What if a pit musician is not working out?

This is a very delicate and challenging situation. Say you hire someone you don’t know or don’t know very well to play in your pit, and it becomes pretty clear pretty fast that they are not up to the task. As Music Director, what should you do? I’ve encountered this situation twice, and while I have no one to blame but myself, I’ve learned a lot from these situations:

  • As soon as you realize the problem is not going to improve, act immediately. Network quietly to find a replacement, and once found, release the original player. Be sure to pay the player for the work they have already done. And be kind; this will hurt.
  • Set a minimum of experience you are willing to work with. For instance, unless it is a school production, I will hire graduate-school level at a minimum, with significant pit experience.
  • Always reach out to players you have played with before and who are excellent. And remember, you want nice people in your pit, so all things being equal, go with the person that is a personal as well as professional asset to the pit.
  • If you are hiring based on referrals, give preference for people referred by others you have personally played with. They know you and the other person, and won’t recommend someone they wouldn’t be willing to play with themselves.

I hope this doesn’t happen to you, but if it does and you want any advice, please feel free to contact me!

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