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The Trombone ForumTeaching & LearningPedagogy(Moderators: JP, Doug Elliott) How to break the news to a sub
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davdud101
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« on: May 02, 2017, 03:56PM »

Hey folks, I'm doing a small group of two trumpets and trombone, plus and alto, tenor, and a bari. We've got a really good tenor saxophonist lined up to play (studying jazz), but he's not entirely sure he'll be available for this performance. We're looking at getting a sub, as we have potential candidates, but there're both many tunes and many difficult tunes for this performance and so we'd want someone good first.

But if we did talk to a sub (as they'll prefereably need adequate practice time), how could we break it to them that "our high-teir player said he'd show up, so you won't be playing"- kinda thing? I'd hate to have someone practice on so much repertoire only to be told they won't be playing.

(Bear in mind, this is a church group, so that'll give an idea of some of the relative skill levels of players and such)

Thanks!
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« Reply #1 on: May 02, 2017, 04:06PM »

If he can't commit to the performance, then you don't have him lined up. (By the way, won't he need to rehearse too?)

This isn't as hard as you think...whoever can commit to rehearsals AND performance gets the gig. I would never ask someone to commit to rehearsals if there was the possibility of waving him/her off at the last moment because your chosen player decided they were available.
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« Reply #2 on: May 02, 2017, 04:13PM »

It sounds like you are already forgetting one of the Fundamental Rules of Musician Substitution:
"The sub should always be at least as skilled as the player for whom they are filling in."

Also:
"Do not jerk your subs around."
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« Reply #3 on: May 02, 2017, 04:22PM »

Yeah..... worst thing you can do in this situation is ask someone to fill in but say they "might" not be required. Chances are if you say that, your sub will not look at the parts as seriously, and they themselves probably will not put the performance date in concrete if you are not even sure if they will be required. Plus, if a worse case scenario happened and your sub turned up without being required, they would most likely pass the story on to others which would reflect badly on your WHOLE ensemble.

Either get your normal person to commit or tell the sub they are definitely on. No halfways in this situation.
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« Reply #4 on: May 02, 2017, 04:24PM »

Or alternatively, pay your potential sub an agreed rate. Tell them to lock the daye in, and they will be paid regardless of if you need them or not.
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« Reply #5 on: May 02, 2017, 04:36PM »

Or alternatively, pay your potential sub an agreed rate. Tell them to lock the daye in, and they will be paid regardless of if you need them or not.
Been there, done that. Had a sub booked, the whole gig got cancelled, paid the sub anyway. Sad part is that, unlike the rest of the band, the sub was able to book another paying gig for that night.  :cry:

Then again, the I had booked really was a good player...
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« Reply #6 on: May 03, 2017, 12:26PM »

He must be ale to do both, rehearsal and gig. If he cant do one or the other he does not get to play either. The sub should be as good or better than the regular guy. The sub needs the rehearsal time prolly more than the regular guy, so why would you excuse him from the rehearsal, then let him do the gig? Tell you regular guy to commit to both or he gets nothing...... and use the sub because he can make both rehearsal and the gig.
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« Reply #7 on: May 03, 2017, 01:48PM »

Don't jerk around your subs or you'll have a hard time getting people who want to play with you in the future.

I got jerked around like this once when I was much younger. The people that did it have been paying for it ever since...
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« Reply #8 on: May 03, 2017, 03:35PM »

If your primary can't commit to the job, give it to the sub.  Stringing a sub along and asking them to practice for a maybe gig isn't fair to him.  You'll have a better chance of getting him to agree to sub in the future. If I were asked to learn music as a sub for a group and I put in the practice time and then you cancelled on me I wouldn't agree to play for you again.   
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« Reply #9 on: May 03, 2017, 05:44PM »

Thanks a lot for the different (or rather, same) viewpoints, guys! And thanks for not making fun of me for coming with this... I knew many of you guys had been in these kind of situations and knew what might be the best way to handle it.

I told our primary he had until a certain date to come with a definite answer - and if it's still a "maybe" by that date, it counts as a "no", and we'll use our sub.

Thanks again, guys!  :D
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« Reply #10 on: May 04, 2017, 04:27AM »

What if the sub told you he would agree to play with you but if a better gig came up he would be taking it?  That would be just as uncool as replacing a sub if a better musician comes along. 
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« Reply #11 on: May 04, 2017, 09:26AM »

Is it so that you hired a sub, but after you hired him the original player told he can do it after all? An alternative is to tell the original player he have to pass because the sub is already in the game. I think that's what  I would do. Don't mess to much back and forward with this kind of things. Be consequent.

I have to tell I have no experience with this so I'm not exactly sure.

