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Orchestral Etiquette and Common Sense Thread


violinnewb
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2 hours ago, violinnewb said:

Yes to the early turning.

NO to the licking of your fingers.  bend the corners of the pages slightly. No licking....Covid or no Covid, its just gross.

That made me laugh, even though, sadly, it appears that you will not be inviting me to any of your Saturday afternoon chamber music parties.

Even if I promise to leave my guns in the car!

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32 minutes ago, matesic said:

Only women need handbags on the platform. Men should carry their spare strings, bow ties, correct spectacles, inhalers, phones, bubble gum etc in their pockets

Oooohhhh! I get it! ^_^

...you need to bring a toolbox with you! :lol:

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6 hours ago, matesic said:

Try to look like you're enjoying the music

 

Music is aural and not visual, But it is only human to want to see musicians themselves responding to the music.

I loathe robots. I hate people who play stoically, or who convey a sense of emotional distance from what they are playing, which I guess is the same thing. At the same time I hate theatrics.

Insincere displays are worse than no displays at all, but I want to see someone who is sincerely enjoying themselves. The ability to play music on a high level is, after all, a great and rare blessing. We should take joy in that, and perhaps some pride as well, But apathy has no place.

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On 8/25/2021 at 9:41 AM, Rue said:

Also, speaking of community orchestra...I am very aware if I play a wrong note at rehearsal. I also know when I lose count and am (quietly) trying to find out where we are...so I can sneak back in.

No need to point out. Every. Single. Error. I make.

As my nerves fray and my confidence drops...I KNOW I will make more errors. So you are also shooting yourself in the foot.

If you want to play in an error-free environment, maybe community orchestra isn't the best place for you.

Right?  I just think its a snobby and unkind thing to do.  Think of those pieces with really difficult brass section openings like the second mvt of Schubert's Unfinished.  

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2 hours ago, uncle duke said:

You and Rue can think like that if you want but remember your orchestra is only as good as it's weakest link - just don't be the weakest link.

Do you think a musician who makes a mistake is oblivious to the fact they made a mistake?  The only time it's appropriate or productive to call it out is if you're the conductor or principal player, and the mistake happens more than once.  Otherwise you're just being a jerk.  

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Your standmates and possibly others close by will already know who is the weak link.  I couldn't understand why some didn't care a little more to make themselves better. 

Being called out in front of others can really, really be beneficial if the one being called out can handle the attention.

  I recall being the weakest link in two instances.  One was when I was simply put in position to play and told to do my best - very difficult then.  The other time is something I really wanted to do and not get fired or challenged.  That was difficult too. 

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51 minutes ago, chiaroscuro_violins said:

 Otherwise you're just being a jerk.  

I thought a bit like what if I did go out and pursue a spot in  a community orchestra.  Once accepted I'd remain humble and simply be on the look out for something better and then move on.  These days with music it's my way or no way.  

 

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17 hours ago, uncle duke said:

Your standmates and possibly others close by will already know who is the weak link.  I couldn't understand why some didn't care a little more to make themselves better. 

Being called out in front of others can really, really be beneficial if the one being called out can handle the attention.

  I recall being the weakest link in two instances.  One was when I was simply put in position to play and told to do my best - very difficult then.  The other time is something I really wanted to do and not get fired or challenged.  That was difficult too. 

While I certainly agree with your general points, a community orchestra is often times made up of volunteer instrumentalists who just want to get together and play repertoire.  Of course we should all strive to play our very best, but we are working (or retired) individuals with other commitments.  We aren't professional or make community orchestra our full time gig.  So mistakes are bound to happen.  

Mistakes don't necessarily mean that you can't make music.  I have heard plenty of performances where an orchestra member makes a mistake or the soloist makes a mistake but it was still very enjoyable.  

Lastly, a community orchestra should be about community.  Meaning, there will be a weak link here and there but its the community's job to help those along and carry them through.  As a parent, you protect your child.  As a spouse, you make up for your spouse's weaknesses, and vice a versa.  In the Christian religion, Jesus covered our sins.  The same goes in team sports, etc.

What we don't do, or rather shouldn't do, is always be publicly calling out a wrong note or missed entrance.  Why make it a point to alert everyone that the tuba guy/gal made a mistake?  Why look over at the first violin section every time they play insane runs out of tune?  It sucks being the person in the elevator who accidentally farts.  It sucks more when the person next to you calls you out publicly and you have 17 more floors to go.  

 

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I'm not sure Uncle Duke quite gets the spirit of community orchestra or just how rude/superior pointing out errors is.

Of course everyone is supposed to do their best and not be sloppy. That's a given.

I've heard mistakes made in professional orchestras, despite their proficiency being much higher.

