
Math Test for Orchestra Members
(From conductor Gary Berkson, Stockholm)
 Wilma is tired of paying for clarinet reeds. If she adopts a
policy of playing only on rejected reeds from her colleagues will
she be able to retire on the money she has saved if she invests
it in mutual bonds, yielding 8.7%, before she is fired from her
job? If not, calculate the probability of her ever working in
a professional symphony orchestra again.
 Jethro has been playing the double bass in a symphony orchestra for
twelve years, three months and seven days. Each day, his inclination to
practice decreases by the equation:
(Total days in the orchestra) x .000976
Assuming he stopped practicing altogether four years, six months and
three days ago, how long will it be before he is completely unable to
play the double bass?
 Wilma plays in the second violin section, but specializes in making
disparaging remarks about conductors and other musicians. The
probability of her making a negative comment about any given musician is
4 chances in 7, and for conductors is 16 chances in 17. If there are
103 musicians in the orchestra and the orchestra sees 26 different
conductors a year, how many negative comments does Wilma make in a
twoyear period? How does this change if five of the musicians are also
conductors? What if six of the conductors are also musicians?
 Horace is the General Manager of an important symphony orchestra.
He tries to hear at least four concerts a year. Assuming that at each
concert the orchestra plays a minimum of three pieces per concert,
what are the chances that Horacecan avoid hearing a single work by Mozart,
Beethoven or Brahms in the next ten years?
 Betty plays in the viola section. Despite her best efforts she is
unable to play with the rest of the orchestra and, on average, plays
.3528 seconds behind the rest of the viola section, which is already
.16485 seconds behind the rest of the orchestra. If the orchestra is
moving into a new concert hall with a reverberation time of 2.7 seconds,
will she be able to continue playing this way undetected?
 Ralph loves to drink coffee. Each week he drinks three more cups
of coffee than Harold, who drinks exactly one third the amount
that the entire brass section consumes in beer. How much longer is
Ralph going to live?
 Rosemary is unable to play in keys with more than three sharps or
flats without making an inordinate number of mistakes. Because her
colleagues in the cello section are also struggling in these passages
she has so far been able to escape detection. What is the total
number of hours they would all have to practice to play the complete works
of Richard Strauss?

