14. June 2008 · 10 comments · Categories: Ramble

I’m thinking that universities and conservatories need to set up a new class, that covers a multitude of things. Some, I know, are beginning to understand that they need to teach young musicians how to survive; it’s not just “Out you go now … win that audition and enjoy life!” That doesn’t happen for everyone. So a survival skills class seems necessary these days.

Included in that class —something I think is rarely taught‐ should be musicians’ etiquette. I’m finding that far too many don’t know that little dos and don’ts of our somewhat confusing world. I do have to remind myself on occasion, in fact.

Recently I’ve heard of or observed some major rule breakers. Not following simple rules can alienate yourself from your section, another section, the conductor, or even the entire orchestra.

And it’s so easy to stay in the safe zone, if only you understand what not to do.

Yes, some of the rules may seem silly to some of you … take ’em or leave ’em. You choose. (But I highly recommend you seriously consider them if you are on tenure track!)

So check out my Musicians’ Etiquette page. Feel free to add to it. (Feel free to argue, too, but I’m probably not going to change my mind about most of this stuff.)

Someday I’ll tell some stories (I think I have already) … even tattling on myself for some very stupid things I’ve done.

Now it’s time to get ready to teach … which makes me remember that I should really write up a page for that someday. I hate to be and uptight old lady who thinks manners matter, but … well … they do.


  1. I thought your etiquette page was excellent. I agreed with almost all of them, and the ones that were new to me sounded entirely reasonable.

    One comment I would make is to be aware that while your etiquette page is directed at performers, anyone can read it. If I were a contractor, I would not be offended by the ego comment, but someone else may be. And those are the people getting you jobs, still. 🙂

  2. Why … whatever could you mean? Did I write something about egos there? 😉

    Thanks. Excellent suggestion!

    Sometimes these crazy fingers just take over and type stupid … and risky … things! 🙂

  3. It sounds like there are some fun stories about a pushy second oboe, jumping in and playing/practicing solos?? (That sounds highly annoying, btw.)

    Great list.

  4. Oh yes, indeed, Jolene! It’s happened to many of us. Most of the time it’s not done due to ego issues, but simple igonorance, but there are times when I do wonder ….

    I’ll never forget the first time I played some opera (can’t remember which one now) and I didn’t come in for a solo at the first rehearsal, receiving no cue and losing count. The second oboist came in on the solo nice and strong. That’s just so uncool. But the guy who did it was rather naive and I did know his intentions weren’t horrible. Other people … well … some would have bad intentions. It’s just they way some people are.

  5. Oh … I should probably mention that the oboist who jumped in on my solo is no longer playing. Just so no one tries to guess names. 🙂

  6. This is wonderful and some of it is very applicable for dancers as well.

  7. Thanks, OT!

    And I love your blog, btw! 🙂

  8. The etiquette page is a great idea, Patty. An excellent list! I think this suggestion could be considered “etiquette”: be aware of other instrument tuning limits. Everyone wants to play in tune but let’s face it, there are some notes that are just really difficult to keep up or down in pitch (low C# on the oboe for example). If you have some flexibility on your part, give the other person a break (as long as you’re not sacrificing musicality.)

  9. Thank you, Patty. I enjoy reading your blog as well, especially because I know nothing about the oboe.

  10. JL,I’ll have to add that suggestion in when I get back to editing (I have a wedding this coming Sunday, so I might wait until after).

    OT: Thanks! Oboe is a bit of a mystery to many. To some of it’s a delightful curse! 😉