We all know to be nice to the conductors, the executive directors, and the personnel managers. But these are not the only people who deserve our respect.
A wise man (my dad) once told me that you should always make friends with the people who work behind the scenes - custodians, secretaries, stagehands, light technicians. Over the past several decades of my dad’s career as a public school music teacher, he has gone out of his way to make friends with every single person behind the scenes. And not just saying hi when he sees them. He asks about their day, their family, their vacations. He makes sincere honest friendships with these folks.
Those behind the scenes deal with assholes. Every. Single. Day. But just because they aren’t making the music for the audience or teaching your children, they are still an integral part of what we all do and they can be your greatest allies or your worst enemies depending on how you treat them. If you are kind to these folks, they will be more willing to go out of their way – maybe even break some rules – to help you out. If you run roughshod over them, they can make your life a living hell and you’d deserve it. Simply put, show them the utmost respect.
When was the last time you thanked your stagehands for being so quick with striking the piano from the stage and putting the 1st violins’ chairs back? When did you last thank your custodian for emptying your office’s trash? Have you asked your light technician or secretary if there is a certain type of beer/coffee/tea/wine that they like that you can bring them to say thank you for making your show happen ?
Yes, I know it’s their job to do these things. But it’s your job to play music and doesn’t the audience thank you for it with their applause? Don’t they approach you after the concert and congratulate you?
The audience doesn’t get to know our backstage friends. So in lieu of a standing ovation, let your local stagehand, custodian, secretary, and light technician know how much you appreciate what they do. We all want to feel appreciated and those behind the scenes deserve to feel that way, too.