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Discussion Starter #1
So the company I work for part-time in addition to playing and teaching is having an open house with some other businesses. The other day my boss asked me to bring my sax and play during the open house. I told him "we'll see". Regardless of the recent thread as to if music is a profession or not, I take what I do seriously as a skill that I work hard at and as my primary source of income.

I know my boss thinks it would be no big deal and I don't want to seem stuck-up, but the thought of playing solo sax while people check out our office just doesn't appeal to me in any way. Although our office is small, the company I work for is a big national company that would have no problem hiring a band for the open house but instead I would be getting my huge $8/hr for playing--solo, none the less. I could have mentioned hiring me to bring a group in, but it came up in an off-hand way and I know the company would never pay for it.

Am I being unreasonable by not wanting to play? I feel like a lot of times people who arn't musicians just don't get it. Just because we love what we do doesn't mean we're like trained monkeys who will "play for the fun of it" whenever someone asks. Maybe it's the whole "playing" music thing. Most doctors I've met love what they do with a passion, but you would never say they are "playing" doctor. It would be insulting to their education and skill.

Does anyone else get asked to do this kind of thing? How do you handle it without seeming rude or do you just play whenever someone asks?
 

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It's your decision ultimately and I understand it completely, but I would offer this... sometimes you have to give to get. giving something away can reap huge benefits in the future. Just something to think about. (the only bad PR is no PR, look at it from various angles)
 

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Your saxophone could conveniently be at a tech's shop for its routine maintenance during the open house.
 

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Just tell him you take your music seriously as a professional and couldn't provide a good product playing without back-up. Then tell him that although you wouldn't mind playing for the company, your band has to be paid for their work.
 

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I've been asked to and did play my sax at work a couple times. It's was great icebreaker with my coworkers letting them know more about "my other side". Now they always ask when I'm playing next and they'll come out to see me.

I say do it. You could ask your boss to donate the money to your favorite charity that way it might really be worth something.
 

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Hmm...I know the feeling and have experienced what you have, not so much for sax playing, but for my other business, printing, photography, and graphic design. Friends and family always seem to want deals on things. The catch phrase I've always used was "This isn't my F-ing hobby." (not that I say that to friends and family). That work is how I make the money I need.

On the other hand, I think you might have a great opportunity here. I kind of like the donation to a charity idea that was mentioned before. But...even if you get nothing, I'd probably do it anyways. Just make sure you bring a hat or leave your case open for donations!
 

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Wow, that's a tought spot, I know how you feel. I've always tried to keep the knowledge of my musical activies to a few close friends at work and away from management for fear of becoming thought of as "that musician" and messing up chances for advancement. It's always fun when someone from work shows up at a restaurant or other gig that I'm playing, and does a double take, though. I just tell them most guys play golf, I play sax as a hobby.

One manager got wind of it once and told me that one of the VPs played French Horn (years ago) and some other manager played accordion. He was big on the idea of throwing us together at some company function and expecting us to be able to instantly make music together! Luckily he soon became distracted by something else and the subject was dropped.

Good luck to you, go with your gut. I like the "horn in the repair shop" idea. Tell him your kid knocked it over or something like that.
 

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Nothing like a good Sax, French Horn, Accordion trio. Actually, come to think of it, it might be pretty cool on some tangos!
 

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Frank D said:
Wow, that's a tought spot, I know how you feel. I've always tried to keep the knowledge of my musical activies to a few close friends at work and away from management for fear of becoming thought of as "that musician" and messing up chances for advancement. .
Man, what kind of workplace is that??! I'm glad I don't have to put up with such a work environment. But maybe that's why I never entered the corporate world (assuming you're in the corporate world). I'd rather have saxomophone's "problem." Saxomophone, what I'd do is one of two things:

1) If you are comfortable playing solo and think you can do a good job of it, then do it! Play a few tunes, then tell the management you have a full band that would be available for a paid gig at the annual Xmas party, or any party, for that matter. Hand out some cards.

2) If not comfortable playing solo, tell them your band would be willing to play for a fee.
 

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Put a hat out for the public to contribute while you're playing!
 

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Unless it says somewhere in your job description "plays saxophone for company events" then whether to play or not is entirely your call.

If you don't want to do it then say you don't feel comfortable playing solo in front of your co-workers, or that your sax is in the shop. Or just say that you'd rather not. If you're happy to do it then great, but don't get guilted into it.

I firmly believe that workers should bend over backwards for the company that employs them.

But not forwards...!
 

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Find work at a place where at least some of the people are even wierder than you are, if that's possible..... it makes you seem more normal. Also, it helps to be the boss :D
 

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The ideal thing you want to do is to find a way to politely tell him "no" while giving him an alternative solution in the process.

Seriously, I would tell him, "Look, I really appreciate the offer, but I feel really uncomfortable doing this as a solo act without any backing group. Let me do this for you... here's the number of one of the bandleaders I work with. If you give him a call, I know he'd be more than happy to take this project on."

Then you give him the name and number of one of your bandmates and ask him to hire you. ;)
 

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Just explain that you are a professional, and that this would be a professional gig with professional pay. I don't think that's too unreasonable. Be polite about it, of course.
 

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Interesting responses here...some of us say "do it", while others say "no", or "go with your gut."

Saxomophone, do you think doing it will help you in your job in anyway? I've been in situations where it has been a positive influence with the bosses. Or, do you think you'll become their "beaatch"...and they expect to you to play at any old gathering for free? It would really depend on your personal work situation...

When I was in the USAF, I would sometimes volunteer to play at the occasional retirement or function, and would sometimes even DJ a sqaudron party (I seemed to be the only one with a PA and a music collection that wasn't full of swear words). Both good and bad came of it...the exposure brought new customers to gigs, and even brought new gigs in the form of Christmas parties and other paying functions. On the other hand, I started getting all kinds of requests, such as "my daughter is graduating from high school...can you come play at our house?"

After awhile, you start to learn to pick and choose what's right for you...keeping in mind the costs of gas/horn maintenance/time, etc. I started thinking of it as a necessary cost of doing business...even lawyers occasionally do pro bono work (but they won't take just any case).

Good luck!
-A
 

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I've had this happen before. What I tell them is this. If they want to pay me to practice and perform instead of doing my current job then I am happy to oblige them (especially because this would be considered a good gig for what they pay me). But, for just a once in a while thing I would have to demand a customary rate (which exceeds my hourly rate by quite a bit) as it is unfair to those who DO hire me to play and practice. I try to be as honest and respectful as possible.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Thanks for the input. I'm glad I'm not the only one who gets put in these situations!

I decided not to do it--it was this weekend. Turns out that I would have played outside basically on the street corner and it rained on and off the whole time.

I explained to my boss that I really didn't want to play solo. I've done solo gigs before, but I can only think of a few sax players I'd want to listed to play solo for over an hour, and I'm not one of them. There were no hard feelings. He actually came out to hear me play that night with my regular band, so all is well.
 
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