I described the other day the horrible & humiliating process I went through to get funding for my final music grad school concert back in 2000. Once I had all the money, I had to figure out how to divvy it up.
My priorities were the works I hadn’t heard performed yet – my first String Quartet, which was monstrously difficult to play, and the same piece of music that I was driven to tears over and hadn’t been able to muster a group to play since the year before. I wanted to hire a solid group of performers to play these pieces like they should be played, so I focused the ~$4000 I had raised on them.
That left about $800 for 15-20 other players, most of whom were graduate or undergraduate students. There were some weird rules that the different funding organizations imposed on how I could use the funds – e.g. the Graduate Student Council banned payments to other grad students. They reasoned that their grants should fund activities to indirectly not directly enrich the grad student body. Same thing with the Alumni Association – they didn’t want current students using the grants to launder money into their friends’ pockets.
So after finding loopholes that let me pass out all the dough left-over from my two priority works to most of the other students players, there were two students left who were going to play my flute & clarinet duet for free. I made the incredibly stupid mistake of not offering them any money, and not telling them that the entire concert was grant-funded besides them.
Most musicians are quite happy to play new music for free, especially music by young student composers like me. Nate & Jen obliged me, and it wasn’t until one of the other players asked them how much “Ben was paying them” that I got the “WTF?” look. The worst part is that it happend in their rehearsal, and I had to bullshit my way out of it. I said something like “Didn’t I tell you guys the rules about paying students?”
They gave me the deserved cold shoulder for the rest of the year. They did play at the concert, and kicked ass, but I felt like a total douche. Speaking of douche, I still get the douche chills from this incident whenever I think of it. More on that phenomenon – which is quite similar to the “I could just do something” nuerosis – later.