Folk/Rock/Popular Music and Instruments
These jokes are a continually-growing collection, and unfortunately, I can no
longer remember which jokes I heard from whom. If you have ever told, emailed,
or otherwise communicated to me a music joke, thank you.
- What's the difference between a violin and a viola?
- There is no difference. The violin just looks smaller because the
violinist's head is so much bigger.
- What's the difference between a violin and a fiddle?
- A fiddle is fun to listen to.
- Why are viola jokes so short?
- So violinists can understand them.
- How do you tell the difference between a violinist and a dog?
- The dog knows when to stop scratching.
- How many second violinists does it take to change a light bulb?
- None. They can't get up that high!
- String players' motto: "It's better to be sharp than out of tune."
- Why is a violinist like a SCUD missile?
- Both are offensive and inaccurate.
- Why don't viola players suffer from piles (hæmorrhoids)?
- Because all the assholes are in the first violin section.
- What's the difference between a fiddle and a violin?
- No-one minds if you spill beer on a fiddle.
- Why do violinists put a cloth between their chin and their instrument?
- Violins don't have spit valves.
- Why should you never try to drive a roof nail with a violin?
- You might bend the nail.
A violinist says to his wife, "Oh, baby, I can play you just like my violin."
His wife replies, "I'd rather have you play me like a harmonica!"
Jacques Thibault, the violinist, was once handed an autograph book by a fan
while in the greenroom after a concert. "There's not much room on this page," he
said. "What shall I write?"
Another violinist, standing by, offered the following helpful hint: "Write
"Haven't I seen your face before?" a judge demanded, looking down at the
"You have, Your Honor," the man answered hopefully. "I gave your son violin
lessons last winter."
"Ah, yes," recalled the judge. "Twenty years!"
- How do you get a 'cellist to play fortissimo?
- Write "pp, espressivo"
- How do you make a cello sound beautiful?
- Sell it and buy a violin.
Did you hear about the bassist who was so out of tune his section noticed?
- How many string bass players does it take to change a light bulb?
- None; the piano player can do that with his left hand.
- How do you make a double bass sound in tune?
- Chop it up and make it into a xylophone.
- How many bass players does it take to change a light bulb?
- 1...5...1... (1...4...5...5...1)
A double bass player arrived a few minutes late for the first rehearsal of
the local choral society's annual performance of Handel's Messiah.
He picked up his instrument and bow, and turned his attention to the
conductor. The conductor asked, "Would you like a moment to tune?"
The bass player replied with some surprise, "Why? Isn't it the same as last
At a rehearsal, the conductor stops and shouts to the bass section: "You are
out of tune. Check it, please!"
The first bassist pulls all his strings, says, "Our tuning is correct: all
the strings are equally tight."
The first violist turns around and shouts, "You bloody idiot! It's not the
tension. The pegs have to be parallel!"
Two bass players were engaged for a run of Carmen. After a couple of
weeks, they agreed each to take an afternoon off in turn to go and watch the
matinee performance from the front of house.
Joe duly took his break; back in the pit that evening, Moe asked how it was.
"Great," says Joe. "You know that bit where the music goes `BOOM Boom Boom
Boom'--well there are some guys up top singing a terrific song about a Toreador
at the same time."
There was a certain bartender who was quite famous for being able to
accurately guess people's IQs. One night a man walked in and talked to him
briefly and the bartender said, "Wow! You must have an IQ of about 140! You
should meet this guy over here." So they talked for a while about nuclear
physics and existential philosophy and had a great time.
A second man walked in and soon the bartender has guessed about a 90 IQ for
him. So he sat him down in front of the big-screen TV and he watched football
with the other guys and had a hell of a time.
Then a third man stumbled in and talked to the bartender for a while. The
bartender said to himself, "Jeez! I think this guy's IQ must be about 29!" He
took him over to a man sitting at a little table back in the corner and said,
"You might enjoy talking with this guy for a while."
After the bartender left, the man at the table said, "So do you play French
bow or German bow?"
Lute players spend half their time tuning their instrument and the other half
playing out of tune.
- Why are harps like elderly parents?
- Both are unforgiving and hard to get into and out of cars.
- How long does a harp stay in tune?
- About 20 minutes, or until someone opens a door.
- What's the definition of a quarter tone?
- A harpist tuning unison strings.
- What do you get when you drop a piano down a mine shaft?
- A flat minor.
- What do you get when you drop a piano on an army base?
- A flat major.
- Why is an 11-foot concert grand better than a studio upright?
- Because it makes a much bigger kaboom when dropped over a cliff.
- Why was the piano invented?
- So the musician would have a place to put his beer.
The audience at a piano recital were appalled when a telephone rang just off
stage. Without missing a note the soloist glanced toward the wings and called,
"If that's my agent, tell him I'm working!"
- What does a German Hammond organist do in his life's most tender moments?
- He puts his Leslie on "slow".
The organ is the instrument of worship for in its sounding we sense the
Majesty of God and in its ending we know the Grace of God.
- How do you get two piccolos to play in unison?
- Shoot one.
Two musicians are walking down the street, and one says to the other, "Who
was that piccolo I saw you with last night?"
