This is the Home
Page of the Theatre Musicians Association
Please use the menu
to the left to explore our site.
Why should we advocate for larger pit
I received many
insightful comments from musicians across our Federation after my column
addressing the downsizing of touring musicals’ orchestrations appeared
in this space back in November of 2017. Most of these comments were
suggestions about ways to educate the public about this issue, and have
them demand larger orchestras, so as to enhance their theatre
experience. However, one colleague of mine in Boston asked me to expand
larger orchestra would provide the public with a more satisfying night
in the theatre. What is it about a fully staffed pit of highly skilled
musicians that will give the theatregoer that unquantifiable thrill that
only live music can offer?
Read the latest Pit Bulletin!
Check out the Latest Itinerary Updates
Phantom of the Opera
Introducing the Audience to the Pit
Musical theatre and
technology have always had a bit of an uneasy relationship. The modern
musical was born out of the light opera traditions of Gilbert and Sullivan
in the 19th century, where it was the norm for large pit orchestras to
accompany the singers on stage. The “Golden Age Of Theatre (1940’s-1960’s)
saw the premiers of many of the classics of the art form by the likes of
Porter, Berlin, Rodgers and Hart, and Gershwin, and culminating with the
shows of Rodgers and Hammerstein. As a rule, those shows used large
orchestras. Oklahoma (1943) used 28 musicians in the pit, and Carousel
(1945) had an orchestra of 39. Not only did audiences expect a show to have
an ensemble of this size, there was no viable technology that could replace
Things changed with the introduction of the
synthesizer into musical theatre. The 1987 Broadway contract allowed the
synthesizer into pits, and the instrument was used mainly to enhance the
sound of orchestras still numbering in the 20’s. The 21st century brought us
the Virtual Pit Orchestra; a devise whose manufacturer claimed could emulate
the entire pit orchestra, with just one person, known as the “tapper”
controlling tempo and dynamics.
Click here to read more.
TMA Travelers' Forum on Facebook!
Click Here to Return to Top of Page
The AFM applauds the passage of the FAA Bill that
consistent national policy allowing musical instruments on airplanes
years and 23 short-term extensions, Congress has passed legislation
reauthorizing the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for the next
four years. Included in the bill are provisions that create a
uniform national policy regarding musical instruments on airplanes.
Any instrument that can be safely stored in the overhead compartment
or underneath the seat may be brought on board as carry-on luggage.
Additionally, the bill sets standard weight and size requirements
for checked instruments, and permits musicians to purchase a seat
for oversized instruments, such as cellos, that are too delicate to
be checked. Existing law allowed each airline to set their own
policy regarding musical instruments, and size requirements varied
widely for both carry-on and checked baggage. The American
Federation of Musicians (AFM) has been lobbying Congress to enact
such a policy for nearly a decade.
"This is great news for professional musicians throughout the U.S.
and Canada who carry the tools of our trade (our instruments)
aboard commercial aircraft," said AFM President Ray Hair. "Ending
the confusion over musical instruments as carry-on baggage has been
a top legislative priority for nearly a decade. I am proud of our
Government Relations Director, Hal Ponder and his assistant Laura
Brigandi in our Washington legislative office for seeing the effort
through. Musicians can now fly in friendlier skies."
The FAA reauthorization was passed by the House of Representatives
on Friday, February 3 by a 248-169 vote. It subsequently passed the
Senate on Monday, February 6, 75-20. The President is expected to
sign the bill into law.
Why Join Us?
Click Here to Return to Top of Page