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ACCOUTREMENTS, APPAREL AND ATTIRE - Part 3: Solo

Posted on April 22, 2012 at 11:35 PM Comments comments (1)

Congratulations! You’re playing a solo recital or soloing with the orchestra! You get to showcase your musical skills and people are going to come watch YOU perform!


That’s right, kids. Watch. They are not just going to listen to you. They’re also going to watch you. So, in addition to your performance beginning with your first step onstage and being mindful of how to bow, you also need to be aware of what you’re wearing.


Many of my opinions on solo attire are similar to orchestra and small ensemble attire: if there’s a dress code, abide by it; consider the image you want to project; and consider the performance space.


So, what’s different?


You’re by yourself or standing in front of a crowd, so you will be the focus. If you wear a completely solid color (such as the boring all-black), you will blend in and you won’t be paid any attention. Definitely dress in a color. That goes for you, too, guys. So many male orchestra soloists opt for black pants and a black dress shirt. Really? That’s the best you could come up with? When you’re soloing in front of an orchestra, they’re probably wearing mostly black, so if you opt for black as well, your body with blend in. So, choose a color. A nice one and one that doesn’t blend in. I don’t care if your favorite color is black and that’s all you wear. Choose a friggin’ color.


But Hilary, your trio, The Fourth Wall, wears all black!


Yes, we frequently do. But you’ll notice, that I wear a knee-length dress and the boys wear short-sleeved shirts. The little bit of exposed skin adds a touch of color. We also try to never wear all-black when performing on a black stage or in a black box theater. We’re also working on the whole costuming thing for our next show (May, 10th at the White Rabbit Cabaret in Indianapolis). None of us particularly like the whole all-black thing, so that will soon go out the window.


Comfort. You must wear something that you will be comfortable in. If you’re wearing something that prevents you from playing your instrument/singing well, then you did not choose wisely. You must be able to breathe and move easily no matter what you play. If you can’t perform easily, then what’s the point of these nice people coming to see you? You must also be able to BOW comfortably in it, too. Ladies, if “the girls” are in danger of falling out of the dress with a proper bow, buy a different dress. No one wants to see your wardrobe malfunction and distracting the audience from your performance is stupid.


Well-fitting is a must! I’m all for comfort (believe me on that one!), but baggy, shapeless clothing makes you look apathetic and unkempt. Now, I didn’t say “wear tight clothing”, right? Nope! I said “well-fitting”. In an effort to wear well-fitting garments, make sure you don’t get “tight” and “fitted” mixed up in your mind. If you’re not sure of the difference, take a gander over to Poorly Dressed. They’ll help you learn the difference. Actually, they’ll just show what’s not a good idea.


Dress for the occasion. If you’re performing in front of an orchestra, you should dress very nicely. Suit, formal gown… you get the picture. If you’re doing a solo show in a club such as Le Poisson Rouge, a formal gown might be a tad much.


Skirt length. Unless you’re performing in a club-like atmosphere and standing, for the love of all that is holy, your skirt shouldn’t be any shorter than your knee. Bassoonists in mini-skirts are icky and distracting. Why do high school and college age students think this is sexy? More importantly, why do they feel the need to be sexy while performing? Make your music sexy! You, the performer, can be sexy and still be covered up!


Ok, here’s a controversial opinion on attire: I think women should always wear a little bit of a heel when performing in a small ensemble or solo. Yeah. I went there. I learned this from my teacher, Leone Buyse, who is fairly tall and still always wears a little bit of a heel when performing.


Heels are dumb. Why should women wear them?


The smallest bit of a heel makes you walk slightly different. Perhaps you might consider this sexist, but a flat shoe makes a women walk like a little girl while a heel makes them walk like a woman. It’s different and the heel portrays a much stronger air of confidence. It doesn’t need to be a tall heel (6 inch heels are never a good idea, much less for a performance). Just enough to change the walk.


