Meet the musicians who have taken up ‘viable’ jobs

Meet the musicians who have taken up ‘viable’ jobs


norman lebrecht

October 09, 2020

The Daily Mail has found some to interview:

As soon as lockdown was announced and my concerts cancelled, I looked up driving jobs. 

They appealed because of the flexibility and I was offered a job with Hermes that day.

I lost around £2,500 of musician income in the first couple of months of lockdown, but now I’m earning between £1,000 and £1,500 a month working four-hour shifts, five days a week. 

The money’s not as good as musician work, but the pay is more regular, and although I deliver up to 150 parcels a day, it’s up to me what time I start and finish…

Read on here.


  • V. Lind says:

    Hats off to all of them. I agree with the one who said it is a waste of the world-class talent involved, but they have behaved like adults, grasped the nettle and got down to earning a living while their own industry is one of those heavily affected by the virus.

    • EagleArts says:

      “I lost around £2,500 of musician income in the first couple of months of lockdown, but now I’m earning between £1,000 and £1,500 a month working four-hour shifts, five days a week.”

      That’s earning a living? Losing 50% of one’s income as a highly trained and educated professional musician, having to resort to delivering parcels? I agree one does what one has to during a global pandemic and economic disaster, but that lack of governmental support for these artists and UK arts in general is shameful.

      • Ellingtonia says:

        That’s earning a living? Losing 50% of one’s income as a highly trained and educated professional musician, having to resort to delivering parcels? ……………what an arrogant and snobbish response. If it wasn’t for the delivery drivers, lorry drivers and those in the retail / supermarket trade who kept things going during the current pandemic we would all be up **it creek. So take your middle class elitism and stuff it where the don’t shine!

        • Maybe says:

          Ellingtonia, EagleArts, in no way denigrated those whom you rightly praise. It is just a pity that such people as those musicians, are perhaps facing poverty and anxiety. I take it that you are not? Have you not a little empathy? Many musicians have worked very hard at their art, whatever the genre, and made sacrifices to support it. I worked night shifts in a factory, came home, practised, then off to another job in the evening. Those drivers etc., you mentioned, do not need you to patronize them, they are doing better than some, though many, in other jobs and professions are beginning to suffer. Or did you contrive this post, so as to relish the excuse to denigrate classical music as being elitist and middle class? ‘The Duke’, was not elitist, but many jazz musicians (usually the less than talented) I have encountered were! I have played with and directed all kinds of ensembles and groups, of people from all of society, some of whom were “snooty” : but it did not stop us from playing music, the distraction of which is sorely needed, whatever that music be. Be blessed.

      • NY Progressive says:

        They should try prostitution or porn. Same standards as opera; especially at the Met considering what’s been afoot with Gelb’s treatment of workers.

        Some would certainly make more money and have less student loan debt. There’s a market for fatties as well to be more diverse.

        In the end both types of performers are treated the same. Used and DUMPED by everyone..

        • Geezer says:

          Yes porn is probably the best money generator during cov-19 and they can do it quite safely working from home via Zoom etc. Apparently you can rig up a remote controlled Dildo online. A programme on Channel 5 discussed this a year ago.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      Completely agree. They’ve demonstrated flexibility and initiative; fortunately there were jobs for them to fill. It’s not so easy to find work now that the international economy is on its knees.

      Covid-19 isn’t going away; finding a way to isolate the vulnerable and continue normal life is absolutely necessary. The younger generations won’t thank us for any of it.

      • Maybe says:

        Sue, why on earth would a person ‘downvote’ this? It sounds like wisdom wrought from experience. We have to face life as it is, and, yes, somehow make it better for those younger generations-many of whom, want to join in. Never so frustrated, being stricken to my bed, not to be out there wheeling around those like me. Boring them to death, rather than those who come here. HA! Be well and happy 🙂 Btw, are you related to Eric Thiman?

    • G says:

      Government chooses which industries are affected by the virus. The virus doesn’t have agency. The government’s job is to protect people. This doesn’t mean only protecting people from the virus (which they should). It also means protecting people from the redundancy and poverty that their new restrictions create. The government have the ability to continue to support and subsidise government agencies and many other businesses, and they are. Just not ones they don’t care about. Sure these people are being adults; one cannot say that about the government.

  • Darrell says:

    Instead of regretting the loss of the job, they should celebrate having had it. Blessed are the times when you could earn a living just by playing the trombone all day long. Welcome to the 21st century (Chinese flavour.)

