Thursday, December 4, 2008

TV & etiquette

I found this article amusing, since I also watch all of my TV on my computer (the same as in the picture, no less), and I don't own a TV. I can watch Pushing Daisies (boo!!! why are they canceling this show??), The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, 30 Rock and Ugly Betty online, plus whatever Netflix has to offer. It's a lot better since there are only about 4 commercials and they're only 30 seconds long.

I also thought these two blog posts by Holly Mulcahy were interesting: one on conductor etiquette, the other on musician etiquette, pointed out and discussed on Inside the Classics. I have definitely seen examples of both, though I disagree, I think there is some discussion of proper attire and behavior in music schools today. Or maybe it's just MBT. Certainly there at least ought to be some discussion of etiquette by private teachers. I know my first oboe teacher taught me to accept compliments graciously no matter how you feel about your performance. And I've passed that on to younger musicians, myself. I used to always actually be excited about every performance; now I find that I sometimes plaster on a smile for the audience during bows, but I still do it. I do it because I know I hate going to hear orchestras that I'm really excited about, and having them look like they're bored to tears and don't care that I'm applauding them. Though I also would point out that it's a bigger problem among string players, some of whom unfortunately feel as though they are not as important in an orchestra performance where they do not have a solo. I myself am sometimes guilty: I recently played an opera gig where there wasn't an actual pit (the musicians were at the foot of the stage), but I read during my breaks, despite being visible. I tried not to, but it was a LONG opera, and I only played a few sporadic movements (perhaps 10 out of the 30 arias/choruses), and I was going insane. I hope no one was bothered by it. I know an audience member in Houston once asked why there was one musician sitting near the wind sections for Dvorak's New World who seemed to stare intently at a score the whole time. It was because the English hornist read a book or magazine for the three movements he did not play, and just played English horn for the solos, which the audience member hadn't noticed that he played. So I don't feel too bad about the opera.


Patty said...

I have a rule about reading; if the audience knows I'm doing it, I have to stop. If it causes me to miss an entrance, I have to stop. If it means I'm not focused on my job, I have to stop.

Mostly I don't read, as you might imagine.

I know some players who say they have to read or they'll just lose it completely. So far those are the same musicians who miss entrances or aren't strong players, when it comes to groups I'm in. But I know that some VERY fine musicians do read in the pit and on the stage (I've never read on stage for a performance and can't imagine doing so). I just don't think an audience should know. Just like I don't want to know if they are reading (or sleeping) when I'm playing for them! ;-)

This is a bit of a tricky business we are in. We have to "sell" a performance, and sometimes we really aren't up for it. (I have a very good reason for not being up for it right now, in fact.) But we gotta keep that audience happy. Go figure. 8-)

Gabrielle said...

i really felt like i needed to read to keep my sanity (and, um, slightly embarrassed to say, stay awake!). i don't usually, but that was like a solid hour at a time of sitting there and not playing or being able to do anything else. i never missed an entrance, so i guess it worked out :) plus i had friends who came to a performance and they said they couldn't even tell that i was reading.

Patty said...

Well, sounds like you met my rules just perfectly! :-)

I have a colleague who misses far too many entrances due to reading. Missing one is too many, if you ask me.

Were you playing a Mozart opera? That would be my guess, in any case.

I once played a gig with Penderecki conducting. We were doing a work of his (with a fabulous EH solo in it). He somehow spotted that I was reading during a rehearsal and shook his head angrily. Believe me, that book got put away very quickly! I still can't quite figure out how he knew, as I was incredibly discreet. (Maybe I was wrong and he was shaking his head at someone else; sometimes I can't tell who a conductor is looking at!)