A Player's Guide for
Keeping Conductors in Line

1. When adjusting the music stand, make sure the music spills to the floor.

2. Look the other way just before cues.

3. Pluck the strings as if to check your tuning at every opportunity, especially when the conductor is giving instructions. Brass players: drop mutes. Percussionists have a wide variety of dropable items, but cymbals are definitely the best, especially during quiet passages of music.

4. Long after a passage is gone, ask the conductor if your C# was in tune. This is especially effective if you had no C# or were not playnig at the time. (If he catches you, pretend to be correcting a note in your part.)

5. At dramatic moments in the music (while the conductor is emoting) be busy marking your music.

6. Wait until well into the rehearsal before letting the conductor know you don't have the music.

7. Look at your watch frequently. Shake it in disbelief occasonally.

8. Tell the conductor "I can't find the beat." Conductors are always sensitive about their "stick technique" so challenge it frequently.

9. Ask the conductor if he has listened to the Bernstein recording of the piece. Imply that he could learn a thing or two from it. Also good: ask "is this the first time you have conducted this piece?"

10. When rehearsing a difficult passage, screw up your face and shake your head indicating that you'll never be able to play it.

11. If your articulation differs from that of others playing the same phrase, stick to your guns. Do not ask the conductor which is correct until backstage just before the concert.

[author and source unknown]
(edited by David Van Alstyne)
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