Now is the right time to become an American Federation of Musicians member. From ragtime to rap, from the early phonograph to today's digital recordings, the AFM has been there for its members. And now there are more benefits available to AFM members than ever before, including a multi-million dollar pension fund, excellent contract protection, instrument and travelers insurance, work referral programs and access to licensed booking agents to keep you working.

As an AFM member, you are part of a membership of more than 80,000 musicians. Experience has proven that collective activity on behalf of individuals with similar interests is the most effective way to achieve a goal. The AFM can negotiate agreements and administer contracts, procure valuable benefits and achieve legislative goals. A single musician has no such power.

The AFM has a proud history of managing change rather than being victimized by it. We find strength in adversity, and when the going gets tough, we get creative - all on your behalf.

Like the industry, the AFM is also changing and evolving, and its policies and programs will move in new directions dictated by its members. As a member, you will determine these directions through your interest and involvement. Your membership card will be your key to participation in governing your union, keeping it responsive to your needs and enabling it to serve you better. To become a member now, visit


Stephen Laifer

Kate Foss

Boston Musician Kate Foss Lays Down the Foundation on Tuba and Bass Aside from sharing the same clef, you’d think the tuba and the upright bass couldn’t be any more different. You’d be wrong. According to Kate Foss of Local 9-535 (Boston, MA) and Local 802 (New York City), both allow her to do what […]

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Alex Acuña

For Drummer Alex Acuña, His Storied Career Has Been a Mix of Talent and Opportunity Some say the term “living legend” gets tossed around a little too often. But when you’re the drummer of choice to lay down the beat behind household names for more than half a century, the title is not only accurate—it’s […]

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Bass Clarinetist and Activist Beverly Setzer Believes Unions Help Both Sides

Most musicians involved in unionism can point to a moment that clearly illustrates why they believe in the power of organized labor. For clarinetist Beverly Setzer of Local 76-493 (Seattle, WA), that moment came shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic. “Back when we were still playing live performances, I worked at a jazz club in Seattle,” […]

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The Many Jazz Hats of Leigh Pilzer

A DC native and longtime member of Local 161-710 (Washington, DC), whose arrangements have been widely adopted by big bands.

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Catherine Sheridan

For This Trumpet Player, No Such Thing As Too Busy In case you think you’re doing too much, consider trumpet player Catherine Sheridan: a full-time civil engineer who heads up major infrastructure projects for New York State, she is also a near-full-time freelancer in pit orchestras for Broadway touring productions and a member of two […]

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Detroit Fellowship Prepares Oboist for the Career Field

In common with many kids who start on a different instrument, Geoffrey Johnson of Local 5 (Detroit, MI) didn’t come to the oboe until after the fact. “I started on the clarinet,” he recalls, “but my teacher in middle school thought I needed more of a challenge.” Progress was rapid, helped by his environment: “Music […]

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Sue-Ellen Hershman-Tcherepnin

Beyond Music, Boston Flutist Sue-Ellen Hershman-TcherepninFinds Ways to Make a Difference Intersectionality: it’s a word that Sue-Ellen Hershman-Tcherepnin says is sometimes overused, but it nevertheless applies to most areas of her life. A Massachusetts native, freelance flutist in the Boston area, and flute teacher at MIT, Hershman-Tcherepnin is also heavily involved in local refugee and […]

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Jazz Pianist Fred Hersch Deals Creatively with Isolation

Fred Hersch of Local 802 started playing piano at age four, and has since become one of the most prominent jazz pianists and educators in New York City.

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Karen Schnackenberg: Orchestra Librarians Are Also Essential Workers

Karen Schnackenberg has been principal librarian of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra (DSO) for nearly 30 years, and is still working through this pandemic.

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Helping the Music Shine Through: Guy Yehuda Believes Flexibility Leads to Success

For clarinetist Guy Yehuda of Local 56 (Grand Rapids, MI), versatility isn’t just a buzzword—it’s how he stays fresh and competitive in today’s heavily commercialized music world.

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