Jason Heath (also of Jason Heath’s Double Bass Blog) writes about 10 Wacky Things he’s witnessed going on in a pit.

So … have I witnessed all of this behavior? Let’s see ….

1. Watching TV…in the pit!
Have I seen it? Yep. The offender was a brass player, and a sub at that! An audience member came down during intermission and asked if he could have the score to the game, and if he could watch. Sigh.

2. Showing up drunk…really drunk
Have I seen it? Yep. I’ve even dealt with that one on stage. I told the offender if it ever happened again that would be IT. (Whatever “it” could possibly mean, since I have no clout!)

3. Carrying on loud conversations during concerts
Have I seen it? Yep. And heard it. And tried not to take part in it. (Sometimes it’s so difficult to not respond so as not to appear rude … I’m wimpy that way. Although I never talk loudly. I hope.)

4. Yelling during concerts
Have I seen it? Yep. And once it was yelling into a microphone. Some musicians are entirely clueless.

5. Arguing in the pit
Have I seen it? Yep. Swearing too.

6. Obvious magazine reading or other non-musical activity
Have I seen it? Yep. I have a rule for myself: if the audience can see me, I must stop. If I miss even one entrance, I must stop. Period. So I’ve stopped doing this, except on the occasional musical theater gig when we have a 15 minute pause or something. I simply don’t feel involved musically when I read, and I want to feel involved. Even with Nutcracker. I bring magazines, and I read during intermission, but I have stopped reading during ballets and operas completely. It just feels wrong to me. Some folks have no problem with it. As long as they aren’t seen and never miss an entrance I’m okay with it.

7. Dancing in the pit
Have I seen it? No. Actually this is one I’ve never seen. Ever. Whew!

8. Angry gestures and hand waving
Have I seen it? Yep. Not a lot, though.

9. Improvising out of boredom
Have I seen it? Yep. Seen it, heard it, hate it. There is no excuse in my book for this one. I don’t care how bored someone is; the people in the audience are paying to hear the right music, not someone’s improvisational goofiness. It ticks me off like you wouldn’t believe.

10. Musical Sabotage
Have I seen it? Well, I think so. I sometimes wonder if someone is doing something deliberately or if they are really just that horrible at the moment. I suspect the former. Either way, it’s not good.

Now … I will tattle a bit. But only on myself.

I used to be clueless. I did embroidery in the pit! Really. In the pit. Crocheting too. And someone told me I used to make jewelry there as well (I had forgotten that one). Sigh. I look back on this in such embarrassment. What the heck was I thinking? At one point a friend came down to the pit to ask me what I was making, so it was obviously seen by other audience members as well. One day I dumped my entire case of floss on to the floor. I believe that was the day I realized I shouldn’t be doing that! Duh.

I also used to read books and magazines in a very visible way. Someone came down to ask me what book I was reading. So that stopped. Maybe I’m older and wiser. Or maybe I’m just aware that I’m too easily distracted to do this stuff and manage to play well at this older age. Who knows? But I try, these days, to make good music, and when I’m not playing I want to enjoy the good music other people make. For me that’s the best way to deal with pit work.


  1. Jeannette Clemons

    BlackBerries in the pit are really a problem now….all those essential Stock Updates..

    I am ashamed to remember all the antics that I witnessed that used to go on in a certain Professional Group that will remain un-named… but it was stressful, never knowing when some kind of “photograph” might appear when you turned your next page of score…remaining expressionless became a really useful skill…

  2. umm how else do you count rests in measures like:

    | ==43== |

    In 4/4 time thats: knit one perl two x 43
    In 3/4 time use: knit knit perl

  3. Heh … well, I always hope to have the music in my brain well enough that I don’t have to count, but of course sometimes the music isn’t that familiar to me, some music is more difficult, and MY little brain is sometimes not able to remember … so I count with my finger counting system that seems to work for me. 🙂

    And, besides, I can’t knit!

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