Leif
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« Reply #12 on: May 04, 2017, 09:44AM »

What if the sub told you he would agree to play with you but if a better gig came up he would be taking it?  That would be just as uncool as replacing a sub if a better musician comes along.
Absolutely - the commitment goes both ways. People who back out on deals eventually get a reputation for being a flake.
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« Reply #13 on: May 04, 2017, 10:26AM »

The best option, if you are running the group and paying musicians, is to make your "primary" player afraid of losing his job with you if he thinks he can be a prima donna and just show up as a ringer for the gig or be wishy washy about commitment. You shouldn't have any mercy for your "employees" -- 9 times out if 10 there's a musician who is just as good or better, and is more motivated. If you go way back and the guy has something like a funeral or a wedding, ok. Get a sub just that once.

Pay well, and offer great gigs, AND don't tolerate flake-a-zoids. Your group will be the best group.

If you are booking the gigs and paying people, they need to be eating kibbles out of your hand like kittens, especially if you aren't working within the Union. Why do you think the union was created? Prima donnas, and smart guys like you who know how to wring out musicians and make the prima donnas cry. Why should people be allowed to stay in the group if they want to visit mommy and daddy during YOUR gig?

Muwahahaha!!!
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« Reply #14 on: May 04, 2017, 11:54AM »

Absolutely - the commitment goes both ways. People who back out on deals eventually get a reputation for being a flake.

I have a guy who went from regular section member to sub because he bailed on me within a week of a concert.  TWICE.

I have foregone paying gigs to play for free because I had given my word.  My word is worth a lot more than a few shekels.
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« Reply #15 on: May 04, 2017, 02:17PM »

What if the sub told you he would agree to play with you but if a better gig came up he would be taking it?  That would be just as uncool as replacing a sub if a better musician comes along. 


I had this happen to me once when I called someone to ask if they could fill in for me in an orchestra. The gig I was offering the sub was reasonably high profile and was paid. His exact words in the form of text message response were "Id be happy to! Unless something better/paid comes up!"
One of the weirdest responses I have ever received. I told them id keep looking for someone else.
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« Reply #16 on: Jun 30, 2017, 09:10PM »

But if we did talk to a sub (as they'll prefereably need adequate practice time), how could we break it to them that "our high-teir player said he'd show up, so you won't be playing"- kinda thing? I'd hate to have someone practice on so much repertoire only to be told they won't be playing.

Personally, I wouldn't let the guy play if he wasn't sure if he could make it, but if you haven't practiced with the sub yet, before you start, I'd let them know beforehand that they might not be playing.
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« Reply #17 on: Jul 01, 2017, 07:55AM »

I'd actually forgotten about this topic - gig came and went, without a hitch! If I can say - the primary actually told his sister - also a saxophonist - about the gig and had her learn the parts on the condition that IF he can make it, he'd play instead of her. Since it was out of my hands a bit at that point (he'd already told her, and she'd agreed!) I just let it go this time around. She ended up playing instead of the primary, and did an excellent job at it, too.
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« Reply #18 on: Jul 02, 2017, 08:03PM »

I'd actually forgotten about this topic - gig came and went, without a hitch! If I can say - the primary actually told his sister - also a saxophonist - about the gig and had her learn the parts on the condition that IF he can make it, he'd play instead of her. Since it was out of my hands a bit at that point (he'd already told her, and she'd agreed!) I just let it go this time around. She ended up playing instead of the primary, and did an excellent job at it, too.

Nice! Well, at least now you have some advice if you ever happen to come across this issue again. Good!
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« Reply #19 on: Jul 03, 2017, 10:22PM »

Just thought that I'd add a little experience that I had in a subbing situation that other trombonists might find amusing.
When I was  just starting out as a freelance bass trombonist in Toronto I  ran into Ron Hughes  (Boss Brass, top Toronto studio bass trombonist) and he asked me to sub for him in a concert with the Trump Davidson Dixieland Big Band, So I show up for the gig  and go up to Trump to introduce myself and tell him Ron has sent me in to sub. The first thing Trump says is "I wish Ron would have let me know, I could  have got Murray Ginsberg".  So much for a warm  welcome. So feeling a little unwanted I open up the bass trombone (4th) book and find that all of the trombone dixie soloing is in this 4th book. Not having ever played much dixieland or actually any dixieland solos I quickly asked Bob Livingston, a very experienced dixieland trombonist sitting next to me, to play all of the solos and save me from the imminent humiliation. It turns out that Murray Giinsberg besides being the bass trombonist for the Toronto Symphony was Trump's featured soloist and did all of his gigs. Except for this one time when Trump had run into Ron and asked his old friend if  he would like to play one gig with his big band. I think that  someone warned Ron about the soloing involved and he sent a naive young bass trombonist in for the experience.
To add a little to this story, although I had never met Tromp Davudson before at the time I was dating his daughter. He was a very fine Canadian dixieland trumpet player who passed away soon after I subbed in his band.

E.P.
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