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PHONES

Posted on April 28, 2013 at 3:15 PM

So sorry for the lack of posts for almost a year! I hope to get back in the swing of things and be updating regularly on Sundays again. My last post (from almost a year ago) stated that I would be writing “Knowing Your Visual Habits.” I lied. I’m going to talk about phones first.


Your phone should never audibly go off during rehearsal. Ever. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. If you leave your ringer on and it goes off during rehearsal, you should be fined. Period.


Calm down, Miss Manners! It’s not that big of a deal! What’s your problem with phones?


Aside from the fact that I think cell phone rings are across the board incredibly annoying (I turn into The Hulk when my mom’s goes off in a restaurant always at the highest volume level possible…;), it shows a lack of respect for the work being done in the rehearsal. If it goes off during an orchestra rehearsal, you clearly do not care about what we’re all doing in this room together. Also, if you know your phone has a loud vibrate noise, turn the thing off. You don’t need your phone on at all times, do you? If you’re that obsessed with your phone, you can wait the extra minute at the top of the break to turn it back on to check your email/voicemail.


Still not that big of a deal…


You know how it feels when an audience member’s phone goes off during the third movement of Shosti 5? The violins are tremoloing way up high, the oboe is playing this incredible heart-breaking theme and suddenly IPHONE MARIMBA RINGTONE. It ruins the moment. It ruins the magic that we’ve worked so hard to create. With that one terrible sound, everyone in that room is brought plummeting back to reality when we should be having our heartstrings tugged and our eyes fill with tears.


True, rehearsals aren’t performances, but we should demand the same respect of our colleagues and ourselves that we demand from our audiences. Announcements are made before the concert begins asking audiences to turn off their cell phones. Be responsible and do the same prior to rehearsal.


But… I’m waiting for a very important phone call!


First, is it all that important? Are waiting to hear about a gig? Because you’re at one and it’s pretty rude to be hunting down work at the expense of the current work. Is a family member’s health at risk? I’m a family first sort of gal, so this one is understandable, but if it’s something you can let go to voicemail, let it go to voicemail.


We all have life issues and sometimes need to be connected in case something happens (for example, your mother is in the hospital and doing very poorly). Trust me, I get it. And believe me, this can be resolved.


If you’re in a chamber music rehearsal (chamber music = 2+ people but not a “large ensemble” with a conductor), it’s your responsibility to let your fellow musicians know what’s going on. You don’t need to give them the full story of your relative’s illness, because it’s none of their business what’s wrong with them. However, it is their business why you have to leave your phone on and pick it up when someone calls. Let them know what you’re dealing with. They’ll get it.


If you’re in a large ensemble (ex: orchestra or some other group with a conductor), you need to ask the personnel manager and/or conductor for a private word (if the group has both, talk to both people), explain the situation, and then ask if it’s alright for you to take the call outside the rehearsal room should your phone ring (and even then, leave your phone on vibrate!). If they’re ok with you doing that, then you can go for it. If not, then you’ll have to wait until a break or after rehearsal. Yeah, it sucks. But that’s the way it goes.


I get why I shouldn’t take a call or leave my ringer on, but I rest for the first three movements of the symphony and we may not get to my movement before the end of rehearsal…


Personally, I think it’s fine to play silent, unobtrusive games on your phone if you rest for a movement or if the conductor decides to hold a string sectional during full orchestra rehearsal. However, I will remind you that is MY opinion. I know many folks who thoroughly disagree with me. Get a feel for your ensemble prior to doing this. Do they seem like a fairly conservative group? Or do they not care? If you’re in doubt, it doesn’t hurt to ask, especially if you’re new. If you’re a substitute, err on the conservative side and bring a book (or get really good at daydreaming - I’m a champion daydreamer). When in doubt – daydream or book.


Can I play games during the first three movements during the concert?


Hell, no! I mean, “that is not advisable”. Do not have your phone anywhere near the stage during a concert. Don’t tempt fate. You’re not going to pick up the call during Mahler 1, so why do you need to be attached to it (the phone, that is)? If you’re concerned about it getting stolen, speak with the backstage crew during the dress rehearsal and find a safe place to stash it. Otherwise, nowhere near the stage… and still leave it on vibrate. And sorry to say… you can’t read during the concert either. Daydream and come in on time.


I’m an audience member. Is it really that bad when my phone goes off during the show?


Yes. Yes it is. Audience members should know what to do with their phones during performances, right? Off. Airplane mode. Do Not Disturb Mode. Quietly Vibrate. Nothing is worse than your phone going off during a performance that these hard-working musicians put on for you. Nowadays, every hall has reminders in the program or in the voice-over before the top of the show, so there’s really no excuse why you shouldn’t silence it. No your phone won’t mess with the in-flight navigation systems, but it’s downright rude and disturbs the magic.


Alright, this post was a little pissy, wasn’t it? I really hate cell phone rings if you couldn’t already tell!



Stay tuned for next week’s much lighter entry, THE LITTLE THINGS THE AUDIENCE SEES AND APPRECIATES, where I discuss the little things in life.

Categories: Etiquette, Aware

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