Our members play musical instruments and get paid for doing so. We have full-time musicians in the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra which is our primary CBA. Our other three CBAs are part-time or per/service engagements with the Milwaukee Ballet Orchestra, the Skylight Music Theatre, and Broadway Across America. Amongst these four bargaining units, you will find the finest classical, jazz, and commercial studio musicians in the city. Many of our members are professors or instructors in all of the area universities, colleges, and conservatories. You will also find them teaching in our public schools during the day, and performing at night. We also build and repair musical instruments in the area’s music stores. In addition to performing, many of our members are composers and arrangers for all types of genres and ensembles. You will find our members playing solo performances, to massive symphony concerts with over one hundred musicians on stage.
Image is Laborfest Parade participants from 2019. The band on the truck with our Entertainment Unions Coalition. (Local 8, Actors Equity, IATSE local 18)
Musicians in the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra will have rehearsals during the week and performances on the weekend. They may or may not have time to teach or pursue other endeavors. Even though the total hours of rehearsing and performing might only reach around 20 hours per week, this does not take into account the hours of individual practicing to maintain a high level of performance. Most non-profit organizations like the Milwaukee Symphony, Milwaukee Ballet, and Skylight Music Theatre, will schedule several rehearsals before the first performance. This is usually not the case with for-profit organizations such as recording studios, big-name solo acts, and Broadway touring shows. A Broadway tour that picks up local musicians will have one run-through rehearsal, a sound-check, then the opening performance all on Tuesday, followed by seven more shows through the rest of the week. This type of work demands perfection the first time and it can be stressful even though it is usually quite fun. Most of our union employment is quite rewarding as this type of work attracts very talented musicians.