Musical pranks played on band members/conductors

Dave Payn

Active Member
A bit of (hopefully) light relief. What sort of pranks, say, on band foregn trips, have you witnessed or indeed played on various soloists, conductors etc.

In my 20 years with Crystal Palace Band, all sorts of things went on when we went abroad (usually to Germany), Sure, the audience don't always get it and perhaps that's a bit 'insular' but... hey, I never said it was clever!

I've been in the position to be both perpetrator and victim. Pranks over the years have involved 'sweet' things like breaking into 'Happy Birthday' if a particular player or conductor's birthday falls on that particular day. Others include

Playing an entirely different march to the one the conductor is expecting you to (particularly when the 'replaced' march has an up-beat and the 'new' march doesn't, the missing up-beat can last an eternity!)

Playing the introuction of Forty Fathoms up a semitone. (One of my favourites. Just hearing that opening concert F on the tuba after the introduction finishes on a F sharp major chord. Has to be heard to be appreciated....)

Slapping a custard pie in the cornet soloist's face (I had nothing to do with that one!)

Playing Nessun Dorma on a melodica.

What about other tmp-ers, what are your prized prank moments?

Dave Euph

Dave Payn said:
Playing the introuction of Forty Fathoms up a semitone. (One of my favourites. Just hearing that opening concert F on the tuba after the introduction finishes on a F sharp major chord. Has to be heard to be appreciated....)

Our principle cornet player got a bit cheeky and did a smilar thing in a piece we were doing on tour. It is quite amusing seeing the confusion on the conductor's face for a few moments before he realises.


Active Member
Some years ago, on a college band tour, our conductor turned a page in his score to find not the next page, but Miss January from Playboy magazine.


Active Member
I was due to play Posthorn Galop in the second half of the concert but when I went to collect the instrument it had been replaced by some old rusty iron rods. The band was going onto the stage and I'd still not found the proper instrument, let alone assemble it, warm it up and get it in tune...

Jamie McVicar I know it was you and I shall have my revenge, one of these days...

I remember a similar incident 2 years ago when I was MD of the RSAMD`s pantomime, this year "Cinderella". During the break of one of our evening performances wecame back to the pit (which was closed off and under the stage by the way) to find that 2 percussionists from the music school had came in and dismantled the drum kit, leaving drums on top of each other, missing skins, cymbals everywhere etc. - our drummer went mental! Unfortunately I got the call to start the overture not soon after which relied on the percussion part for the actors on stage, so they had to delay the second half by 15 minutes! Incidentally, the two offending percussion students were found by stage management crew and dragged up to the director (a pro from outside college) who was fuming and put in a complaint to the principal of the academy. I still have the apology letters they had to write!

I recall similar pranks have happened in the percussion section or Opera productions etc. at college on the final night - some I remember are a 2 pence piece being stuck to the back of the tam-tam so it rattled like mad when hit, the suspended cymbals were stuck to the stand so the players couldn`t lift them, the beaters were replaced with cutlery, all sorts of similar carnage!

Percussionists eh?

Okiedokie of Oz

Active Member
Earlier in the year, I loaned my old bass Bessie to the band president as it was better than the band ones. He went to use it on a street march, and had an accident with it turning it into a pancake.

AS my parents bought me that bass when I started my senior year of high school, I knew if they found out they'd go ballistic that I'd even loaned it someone. So when the band's insureance covered the replacement, I was relieved. It arrived however, the day we got down to Bundaberg for contest, and as such we couldn't use it. However, Mr Pres said he'd picked it up from the store and had seen it.

BEssie had been a silver plated bass and my logic was if the new one was also silver, I would not tell my folks. If it was lacquered, I'd risk it and tell 'em. So I asked Dave what it was, and he said he wasn't telling unless he could play bass trom after contest.

OK, I thought to myself. We don't have a bass trombonist currently, and our 2nd trombonist will be back next month, so we can afford to move Dave to Bass trom. I didnlt like being put over the barrel however, and spent Easter weekend thinking about the decision.

Finally I told him I would do it, now could he please tell me waht my new tuba looked like?

He said

"I only saw the case....the shop was closed when I got there!!!"


Active Member
Our Principal Cornet brought his kid's "raspberry noise maker" to a band rehearsal and left it in a case behind the back row. He gave me and my fellow baritone player the button to control it. After about 15 mins of strange noises and people not being abole to play for laughing, someone switched it off. I can still see the tears running down peoples faces, and the conductors bewildwered face, especially in the G.P bar!!!
Not in band , but in the orchestra pit....
Many years back, myself & Bottyburp were on brass for Iolanthe. The orchestra had a few prima-donnas including the leader who used to boast about having 'perfect pitch'. She came a bit unstuck when we decided in reh. to up the opening fanfare to march of the peers by a semi-tone :p

Same theatre group - we used to get bored because G&S shows had long breaks for brass. In Ruddigore, there is a scene where paintings come alive & the cast have to stand still for about 5 mins. Great fun can be had from the pit with straws and rice to make them move :oops:

You'd never catch me playing up in band... :roll:


Active Member
When I was in county orchestra one rehearsal, my mum had given me this enormous bap for lunch. So when I came to sit down for the morning session I casually dropped it in the tuba player's bell. He started blowing and this muffled sound came out he could figure out what was wrong. He was pulling out valves and slides and putting them back in if different orders etc. He was fiddling about with it so long the the rest of the orchestra was waiting for him, at which point I announced to my colleagues that I had to nip to the loo and hastly retrieved the bap with slight of hand. All of a sudden the guy's tuba starts working and the conductor says "I thought it was a requirement in this orchestra for people to actually be able to play their instruments", much embarassment and laughter ensued.