    • Craig says:

      But it’s not just their loss. It’s everyone’s loss. It’s just many don’t know that yet I guess.

    • Maybe says:

      Darell, what have you lost during these times? I hope you have not lost anything. However, that little word “JUST” is bound to wound many, especially at such times as these. Celebrate what you have..

  • J says:

    In the US, due to the ineptitude, failure, ignorance, and dysfunctionality of the Trump/Pence administration in its dealing with the TRUMP VIRUS, we will be seeing more of this. We’ve heard a lot about the personnel of symphony orchestras, for instance, taking pay cuts, but let’s not forget about all the subs, ringers, extras and freelancers who get nothing if they don’t play/perform. They may be able to find work in other fields, if there’s anything left of the US economy after Trump/Pence get done f**king it up.

    • CA says:

      Unfortunately it won’t pay a living wage.

    • Deplorable Bassoonist says:

      What a stupid, childish response. You are woefully misinformed, or more likely, lie because you don’t like Trump. Be honest: before the pandemic the US economy was at an all-time high. Record employment, stock market booming, everything was going great. Then the WUHAN Virus, close down the economy, close schools, theaters, concerts, museums – everything. But we’ve slowly reopened with some hiccups along the way to be sure, but the economy is almost up to pre-pandemic levels. Trump/Pence didn’t destroy the economy – the built it once to an unmatched level and are doing it again. It’s not their fault that the Chinese Communist government unleased a horribly contagious disease into the world – and you should at least know that no country on earth has been immune – Trump or no Trump. The orchestra situations is world-wide. Didn’t the Czech Republic just reclose everything? How many concerts with full audiences or orchestras have happened in Germany, that bastion of liberalism? We’re all concerned about the future of classical music, but trying to score political points by bashin the president is just deplorable.

      • John Kelly says:

        Thank you Mr Bassoon, you are the perfect spokeperson for the alternative reality known as Fox “News”

        • Sue Sonata Form says:

          That network plays the partisan game no more or less than the rest (all grouped together to support the Left). They are, in fact, the lone voice in the mainstream. Of course, you don’t like an oppositional voice – we get that. But my son works in the resources industry and leaders from American gas giants and other resource companies have spoken to him this time last year at corporate functions and the words from one African American CEO from Texas: “the US economy is absolutely going gang-busters right now”.

          The Left doesn’t like facts because they find these emotionally unsatisfying.

        • Claudio A. says:

          You people still only cite ONE channel to be threatened by after all these years…lol.

      • J says:

        1. “You are woefully misinformed, or more likely, lie because you don’t like Trump.” I’m not misinformed and I don’t like Trump. Did you like Obama? Doubt it.
        2. “Record employment, stock market booming, everything was going great.” This is not true. Manufacturing has been down since Trump was elected, and a first year business school student knows that what the stock market is doing and what the real economy is doing are not mutually inclusive. Also farming was hit hard by Trump’s disastrous tariff policies.
        3. “Then the WUHAN Virus, close[ed] down the economy…” It will forever be known as the TRUMP VIRUS because of the items I enumerated previously. Heck, he even contracted it himself.
        4. “…the economy is almost up to pre-pandemic levels. ” You are drinking the Kool-Aid. This is absolutely false and with winter upon us, many more businesses will soon face permanent closure. Where are you getting your information from?
        5. “Trump/Pence didn’t destroy the economy – the built it once to an unmatched level and are doing it again.” False, false, false. Their actions are directly responsible for where we are now.
        6. “It’s not their fault that the Chinese Communist government unleased a horribly contagious disease into the world…” The strain of the virus that caused most of the initial damage actually came from Europe. And why would the Chinese unleash something that they themselves would not be able to contain? You must watch a lot of Fox news about the TRUMP VIRUS.
        7. “We’re all concerned about the future of classical music, but trying to score political points by bashin the president is just deplorable.” I don’t need to score political points for any reason. Did you read the initial sentence of my first post? Here it is again: In the US, due to the ineptitude, failure, ignorance, and dysfunctionality of the Trump/Pence administration in its dealing with the TRUMP VIRUS…” That’s a fact and there’s not disputing it. If you want to defend Trump’s response, that is your business, but I would say that you’re not paying attention. Why on earth would you come to his defense?; a million to one he has NEVER attended a concert or given support to any arts organization. Please correct me if I’m mistaken. Enjoy your Kool-Aid.

