Tag Archives: ieb member


As We All Go Back to Work, Know Your Value

by Terryl Jares, International Executive Board Member and President of Local 10-208 (Chicago, IL)

As the world begins to get back to normal, albeit what will most likely be a new normal, we will go back to work. For many of us, this has been more than a year without real employment. The ability to bring our talents to live and appreciative audiences was abruptly taken away by a relentless virus of which we had limited control.

Things are beginning to look brighter as we turn the corner and get back to work. However, it is extremely important to assess your value and know your self-worth. Understanding your musical abilities, remembering what you bring to the workplace, and the contributions you make to musical products are essential as we return to work.

First, you must have positive self-esteem. Feel comfortable with yourself and your abilities. Approach work with confidence and professionalism. Prepare yourself to go back to work and be ready when the time comes. To quote the tennis great Arthur Ashe, “One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation.”

Next, strive to make a difference. Whatever opportunity lies ahead of you, do your best to meet the challenge. If you are called to serve on a negotiating team, accept the role. Get involved and work to improve your contract. Know what your peers want and work toward achieving those goals. You may not get all you ask for, but you sure won’t get anything if you don’t ask for it.

Try to find and accept work that is exciting and fulfilling. We all have had gigs that we took just for the money and others that we truly enjoyed. Those that were fulfilling stick in our memories, add to our positive attitude, and enhance our creativity. As hard as it might be, try to avoid performances that are stressful and aggravating. They challenge your self-esteem and are not worth the money you may earn.

Finally, set financial goals and don’t allow yourself to undercharge for your musical talent—especially now, at a time when most venues had to abruptly shut down, dates were postponed or canceled, and everyone is struggling to get back on their feet. It may seem appropriate to discount your value or give added services. Employers will offer wages below union rates or even ask you to perform for free. There is a temptation to take the work just to get back into playing. Remember, unionism is based on setting wage standards that allow each of us to earn a living wage. We are stronger when we work together. This solidarity is the core of our existence and one we all must strive to achieve.


Stay-At-Home Requirements Promote Even More Creativity

by Terryl Jares, International Executive Board Member and President of Local 10-208 (Chicago, IL)

Musicians are creative creatures. Through this time of uncertainty, it is encouraging to see musicians express their talents in new ways. Through the use of online resources, I’ve enjoyed performances of everything from solo clarinet études and family ensembles performing in their homes to caravans of cars honking and singing happy birthday wishes. One musician with computer skills has taken individual recordings and put them together in a collage of sorts complete with conductor! On a neighborhood block with a collective of professional musicians, each night the families gather on each of their front porches and perform a selected composition ranging from “Old MacDonald” and “Over the Rainbow” to “Twist and Shout.” The only prerequisite is the song must be loud and upbeat.

Many musicians are finding supplemental income by teaching online music lessons to their existing students and introducing many children and adults to a new musical experience of learning to play an instrument. And, I understand, they aren’t having trouble getting their students to practice.

We are still under a stay-at-home order and nearly all employment for musicians, as we know it, has ceased across the United States and Canada. Orchestras have canceled their seasons, theaters are dark, restaurants and bars have closed, schools are shuttered, and even weddings are being postponed. This will eventually end. We will come out on the other side of this pandemic. It will be slow and we all must be patient to ensure the safety and security of everyone.

While we wait, be creative. Do something you never thought possible. Engage with each other in new ways. Find new outlets for your musical expression and experiment with new ideas. Most of all, continue to be as creative as you can be.