“One bad apple spoils the bunch.” We’ve all been in an environment where one person seemed to always be a naysayer. They’re either a hot-head, a know-it-all, or the passive-aggressive type who mumbles under their breath about how things should be done. This is the exact opposite of what needs to happen in any group in order for it to be successful. We all work hard to get where we are. When you finally get that gig, there’s an etiquette you should follow in order to stay on your fellow musicians’ and conductor’s good side.
Know Your Stuff
It may not be quite obvious, but once you land a job, you must keep up with your practice time. Remember how hard you worked for that audition; you must keep up that stamina. Be prepared for the upcoming concerts by researching the music as soon as you hear about what’s to be on the next performance. Practice. Look up the composer(s). Practice. Listen to recordings. Practice. Research the history on the pieces to be played. Practice. If you can find a score, review it so you know how your part fits with others. Practice. Never ever show up to a rehearsal unprepared. Oh, and don’t forget to practice.
The best way to get on your conductor’s good side is to show up early and show up often. Make your rehearsals a priority, because in any orchestra, each instrument being present is integral to the rehearsal being a success. Start missing rehearsals, and they may decide they don’t want to miss you anymore.
Like you, everyone is there for the same reason: to make music. Also like you, everyone is trying to do their best. Keep that in mind when you’re passing judgment on someone else’s playing ability. You don’t know their backstory or how their day may have affected their performance attitude. If it happens once in a blue moon, don’t sweat it. If it’s habitual, be proactive and positive. Go after the path that helps improve the group, not the one that singles out someone with an issue. If they have skills lacking in certain areas, you won’t be the only one who notices. Remember, be a team player, and support each other.
Before you show up to rehearsal or a performance, be prepared. As was mentioned before, keep up the same stamina and practice level that makes you continue to be competitive, but don’t be a threat. You may have been hired because your abilities were above the others who tried for the same position, but you’re now part of a group. Strive for improvement in everything you do; that includes everything beyond being a musician, including history on the piece, research on equipment, even dress: comfort for rehearsal, comfortable and professional black for performances.
What any ensemble really needs is for the channels of communication to be followed. If you have a concern, talk to your section leader. If you’re the section leader, talk to the next person up the ladder. If that’s the conductor, find time to talk to him/her outside of the rehearsal, not at a time when everyone would be an audience.
Know When to Fold ‘Em
There may come a time when you’ve had enough. Either things aren’t going the way you want them to, administration is behaving in a way that is less than desirable, you don’t feel like a part of the team anymore, or maybe you just plain don’t feel inspired to do your best. If you find yourself dreading work, it’s time to move on. Don’t stick around out of a feeling of responsibility; chances are you may start to bring others down with you. It’s always good to keep lines of communication open, but