Once you’ve decided what shoes you’ll be wearing, practice/rehearse in them. That goes for the guys, too. If you’re used to practicing barefoot, it’s going to feel really weird performing in dress shoes. I know many percussionists who practice in their performance shoes so they can know what it feels like to press the timpani or vibraphone pedal, because it’s different than their Birkenstocks. For the last couple weeks leading up to the performance, wear the shoes and get used to them.


Overall appearance. Shower. Shave. Make your hair look nice. Trim your facial hair. This shouldn’t be all that difficult to do, and yet some folks just don’t put forth the effort. And that’s just silly.


So many of my attire opinions are obvious, aren’t they? How many times have you heard your teacher comment on your appearance? Did you ignore them? Don’t do that! Well, ignore them if they’re telling you to wear 6 inch platforms with a mini skirt and bra-top. You’re not Lady Gaga. You can’t get away with it.




Stay tuned for next week’s entry, EXAMPLES OF APPROPRIATE ATTIRE, where I will show you what I mean.

ACCOUTREMENTS, APPAREL AND ATTIRE - Part 2: Small Ensembles

Posted on April 16, 2012 at 11:00 PM Comments comments (0)

If you haven’t had the chance to peruse www.awkwardclassicalmusicphotos.com, this would be a good time. That site has a plethora of bad fashion and poor choices for album covers and headshots. Just take a second and read some of the comments to understand why you shouldn’t ever pose in the nude. For that matter, you probably shouldn’t perform in the nude either. Unless of course, there is a specific reason for it, but that conversation is for another time.


When deciding what your small ensemble will wear, factor in the concept of your performance. Are you performing an all-baroque program? If so, perhaps mini-skirts and muscle-Ts aren’t the best choice. What image do you want to project with this performance? If you want your audience to leave the hall thinking, “WOW! SHE’S PRETTY!” then by all means, wear tight pants and a low-cut shirt. If that’s your goal, then go for it, but know that what you wear could overshadow the music.


Also think about what the performance space looks like. If you’re performing on a black stage with black curtains, then wearing an all-black outfit will make you blend in and de-emphasize your group. Instead, try a bold colored shirt or dress. Give your audience something to look at that won’t distract from the music at the same time. (My opinions on “new music black” in a future post.)


Consider the type of performance. When performing for little kids, all-black can be intimidating and tall heels will make you, well, taller and therefore farther away from them. When performing in a retirement community, jeans may not be appropriate. These folks are from a generation where jeans were more appropriate for fields and not for performances. I rarely saw my grandfathers in jeans much less at a nice occasion.


Be specific when discussing attire options with the group. “Look nice” means different things to different people. I know an absolutely incredible flutist (who is also a hybrid artist) who once told me that when she performed on a gala concert at the flute convention, she picked out her very best pair of shorts, her best vest and her best t-shirt for the occasion. She recalled thinking she looked really sharp. That is until people approached her and congratulated her on her outfit because she went up there and just didn’t care what she looked like. Oops! So, take the time to be specific about what “look nice” means.


Along the same lines as being specific, choose whether you will or will not coordinate. It’s awkward when 3 out of 5 people show up in shirt/tie and the other two are in all-black. If you decide to coordinate, think about the colors – are they clashing? Don’t ask the colorblind member of your group to answer that question. Some groups have everyone wearing the same shirt. Does it look super dorky? Yes… that IS a consideration!


A note to the guys: when the girls want to get specific about what to wear, don’t bug them about it. What you wear and how you look is important to the performance. It can add or detract from the audience’s experience. Wouldn’t you rather it added? If you don’t care what you wear, let the girls decide. They probably have a better idea anyway. If you’re in a group where no one cares about what to wear, make a choice. Be the one to make the choice. Which brings me to…


In theatre, directors are always instructing their actors to make a choice about a character or a line. In your imagination, what does the character look like? How do they walk? How do they talk? Etc. Not making a decision about how you will perform a character leads to uncommitted acting. The same goes with performing music. Make a strong choice with your attire. Consider the image you want to project, what will look good in the performance space, the type of performance and the specifics of the attire.


