I’m going to sound like an old person, I know, but I have a bit of advice for musicians who are new to working in the business. Honestly … this can help you get jobs if you are starting to sub.

1: Arrive early to jobs. I’ve noticed so many newer subs coming on to the stage or into the pit at the last minute. So late, in fact, that some of us, including the personnel manager, wonder if the player is going to show up at all. If you are new, make that effort (I don’t write “extra effort” because it isn’t extra at all!) to get to the pit ahead of the start of a rehearsal or performance. Worrying your (tenured!) colleagues isn’t a great way to continue to get hired. We don’t like to worry about other musicians as we are warming up.

2: If you are sitting in the middle of the orchestra, arrive even earlier. Really. I remember, when I was starting out, an older player suggested I not arrive as late as I did, since I had to carefully ease my way into the pit past all the already seated players. It was not a comfortable thing to do, both for them and for me.

3: If it’s suggested you audit a rehearsal and you are new, do so. Don’t think, “Well, I don’t have to do this so never mind!” I guarantee you will earn extra “points” if you come, showing you care about the group, the production, and the audience. You will be less likely to get hired back if you don’t bother.

4: Dress like the rest of the group. Ask, if you aren’t sure what the dress code is (although it is usually listed on a hire sheet). If it says black, it means black (no colored jackets hanging on the back of your chair, either). If it says long or 3/4 length sleeves, don’t wear sleeveless or short sleeves. Again, this shows that you care, and also that you are attentive to things like this. This matters even if you think you aren’t seen by the audience: the orchestra members do see you! (I once played a job where a player didn’t wear what was requested and I heard the player say to a colleague, “It doesn’t matter. No one can see me anyway!” Well, I saw you … and I heard you say that.)

I hate to sound like an old lady, but the truth is that is what I am, so there you go. I just want younger musicians to succeed in this business. Oh … and for the typical stuff, you can always visit my etiquette page.


  1. I agree with Patty! Once early in my career, I was playing with SF Opera and arrived after most of the orchestra was seated, with my briefcase in one hand, and cup of very hot coffee in the other. Stepping across the tangle of wires for stand lights on the floor of the pit, I hooked a toe and slopped my coffee into the lap of the 2nd bassoonist. Predictably, he was not happy, and for the rest of the season, if he was seated beforeI was, he stood up, stepped aside, and announced, “Look out! Here comes the kid!”

  2. An excellent example of the WHY of it all! 🙂