If community orchestra is too unexacting for you, find another venue. Don't join and b*tch about it.

 

 

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Is dressing loudly a thing?  I don't know how to phrase this correctly.

Those members who refuse the conductor's dress code and wear really flashy clothing to the concert.  I'm not talking accent clothing like different pattern bow tie or scarf.  I'm talking ruby red slippers kind of thing.

Now, I ask because I have been border line guilty of this myself.  

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LOL :lol:...well, personally I think that a "formal" orchestra has a dress code for a reason and it's important that everyone comply. 

The orchestra wears a uniform- just like a sports team does - so that the orchestra members appear as "one" and no individual stsnds out - and the focus is not on any one orchestra member, but on the music.

Regardless, there is STILL endless choice, for women, in what they can wear...even if it's all black. Slacks, skirts, tops, shoes, etc.

So...why does an individual "rebel" against the dress code, especially when they know there's a dress code, and still signed up for the gig?

Hmm. A need to stand out? But why? To rebel, for the sake of rebelling? Because they think they're special? More special than everyone other orchestra member? Other reasons? 

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15 hours ago, uncle duke said:

I only recall one time where I made a comment about someone's playing.  She was a woodwind player and I mentioned she needed to blow harder/louder.  

A general comment or helpful suggestion is not what I am talking about.

Rather:

"That F# you played in bar 245 was sharp!"

"Your ppp in the opening measure was a pp!"

"Geez! You are playing so flat it's hurting my ears!"

"How hard can it be to count to 4?"

"Maybe you need to take some more lessons!"

...and so on...

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43 minutes ago, Rue said:

LOL :lol:...well, personally I think that a "formal" orchestra has a dress code for a reason and it's important that everyone comply. 

The orchestra wears a uniform- just like a sports team does - so that the orchestra members appear as "one" and no individual stsnds out - and the focus is not on any one orchestra member, but on the music.

Regardless, there is STILL endless choice, for women, in what they can wear...even if it's all black. Slacks, skirts, tops, shoes, etc.

So...why does an individual "rebel" against the dress code, especially when they know there's a dress code, and still signed up for the gig?

Hmm. A need to stand out? But why? To rebel, for the sake of rebelling? Because they think they're special? More special than everyone other orchestra member? Other reasons? 

To rebel.  Always to rebel...in my case. :P

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38 minutes ago, Rue said:

A general comment or helpful suggestion is not what I am talking about.

Rather:

"That F# you played in bar 245 was sharp!"

"Your ppp in the opening measure was a pp!"

"Geez! You are playing so flat it's hurting my ears!"

"How hard can it be to count to 4?"

"Maybe you need to take some more lessons!"

...and so on...

 

16 hours ago, uncle duke said:

I only recall one time where I made a comment about someone's playing.  She was a woodwind player and I mentioned she needed to blow harder/louder.  

commenting is one thing, the incessant looking/pointing at...that was my original point.  

I think that Philip and others have commented about speaking to principals and going up the chain for comments and such; however, there are players who, in the middle of performances and rehearsals, turn their heads towards the area where a mistake was made.

From the audience point of view, this is horrible because you are calling out a mistake, publicly, during a performance.

From a player's point of view, this is equally horrible because....quite frankly...I'm not paid enough for that kind of non-sense (actually not paid at all in the community level).

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  • 4 weeks later...

Some great things on this thread. To summarise, for me the golden rules are;

1 Be well prepared. Pencil, practice, all music in order, lights, stand, dress code, everything.


2. Tune your instrument precisely BEFORE going on the platform - use your phone app - the A will have been decided beforehand, ask the conductor if you are not sure. For certain the oboist will be using her app as well. Always tune in perfect fifths. ( If someone asks you to tune to some funny temperament just tune your A or D as required. If you’re not in absolute ‘no beats’ perfect fifths it will kill the internal reinforcement responses of your instrument.) Then the orchestra tuning is a quick check up. After this keep quiet so others can do their thing.

3. Keep quiet at all times when not actually playing. Pay attention. Music is all about listening.

4. Once you know your part listen to all the other parts, one by one. If you are touring the same repertoire this gives more opportunity. The really good ensemble players do this.

5. When you are playing, do so as if you are listening to the music (for the first time). This way it will be fresh.

6. Be competent and practice hard but don’t worry about mistakes. As Stravinsky wrote ‘it is only a mistake that truly inspires us’. [From the Harvard lectures 1942 which I recommend all music lovers read.] Audiences really don’t mind. If you do something wrong once do it right twice and the mistake will not happen again.

7 Enjoy. It is such a privilege to work with other musicians. Each has done their 10,000 hours  or whatever and each is bringing a whole musical universe with them.

 

 

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