From a letter to the editor published in the Florida Times-Union Friday . . .

SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA

Musicians are stereotyped

I work for the Riverside Fine Arts Association as the outreach coordinator.

I am fortunate to be able to work with area musicians and utilize them in school programs.

I am appalled at the apathy given to the members of the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra during this most stressful time of negotiations.

It seems that the general populace thinks that these folks are just complaining and whining about not getting a pay raise.

Would the populace think differently if this wasn’t about the symphony and perhaps about other jobs?

Why is there still a stereotype that musicians can just pick up their instruments and perform?

Do people really think that local symphony musicians lead a glamorous life?

The 20-hour workweek quoted by symphony management is misleading.

It doesn’t include the numerous hours spent in practice. It doesn’t include the extra hours worked teaching private lessons.

It doesn’t include the extra gigs needed to supplement the limited income to sustain the instruments, school loans, basic living expenses, etc.

The majority of these musicians work to support a regular lifestyle, just as we all do.

They want the same basic living conditions that we all want – a house, a dependable car and something they can put away for their retirement.

Don’t think that because they make music for a living that they aren’t contributing something to society.

Don’t think that just because they don’t work 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. that they aren’t working hard. Yes, they pay taxes, just like the rest of us do.

Let go of the apathy and the stereotypes, people! We have a chance to keep this city alive and thriving with multicultural activity, but only if we have the options available – such as a great symphony.

LAYNE THOMPSON-PAYNE, Ponte Vedra Beach