On a different subject, I apologize for posting a day late this week. I was having a wonderful time competing with the Indianapolis Ceili Band (pronounced “KAY-lee”) at the Midwest Fleadh (pronounced “FLAH”) in Chicago (hopefully you know how to say that one). In addition to being a hybrid artist and classical flutist, I’m also a folk music junkie and play Irish flute with the ceili band and in an Irish session in Indy. Ta-Da!



Stay tuned for next week’s entry, ACCOUTREMENTS, APPAREL AND ATTIRE - Part 3: Solo, where I discuss what to wear when you’re all by yourself… or in front of a whole bunch of people.

ACCOUTREMENTS, APPAREL AND ATTIRE - Part 1: Orchestra

Posted on April 8, 2012 at 3:40 PM Comments comments (0)

So, I planned on getting all my attire opinions into one post, but I soon realized that it just wasn’t going to happen that way without being entirely too long. And I also need to do my taxes today.


I’m pretty opinionated about attire.


Let’s start with what to wear while performing an orchestra concert. Without a doubt, you’ve received a memo from the personnel manager stating the rehearsal and concert times/places as well as the dress code. If you didn't get the memo (Office Space? Anyone? Bueller?), it's your responsibility to contact the personnel manager and get the necessary information including the dress code.  Here is the dress code from one of the orchestras I play in taken directly from our most recent memo:


Men: White tie, white shirt, tails and tuxedo trousers. Black dress shoes (no boots) and black socks.

Women: Ankle length, solid black dress preferred (conservative neckline, no side slits, back slits six(6) inches or less), with at least 3/4 length sleeves. Solid black pants (no stirrup pants or leggings). Loose-fitting, opaque blouses or tops are acceptable. Leotard-style tops, bare backs, transparent lace, or flowered blouses/tops are not acceptable. Pants shall be with full (not snug fitting) pant legs. Black dress shoes (no boots, open-toed or clogs) and black hose. Conservative jewelry. Hair ornaments in black only.


For those of you who have played in an orchestra before, you’ve probably seen something like this. White tie and tails for the guys and all-black for the ladies (special orchestra dress codes will be discussed at a later date). Why so uniform? Why so boring?


An orchestra shouldn’t be seen as individuals, but more like a large school of fish working towards the same goal. That and if it were up to the individual’s taste, someone is going to show up in cargo pants, a stars and bars t-shirt, and combat boots. It probably happened at one time and that’s why orchestras had to crack down and make it uniform. I’m just kidding. It probably wasn’t a stars and bars t-shirt.  (It had long sleeves.)


So that’s why we should be uniform. But why is the dress code so specific?


Well, for guys there really isn’t much variation involved in white tie and tails, so they don’t need high amounts of specificity (and typically the gents aren’t as fashion oriented as the ladies). The only thing I have to say about the guys’ dress code is when the memo says “tails,” wear a freaking tailcoat. It’s obvious when you wear a tux coat instead. Don’t show up without a white tie, either. There are only so many the personnel manager has available for borrowing and you look like a moron to them if you don’t have a white tie! And do I need to say anything about white versus black socks? Always have a ton of black socks on hand and wear them in the concert. White socks and a tux looks supremely awful. I guess what was three things. Oops.


Ladies. Where do I start? I feel like I should have a post dedicated to what girls should and should not wear in an orchestra concert. We girls like to look good and we think any public event is an opportunity to go all out with the fashion. But as a school of fish is all uniform, we need to restrain ourselves a little bit from the more extreme versions of “all-black”. Let’s start at the top and work our way down.


I want to die my hair a spectacular color someday, but until I’m not playing in an ensemble where uniform dress code is necessary, I’m going to have to hold off. Why? Because bright blue hair will distract from the concertmaster’s solo or the quiet minutes in a Mahler symphony. The music is the important part and any visuals should always aid, not distract. Hair color can be distracting if it’s bright and un-natural.


Cleavage is a no-no. It’s not appropriate for the girls to be peeking out of your shirt, so wear a camisole and keep ‘em covered. It's not difficult so don't put the personnel manager in the awkward position of having to tell you that what you're wearing is inappropriate.


