Orchestral Etiquette


1. Do not turn around and look at the people behind you while they are playing.
2. Keep perfume and cologne to a minimum – most will appreciate none at all.
3. Do not tap your foot or conduct along.
4. Always help your colleagues count rests.
5. Do not tap/applaud/shuffle for every solo a colleague plays. Save it for when it really means something or better yet…stay still and be sure to give your colleagues positive words afterwards.
6. Do not tell someone he/she sounds good if he/she doesn’t deserve praise. They’ll know it is insincere.
7. Never complain about your reeds, strings, mouthpiece, head joint, etc. (they may sound better than they feel)
8. Do not cross your legs on stage in a concert.
9. Swab out, etc. discreetly and not if the person next to you is playing a solo.
10. Practice only your own parts… never play passages from another’s page or excerpts from different music.
11. Be aware and sensitive to others’ lines of sight to the conductor.
12. Leave your seat immediately when switching pieces or seats…swab-out, clean-out, and pack-up later. The next players will want to play a few notes before tuning.
13. Do not yawn or “buzz” your lips audibly if you are tired.
14. When a conductor speaks to you, always acknowledge by making direct eye contact and possibly a nod “yes.”
15. Never ask questions about notes/rhythms in rehearsal – this wastes valuable time in rehearsal. Check the score during breaks or after rehearsal.
16. You pencil is your best friend… Do not make the same mistake twice because you “forgot.”
17. Write in cues before the first rehearsal… and after the second rehearsal… and after the third rehearsal….
18. Remember that every time you are in public, an impression is made, good or bad – this applies to the music you play and the statements you make to your colleagues.
19. Avoid nervous repetitive actions: looking at mouthpiece, adjusting the seat/stand, instrument adjustments.
20. Do not turn the page during silence.
21. At the end of the piece, do not finish playing and fling the instrument off your shoulder or off your face before the conductor has concluded.
22. You non-musical accessories (phone, keys, etc.) belong in your case/purse/briefcase, not on the shelf of your stand waiting to tip over and clatter on the phone.
23. Do not have your phone on sound or vibrate during a rehearsal/performance. Do not text, play games, etc. on your phone during a rehearsal/performance.
24. Show up early to rehearsal to get your instrument(s) together, reeds chosen, bow rosined, mutes ready, and instrument warmed up at least 10 minutes before the “A” is given.
25. Be direct and friendly about fixing pitches or rhythm. Do not be manipulative about your words.
26. The only conversations should be about issues regarding the music and only at the appropriate times.
27. Have good hygiene, keep your shoes on, wear appropriate clothing, have your concert attire cleaned more than once a year, etc.
28. Do not pack up before the end of the rehearsal…you still might have more to play.
29. Always double check rehearsal/performance times and locations.
30. Never sight read in a rehearsal. Prepare your music in advance.