      • A Pianist says:

        Before Covid the Trump economy had the lowest unemployment rates in American history for Blacks and other minorities. Maybe J is against that.

        Also if you think Germany is a “bastion of liberalism” I’ve bet you never lived there for a few years like me. In particular I have some dark-skinned friends in the eastern parts like Potsdam and Dresden. Their stories would curl your hair. Ask them if Germany is a bastion of liberalism.

      • mikhado says:

        I’m a furloughed cellist, tell me, does being a paid troll make up for lost wages?

        • Shandra Kimball says:

          Cuomo made that decision due to the China Virus J.

          You can see his leadership skills on full display under NYS Stage 4. Everybody is still WAITING as usual.

          • J says:

            Leadership and decision making start at the top. There is no leadership at the top. That’s why we have the TRUMP Virus. In the absence of a national strategy, what is a state governor supposed to do? Do you think it gives him pleasure to close down Broadway? Did you read what the dollar amounts are? Do you know what the Met. Opera brings in annually? What choices do these arts organizations have, and not just in NY, when there is no effective federal response? They do what needs to be done because there is no leader or leadership in Washington. That is not conjecture, it is not opinion; it’s a fact. In the context of this web site, it is a reality that many performing artists are going to have to deal with for a long time.

          • No way ‘J’! says:

            You’re PROJECTING your own party’s failures onto both the CHINA virus and your president as usual.

            You have an entire army of powerful government officials on your side and it means NOTHING because you people amount to NOTHING…collectively. Progressives. Yeah, progressing to the poor house!

            You people have got-
            Nancy Pelosi
            Chuck Schumer
            Andrew Cuomo
            Chris Cuomo…his brother on CNN who got KungFlu and is FINE!!
            Bill De Blasio
            Lohan Omar
            Rashida Talib

            You’re actually admitting that ALL of your representatives are too powerless, stupid and lazy to help you?!?!?!?!?!

            The only thing you have is hate…of yourselves.

          • MDR says:

            You actually just don’t understand how any of this works, do you.

          • Yolanda Eaton says:

            I agree with you that Democrats are helpless victims. The question is how to get them the psychological assistance they need.

          • J says:

            Thanks for your concern. One thing that would be worth 100 hours of therapy would be to put Trump on a slowly melting piece of ice in the artic circle. If’s there’s room, and they have enough toilet paper (shortages with the TRUMP VIRUS you know), I would also put Barr, Donald Junior and Miller on the same berg. This way, our mental health is improved and the polar bears get a snack, if they can stomach the rancid taste. As a treat, Trump and company can bring along a Ted Nugent cd, and for bathroom reading I suggest “The Art of the Deal,” also good in case they run out of TP. Have a nice day!

      • Conner says:

        The top 10% of wealth owns 84% of the Stock market, the top 1% of wealth owns 50%.
        And no musicians I know are a part of the “booming stock market”.

      • Bill says:

        Trump’s about to be sent packing. Bigly. And it’s not just because if his bad hair.

      • Chuck says:

        You need therapy. Trump is a chimp and you are not an educated person.

    • Maria says:

      Unless you’re Aaran Copland, composers in America have always had to have a teaching job on which to live and survive. That goes back to the 1940s and all sorts of wonderful American composers, nothing to do with sitting presidents of the day be they Republican or Democrat, or an Evangelical or a Catholic christian, and certainly not Trump’s fault, like him or not. Far too many musicians and singers being trained for the amount of work in the first place, long before the pandemic and bolstering up the funds of music colleges being stuffed with mostly talented students but the work is simply not there and hasn’t been for years.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      Trump has tried to keep the economy going but has faced a barrage of hysterics from the Left. Hand-wringing, crying jags, baiting, finger-pointing; the standard schtick of the Left, I’m afraid. And please don’t suggest he was merely protecting his own health but not walking the talk – like living in his basement and expecting the rest of the world to take risks.

      Sure, Trump is an ignorant man – but he tried to keep America going during Coronavirus pandemic. And let’s not forget 200,000 dead but 600,000 abortions. Not a breath about the latter.

      • J says:

        You’re right. I’ll bet Trump, Kushner, Pompeo, Barr, Miller, Kudlow, Bannon, et all, paid for quite a few of those abortions.

        • J says:

          Huge omission. Donald, Jr., many apologies for not giving you a mention. I’ll bet you’re at the top of the list. (Can’t imagine anyone wanting to shag Eric. That’s OK Eric, I’m sure you keep yourself happy!)

