Wednesday, February 04, 2009

This Is Not A Link Dump

I was planning to include this in my earlier link dump, but thought it important enough to warrant a separate post.

Chasing the Fat Man posts a personal appeal for support of Yiddish Culture by Veretski Pass' Cookie Segelstein. I'm reproducing it here because I think it's important for people to read it.
From world reknown klezmer fiddler, and single mother of 2, Marlene Segelstein:

To all of our friends, students and fans;

As you know, musicians and other self employed folks are getting socked in today's trying economic times. We've been hit really hard with tours cancelling, gigs drying up, and performance series being cut short. Those of us who make our living playing and teaching our instruments (including voice and dance!) travel the globe to play concerts and teach at workshops, and to pass along our knowledge of this music and dance that was almost wiped out in the last century. We form collaborations, sometimes with those from other cultures, to keep this art alive, and find new ways to keep it vibrant. When you see us at Klezkamp, Klezkanada, Klezfest London, Weimar,we are always happy to give as much as of our time, energy and knowledge. When possible, we are giving extra (free) lessons to folks; under the staircase, in a lobby, even in our own rooms, often when we are in a state beyond exhaustion. And of course it doesn't stop there.

At least once a day and often much more, I am answering a query to help someone with a dissertation by answering a questionnaire, providing chords for a tune, sending a copy of a sound file, or sheet music to students, friends of students, people who have found my name on the internet. Often the queries are very polite and filled with thanks, but just as often, they are two liners with no greeting, for example (a real email!):

I got your name from your website. I need the music for Hora Midor.
Please send asap.

And of course I have the music. We recorded it, and I transcribed it. And I sell it in a book that I self published. These little things are how I make my living. Now of course, I love what I do. I must. I struggle to pay my health insurance, live at a below the lower middle class level, and have sacrificed a MUCH more comfortable lifestyle to do what I love the most, play music with and for friends.

Think back. Has anyone in this small Jewish music community helped you by giving you a little extra lesson, even 15 minutes (the going rate for private lessons in the east coast are $75-100 an hour)? Has anyone helped you with your research? Filled out a questionnaire for your dissertation? Provided you with a chart? Spent extra time with you showing you a dance step? Sent you a rare soundfile? Helped you fix your instrument? Generally enriched your musical life?

No, I'm not asking you to send money. I'm asking you to support us by buying our products. If you already have bought CD's and books, many thanks! Now think about buying more as gifts.

We appreciate all of the wonderful support we have received over the years from many of our friends, students and fans, and I never want to think twice about helping someone who emails or calls me with a query. I am just asking that you give back by supporting those of us who are your teachers, your favorite bands, and your friends.

Cookie Segelstein
I'm considering writing a variation on this about booking musicians for simchas in tough economic times.