Like any closed society, orchestras have their own rules and standards of conduct, some are merely a matter of common sense but for a new player they are alas not always obvious, so here are some of the basics.
These are not in any particular order.
- Be prepared, if you can't play your part you are letting the side down.
- Never ever have your tuner on the stand while the oboist is giving the A. This tells everyone that you have no ear and it's insulting, it's OK to use it before though.
- If someone near you is playing a solo DO NOT move, tap your foot or fingers, fidget; adjust your music, finger along, watch their part while they play etc. They need all their attention to be on what they are doing not on you being a distraction. This is under the "you will never be asked to play again" category.
- Do not play sharp to make your tone project at the expense of those who play in tune
Do not ever warm up on someone Else's solos
- Do not turn around to look at someone who has made a mistake or is playing a solo. In fact don't move.
- Do not warm up on every fancy excerpt and concerto you know because when you do then miss that whole note you will become a laughing stock." "Remember that guy.."
- Do not practice stuff you cannot do, in public.
- Do not practice all the major solos from the concert loudly.
- Do not warm up with practice tone.
- Do not complain about other players or talk about who made mistakes, especially outside the ensemble. Imagine what they might be saying about you. Players have to be able to trust the people they are performing with.
- Follow your section leader. If you aren't with them it would be better if you weren't there and if you do this often enough, you won't be.
- Know what the tricky notes and ranges are on the other instruments so you can accommodate them by adjusting your tuning and volume.
- Always assume your pitch is the wrong one. Adjust. Think about the tuning of every note you play
- If the conductor asks you about a note, be prepared to refer to your part in concert pitch.
- If you have a question ask the conductor at the break, if you are a section player ask the principal. The conductor has a lot to think about they don't need distractions. There are probably bigger issues than your note.
- If the conductor asks you to do something (musical) just nod and do it, never make excuses.
- If the conductor asks you to do something (musical) you should be able to do it the first time or at most the second time. If you are asked 3 times and it doesn't happen you will be written off.
- If you really listen to the section leader you will end up matching tones, do this.
- Do not tap your foot.
- Arrive in time to be at 440 or whatever your groups pitch is.
- Do not cross your legs
- Do not yawn or look bored
- Avoid strong perfume or cologne.
- Do not make faces when you make or hear a mistake.
- Be alert during bows
- Be careful of balance; never drown out the lead voice.
- Sigh..., I can't believe I have to add this one but..do not warm up by making the most disgusting and irritating sounds you can think off. Everyone is testing reeds, checking tuning and fine tuning embouchure's so they want to be able to concentrate. You want to show what a great sound you have not how horrible it can be. Anytime you are playing it counts. It's not the time for humour.
- Start and end your notes with the group.
- If you have finished playing and want to leave before the concert is finished do so discretely. Do not make a point of telling people you are leaving as you are basically telling them you have no interest them or their playing.
- Make all the rehearsals. We want the show to go like and be like the rehearsals (more or less) If you are not at the rehearsals especially the dress you are causing stress for your colleges both at the rehearsal and in the show. This is a) arrogant ( "I'm so good I don't need to rehearse ") and b) selfish
- New! If the conductor asks you to "play as if you are saying goodbye to life" don't say, " so you want that note shorter then?" This will let everyone know that you are an inanimate object, a brick devoid of life and certainly of any musical feeling
- If your part does not have bar numbers..put them in, especially near important solos.
- Do not warm up so loudly that no one else can hear themselves. e.g. FF timpani rolls
- It's hard to put on a concert so do not be a PITA.