The other replies, "That was no piccolo, that was my fife."
- Why is a bassoon better than an oboe?
- The bassoon burns longer.
- What is a burning oboe good for?
- Setting a bassoon on fire.
- What is the definition of a half step?
- Two oboes playing in unison.
- What is the definition of a major second?
- Two baroque oboes playing in unison.
- How do you get an oboist to play A flat?
- Take the batteries out of his electric tuner.
- Why did the chicken cross the road?
- To get away from the bassoon recital.
- What's the difference between a SCUD missile and a bad oboist?
- A bad oboist can kill you.
- How many clarinetists does it take to change a lightbulb?
- Only one, but he'll go through a whole box of bulbs before he finds just
the right one.
- What's the definition of "nerd?"
- Someone who owns his own alto clarinet.
- What do you call a bass clarinetist with half a brain?
You might notice that there are very few jokes about the clarinet. This is
out of sympathy. The clarinet has already been the butt of so many jokes - the
saxophone, for instance.
- How many alto sax players does it take to change a lightbulb?
- Five. One to change the bulb and four to contemplate how David Sanborn
would have done it.
- What's the difference between a saxophone and a lawn mower?
- Lawn mowers sound better in small ensemles.
- The neighbors are upset if you borrow a lawnmower and don't return it.
- The grip.
- What's the difference between a baritone saxophone and a chain saw?
- The exhaust.
The soprano, not being smart enough to use birth control, says to her
saxophophonist lover, "Honey, I think you better pull out now."
He replies, "Why? Am I sharp?"
Small wonder we have so much trouble with air pollution in the world when so
much of it has passed through saxophones.
- How many trumpet players does it take to change a lightbulb?
- Five. One to handle the bulb and four to tell him how much better they
could have done it.
- What's the difference between a Trumpet player and the rear end of a
- I don't know either.
- What's the difference between trumpet players and government bonds?
- Government bonds eventually mature and earn money.
- How to trumpet players traditionally greet each other?
- "Hi. I'm better than you."
- How do you know when a trumpet player is at your door?
- The doorbell shrieks!
- Why can't a gorilla play trumpet?
- He's too sensitive.
In an emergency a jazz trumpeter was hired to do some solos with a symphony
orchestra. Everything went fine through the first movement, when she had some
really hair-raising solos, but in the second movement she started going
improvising madly when she wasn't supposed to play at all.
After the concert the conductor came round looking for an explanation. She
said, "I looked in the score and it said `tacit'--so I took it!"
- What's the difference between a bass trombone and a chain saw?
- Vibrato, though you can minimize this difference by holding the chain
saw very still.
- It's easier to improvise on a chainsaw.
- How can you make a french horn sound like a trombone?
- Take your hand out of the bell and lose all sense of taste.
- Take your hand out of the bell and miss all of the notes!
- How do you know when a trombone player is at your door?
- The doorbell drags.
- What is a gentleman?
- Somebody who knows how to play the trombone, but doesn't.
- What do you call a trombonist with a beeper and a cellular telephone?
- A optimist.
- What is the diffference between a dead trombone player lying in the road,
and a dead squirrel lying in the road?
- The squirrel might have been on his way to a gig.
- How many trombonists does it take to change a lightbulb?
- Just one, but he'll do it too loudly.
- How do you know when there's a trombonist at your door?
- His hat says "Domino's Pizza"
- How do you improve the aerodynamics of a trombonist's car?
- Take the Domino's Pizza sign off the roof.
- What kind of calendar does a trombonist use for his gigs?
- How can you tell which kid on a playground is the child of a trombonist?
- He doesn't know how to use the slide, and he can't swing.
- What is the dynamic range of the bass trombone?
- On or off.
It is difficult to trust anyone whose instrument changes shape as he plays
- How do you get your viola section to sound like the horn section?
- Have them miss every other note.
- How can you make a trombone sound like a french horn?
- Stick your hand in the bell and play a lot of wrong notes.
- What is the difference between a french horn section and a '57 Chevy?
- You can tune a '57 Chevy.
- What do you get when you cross a French Horn player and a goalpost?
- A goalpost that can't march.
- How many French horn players does it take to change a lightbulb?
- Just one, but he'll spend two hours checking the bulb for alignment and
- Why is the French horn a divine instrument?
- Because a man blows in it, but only God knows what comes out of it.
- How do horn players traditionally greet each other?
- "Hi. I played that last year."
- "Hi. I did that piece in junior high."
A girl went out on a date with a trumpet player, and when she came back her
roommate asked, "Well, how was it? Did his embouchure make him a great kisser?"
"Nah," the first girl replied. "That dry, tight, tiny little pucker; it was
no fun at all."
The next night she went out with a tuba player, and when she came back her
roommate asked, "Well, how was his kissing?"
"Ugh!" the first girl exclaimed. "Those huge, rubbery, blubbery, slobbering
slabs of meat; oh, it was just gross!"
The next night she went out with a French horn player, and when she came back
her roommate asked, "Well, how was his kissing?"
"Well," the first girl replied, "his kissing was just so-so; but I
loved the way he held me!"
