How to survive as a brass player in tough economic times: bartering

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barterBy Bruce Chidester –

Few of us remember much if anything about the Depression (the real Depression) and the word bartering may not be one we use today in casual conversations, but you might look into it.

By definition the word bartering refers to the exchange of goods or services for other goods or services without the exchange of currency…

This may sound off the wall but as the economy continues to falter, the practice of bartering starts to make more since each day.

Most everyone is faced with increased expenses and in many cases we can find ourselves out of work. Being out of work with few options is a frightful condition and whether you are on your last $100 or concerned with the funds you have saved, bartering may be of help to you in these troubled times.

What do I have to offer?

If you have spent most of your life in the field of music, you surely must have talents worth something. Here are some suggestions for areas you may be qualified to offer-

  • If you are a brass player and have taught or even think that you would like to teach lessons, you may have talents worth trading.
  • If you have composing or arranging skills, you may look into trading these strengths for something you need.
  • If you are lucky enough to play a keyboard or guitar and can entertain an audience by yourself, you might be able to turn that into services or products you need.
  • Do you have the ability to repair instruments or even clean instruments?
  • Do you have experience in theory which you could teach in a private student setting?
  • Are you able to perform at a sufficient level to perform solos for the public?
  • Are you able to write or even copy music well enough to attract attention of others?
  • Are you capable of quality piano tuning?

If I can get paid for these services, why can’t I do them for money?

If you can get paid for your service, by all means, do it. But as the money continues to tighten, these jobs will be harder to find as everyone continues to cut back on expenditures. When money is tight, one of the first things to go would be something from the list above. Your friends are in the same financial bind as we are and budgeting private lessons or getting the family piano tuned (if anyone still has a real piano any more) is not going to happen.

If a parent could get lessons for their son or daughter and not have to pay out any cash, all the better. This is the beauty of the bartering system. You are able to acquire what you want or need and you do not have to spend your money. In addition to this benefit, there will be no taxes involved.

What could I barter for?

Bartering involves the exchange of talents, products or service and knowing what is available is your first step in this process. To get you started, you might begin with the suggestions listed below:

  • Do you need a baby sitter?
  • Do you sometimes need a dog or cat sitter?
  • Would you like to have someone look after your house while you are on vacation?
  • Would you like to have your lawn cut or your car washed on a regular schedule?
  • Is your neighbor a shade tree mechanic?
  • Would your wife enjoy someone else cleaning your home?
  • Would your barber want to trade hair cuts for trumpet lessons?
  • Is your guitar playing friend interested in learning to play the trumpet?

The list above gives only a few examples for each person has different circumstances and surroundings.

To identify what would work for you, you will have to spend some time identifying what you need and who might be able to fill that need.

The next step is to identify your strengths and match those with persons who could benefit from your talents.

Once you have identified the connections, it would be up to you to make the offer.

In some cases, you may be turned down but you must realized that we are all under the same financial pressures and if you are able to help your neighbor and they in turn can help you both parties are benefited.

6 Responses to “How to survive as a brass player in tough economic times: bartering”

  1. jazzkinngly says:

    Is your wife interested in having someone else clean your home?! Really? Are we still living in the ’50s?!

    • Jon Gorrie says:

      Thanks for your comment! :)

      I have to say, I also reacted to that point! It does sound like it comes out of the 1950’s!

      However, we try to edit guest articles as little as possible. The author (Bruce Chidester) might just have some explaining to do! 😉

    • Seriously? You were offended by that line? Come on lighten up. I don’t think there was anything sexist about that at all.

      Maybe he was speaking directly to all of the lesbian trumpet players that live in Mass. & Hawaii.

      Political correctness has really hurt our society.

  2. jazzkinngly says:

    Pretty extraordinary sexism, and also implies that all brass players are male.

  3. Bruce Chidester says:

    I have been invited to clarify my intent in my recent post and for that reason I am responding.
    As stated by our host ,Jon Gorrie,” it was not my intent to offend anyone”.
    I found it interesting that the assumption was made that my wife cleans our house for that is one of my chores at the Chidester household and I gladly perform it each week, by myself.
    As far as the assumption that I think all brass players are male, I invite you to read my post entitled “Sexism, is it still present in the trumpet world”? In my article ( ) I point to the fact that even though females have not been treated fairly in the past, they are now even more deserving of equal status through the efforts of many women who I have listed as examples such as-
    • Barb Butler, now Professor of Trumpet at Northwestern University (former faculty member, Eastman School of Music and University of British Columbia).
    • Susan Rider (currently a member of “The President’s Own” Marine Band) Former student of mine.
    • Joan Force (award winning cornet soloist with the Eastern Iowa Brass Band) Former student of mine.
    The number of highly competent female trumpet players can never be established just as their male counterparts, but if you are interested in finding out more about this courageous and society changing niche of female players, you can begin with this small list- Alison Bolsom, Anna Callahan, Amy Schendel, Barb Buttler, Bette Eilers, Bibi Black, Bria Skonberg, Carole Dawn Reinhart, Cindy Bradley, Clora Bryant, Deb Wagner, Hilaria Kramer, Ingrid Jensen, Jane Sager, Jeanne Pocius, Judith Saxton, Karen Donnelly, Kiku Collins, Laurie Frink, Liesl Whitaker, Lina Allemano, Linda Brown, Marie Speziale, Rebecca Coup Franks, Saskia Laroo, Sherrie Tucker, Stacey Simpson, Susan Rider, Susan Sexton, Susan Slaughter, Takako Seimiya, the DIVA trumpet section, Tine Thing Helseth, Valaida Snow.
    In case you do not wish to read my views of sexism at my site, I would like to quote my last sentence on my blog.
    “My hat is off to the women such as these who have paved the way for other females in the trumpet world. Every state and country has similar stories and the movement continues to grow, as it should.
    Finally I would like to address the multiple references to the “50’s. I am a product of the ‘50’s and proud of it. Your assumption that everyone from that era is old and politically incorrect is only half true. You make the choice.

    Respectively submitted,
    Bruce Chidester

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