I am looking for someone knowledgeable enough with Finale who would be looking for a class project. It would involved taking my midi files, already quantized in most part, except for a cello cadenza section, and printing a nice orchestral score. In return I can advertise the person’s name on my website . . . and on forums, and give him a recording of the live performance of the work as soon as it is performed.
It raises an important question. Since copywork like this takes a huge amount of time and effort, is this composer taking advantage of a student by asking him or her to work for free like this? Many professionals reading the thread took issue. One commented,
From my point of view, it would be equally valid for me to say, “Hey, I’m a great notator. Could one of you composer folk put some notes together for me to get on paper?”
Is your talent so much more valuable than mine?
It’s a good point and I have to agree in this particular case. The MIDI realization the composer posted is a nice piece, but it’s over 8 minutes long. Union scale for something like this would probably run into the thousands of dollars to hire a professional to do this notation. While I don’t have a problem with a student engraver working for less, it seems as if this composer is asking a little too much for too little compensation. A professional with experience doing this sort of work already knows the effort it will take to complete this project, a student really doesn’t have any idea what he or she would be getting into yet. I don’t think a mention on a web site and a free recording is anywhere near fair compensation for the probably hundreds of or even thousand hours of work it would take. Professionals who work with Finale regularly are much faster than someone just learning the software, so a student copyist would likely require a lot more time to complete it.
But beyond this particular situation, it is an interesting question to ask ourselves. At what point do you say “no” to doing work for free? The answer obviously depends on your current level of experience and such (professional, semi-professional, student training to be a professional, amateur). The amount of work and the pleasure you can get out of also comes into play.
I must admit to working for free all the time. In some cases, I do it purely for the fun of making music. I think it was comedian Richard Belzer who made the point that jazz musician is one of the few professions around where someone will finish work and then willingly go someplace else and work for free. I not only enjoy going to jam sessions, but I also sometimes perform with community groups or sit in with professional musicians simply for a little exposure or to give potential employers a sample of my abilities. This is probably not uncommon for professionals.
But there does come a point of where the payoff (building a reputation, making new contacts) isn’t worth the effort, even for students. It’s not uncommon for me to get contacted by people asking me if I can help them get a student ensemble to play at their event for “performance experience.” Under certain circumstances (charity event, official university event, etc.) I might try to help, but most of the time I have to explain that music schools are in the business of training professional musicians and part of that training involves negotiating for fair compensation. Many people seem to think that there is a coral of dressed up musicians just waiting for the opportunity to work for free.
Would you expect students in culinary school to cater your event without compensation for the “cooking experience?” Should student musicians be any different?