- What's the range of a tuba?
- Twenty yards if you've got a good arm!
- How many tuba players does it take to change a light bulb?
- Three! One to hold the bulb and two to drink 'till the room spins.
- What's a tuba for?
- 1 1/2" by 3 1/2" unless you request "full cut."
Note: in the
USA, a 2 x 4 is a two-inch by four-inch piece of wood, which actually measures
1 1/2 inches by 3 1/2 inches.
- How do you fix a broken tuba?
- With a tuba glue.
These two tuba players walk past a bar...
Well, it could happen!
- Why are orchestra intermissions limited to 20 minutes?
- So you don't have to retrain the drummers.
- What do you call someone who hangs out with musicians?
- A drummer.
- What did the drummer get on his IQ test?
- How do you know when a drummer is knocking at your door?
- The knock always slows down.
- How do you get a drummer to play an accelerando?
- Ask him to play in 4/4 at a steady 120 bpm.
- Why do bands have bass players?
- To translate for the drummer.
- Did you hear about the time the bass player locked his keys in the car?
- It took two hours to get the drummer out.
- How many drummers does it take to change a lightbulb?
- "Why? Oh, wow! Is it like dark, man?"
- Only one, but he'll break ten bulbs before figuring out that they can't
just be pushed in.
- Two: one to hold the bulb, and one to turn his throne (but only after
they figure out that you have to turn the bulb).
- Twenty. One to hold the bulb, and nineteen to drink until the room
- None. They have a machine to do that.
- Why is it good that drummers have a half-ounce more brains than horses?
- So they don't disgrace themselves in parades.
- What's the difference between a drummer and a drum machine?
- With a drum machine you only have to punch the information in once.
Heard backstage: "Will the musicians and the drummer please come to the
In New York City, an out of work jazz drummer named Ed was thinking of
throwing himself off a bridge. But then he ran into a former booking agent who
told him about the fantastic opportunities for drummers in Iraq. The agent said
"If you can find your way over there, just take my card and look up the
bandleader named Faisal--he's the large guy with the beard wearing gold pajamas
and shoes that curl up at the toes." Ed hit up everyone he knew and borrowed
enough to buy transport to Iraq. It took several days to arrange for passport,
visas, transportation into Iraq and the shipping of his equipment, but he was
finally on his way.
Ed arrived in Baghdad and immediately started searching for Faisal. He found
guys in pajamas of every color but gold. Finally, in a small coffeehouse, he saw
a huge man with a beard--wearing gold pajamas and shoes that curled up at the
toes! Ed approached him and asked if he was Faisal. He was. Ed gave him the
agent's card and Faisal's face brightened into a huge smile.
"You're just in time--I need you for a gig tonight. Meet me at the market
near the mosque at 7:30 with your equipment."
"But," gasped Ed, "what about a rehearsal?"
"No time--don't worry." And with that, Faisal disappeared.
Ed arrived in the market at 7:00 to set up his gear. He introduced himself to
the other musicians, who were all playing instruments he had never seen in his
life. At 7:30 sharp, Faisal appeared and hopped on the bandstand, his gold
pajamas glittering in the twilight. Without a word to the musicians, he lifted
his arm for the downbeat.
"Wait." shouted Ed. "What are we playing?"
Faisal shot him a look of frustration and shouted back, "Fake it! Just give
me heavy afterbeats on 7 and 13."
A drummer, sick of all the drummer jokes, decides to change his instrument.
After some thought, he decides on the accordion. So he goes to the music store
and says to the owner, "I'd like to look at the accordions, please."
The owner gestures to a shelf in the corner and says "All our accordions are
After browsing, the drummer says, "I think I'd like the big red one in the
The store owner looks at him and says, "You're a drummer, aren't you?"
The drummer, crestfallen, says, "How did you know?"
The store owner says, "That `big red accordion' is the radiator."
- What do you call a groupie who hangs around and annoys musicians?
- A bodhran player.
- What is the difference between a bodhran player and a terrorist?
- Terrorists have sympathisers.
- How do you know when there is a bodhran player at your front door?
- The knocking gets faster and faster and faster.
- What do bodhran players use for birth control?
- Their personalities.
- What's the best thing to play a bodhran with?
- A razor blade.
- If you threw a violist and a soprano off a cliff, which one would hit the
ground first? (two answers)
- The violist. The soprano would have to stop halfway down to ask
- Who cares?
- What's the difference between a soprano and a terrorist?
- You can negotiate with a terrorist.
- What's the difference between a soprano and a pirhana?
- The lipstick.
- What's the difference between a soprano and a pit bull?
- The jewelry.
- How many sopranos does it take to change a lightbulb?
- One. She holds the bulb and the world revolves around her.
- Two. One to hold the diet cola and the other to get her accompanist to
- Four. One to change the bulb and three to pull the chair out from under
- What's the difference between a Wagnerian soprano and the average All-Pro
- Stage makeup.
- What's the difference between a Wagnerian soprano and a Wagnerian Tenor?
- About 10 pounds.
- How is a soubrette different from a sewer rat?
- Some people actually like sewer rats.
- What is the difference between a soubrette and a cobra?
