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 www.afm.org/join.
June 9, 2017IM -
by Ginny Bales, Member of Local 400 (Hartford-New Haven, CT)
It would be remarkable enough to have played with jazz legends like Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Stan Getz, Chet Baker, Anita O’Day, and many others; to have entertained the troops with Bob Hope or led the band for the original Tonight Show; to have served long stints as musical director for Ann-Margret, Nancy Wilson, and Shirley MacLaine; and to have declined doing the same for Frank Sinatra. But can you imagine what it was like to tour with big bands led by Les Brown, Charlie Barnet, or Buddy Morrow?
Donn Trenner, a member of Locals 802 (New York City) and 47 (Los Angeles, CA), has done all of these things in his dream career characterized by consistent hard work, unstinting devotion to quality musicianship, and careful attention to making gigs run smoothly on all levels.
The AFM is important to Trenner. “I am a very devoted union member, starting in New Haven when I was 15 years old. I believe the benefits of being a member outweigh anything else,” he says.
Trenner’s life and career began in Connecticut, and we are fortunate that he has returned to this area where he continues to lead the Hartford Jazz Orchestra. Everyone who has ever known or worked with Trenner appreciates his depth of musical experience, gentlemanly charm, and sense of humor.
The book Leave It to Me: My Life in Music (BearManor Media, 2015) by Trenner and Tim Atherton, jazz educator at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire and Westfield State University in Massachusetts, tells the tale. It’s filled with gig stories and anecdotes often involving well-known musicians and entertainers.
Those interested in understanding how to write arrangements that work well will find Trenner’s insights invaluable. One section of the book is devoted to his philosophy of orchestration, and the entire book is peppered with observations on arranging, dynamics, instrumental balance, stagecraft, and how to bring the best performance out of other musicians.
At age 90, Trenner continues to be a role model. He connects us to iconic music “scenes” from classic jazz and big bands through international touring, TV, and Las Vegas-style shows. He continues to create beautiful music and also entertain through writing and speaking engagements.
A quote on Trenner’s piano reads: “Don’t just play notes—tell a story.” His key to happiness? “Keep music in your life. Music and laughter are the most important beneficial ingredients in a person’s life.”