Rambo Chick

my friend's bloke decided it would be hilarious to swap my first and third valves around one night. the next day i did an hours practice quite happily and unaware of what he had done!! shows i really know my instrument eh? :oops:


My Principal cornet did that to my cornet in during the last rehersal before the areas. Trouble is the 1st valve totally fell to bits and I was banished from the practice by one Irate conductor untill it was fixed :oops:

Got him back though. Same rehersal during his solo he had a bit too much on show from the back of his jeans shall we say so that got filled with water as he was playing...

All credit though, he didnt flinch till after the solo ha ha. :lol:


Active Member
I saw a great trick (obviously I was not involved at all! :shock: ) where half of a pencil was put inside the tuning slide of a cornet - sounded lovely! :?


Active Member

Cannot claim any responsibility for this but it's a good one if you can get away with it. Sat at Barnsley Building Society next to EEb who placed the working end of a party blower (without the paper bit) in the end of the BBb mouthpiece. No one has seen him do this.

Band get ready to play and conductor counts in, 2 beats before we start to play BBb must have blown down his mouthpiece because out the end of his BBb comes this fantastic squeak at ff. Band fall about and BBb works out what has happened.


Active Member
The best one I've been involved in was at Marple's annual Vice Presidents concert, about 10 years ago. It was the 2nd baritone player's last concert before going on 'maternity leave', so the conductor got her out front, made a little speech about how she'd given great service to the band and so on, presented her with an enormous bouquet of flowers, and then turned to the audience and said "Would the proud father please stand up" - at which point every male member of the band stood up!

Her face was, to say the least, a picture.

I've seen the one where you replace the soloist's copy with the centrefold from the Sunday Sport done, too, heheheheh!

Ross Berry

Lauradoll said:
Our Principal Cornet brought his kid's "raspberry noise maker" to a band rehearsal and left it in a case behind the back row. He gave me and my fellow baritone player the button to control it. After about 15 mins of strange noises and people not being abole to play for laughing, someone switched it off. I can still see the tears running down peoples faces, and the conductors bewildwered face, especially in the G.P bar!!!

Similar story but taken to the next level. On tour with the Household Troops Band, the same said machine was placed near the front of the stage by the conductor. At regular intervals when he was introducing items the machine would be activated so that the audience could hear as well.

Unfortunately, having difficulty containing my laughter, I was of no use for the rest of the evening.

Another trick is to play a march with a note at the end and not play it leaving the conductor to conduct an air beat or vice versa.


Active Member
Reading about these pranks brought to mind another that happened in the same college band that I mentioned above.

Our principal trumpet player (this was a wind band, not a brass band) always kept a small paper cup of water beside his chair, to "wet his whistle" before important passages. (This was in the late 1960's, before the days of plastic water bottles.) At the final home concert, the finale of our winter tour, he picked up the cup to take a sip of water before a big solo. He decided to get along without the water, though, because the cup contained not only water, but also a live frog.
A friend of mine staged this gag ahead of time. He was performing the solo in the first movement of the Gregson Tuba Concerto. Just as the long introduction before the soloist enters began, his girlfriend secretly placed a cell phone call. While the introduction continued, all the audience members nervously looked around to see whose cell phone was ringing. After about 10 seconds of these shenanigans, my friend pulled his cell phone out of his pocket. He answered, and spoke into the phone, "Yes, dear, I'm about to play the concerto." He gently put the phone down just in time for his solo entrance. All of this without skipping a beat or putting down his tuba! Once the audience got the joke, they began hilarious laughter. Needless to say, the Gregson had to be started from the beginning again!

Big Twigge

Active Member
I seem to remember one of our players turning up to a rehearsal the night before the areas with a fake plaster cast on their memories of this are quite vague, but I'm sure it happened(if not it was a dream and I apologise)

Well Worth It

Active Member
Getting a lift back from band one night, I was sat in the back with Andy sat in the front passenger seat. He flicked a cig end out of his window, which flashed straight into the backseat.
I made out that it'd gone right in my eye, giving it loads of anguish.
Even came to the next rehearsal with it all padded and eye-patched up.
Poor geezer really thought he'd blinded me. :lol:



I was not part of it, but the story has been told many times of when the band's Solo Cornet player got up before a large critical audience to play a solo (Tucker) or one of those greats, unbeknownst to him, the Sop player had changed his valves all around. This was of course in front of another top visiting band who had heard all types of big hearted comments about this player who was a crackerjack!
The poor fellow went to blow the first note and not a peep - air wouldn't even flow.
Without missing a beat, the chap turned around and grabbed the second chair's instrument out of his hand and carried on as though nothing had happened.
The fellow had nerves of steel and nothing could shake him.
The B/M, who was a very strict old military type didn't even know anything had gone on as far as I have heard - otherwise it would have been hades to pay for sure! :D


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