17. July 2007 · Comments Off on Etiquette · Categories: Ramble

I know a good number of readers have read my Musicians’ Etiquette page, as I see numerous hits for that page and I also get occasional emails from some of you. (Thanks! I love those emails.) I know, too, that I sound mighty picky when I list all my little “rules” but, believe me, you can keep out of a lot of trouble if you follow them. Honest and true.

What I haven’t written about is audience etiquette. I avoid this primarily because I don’t want to alienate anyone who might be a potential audience member, and so many people are fearful of doing the “wrong thing” when going to a concert. Just come. Enjoy.

BUT (you knew this was coming, right?) I decided some months ago that I was going to blog about this at some point because someone came to a show I was playing and … well … I was kind of horrified by what occurred.

No, I’m not going to talk about applauding between movements. Do it. Don’t do it. I’ll live. But there are some things you just might consider that could help us get through our work day without wanting to disappear, pretend we don’t know you, or jump off the stage or out the pit to stifle your comments or actions.

  • Please don’t ask, “So, do you like the conductor?” If I don’t have a positive opinion you’ve really put me in a bad position and I have to think of something creative to say that isn’t a lie, isn’t bashing the person, and isn’t praising him or her either. Don’t ask me that question in any form, okay? I’ve heard, “Don’t you just love her?” and “Isn’t he the best?” Those comments sometimes make me shudder. IF I’m in love with the conductor I will, believe me, make it quite clear without being asked first!

  • Ditto for the soloist(s). Go ahead and compliment if you’d like. I’ll join in if I agree. But let’s agree to a “Don’t ask, don’t tell” thing, okay? 😉

  • Don’t sing along if you know the tune. Eons ago someone sang the “Ode to Joy”, as I was informed later, although, since said person didn’t know the German the words in he/she sang the hymnbook lyrics instead.

  • Please don’t tell me you heard my mistakes. I already feel bad enough! I’m not sure why, but other musicians are the ones who most love saying things like that. Did you think I didn’t know, or do you just want me to know that you are a fantastic listener?

  • Please don’t say, “You sound great, but boy were the brass/strings/percussion (or whatever) awful. I heard their mistakes!” They can hear you. I am embarrassed. And again, they are usually well aware of their mistakes if they really did make them. When you yell it across the pit it’s especially distressing!

  • Please watch your language. Especially when you are yelling across the pit. (Someone once called the lead character a “slut” quite loudly—I was a distance away in the pit and couldn’t get up to the front. Now she was referring to the character, not the person, but still … that was crass and I was so embarrassed.)

    Now that wasn’t too bad, was it? But yes, all of those things have happened to me. Some many times.

    Oh, and you all know better than to take flash pictures during performances, right? Well, except for some idiot who took flash photos WHILE Tosca was going on. But I know that wasn’t any friend of mine. (We actually saw the guy. Someone else in the pit gave him a scolding after the performance. I know we come across as terribly harsh when we do that, but there are times when we finally lose it!)

    Okay. I probably sound like a total jerk. (Do know that these things have occurred long enough ago that I could safely put them here, knowing not one of my readers is the culprit in any of these instances.) But now I will attempt to never again be so picky and annoying.

    Of course I realize being annoying is unavoidable for yours truly. I only said I’d “attempt” to not be so. 😉

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