09. June 2011 · 7 comments · Categories: Quotes

Seconds should be ready to take over for the principles when needed, but don’t warm up with or play their solos


I teach my students this … good old music etiquette. Now if we could teach musicians to stop turning around to look at who made the mistake! Sigh. (I saw this frequently at symphony this year, and I found it frustrating.)

Read my Musicians’ Etiquette page if you want to see other things that can get a person into trouble — and can also alienate you from your colleagues.


  1. I find string players are the worst for this.. Someone needs to tell them that it’s not cool to turn and stare every time there is a wind solo.

  2. I was thinking about this and realizing they appear to be the worst at this because there are more of them and they are in front of us so we see them turn around. I haven’t a clue if the sections behind me ever turn around … maybe they do. Hmmm. But yes, I constantly see string players turning around. I once wanted to yell out, “YES, that was ME. Now turn around and pay attention to your own part, please! I already feel bad about the mistake!” But of course I didn’t.

  3. How come they don’t teach this at school? =_= I tried telling my cello section at school once about not playing other people’s solos and the whole glaring at mistake deal. The more I explained, the more offended people became… When I become a music teacher, I’m definitely going to go over this in my class…

  4. I think university private instructors should include this in their syllabus. I also think private instructors for high school students should teach it. But then I also think universities should have a class that includes this, along with other “survival techniques” for this business! Does the cello teacher play in an orchestra? Perhaps he/she is a soloist and doesn’t even experience this? Feel free to print out my etiquette list and hand it out, as long as you include the URL on the paper! :-)

  5. I agree – string players are positioned such that it is easy for them to turn and look. I once mentioned to a violist that it was rude to stare at someone playing a solo, and there was a cellist who always looked over. I feel like turning and staring back. Or undoing a couple of buttons on my shirt. Then they would look away LOL!!

  6. Ooh … maybe we should all do that, Anne! Hah!

  7. Wait a minute here! Mistakes? In a professional orchestra performance??