The Musicians’ Voice

Volume 114, No. 5May, 2014

The Musicians’ Voice is an open forum for discussion about the state of union affairs. The letters here do not necessarily express the views of Local 802. E-mail letters to or write to Allegro, Local 802, 322 West 48th Street, New York, NY 10036. Letters must be no more than 300 words.

Road to Obamacare wasn’t smooth

As a bandleader for Hank Lane Music and a longtime member of Local 802, I’d like to share my recent experience of signing up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). I chose to meet with a health care “navigator” – supposedly a trained expert on the new health insurance “Marketplace” system – in order to get signed up properly. The experience was not what I had in mind. In the middle of a crowded hallway in the science building of a college campus, she is sitting behind a tiny folding table set up next to a soda machine. Students randomly interrupt our meeting in order to ask for change for a dollar. Her laptop crashes several times, then it runs low on battery power. She is a polite, soft-spoken lady, but she has no answers to my questions. Three hours later, the hallway is empty and my application is still incomplete. It ultimately took me two weeks, two more navigators and finally a NyStateOfHealth supervisor in order to sign up for a plan. At the end of the day, I will be paying roughly the same for health care as I have done for the past 15 years. To be fair, I realize that some will pay less, some will pay more. The state Department of Health announced that more than 865,000 residents across the state are now enrolled in health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, and that 38,000 people successfully enrolled on March 31 alone (which was the deadline for this enrollment period). Many still refuse to acknowledge the need for a health plan and choose to go without. The system is far from perfect; but it will improve, as will my mood. Musicians who want to know more about my experience can e-mail me at

Jeff Lubin

[Editor’s note: for more information on signing up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), see a Q&A and our recommendations in this issue.]

Remembering Mr. Flum

This letter is in tribute to Mr. Solomon Flum. I played the oboe in the Farmingdale (Long Island) school band, where Mr. Flum was the band leader. He was instrumental in my life and he was a teacher I never forgot. I remember taking my oboe home every day (even if I did not practice) because I was scared he would see it in my cubby! I am now 63 and still remember him. I send my deepest condolences to his family.

Margie Lindenauer (Khattab)

[Editor’s note: Solomon Flum died on Jan. 8 at the age of 88 after being a Local 802 member since 1946. For 32 years, he served as the band director in the Farmingdale school system. Allegro published Mr. Flum’s obituary in our February issue.]

RE: Stock photos

I  example of this. Accompanying Martha Hyde’s excellent article on health insurance is a stock photo of four seemingly random people, all looking over to their right. This has what to do with what, exactly? More embarrassing is the stock photo that appears with the MAP article on Women’s History Month. It shows eight women, and they are uniformly young, slender, perky, attractive, and white. Is this really reflective of our membership? I think it shows a lack of imagination. We have many women members who are real people and musicians…a fascinating and diverse group indeed. Why not show some of them instead?

Scott Robinson

Allegro editor Mikael Elsila responds: Thanks to Scott for his comments. We obviously prefer to print photos of members instead of stock photos whenever we can. After I got Scott’s letter, I looked over the past five issues, and found that we used photos of members a total of 69 times in those five issues, while we used stock images only 20 times. In other words, we published members’ photos in 78 percent of all photos over that period, or over three times more than stock photos.

‘Did You Know’

This is a review of the new title “Did You Know,” written by Local 802 honor member and cellist Seymour L. Benstock. The book is a music lover’s guide to gossip. It dishes up anecdotes, rumors, speculations, nicknames, titles and whimsy relating to composers of all kinds – from the famous to the less renowned. Dr. Benstock has the right background for mining the depths of musical research. He was a member of the first class of the High School of Music and Art and later earned the first graduate degree in music ever offered by the Hartt School of Music. He also earned a Ph.D. from Cambridge International University. He has served on numerous faculties and has been published widely. His book, which will be appreciated by professional musicians and the curious alike, is a must for those who have a passion for knowing what the composers were really like, both in their professional lives and also off-the-record. Did you ever wonder how the “Jupiter Symphony” acquired its name? Do you know what Brahms did every Tuesday evening in Hamburg? Learn the answers by ordering a copy of Dr. Benstock’s “Did You Know?” Available on or by calling (888) 232-4444.

Avron Coleman