      • Bill says:

        So, let me get this straight: Trump is this all powerful he-man savior who has never made a mistake and is the only one who is tough enough face off with Putin North Korea and China, yet he apparently can’t withstand a little criticism from the hysterical left and he’s about to be defeated by someone he claims is a senile communist who will be responsible for an upsurge in crime and an out of control progression of COVID even though it’s happening right now on Trump’s watch. Got it.

        Oh, and just so you know, his “miracle cure” apparently used aborted fetal tissue in its development.

    • Liz says:

      So exhausted of this false narrative.

      These musicians profiled in the UK. How does the Trump/Pence response affect them?

      I’m no Trump fan, but it astonishes me that many have such a blind hated of Trump, they view everything through this same myopic lens, rabidly consuming any “Orange Man Bad/OMB administration bad/Republicans bad” narrative with zero curiosity for actual facts or broader context.

      • J says:

        There’s a parallel situation here in the US. Perhaps individual musician stories have not had the profile exposure as that provided by the Daily Mail. But they exist. Because of the TRUMP virus, performing artists in the US have been affected by the lack of leadership in Washington. It’s not about hating anyone. It’s about expecting a rational response to a pandemic that does not discriminate. In the US, republicans control the WH, the senate and have a slim edge at the SC. Therefore, they are in charge and they bear responsibility for how these situations are being handled. Do you think that 210,000 deaths and close to 8 mil positive TRUMP virus cases is an indicator of effective leadership? Do you think that the closure of so many symphony halls and the cancellation of the entire season of one of the world’s pre-eminent opera houses is an indicator of this being under control? It’s not just in the US, it’s everywhere. But formerly, the US would lead the world in response and leadership in these types of crises. Sadly, we are now on the receiving end of scorn and ridicule. And that points to one person.

      • V. Lind says:

        It astonishes me how so many people who would doubtless consider themselves sensible adults can accept this RIDICULOUS man, who lies as quickly as he breathes, who spends a portion of every utterance praising himself — and not just citing accomplishments justifiably, but stating that everything HE comes into contact with has to be “the best;” whose comprehension of and interest in THE TRUTH is non-existent.

        He is nothing more than a narcissist, which is not just a vain individual but one with a pathology so severe that it is incapable of comprehending anything completely because it is not all about him. His world view is entirely composed of how he finds people’s reactions to him. And he has dictated to them what they are to be — that he is “the best.”

        What is wrong with the American people that they cannot see through this braggadoccio, this vainglorious fool whose bigotry and ignorance and sexism and utter lack of empathy is so egregious? When did Americans get so irrational?

    • Frederick Tiberon says:

      If Democrats believed in funding and preserving the arts, they would have done something of financial significance by now.

      As usual if you’re on the Left, your own party let you down and is too busy arguing and projecting their failures on others to HANDLE anything.

      I thought your mostly WHITE with a few WOC’s leaders (Pelosi, Schumer, AOC, Rashida Talib, Ilhan Omar, Brown, Cuomo, De Blasio, etc) have actually been doing something all these months!!

      Why Democrats still believe ANYTHING these people say as they loose their jobs and homes with no monetary help is beyond comprehension.

      By the way, where’s Hilary Clinton and Obama??? They too are totally helpless VICTIMS as usual? No fundraisers to help you but only themselves yet again?!?!

      -Downvoting means you agree with me but you’re embarrassed as hell with no evidence to the contrary…

  • Steve says:

    I recall some time ago Brazilian ex-president Lula saying something like: ‘…is this all we want, a society where we all stay home eating take-way pizzas delivered by Uber drivers?..’. And that was before the pandemic… Thanks covid for accelerating our decline.

  • Realist says:

    There are many industries that are suffering; plenty of redundancies and real hardship is occurring across the board. While this might not appeal to all, unfortunately ‘doing something else’ on the side is going to be a necessity for a while. Others are in the same boat and are frantically searching for work too.

    Sadly this global pandemic is causing havoc for many, we are in a time of crisis, but a time to celebrate and perform again will come. I hope that we are all able to come together and make music again as soon as it is safe.

  • Fred Funk says:

    And the alternate profession for a Viola player is? Pet grooming, recycling, and door-to-door ice cream delivery?

  • Geezer Butler says:

    Playing the piano in a knocking shop used to be one way of keeping the fridge full and the rent man at bay.

    Cov-19 has shut down all the knocking shops, they all “work from home” now.