When the memo says loose-fitting, opaque, long-sleeved tops, that means that’s what you should wear. Don’t wear short sleeves and certainly not sleeveless. The audience will get distracted by your bare arms flying around which is why orchestras require ¾ to full length sleeves. While doing my undergraduate degree, one of the concertmistresses always wore a dress without sleeves and with a low, open back. People would be talking about her attire for hours afterward instead of the performance itself. That shouldn't have been the point of the concert.


Pants and skirts. This is not the time to show off your hind-end. Well-fitting is good, but don’t wear skinny pants especially when it says not to do that in the memo!


If the memo says close-toed shoes, that’s what you should wear. Same with black hose/socks. In one of the orchestras I play in, another orchestra member wears black socks with a colored print on them. I have no idea why she thinks this is okay. It’s not cute. It’s unprofessional. Are you catching the pattern here?


Now don’t get me wrong, I think well-fitting clothing is important. One does not need to look frumpy to comply with professional. But this isn’t a fashion show, so stay to the conservative side of your outfit. Save the skinny jeans and low-cut tops for the after party if you so desire.


The biggest part of this rant is respect. It may seem silly that the orchestra is being so specific with the type of jewelry you’re allowed to wear or the type of shoe, but that’s their rule. This orchestra hired you, so show them the respect they deserve by honoring their dress code. It’s very simple and it’s what’s appropriate.




Stay tuned for next week’s entry: ACCOUTREMENTS, APPAREL AND ATTIRE - Part 2: small ensembles, where I discuss coordinating (and not) within your small ensemble.

APPLAUSE HAPPENS

Posted on April 1, 2012 at 3:30 PM Comments comments (0)

We’ve all been in that concert with a multi-movement work and after the exciting first movement ends, the audience erupts into applause… for a second. Then they realize that was wrong and stop doing that.


There are 2 ways that people handle this situation. The first (and most prevalent), the performers sit there quietly, ignoring the applause until they stop. If they don’t stop quick enough, one or two of them turn to the audience, give a half smile and a quick nod and turn back to the music/instrument.


The second way, is that one person (usually the conductor) makes some sort of shooshing gesture that looks something like this:




Before I give my controversial opinion on the subject, I’m going to discuss why I don’t like either option. The second, is obvious. If you respond to the audience in that manner, it’s like telling them “SHUT UP!” and we’re taught from an early age that you shouldn’t do that. It’s simply rude. The audience has spontaneously combusted into a display of appreciation and you’ve just told them that you don’t care about that. This reaction also makes them verrrrry nervous to applaud for the rest of the performance. The audience is now more worried about when to applaud than listening and appreciating the performance.


The first reaction is okay but seems a little snobby to me. Ignoring the applause until you absolutely have to condescend to nod to them seems awkward and fake.


There is a better way!


Smile, nod. Maybe even mouth “thank you” and do a neck bow. Most importantly, do this once the audience starts clapping. It doesn’t need to be rushed (that also might be interpreted as “Shut up! I want to move on to the next movement!”) nor have any grandiose movements (after all, we don’t want them to think that this is the end of the whole darn thing!). It just needs to be a simple, genuine acknowledgement of their accolades.


BUT IT’S BETWEEN MOVEMENTS!! YOU’RE NOT SUPPOSED TO CLAP BETWEE…


Yeah yeah yeah, whatever. Not too long ago, audiences actually applauded between movements and it was okay!! Why can’t they do it anymore? Well, there is a valid argument for that. The composers wrote the multi-movement work to form a full piece. The single movement is only a portion. I can understand that viewpoint, but then again wouldn’t you want to know, as a composer, that a particular movement was so spectacular that the audience couldn’t help themselves? This is where I expect my composer brother, Brett Abigaña, to chime in with some choice composer words.


I’ll leave that argument for another time. Or for the comments section. I’ll also leave the post instructing audiences when they should applaud for another time. Suffice to say, that if the audience applauds between movements we performers should acknowledge it and graciously accept it. Not ignore it or make a rude attempt to shut it up.



Stay tuned for next week's entry, ACCOUTREMENTS, APPAREL AND ATTIRE, where I discuss what is and is not appropriate to wear for a performance. 

HOW TO BOW WITHOUT LOOKING LIKE A TOTAL DORK

Posted on March 25, 2012 at 4:05 PM Comments comments (3)

We bow to thank the audience for their applause and our audiences applaud because they appreciate what we do. Both are important to a performance and both should be genuine and happen with grace.


As a musician, I hate applause if I didn’t deserve it. I just want to stop the audience and say, “Look, I’m sorry, but that was a particularly (insert naughty word for “bad”) performance.” However, our society has developed so that it is inappropriate not to applaud at the end. So, they’re gonna do it and you’re gonna like it. Now the trick is to convince the audience that they just experienced a stupendous performance (no matter how it actually went).


Step 1: Smile.


Musicians don’t do nearly enough of this in my opinion. I mean, seriously. We’re not grumpy emo teenagers anymore, are we? (Well, maybe some of us are, but you have to pretend like you’re not). When the piece ends, smile. In fact, make it a HUGE smile that could be seen from the back row of Carnegie. Show the pearly whites! Don’t fake smile (known in the theatre world as “mugging”), because the front row will see that. Just smile.


Step 2: Bow. This can be tricky. If you’ve got an instrument, you have to negotiate the mechanics of holding the thing, any non-attached accoutrements (i.e. a bow), music stands, chairs, etc.


First of all, if you’re sitting, stand up. You look lazy if you bow sitting down.


If you have a stand in front of you, take a small step to the side so you can bow into open air. It doesn’t need to be a gigantic step. Just a step to give you some room.


For percussionists, don’t hide behind your set-up. Just like with music stands, step out from your hidey-hole, give us a smile and bow. Here’s a video of an awkward percussion bow and a good percussion bow.




For string players, you have to negotiate your bow. Many folks put both instrument and bow in the same hand while some folks have their instrument in one hand and the bow in the other. Whatever you decide to do, make sure your bow doesn’t go flailing behind you. A friend of mine (who shall remain nameless) does the bow flail and it looks aaaaawkward


For folks who play big things (ex: tuba, cello, bass, bassoon, etc), I encourage you to find a way to bow with your instrument so you can bow through your back – not just your neck. I’ve seen many big instrument players bow from their neck because their instrument is in front of them. This doesn’t convey as much of an air of appreciation as a full back bow. Here’s a video of a neck bow and a genuine bow from behind a bass.




Most importantly, get comfortable in your own skin. If you feel awkward, you’re going to look awkward. Perhaps like this:




However, by practicing your bow in front of a video camera and becoming comfortable with the action and how you look, the effect will be significantly different. This is how I bow:




A big thank you to Greg Jukes and Greg Olson for allowing me to video their bows!



Stay tuned for next week's entry, APPLAUSE HAPPENS, where I discuss.... well... applause.

TACET

Posted on March 18, 2012 at 11:45 PM Comments comments (1)

So, you’re sitting in orchestra and you see this word. What do you do? During a rehearsal, this is a wonderful time to pull out a book, read a magazine, play a game on your phone (with the sound off, since Mahler and Angry Birds don’t mix). You can pretty much do anything you want during rehearsal as long as you’re discrete, silent and don’t make any large distracting movements. After all, the rest of the orchestra is rehearsing and they simply don’t need your typing, knitting or obnoxious page turning to distract from the reason why we’re all in that room. Other than that, you can have at it.


But what about during a performance?


As a flute player, we are lucky to rarely see that word on the page. But as a piccolo player, I’ve seen it a couple times – Beethoven 5 and 9, Tchaikovsky 4 etc. It’s the big important part that’s saved until the 3rd or 4th movement. Brass players deal with this all the time (bless your hearts). Percussionists even more so (with less glory – bless your hearts). So what do you do during the performance?


You sit with good posture and wait patiently.


Seriously? That’s it? Why can’t I read a book, sit comfortably or entertain myself?


Remember, any time you’re on stage, you are performing. Just because you’re not playing or aren’t a part of the main object of attention, doesn’t mean someone isn’t watching you. If you’re reading a magazine, someone is going to notice you turning a page and that communicates a sense of indifference to your audience. If you don’t care that you’re there, why should they? If you don’t care about this performance, why should they support your organization? If you sit hunched over your lap with your elbow on your knee and your chin in your hand, the audience will see your boredom and pick up on your attitude.


In a time where the arts are the first to get budget cuts, we can’t afford to inflict our audience with apathy. Instead, we need to supercharge them with enthusiasm for what we do and why we’re there! Excitement is contagious and the more excited we can be about our art, the more our audience will get excited and will want to help us fight for what we do.


Seriously though… we don’t play until the finale. That’s 30 minutes of sitting there.


Yes. And you’re getting paid the same as everyone else (ok, not the concertmaster or conductor, but that’s the system and I’m not here to talk about that) and they’ve been playing for 30 minutes. Listen to your colleagues! Enjoy the music they’re creating! If you must, space out for a bit. You’re getting paid to sit there and then play an amazing part of the piece, so deal with it. Now, if you’re only tacet for a short 5 minute piece, then you really don’t have an excuse to look so bored. I’ve played in ensembles where orchestra members will be doing their homework on stage during a performance, will yawn openly and will even fall asleep.


It’s not okay, folks. The appropriate thing to do is to simply wait patiently, then play well. Check the apathy at the door and play great music.


Stay tuned for next week's entry, BOWING AND APPLAUSE, where I discuss... *gasp* how to bow without looking like a total dork.

WHEN DOES THE PERFORMANCE START? - PART 2

Posted on March 11, 2012 at 3:20 PM Comments comments (0)

If you have not read my thoughts on the musician’s costume and how it pertains to performance, please read Part 1 first.


Let’s say your audience hasn’t seen you out and about in your tux or fancy black. When does the performance start, then?


For you, the performance begins the moment you step on stage after the house doors have opened. Once your audience arrives in the hall and you are also present in the space, they are now seeing you as a performer. They are here to see YOU. So yes, my friend… you are now performing. Perhaps your instrument is not to your face or on your shoulder, but you are on stage and they are watching you.


So, why does this matter?


Simply put, there are many things that we “just do” while preparing for the performance that we don’t think about. We don’t consider the fact that it might look unprofessional from the audience’s perspective.


Ok, like what?


FOR EXAMPLE:

1. Being out of “costume” – Like I said, once you are onstage, you are performing so if you’re wandering around the stage, getting your instrument out while wearing jeans and a t-shirt, it looks unprofessional. It’s easy enough to get dressed at home, in the hall’s bathroom or in the dressing room. If you have to move equipment and would rather not get your tux messed up (ex: setting up percussion), arrive prior to the hall being opened and set up then.


2. Taking care of business – I’ve seen several personnel managers (bless their hearts) passing out checks while there are people sitting in the audience. As efficient as this may be, it’s not appropriate to pass out checks in front of the audience. That’s the equivalent of showing your date the check prior to you paying for it – the audience feels guilty and awkward because they’ve just been made profoundly aware that we are doing this for money (I will address this in a future post).


3. Language and Conversations – for the love of God… don’t swear while on stage. Sometimes there are microphones hanging from the ceiling and they will pick up your language. And onstage prior to the performance is not the appropriate time to talk about how little you want to be there. As I said in Part 1, save the whining for later and not in front of the audience.


These simple rules seem obvious when spelled out, don’t they? The basic rule is: be aware of what you are doing and how you are acting while performing. Always behave as if you are in the spotlight, because most likely… there is someone watching you.


Stayed tuned for next week’s entry, TACET, where I discuss the art of not playing.

