Musical Humor

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 directions.
2.Who cares?

String quartet: a good violinist, a bad violinist, an ex-violinist, and someone who hates violinists, all getting together to complain about composers.

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.)

  1. 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.
  2. When raising the music stand, be sure the top comes off and spills the music on the floor.
  3. 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.
  4. Look the other way just before cues.
  5. Never have the proper mute, a spare set of strings, or extra reeds. Percussion players must never have all their equipment.
  6. 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.
  7. Pluck the strings as if you are checking tuning at every opportunity, especially when the conductor is giving instructions.
  8. Brass players: drop mutes. Percussionists have a wide variety of dropable items, but cymbals are unquestionably the best because they roll around for several seconds.
  9. Loudly blow water from the keys during pauses (Horn, oboe and clarinet players are trained to do this from birth).
  10. 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.)
  11. At dramatic moments in the music (while the conductor is emoting) be busy marking your music so that the climaxes will sound empty and disappointing.
  12. Wait until well into a rehearsal before letting the conductor know you don't have the music.
  13. Look at your watch frequently. Shake it in disbelief occasionally.
  14. Tell the conductor, "I can't find the beat." Conductors are always sensitive about their "stick technique", so challenge it frequently.
  15. 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?"
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. Find an excuse to leave rehearsal about 15 minutes early so that others will become restless and start to pack up and fidget.
  19. 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.