- One is deadly poisonous, and the other is a reptile.
- How do you tell if a Wagnerian soprano is dead?
- The horses seem very relieved.
- What's the first thing a soprano does in the morning?
- Puts on her clothes and goes home.
- What's the next thing a soprano does in the morning?
- Looks for her instrument.
- What's the difference between a soprano and a Porsche?
- Most musicians have never been in a Porsche.
- What's the definition of an alto?
- A soprano who can sightread.
A jazz musician dies and goes to heaven. He is told "Hey man, welcome! You
have been elected to the Jazz All-Stars of Heaven--right up there with Satchmo,
Miles, Django, all the greats. We have a gig tonight. Only one problem--God's
girlfriend gets to sing."
- What's the difference between an alto and a tenor?
- Tenors don't have hair on their backs.
- How many altos does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
- None. They can't get that high.
- Two; one to screw it in and the other to say, "Isn't that a little high
- How many tenors does it take to change a light bulb?
- Four. One to change the bulb and three to bitch that they could have done
it if they had the high notes.
- What do you see if you look up a soprano's skirt?
- A tenor.
- How do you tell if a tenor is dead?
- The wine bottle is still full and the comics haven't been touched.
- How do you put a sparkle in a soprano's eye?
- Shine a flashlight in her ear.
- Where is a tenor's resonance?
- Where his brain should be.
- What's the definition of a male quartet?
- Three men and a tenor.
Did you hear about the tenor who announced that in the following season he
would only sing three title roles: Othello, Samson,
and Forza del Destino? (true story)
If you took all the tenors in the world and laid them end to end, it would be
a good idea.
- How do you tell if a bass is actually dead?
- Hold out a check (but don't be fooled: a slight, residual spasmodic
clutching action may occur even hours after death has occurred).
- How do you tell if a bass is dead?
- What's the difference?
- Who cares?
- In the last act of Don Giovanni, there is always a statue which is
replaced at some point by a real singer, a bass (the Commendatore). How can
you tell when the switch has occurred?
- The "statue" starts looking a bit stiff.
- How many basses does it take to change a lightbulb?
- None. They're so macho they prefer to walk in the dark and bang their
High School Chorus Jokes
- What is the difference between the men's final at Wimbledon and a high
school choral performance?
- The tennis final has more men.
- How does a young man become a member of a high school chorus?
- On the first day of school he turns into the wrong classroom.
- What is the difference between a world war and a high school choral
- The performance causes more suffering.
- Why do high school choruses travel so often?
- Keeps assassins guessing.
- What's the definition of an optimist?
- A choral director with a mortgage.
- What is the difference between a high school choral director and a
- It's scientifically proven that chimpanzees are able to communicate with
Folk/Rock/Popular Music and Instruments
- What's the difference between a banjo and a chain saw?
- The chain saw has greater dynamic range.
- What's the least-used sentence in the English language?
- "Isn't that the banjo player's Porsche?"
- What do you say to a banjo player in a three-piece suit?
- "Will the defendant please rise?"
There's nothing I like better than the sound of a banjo, unless of course
it's the sound of a chicken caught in a vacuum cleaner.
Female five string banjoist shouting at her boyfriend in a crowded shopping
mall: "Don't forget, sweetheart, I need a new G string."
- What does it mean when a guitar player is drooling out both sides of his
- The stage is level.
- How many guitar players does it take to change a light bulb?
- Twelve. One to change the bulb and eleven to say they could do it better.
- How do you get a guitar player to play softer?
- Give him some sheet music.
- What do a vacuum cleaner and an electric guitar have in common.
- Both suck when you plug them in.
- How do you make a bass player turn down the volume?
- Put a chart in front of him.
- How many lead guitarists does it take to change a light bulb?
- None--they just steal somebody else's light.
- What do you call two guitarists playing in unison?
- What did the guitarist do when his teacher told him to turn his amplifier
- He caressed it softly and told it that he loved it.
- What's the best thing to play on a guitar?
- How many bass players does it take to change a lightbulb?
- None. They let the keyboard player do it with his left hand.
- Don't bother. Just leave it out--no one will notice.
- One, but the guitarist has to show him first.
- Six: one to change it, and the other five to fight off the lead
guitarists who are hogging the light.
- In the 22th century, how many guitar players will you need to replace a
- Five. One to actually do it, and four to reminisce about how much better
the old tubes were.
Did you hear about the electric bass player who was so bad that even the lead
- If you drop an accordion, a set of bagpipes and a viola off a 20-story
building, which one lands first?
- Who cares?
- What's the difference between an Uzi and an accordion?
- The Uzi stops after 20 rounds.
- What do you call ten accordians at the bottom of the ocean?
- A good start.
- What's a bassoon good for?
- Kindling for an accordion fire.
- What's a accordion good for?
- Learning how to fold a map.
- What do you call a group of topless female accordian players?
- Ladies in Pain
- Bumper Stickers:
- Play an accordian--go to jail!
- Three rows and you're out!
