"There’s always a certain kick to it", says Hedwig Dworazik when she talks about playing her bassoon. "Everybody hears the deep voice and I mustn’t play around", adds the 23-year-old. She began her career as a bassoonist rather involuntarily at the age of 14. Actually she played the flute in the youth wind orchestra Podeldorf. But when the place on the bassoon became free, Hedwig was to fill it. At first, she preferred to stick with the flute – a flashier instrument with bigger solo parts. "Only my mother could persuade me", she reveals today.
The switch between flute and bassoon was not difficult for her. However, once she had her secondary school diploma in her pocket, she had to make a final decision about one of the instruments. She had already set her sights on becoming a professional musician at that time. "I then decided on the bassoon. Fewer people play it, she explains her choice. Today she likes to stand out from the crowd. "The bassoon usually takes the bass part and that is the most important one. All the other instruments can be carried on it", explains Hedwig.
After secondary school she graduated from the vocational school for music in Kronach and could now consider studying music.
Along with a total of six other bassoonists, Hedwig has been studying her instrument for four years at the Musikhochschule Lubeck. She is already applying to orchestras all over Germany. For Hedwig’s main goal is a career as a permanent member of the ensemble. Only if that didn’t work out, she would also teach at a music school.
Hard road to permanent employment
Outside of orchestras she has quite a hard time with her instrument. There are hardly any solo programs for the bassoon and it is mainly used in classical music.
But even the path to a permanent position with an ensemble is not easy. Between 20 and 30 applicants are invited to audition for a position. In the first round, the applicants play Mozart’s solo work for the bassoon – hidden behind a curtain. The jurors are supposed to judge musical talent only. After two more rounds, a temporary contract awaits you. As a rule, one becomes a permanent member of the ensemble only after the end of the one-year probationary period. "I don’t have to become famous at all, says Hedwig about her future. She also only recently started to think about the salary she would earn in her future profession.
The statistics from the Federal Employment Agency speak a clear language. Hedwig’s plan to work as a permanent member of the ensemble promises a good income. The average income of permanent musicians is 4244 euros per month in Bavaria, for example.
In addition, the Federal Agency has also been reporting rising numbers of permanently employed musicians again since 2010. In December 2012, for example, 2482 musicians throughout Bavaria were working on a social insurance basis. Nevertheless, it must not be forgotten that the values represent only a small part of the musicians who are actually active. A large number of them are freelance.
20.000 euros for an instrument
"Having an orchestra place at 30 is normal", Hedwig quotes her professor Pierre Martens, who is principal bassoonist with the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra. At the time of her master’s degree at the conservatory, Hedwig will be 24.
No one from the outside has expressly suggested that she become a professional musician. But Hedwig always had the will to take this path. But at the latest with the beginning of her studies it becomes expensive. Good 20.000 euros for a new bassoon that is suitable for professional playing. Some students are therefore forced to take out loans specifically for this purpose.
Psychological problems arise
Hedwig trains constantly for her career goal: "Just like a normal job, you spend about eight hours practicing", explains. But often she has the feeling not to get better at all. You sometimes lose the right perspective on yourself, Hedwig knows. "This is one reason why many musicians get mental problems", she adds.
In Hedwig’s curriculum vitae you can find numerous engagements from all over Germany. "You get around quite a bit", she remarks. In addition, her contacts in the music industry are very important to her. She will soon be able to make a note of another performance in her resume. Because Hedwig will perform at the Brahms Festival in Lubeck at the end of the month.