As a person whose life revolves around music (if I'm not playing the
violin, piano, viola, guitar, or Irish whistle, I'm probably listening to
a CD), I obviously enjoy musical humor. These probably have a limited audience, but if you know music--especially classical--you'll like these!
What's the first thing a musician says at work?
"Would you like fries with that?"
If you threw a violist and a soprano off a cliff, which one would hit the
ground first? (two answers)
1.The violist. The soprano would have to stop halfway down to ask
String quartet: a good violinist, a bad violinist, an ex-violinist, and
someone who hates violinists, all getting together to complain about
Glissando: a technique adopted by string players for difficult runs.
Subito piano: indicates an opportunity for some obscure orchestra player
to become a soloist.
For several years I played with the Waukegan Symphony Orchestra,
while it was under the direction of one of the world's most
talented and inspiring conductors, Richard Hynson, who now directs the Bel Canto Chorus of Milwaukee. I have nothing but the highest praise and admiration for him, and I can't imagine a better conductor. However, there are many other conductors out there for whom this instructional guide may come in handy. :)
A Player's Guide for Keeping Conductors in Line
by Donn Laurence Mills
If there were a basic training manual for orchestra players, it might
include ways to practice not only music, but one-upmanship. It seems as
if many young players take pride in getting the conductor's goat. The
following rules are intended as a guide to the development of habits that
will irritate the conductor. (Variations and additional methods depend
upon the imagination and skill of the player.)
- Never be satisfied with the tuning note. Fussing about the pitch takes
attention away from the podium and puts it on you, where it belongs.
- When raising the music stand, be sure the top comes off and spills the
music on the floor.
- Complain about the temperature of the rehearsal room, the lighting,
crowded space, or a draft. It's best to do this when the conductor
is under pressure.
- Look the other way just before cues.
- Never have the proper mute, a spare set of strings, or extra reeds.
Percussion players must never have all their equipment.
- Ask for a re-audition or seating change. Ask often. Give the
impression you're about to quit. Let the conductor know you're
there as a personal favor.
- Pluck the strings as if you are checking 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 unquestionably the best because they roll around for
- Loudly blow water from the keys during pauses (Horn, oboe and
clarinet players are trained to do this from birth).
- Long after a passage has gone by, ask the conductor if your C# was
in tune. This is especially effective if you had no C# or were not
playing at the time. (If he catches you, pretend to be correcting a note
in your part.)
- At dramatic moments in the music (while the conductor is emoting)
be busy marking your music so that the climaxes will sound empty and
- Wait until well into a rehearsal before letting the conductor know
you don't have the music.
- Look at your watch frequently. Shake it in disbelief occasionally.
- Tell the conductor, "I can't find the beat." Conductors
are always sensitive about their "stick technique", so
challenge it frequently.
- As 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've conducted this piece?"
- When rehearsing a difficult passage, distort your face and shake
your head indicating that you'll never be able to play it. Don't
say anything: make him wonder.
- 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.
- Find an excuse to leave rehearsal about 15 minutes early so that
others will become restless and start to pack up and fidget.
- During applause, smile weakly or show no expression at all. Better
yet, nonchalantly put away your instrument. Make the conductor feel he
is keeping you from doing something really important.
A first violinist, a second violinist, a virtuoso violist, and a bass
player are at the four corners of a football field. At the signal, someone
drops a 100 dollar bill in the middle of the field and they run to grab
it. Who gets it?
The second violinist, because:
1.No first violinist is going anywhere for only 100 dollars.
2.There's no such thing as a virtuoso violist.
3.The bass player hasn't figured out what it's all about.
Gone Chopin. Bach in a minuet.
How many second violinists does it take to change a light bulb?
None. They can't get up that high!
How do you keep your violin from getting stolen?
Put it in a viola case.
What's the latest crime wave in New York City?
Drive-by viola recitals.
How many professional musicians does it take to change a lightbulb?
None--professional musicians can't afford lightbulbs.
A violist is sitting in the front row, crying hysterically. The conductor
asks the violist. "what's wrong?" The violist answers, "The second oboe
loosened one of my tuning pegs." The conductor replied, " I admit, that
seems a little childish, but nothing to get so upset about. Why are you
crying?" To which the violist replied, "He won't tell me which one!!"
Why couldn't Mozart find his music teacher? He was Haydn!
What's the similarity between the Beatles and the viola section of the
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra?
Neither has played together since 1970.