Minimum safe distances between street musicians and the public:
- Violinist: 25 feet
- Bad Violinist: 50 feet
- Tone Deaf Guitar Player who knows 3 chords: 75 feet
- 15 year-old Electric Guitar Player with Nirvana fixation: 100 feet
- Accordionist: 60 miles
A "Chang" is a Central Asian instrument (from countries such as Uzbekistan).
It's something like a hammered dulcimer with a damper pedal.
- How long does it take to tune a chang?
- Nobody knows.
- Why is it so difficult to tune a chang?
- So that violist can feel superior about something.
- Q: How many chang players does it take to change a light bulb?
- All of them. One to twist the bulb for several hours, and the other one to
decide that it's as good as it's going to get, and that they might as well
flip the switch.
- Why do bagpipe players walk while they play?
- To get away from the noise.
- What's the difference between an Appalachian dulcimer and a hammered
- A hammered dulcimer burns hotter; an Appalachian dulcimer burns longer.
- How many country & western singers does it take to change a light
- Three. One to change the bulb and two to sing about the old one.
- What happens if you play blues music backwards?
- Your wife returns to you, your dog comes back to life, and you get out of
- What do you get when you play New Age music backwards?
- New Age music.
- What does it say on a blues singer's tombstone?
- "I didn't wake up this morning..."
- "Hey, buddy, how late do the filkers play?"
- "Oh, about half a beat behind..."
- What's the difference between a puppy and a singer-songwriter?
- Eventually the puppy stops whining.
- How many sound men does it take to change a light bulb?
- "One, two, three, one, two, three..."
- "Hey man, I just do sound."
- One. Upon finding no replacement, he takes the original apart, repairs
it with a chewing gum wrapper and duct tape, changes the screw mount to
bayonet mount, finds an appropriate patch cable, and re-installs the bulb
fifty feet from where it should have been, to the satisfaction of the rest
of the band.
- How many Deadheads does it take to change a lightbulb?
- 12,001. One to change it, 2,000 to record the event and take pictures of
it, and 10,000 to follow it around until it burns out.
- How many punk-rock musicians does it take to change a light bulb?
- Two: One to screw in the bulb and the other to smash the old one on his
- Know how to make a million dollars singing jazz?
- Start with two million.
- How many jazz musicians does it take to change a light bulb?
- None. Jazz musicians can't afford light bulbs.
- "Don't worry about the changes. We'll fake it!"
- How do you turn a duck into a soul artist?
- Put it in the oven until its (it's) Bill Withers.
Micheal Caine goes up to Milton Berle during a party and asks, "What kind of
cigar are you smoking there?"
"It's a Lawrence Welk." says Milton.
"What's a Lawrence Welk?" Micheal asks.
Milton says "It's a piece of crap with a band wrapped around it."
Angus was asked why there were drones on the bagpipe when they make such a
distressing sound. He answered, "Without the drones, I might as well be playing
Two musicians are driving down a road. All of a sudden they notice the Grim
Reaper in the back seat. Death informs them that they had an accident and they
both died. But, before he must take them off into eternity, he grants each
musician with one last request to remind them of their past life on earth. The
first musician says he was a Country & Western musician and would like to
hear eight choruses of Achy-Breaky Heart as a last hoorah! The
second musician says "I was a jazz musician...kill me now!"
I was playing in a night club, and getting few requests and small tips.
Towards the end of the night, a man walked up with a wad of bills in his hand
and asked me to play a jazz chord. I played an Amaj7.
He said, "No, no. A jazz chord."
I did a little improvisational thing, but he didn't like that either.
"No, no, no! A jazz chord. You know, 'A jazz chord, to say, ah love you.'"
Son: Mother, I want to grow up and be a rock-n-roll musician.
son, you have to pick one or the other. You can't do both.
A Jazz musician was told by his doctor, "I am very sorry to tell you that you
have cancer and you have only one more year to live."
The Jazz musician replied, "And what am I going to live on for an entire
- What's the difference between a bull and an orchestra?
- The bull has the horns in the front and the asshole in the back.
- A conductor and a violist are standing in the middle of the road. which
one do you run over first, and why?
- The conductor. Business before pleasure.
- Why are conductor's hearts so coveted for transplants?
- They've had so little use.
- What's the difference between a conductor and a sack of fertilizer?
- The sack.
- What do you have when a group of conductors are up to their necks in wet
- Not enough concrete.
- Did you hear about the planeload of conductors en route to the European
- The good news: it crashed.
The bad news: there were three empty seats
- What's the difference between a symphony conductor and Dr Scholl's
- Dr Scholl's footpads buck up the feet.
- What's the difference between a pig and a symphony orchestra conductor?
- There are some things a pig just isn't willing to do.
- What is the ideal weight for a conductor?
- About 2 1/2 lbs. including the urn.
- Why is a conductor like a condom?
- It's safer with one, but more fun without.
- What's the difference between God and a conductor?
- God knows He's not a conductor.
- What's the definition of an assistant conductor?
- A mouse trying to become a rat.
- What's the difference between alto clef and Greek?
- Some conductors actually read Greek.
- What do do with a horn player that can't play?
- Give him two sticks, put him in the back, and call him a percussionist.
- What do you do if he can't do that?
- Take away one of the sticks, put him up front, and call him a conductor.
