could they not see what was going on? I felt the bandleader should have been replacing some of these alleged ringers. We had more than a few train wrecks in concert. Masked well, for the audience, but train wrecks nonetheless.

So if you've made it this far -- I think it was Dear Abby that said "nobody can take advantage of you without your permission." Talk to the conductor, and let him know that you've got time issues, and that running overtime is a problem. Don't feel bad about being annoyed. It's an annoying problem.


#1494213 - 08/12/10 12:20 PM Re: working over-time on rehersal, what to do? [Re: Guy]  
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Also, tell the conductor that he is cheating himself as well as others if he is working overtime without getting paid.

Semipro Tech
#1494236 - 08/12/10 12:44 PM Re: working over-time on rehersal, what to do? [Re: Guy]  
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etcetra Offline
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Thanks for the long response. I agree that you need to take in account of the physical strain you get from playing that long. I've had tendonitis before and 4hr rehearsal+practicing earlier during the day was really tough on my hands.

Part of the problem is that the conductor picked pieces that were too difficult for the horns. Not all of them were professional, and they were struggling even though they've been playing the pieces long before I started rehearsing with them.

Sometime being friendly and diplomatic won't cut it. I remember at this one gig the bandleader was getting pissed off at me for not bringing a keyboard (they only had a piano at the venue). I really had to stand my ground and told him that nobody told me to bring a keyboard, and the drummer told me he'll look into the situation and let me know, but he never did. It felt really uncomfortable, but I did get my point across.


If the problem persists I will let the director know, and that it's tough on my hands. He seems like a nice guy and he is not doing this to take advantage of people.

But it would have helped if he let us know rehearsal going to be longer.. because by the time we finished, the subway here is closed. someone was nice enough to give me a lift home, but otherwise I would have had to take a cab.

Since the problem was mainly with horns, I think it would have been better off if they had sectionals first. You shouldn't be spending 30 min on a song fixing major problems in the last rehearsal for almost every tune.

Last edited by etcetra; 08/12/10 12:54 PM.

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