Keep your conductor in line

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by MRSH, Feb 27, 2004.

  1. MRSH

    MRSH Supporting Member

    A Player's Guide for Keeping Conductors in Line

    If there were a basic training manual for brass band players, it might include ways to practice not only music, but one-upmanship. It seems as if many 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... 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 favour!
    7. Check the slides as if you are checking tuning at every opportunity, especially when the conductor is giving instructions!
    8. Drop mutes - often! Percussionists have a wide variety of droppable items, but cymbals are unquestionably the best because they roll around for several seconds!
    9. Loudly blow water from the keys during pauses (Horn 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. Ask the conductor if he has listened to a 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, screw up 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/contest!
    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!
  2. brasscrest

    brasscrest Active Member

    Once played in a group where the solo euph enjoyed exploiting the MDs lack of perfect pitch. Any time the MD started in a spot where the euph was playing alone, the player would transpose a half-tone sharp (or flat), causing mass confusion when the rest of the band came in.
  3. bruceg

    bruceg Active Member

    I recognise so many of these points :) Never been guilty of any of them myself though... :?
  4. Kari Anson

    Kari Anson Member

    I frequently screw up my face in disbelief at how difficult it is and how I'll never be able to play it!

    Oh and as a Horn I'm very conscious of using my water keys at the appropriate time.
  5. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

    20. When you, the conductor, has finally run out of patience, offer the stick to the offending bandsmen/women and then watch them struggle. Will normally prevent most of no.s 1 to 19 from happening very much thereafter, with any luck.

    21. Approach offending bandsmen/women with the score of the test piece you're conducting. Find a particularly scrunchy chord and then ask bandsman/woman if they can tell, from the score alone, what that chord is. Most of them won't have a clue. Inform them politely, but firmly, that they only have to worry about reading one part where you have to read and concentrate on any number between 1 and 16 or so parts, as well as bringing as many people as you can in using only two hands and a pair of eyes, AND maintaining your stick technique at the same time, because too many of the band can't be bothered to count.

    Rights for conductors!!

  6. MRSH

    MRSH Supporting Member

    Conductors don't have rights - do they!!!!! :shock:
  7. TheMusicMan

    TheMusicMan tMP Founder Staff Member

    That's so cruel, but brilliant.. I love it... :)

    As a player several years ago, I regularly used to play small bits of my part a semi-tone under the actual pitch written and the then MD used to go berserk - putting his hand to his ear in an attempt to let the section know that someone was well out of tune. We'd then spend a few moments 'tuning up' and funnily enough - all would be OK... hehe

    Was a good exercise for the cornet section in listening as well ...:) I must also add that it was always a bit of fun and he soon caught on to what I was up to...

    I'm just waiting for some clever dick to start doing these tricks on me now though - now that the boot is on the other foot...
  8. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

    Sometimes...... I do, when questioned, occasionally use the phrases 'artistic licence' or 'conductor's prerogative' and then carry on before anyone can answer back. Very useful for the wind band I occasionally conduct.....
  9. Maestro

    Maestro Active Member

    When I was conducting one night, the band moeaned about the way I was taking the piece. "It's called musical License" I told them.
    "In that case your license should bloody well be endorsed" came the reply back! :oops:
  10. Crazysop

    Crazysop Member

    We had a condutor once who irritated the hell out of quite a lot of the band. One particularly irritating rehearsal our sop player, (my predecessor) kept playing twinkle twinkle little star at opportune moments. MD couldnt work out why eveything sounded wrong (or said nothing) Funny!!!!
  11. Moy

    Moy Active Member

    Our MD is not daft. I'd get the sack. :wink:
  12. WoodenFlugel

    WoodenFlugel Moderator Staff Member

    Most of those hppen at our rehersals - usually in the same night! :wink:

    Best example of getting one-upmanship on a conductor:

    A soprano player was having a real nightmare rehersal and the conductor was getting on at him all night. After missing his cue for the umpteeth time the conductor stops the band, turns to the sop. and says:

    *patronising I know better than you voice* "Now I want you to listen to me very carefully. When you have bars rests as you do just there, I want you to stop playing, sit quietly and count those bars. When you count up to the last-but-one bar I want you to prepare yourself and pick up your cornet. When you get to the last bar of your rest I want you to bring your cornet to your lips, set your embrouchure and just on the last beat of the rest I want you to breathe in, put the right valves down for the note your going to play, and just at the right moment I want you to blow!"

    The soprano player looks at the conductor, looks at his part, and back at the conductor and says:

    "But I come in on a C, I don't need to put any valves down."

  13. Dawnys_flug

    Dawnys_flug Member

    None of that stuff ever happens in our rehearsals 'cause we love our conductor!!!! :roll: Honest!!!!

    But really, he's the one that knocks the music off my stand!!!
  14. WoodenFlugel

    WoodenFlugel Moderator Staff Member

    Funny....that happened to me five times last night!
  15. eric

    eric Member

    I find that if i blow through a part that another band member can't play, this winds up both the poor conductor and the player ! :twisted:
  16. Dave Euph

    Dave Euph Member

    In my concert band, the conductor used to (and still does) play bassoon with various university ensembles ... he says he used to mess around a lot in rehearsals and annoy conductors ... but he's never doing that again!!!

    So let's give the conductors some slack!


    What am I kidding? Get on with it guys! :D
  17. aimee_euph

    aimee_euph Member

    Damn it, our conductor reads this site...
  18. jameshowell

    jameshowell Active Member

    Mine doesn't... :lol:

    Me thinks a game is in order. hand the list round all my mates, and see who can complete the most in one rehearsal... :twisted:
  19. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    To my eternal shame, I once did this in a moment of weakness: there was a short solo phrase - fairly high in the register - on Eb bass that the player concerned could not get right, so the next time round I put it in on Bb just in case he missed it again :oops: :oops: :oops: