Members of the ensemble do not appear to memorize the notes to heart and they constantly consult the score in form of booklets. The issue comes when these musicians need to turn that page as the performance progresses. The act of turning a page to me seems problematic although judging from how it was done yesterday, the instrumentalists obviously had little problem doing so. Indeed, each time they need to turn the page, they stopped playing temporarily. The orchestra was designed to give a certain group of players a short rest at different points of time during performance. They turned their pages during their rest time.

Yet, it looked messy in a sense that there were movements other than striking the strings, blowing the horns or the overexcited conductor swinging his hands and seemingly dancing to shape the sound that filled the hall.

I read that, and more, here. It’s kind of fun to read about a concert through the eyes of this non-musician, and see how we appear to him.

I’ve heard of “notepads” or some such thing that people use, rather than sheet music. (Oh … here’s one you can check out.) I read, some time ago, that Harry Connick, Jr. uses some sort of “electric sheet music distribution system” too. Of course if something went wrong with the machines we’d be in serious trouble. But sure, I’m going to guess that, some years down the line, we might nix the paper and move to computers. I will miss the paper and my pencil. Ah well. (And, for those of you who don’t know, our page turns are worked out so that we oboes turn when we have measures of rest, so it’s no biggie. And no, we wouldn’t want to play constantly! We need those measures of rest!) Of course these “music machines” have to be sure and provide a way for us to mark our music, and then a way to take those marks away when we get a different conductor who has different ideas. Sounds like the Music Reader has taken care of that, and then you can buy their AirTurn and turn the pages with a foot pedal. (As if we oboists don’t have enough to think about already!)

Now … when someone invents the “Perfect Reed Maker” machine I’ll buy it immediately! And if someone ever invents a plastic reed that works and sounds great our lives will become so much more relaxed. Page turns are the least of our problems!


  1. They are less careful with page turns for horn parts, likewise they typically do the divisi-thing vs. putting in a separate staff. The horn is really more of a two-handed instrument than most of the other brass instruments (notable exception: trombone). Then there’s the way the music is bound (so that it won’t stay open), and the way the light falls on it and shadows one or more corners of it…and then, cuts happen, and even the good page turns become nightmares…wait, did I mention the part where the “YOU MUST ERASE ALL MARKS!!1!!1” thing was completely ignored?

    I miss doing shows.

  2. Heh. Having been a music librarian I can tell you that the “erase all parts” rule was never followed … by either the people who rented before us, or by me. We were never fined. (I like seeing other people’s marks; sometimes they’re quite helpful.)

    Show music IS different than other music. Even the rule about carrying key signatures down an entire page … they don’t always do that (I’m guessing you noticed).

    I miss the “party time” of playing shows, to be sure; it really was a great couple of weeks of no stress (aside from Les Mis), and I usually didn’t even have to worry about reeds much. (Hmmm. What does that say about the music?!)