Thursday, August 11, 2011

musician etiquette

A while back I was having a discussion with some fellow LA freelance musicians on musician etiquette. I wanted to blog about it but haven't had the creative energy lately, until now. Here is a list I created for my middle school students about what kind of behavior is expected of a professional musician (and therefore what they should aspire to). Essentially, the list boils down to 3 things: 1 don't be a jerk, 2 use common sense, 3 be responsible.

Musician Etiquette

1.) Always be on time.
In a professional situation, you will not be hired again if you are late!
2.) Always come prepared.
Your colleagues will not appreciate it if they have worked hard to prepare the music, but you have not, and you keep the group back. This behavior would also cause you to not be hired again!
Always make sure you’ve brought everything you need: instrument, music, pencil, reeds, whatever you need to play.
4.) Resist the urge to play the hardest, fastest, loudest music for your instrument when warming up.
Real musicians warm up with scales and long tones, and the surest way to seem amateur and unprofessional is to play unnecessarily difficult music when warming up. Real musicians find this both juvenile and annoying.
5.) Never talk down to or denigrate your fellow musicians.
This is unthinkably rude and a sure way to make sure you will never get hired again. Do NOT point out a colleague’s mistakes or correct them in any way. They most likely know their mistake, and if not, let the conductor correct them.
6.) Try not to talk in rehearsal unless necessary.
Never talk loudly. Raise your hand if you have a question for the conductor that will pertain to the whole group. If it will not affect anyone but you, talk to the conductor after rehearsal to avoid wasting the ensemble’s time.
7.) Do not do other things, like read or play with your phone, during rehearsal. It’s rude and will cause you to miss entrances and musical directions.
8.) Always arrive early to performances.

9.) At performances, always wear appropriate clothing: nothing that will get you noticed for what you are wearing.
People are there to hear you play.*
10.) At auditions, do not try to “psych out” your competition.
Keep to yourself, warm up in a way that will serve you well, ignore those around you who are also auditioning, and remember that you want to win by playing your best.

*A note about #9: This is particularly for girls. There have been a lot of women in music who've had to put up with a lot of &$*# over the years in order that women today can perform in orchestras and win jobs fairly. To dress in a way that calls attention to something other than our playing, particularly in an orchestral situation, where our male counterparts are wearing suits or tuxes, is disrespectful to the women who fought for our right to perform as equals.

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