- What's the difference between an opera conductor and a baby?
- A baby sucks its fingers.
A musician calls the symphony office to talk to the conductor. "I'm
sorry,he's dead," comes the reply.
The musician calls back 25 times, always getting the same reply from the
receptionist. At last she asks him why he keeps calling. "I just like to hear
you say it."
A musician arrived at the pearly gates.
"What did you do when you were alive?" asked St. Peter.
"I was the principal trombone player of the London Symphony Orchestra"
"Excellent! We have a vacancy in our celestial symphony orchestra for a
trombonist. Why don't you turn up at the next rehearsal."
So, when the time for the next rehearsal arrived our friend turned up with
his heavenly trombone [sic]. As he took his seat God moved, in a
mysterious way, to the podium and tapped his batton to bring the players to
attention. Our friend turned to the angelic second trombonist (!) and whispered,
"So, what's God like as a conductor?"
"Oh, he's O.K. most of the time, but occasionally he thinks he's von
It was the night of the big symphony concert, and all the town notables
showed up to hear it. However, it was getting close to 8 o'clock and the
conductor hadn't yet shown up. The theater's manager was getting desperate,
knowing that he'd have to refund everyone's money if he cancelled the concert,
so he went backstage and asked all the musicians if any could conduct.
None of them could, so he went around and asked the staff if any of them
could conduct. He had no luck there either, so he started asking people in the
lobby, in the hope that maybe one of them could conduct the night's concert.
He still hadn't found anyone, so he went outside and started asking everybody
passing by if they could conduct. He had no luck whatsoever and by this time the
concert was 15 minutes late in starting. The assistant manager came out to say
that the crowd was getting restless and about ready to demand their money back.
The desperate manager looked around and spied a cat, a dog, and a horse
standing in the street. "Oh, what the heck," he exclaimed, "let's ask them--what
do we have to lose?"
So the manager and assistant manager went up to the cat, and the manager
asked "Mr. cat, do you know how to conduct?" The cat meowed "I don't know, I'll
try," but though it tried really hard, it just couldn't stand upright on its
hind legs. The manager sighed and thanked the cat, and then moved on to the dog.
"Mr. dog," he asked, "do you think you can conduct?" The dog woofed "Let me
see," but although it was able to stand up on its hind legs and wave its front
paws around, it just couldn't keep upright long enough to last through an entire
"Well, nice try," the manager told the dog, and with a sigh of resignation
turned to the horse. "Mr. horse," he asked, "how about you--can you conduct?"
The horse looked at him for a second and then without a word turned around,
presented its hind end, and started swishing its tail in perfect four-four time.
"That's it!" the manager exclaimed, "the concert can go on!" However, right
then the horse dropped a load of plop onto the street. The assistant manager was
horrified, and he told the manager "We can't have this horse conduct! What would
the orchestra think?"
The manager looked first at the horse's rear end and then at the plop lying
in the street and replied "trust me--from this angle, the orchestra won't even
know they have a new conductor!"
Once upon a time, there was a blind rabbit and blind snake, both living in
the same neighborhood. One beautiful day, the blind rabbit was hopping happily
down the path toward his home, when he bumped into someone. Apologizing
profusely he explained, "I am blind, and didn't see you there."
"Perfectly all right," said the snake, "because I am blind, too, and did not
see to step out of your way."
A conversation followed, gradually becoming more intimate, and finally the
snake said, "This is the best conversation I have had with anyone for a long
time. Would you mind if I felt you to see what you are like?"
"Why, no," said the rabbit. "Go right ahead."
So the snake wrapped himself around the rabbit and shuffled and snuggled his
coils, and said, "MMMM! You're soft and warm and fuzzy and cuddly...and those
ears! You must be a rabbit."
"Why, that's right!" said the rabbit. "May I feel you?"
"Go right ahead." said the snake, stretching himself out full length on the
The rabbit began to stroke the snake's body with his paws, then drew back in
disgust. "Yuck!" he said. "You're cold...and slimy... you must be a conductor!"
A guy walks into a pet store wanting a parrot. The store clerk shows him two
beautiful ones out on the floor. "This one's $5,000 and the other is $10,000."
the clerk said.
"Wow! What does the $5,000 one do?"
"This parrot can sing every aria Mozart ever wrote."
"And the other?" said the customer.
"This one can sing Wagner's entire Ring cycle. There's another one in the
back room for $30,000."
"Holy moly! What does that one do?"
"Nothing that I can tell, but the other two parrots call him 'Maestro'."
"Mommy," said the little girl, "can I get pregnant by anal intercourse?"
"Of course you can." her mother replied. "How do you think conductors are
A new conductor was at his first rehearsal. It was not going well. He was
wary of the musicians as they were of him. As he left the rehearsal room, the
timpanist sounded a rude little "bong." The angry conductor turned and said,
"All right! Who did that?"
A violinist was auditioning for the Halle orchestra in England. After his
audition he was talking with the conductor. "What do you think about Brahms?"
asked the conductor.
"Ah..." the violinist replied, "Brahms is a great guy! Real talented
musician. In fact, he and I were just playing some duets together last week!"
