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A Key Note for Small Orchestras

Orchestra image (c) 2010 Eric PaytonOne of the key components of the classical music industry is small orchestras. Today, small orchestras have various characteristics that the larger groups are starting to imitate. While the small orchestras may tend to not be as good as the larger ones, they are all facing similar challenges—most notably, widespread financial troubles—which have an impact on the audience and their ability to support young musicians.

Back in 2003, a report issued by the Knight Foundation outlined the drastic changes that orchestras need to go through to withstand the challenges of the 21st century. These changes include choosing venues where they can play a variety of music, increasing community relations collaboration, and implementing educational strategies. These initiatives are the things that many small orchestras already have in place.

Nevertheless, this should not imply that small orchestras are always better equipped to surmount financial issues than the larger groups. Many members of small orchestras are challenged by fewer opportunities and lower pay rates. In fact, some have been forced to back out of the industry, while some freelancers that perform in large events have switched to smaller ones.

…they embody the true love of music…

Musicians increasingly are having to negotiate pay rates in order to survive in the industry. Last spring in a National Philharmonic concert, several performers decided to just donate their services. Small orchestras have one thing going for them; they embody the true love of music.

Some observations suggest that amateur players are more dedicated than the pros when it comes to the subject of music. This perception of passion for music is based on the tendency of amateur performers to forego big salaries in order to bring music to the masses. While the big-time musicians often base their willingness to play on the size of the compensation they receive in return, many amateur players are willing to play for love of the music, even when are not compensated for their time.

It’s quite difficult to treat each small orchestra the same. In terms of financial capabilities to launch an event, many small orchestras can compete with the bigger ones as their costs are much lower. While event budget varies from one state to another, the factors that determine each orchestra’s success really depend on the impact their music has on the audience.

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  • About the Author:
    Jeff Bachmeier is owner of, an online music and online radio station network providing live streaming Internet Radio channels with music from the 50’s thru Today. Users can also choose to create their own customized on demand playlist through their own social media profile.

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