Hybrid Arts Flutist



Posted on March 18, 2012 at 11:45 PM

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.

Categories: Etiquette, Positive, Aware

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1 Comment

Reply paulamsav
4:56 PM on March 19, 2012 
I'm enjoying reading your blog! Thanks!

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