The conductor was impressed. "And what do you think of Mozart?" he asked him.
"Oh, he's just swell! I just had dinner with him last week!" replied the
violinist. Then the violinist looked at his watch and said he had to leave to
catch the 1:30 train to London.
Afterwards, the conductor was discussing him with the board members. He said
he felt very uneasy about hiring this violinist, because there seemed to be a
serious credibility gap. The conductor knew for certain that there was no 1:30
train to London.
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
- 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 several seconds.
- 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 disappointing.
- 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, screw up your face and shake your
head indicating that you'll never be able to play it. Don't say anything: make
- 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.
It is time that players reminded their conductors of the facts of life: just
who do conductors think they are, anyway?
Donn Laurence Mills is the NSOA contributing editor. He holds music degrees
from Northwestern University and Eastman School of Music. A conductor and music
educator, he is also the American educational director for the Yamaha Foundation
- What's the first thing a musician says at work?
- "Would you like fries with that?"
- What do you call a musician without a significant other?
- Why do musicians have to be awake by six o'clock?
- Because most shops close by six thirty.
- What would a musician do if he won a million dollars?
- Continue to play gigs until the money ran out.
- What's the difference between a conductor and a stagecoach driver?
- The stagecoach driver only has to look at four horses' asses.
- The stages of a musician's life:
- Who is name?
- Get me name.
- Get me someone who sounds like name.
- Get me a young name.
- Who is name?
There were two people walking down the street. One was a musician. The other
didn't have any money either.
A community orchestra was plagued by attendance problems. Several musicians
were absent at each rehearsal. As a matter of fact, every player in the
orchestra had missed several rehearsals, except for one very faithful oboe
player. Finally, as the dress rehearsal drew to a close, the conductor took a
moment to thank the oboist for her faithful attendance. She, of course, humbly
responded "It's the least I could do, since I won't be at the performance."
Saint Peter is checking ID's at the Pearly Gates, and first comes a Texan.
"Tell me, what have you done in life?" says St. Peter.
The Texan says, "Well, I struck oil, so I became rich, but I didn't sit on my
laurels--I divided all my money among my entire family in my will, so our
descendants are all set for about three generations."
St. Peter says, "That's quite something. Come on in. Next!"
The second guy in line has been listening, so he says, "I struck it big in
the stock market, but I didn't selfishly just provide for my own like that Texan
guy. I donated five million to Save the Children."
"Wonderful!" says Saint Peter. "Come in. Who's next?"
The third guy has been listening, and says timidly with a downcast look,
"Well, I only made five thousand dollars in my entire lifetime."
"Heavens!" says St. Peter. "What instrument did you play?"
St. Peter's still checking ID's. He asks a man, "What did you do on Earth?"
The man says, "I was a doctor."
St. Peter says, "Ok, go right through those pearly gates. Next! What did you
do on Earth?"
"I was a school teacher."
"Go right through those pearly gates. Next! And what did you do on Earth?"
"I was a musician."
"Go around the side, up the freight elevator, through the kitchen..."
A guy walks into the doctor's office and says, "Doc, I haven't had a bowel
movement in a week!" The doctor gives him a prescription for a mild laxative and
tells him, "If it doesn't work, let me know."
A week later the guy is back: "Doc, still no movement!"
The doctor says, "Hmm, guess you need something stronger," and prescribes a
Still another week later the poor guy is back: "Doc, STILL nothing!"
The doctor, worried, says, "We'd better get some more information about you
to try to figure out what's going on. What do you do for a living?"
"I'm a musician."
The doctor looks up and says, "Well, that's it! Here's $10.00. Go get
something to eat!"
- What's the difference between a seamstress and a violist?
- The seamstress tucks up the frills.
- What's the difference between a seamstress and a soprano?
- The seamstress tucks and frills.
- What's the difference between a seamstress and a french horn player?
- The seamstress says "Tuck the frills."
- "Wagner's music has beautiful moments but some bad quarters of an hour."
- "Richard Wagner's music is better than it sounds."
- -- Mark Twain
- "A critic is like a eunich: he knows exactly how it ought to be done."
- "A drummer is a musician's best friend."
- from a Martin Mull album.
- "The present day composer refuses to die."
- -- Edgar Varese
- "Beethoven had an ear for music."
- -- anonymous
- "The clarinet is a musical instrument the only thing worse than which is
- -- The Devil's Dictionary, by Ambrose Bierce
- Did you hear that Mr. Solfege had a dog?
- His name was feedo.
- What do you get when you put a diminished chord together with an augmented
- A demented chord.
- How many producers does it take to change a light bulb?
- ...hmm...I don't know...what do you think?
- 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:
- No first violinist is going anywhere for only 100 dollars.
- There's no such thing as a virtuoso violist.
- The bass player hasn't figured out what it's all about.
- Why did the Philharmonic disband?
- Excessive sax and violins.
Borodin nothing to do!!
