Wednesday, December 20, 2006

DOs and DON'Ts at a Holiday Pops Concert

I played in nine of the twenty-plus pieces at the Cedar Rapids Symphony Holiday Pops concert. We had four performances this weekend and one last night in Iowa City. Roughly speaking that would the one...lots of time to sit around. Keep in mind that as a performer that sits on stage for the whole concert, it's not as if I can kick back and read a book when I'm not playing. So while I sit there and smile, pretending to listen to the joyous music around me, I'm actually creating to-do lists in my head. Christmas presents yet to buy, where we put those airline vouchers, what I need to pick up at the store to get us through the week, what to blog about... Without further ado, I give you the list:

DO......have more than one reed to play. Unlike Patty, whose reeds were crying "no more!", my best English horn reed got up, said, "No, no, no, and I really mean it; I'm leaving!", and left the building last night. She (I know it was a she, as she wore pink thread) took a taxi to the airport and flew to Florida to retire. I had to make do with other reeds for last night's show.

DO......sing along to the carols during the audience sing-alongs when you have rests or tacets (entire pieces in which a musician doesn't play).

DON'T...sing when you're supposed to be playing. the conductor.

DON' the guest conductor of Sleigh Ride, winner of the silent auction.

DO......write in cues.

DON'T...notice that the horn player next to you has written "EH" (English horn) over a rehearsal number, and notice this at the moment you're supposed to be playing, providing their cue.

DO......notice and correct wrong notes in pieces.

DON'T...notice these wrong notes after the recorded concert.

DO......get into the festive spirit and put on the goofy reindeer antlers with your colleagues, even though you may not even be playing in that particular piece.

DON'T...forget to take them off after that piece, when everyone else taken their's off and the next piece is the choir's a capella version of "Silent Night".

DO......think of things to blog about during pieces you don't play.

DON'T...think of things to blog about when you're supposed to be counting rests. crossword/sudoku puzzles during tacet pieces in rehearsal.

DON' crossword/sudoku puzzles during the concert. (Hello! The audience can see you, and I'm sure the choir really appreciates seeing it over your shoulder.)

For the audience...

DO......stand for the Hallelujah chorus. (Come on, you're standing for the ovation anyway, how hard is it to just remain standing for 4 more minutes?)

DON'T...take that as an opportunity to gather your things, put on your coat and leave. This is not a sporting event.

And finally, for me...(another concert, another wrong note...grumble, grumble) attention to the harmony of a solo and adjust pitch accordingly.

DON'T...change the major 3rd of the last note of the solo to a minor 3rd, play this for all rehearsals and concerts, notice the key signature mid-way through your solo in the very last concert, go to play the correct note, fix it to the "right" note you've been playing all along (resulting in a brief note blip), then realize with a sinking sensation that you'd actually changed the harmony of that last chord...this entire time!!!

OK, maybe SOME of those DOs and DON'Ts applied directly to me...but not all of them. I also might have made some of them up, but I won't tell you which ones. Fact or fiction aside, I hope you have learned a valuable lesson about concert etiquette and the random thoughts of a concert musician.

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