WHEN DOES THE PERFORMANCE START? - PART 1

Posted on March 4, 2012 at 11:15 PM Comments comments (0)

When does the performance start? I’m not talking about the time of day when the performance starts. In fact, the performance truly starts prior to that 7:00/7:30/8:00 downbeat. It starts the moment you step on stage or the moment you are in “costume” in public.


“Wha…? But that’s not when the concert starts. And all-black/tuxes aren’t costumes…”


Let’s start with the costumes thing. To us musicians, our concert attire isn’t a costume. It’s a uniform. It’s work clothes. It’s what we wear to blend in with the rest of the folks on stage. But before we arrive at the hall, people see us and we stand out. Seriously, who wears a tux to Starbucks? People notice and some will ask! “Where are you going all dressed up in that tux?” I know so many people who have said something like, “Oh, I’ve just got this gig.”


Congratulations! You’ve successfully communicated to that stranger that you 1) don’t care about this gig and 2) they shouldn’t come see it because it’s not a big deal. Good job, Champ.


Instead of shutting them down, try something like “I’m playing with [name of ensemble] tonight! We’re playing [repertoire] and it’s going to be a lot of fun!” With this simple change, you have just opened the door wide for this stranger to reply with questions on where the performance is, how much tickets are, what excites you about this performance, what instrument you play, how long you’ve been playing, etc. You may have just gotten a complete stranger to attend your performance. And isn’t that what we want as artists - an audience?


We live in a culture that tends toward the negative and apathetic. I know I am guilty of falling prey to both. However, if we feed that negativity, we will shut out potential audience members, future musicians, and yes… donors. By taking the positive route, we open the door for those folks.


“What if I’m not excited about this concert?”


There must be something you find interesting on the program! Is the soloist exciting? Do you get to play loud stuff? Is your section playing an incredible melody? Is the group playing a piece that’s ridiculously fun? Isn’t playing music for a living supremely awesome?? Even if it’s one thing, tell that person you met about it! Get excited and infuse that stranger with your passion!


“No, seriously. There’s nothing exciting about this whatsoever.”


We all have our negative moments, but keep the vast majority of them to yourself, only share a little with your colleagues, and never ever let your audience know that you are less than excited about performing for them. As soon as you step into public in your classical musician costume, the performance has begun. Use this visual aid to your advantage by starting conversations with strangers and getting them excited about your performance!



Stay tuned for Part 2 where I discuss the performance beginning with a step on stage.

Welcome!

Posted on February 21, 2012 at 8:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Music Etiquette? Why do we need etiquette??


As a classical musician, the majority of my training was in how to play my instrument better. After all, folks who work in a primarily aural medium should have a handle on that! However, we are not just musicians – we are performers. Other performers, namely actors and dancers who work in a more visual medium, are trained in stage presence. Musicians seem to lack significant education in this department and forget we're being watched.


So when we scratch our butts during a performance... the audience notices. And then they forget to listen to you, because they're thinking, "They just scratched their butt!!"


In addition to stage presence, I’m a stickler for stage decorum and how to work with colleagues in an appropriate, congenial way. I think there are many problems in orchestras and chamber ensembles that could be solved with a few simple etiquette lessons! Preferably over lunch. BLT, anyone?


Although stage presence and etiquette seem separate and don’t have a clear connection, I believe they are both essential to us as performers and neither is stressed enough in our musical education. I would like to compensate for some of that lack of education by writing down tips I’ve learned about these issues. Some points are obvious (but should be said anyway) and some are taken from the theatre and dance education I've had.


Sometimes I repeat myself so you might find certain topics like smiling, being genuine, etc. repeated over and over in this blog. But I find these subjects are incredibly important and worth repeating.


In addition to giving advice, I will also be taking questions! Are you sitting in rehearsal and have an etiquette quandry? Do you have a performance coming up and are unsure of your bow? I'd love to hear about it and help you out! I also welcome your opinions, so feel free to post in the comments section if you agree or disagree with what I've said. Though... no swearing. There are kids present.


I will be updating my blog once a week, so please check back next Sunday for my first real entry entitled, “When Does the Performance Start?”.


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