Gone Chopin. Bach in a
Haydn's Chopin Liszt at
- Rossini and cheese
- Schumann polish
- Bern-n-stein remover
- Satie mushrooms
- batteries (Purcell)
- BeethOVEN cleaner
- Hummel microwave meals
- orange Schubert
- TchaiCOUGHsky drops
- Honey-nut Berlioz
- Chef Boyardee Raveli
- sour cream and Ives
- Strauss (straws)
- chocolate Webers (wafers)
- Del Monteverdi corn
- Mozart-rella cheese
- I Can't Believe it's not Rutter
- Bach of serial (opera)
- chicken Balakirev
- new door Handel
- Golden Brahms
- Little Debussy snack cakes
- Oscar Meyerbeer bologna
- string quartet: a good violinist, a bad violinist, an
ex-violinist, and someone who hates violinists, all getting together to
complain about composers.
- detaché: an indication that the trombones are to play
with their slides removed.
- glissando: a technique adopted by string players for
- subito piano: indicates an opportunity for some obscure
orchestra player to become a soloist.
- risoluto: indicates to orchestras that they are to
stubbornly maintain the correct tempo no matter what the conductor tries to
- senza sordino: a term used to remind the player that he
forgot to put his mute on a few measures back.
- preparatory beat: a threat made to singers,
i.e., sing, or else....
- crescendo: a reminder to the performer that he has been
playing too loudly.
- conductor: a musician who is adept at following many
people at the same time.
- clef: something to jump from before the viola solo.
- transposition: the act of moving the relative pitch of a
piece of music that is too low for the basses to a point where it is too high
for the sopranos.
- vibrato: used by singers to hide the fact that they are
on the wrong pitch.
- half step: the pace used by a cellist when carrying hi
- coloratura soprano: a singer who has great trouble
finding the proper note, but who has a wild time hunting for it.
- chromatic scale: an instrument for weighing that
- bar line: a gathering of people, usually among which may
be found a musician or two.
- ad libitum: a premiere.
- beat: what music students do to each other with their
instruments. The down beat is performed on top of the head, while the up beat
is struck under the chin.
- cadence: when everybody hopes you're going to stop, but
- diatonic: low-calorie Schweppes.
- lamentoso: with handkerchiefs.
- virtuoso: a musician with very high morals. (I know one)
- music: a complex organizations of sounds that is set down
by the composer, incorrectly interpreted by the conductor, who is ignored by
the musicians, the result of which is ignored by the audience.
- oboe: an ill wind that nobody blows good.
- tenor: two hours before a nooner.
- diminished fifth: an empty bottle of Jack Daniels.
- perfect fifth: a full bottle of Jack Daniels.
- ritard: there's one in every family.
- relative major: an uncle in the Marine Corps.
- relative minor: a girlfriend.
- big band: when the bar pays enough to bring two banjo
- pianissimo: "refill this beer bottle".
- repeat: what you do until they just expel you.
- treble: women ain't nothin' but.
- bass: the things you run around in softball.
- portamento: a foreign country you've always wanted to
- conductor: the man who punches your ticket to Birmingham.
- arpeggio: "Ain't he that storybook kid with the big nose
- tempo: good choice for a used car.
- A 440: the highway that runs around Nashville.
- men who wear dresses.
- An advanced recorder technique where you change from alto to soprano
fingering (or vice-versa) in the middle of a piece
- cut time:
- when everyone else is playing twice as fast as you are.
- order of sharps: what a wimp gets at the bar.
- passing tone: frequently heard near the baked beans at
- middle C: the only fruit drink you can afford when food
stamps are low.
- perfect pitch: the smooth coating on a freshly paved
- tuba: a compound word: "Hey, woman! Fetch me another tuba
- that ugly thing your wife always vacuums dog hair off of when company
- The heroine in Monteverdi's opera Frottola
- whole note: what's due after failing to pay the mortgage
for a year.
- clef: what you try never to fall off of.
- bass clef: where you wind up if you do fall off.
- altos: not to be confused with "Tom's toes," "Bubba's
toes" or "Dori-toes".
- minor third: your approximate age and grade at the
completion of formal schooling.
- melodic minor: loretta Lynn's singing dad.
- 12-tone scale: the thing the State Police weigh your
tractor trailer truck with.
- quarter tone: what most standard pickups can haul.
- sonata: what you get from a bad cold or hay fever.
- clarinet: name used on your second daughter if you've
already used Betty Jo.
- cello: the proper way to answer the phone.
- typical response when asked what you hope to catch, and when.
- a bedpost with a bad case of gas.
- french horn: your wife says you smell like a cheap one
when you come in at 4 a.m.
- cymbal: what they use on deer-crossing signs so you know
what to sight-in your pistol with.
- bossa nova: the car your foreman drives.
- time signature: what you need from your boss if you
forget to clock in.
- first inversion: grandpa's battle group at Normandy.
- staccato: how you did all the ceilings in your mobile
- major scale: what you say after chasing wild game up a
mountain: "Damn! That was a major scale!"
- aeolian mode: how you like Mama's cherry pie.
- bach chorale: the place behind the barn where you keep
- plague: a collective noun, as in "a plague of
- audition: the act of putting oneself under extreme duress
to satisfy the sadistic intentions of someone who has already made up his
- accidentals: wronng notes.
- augmented fifth: a 36-ounce bottle.
- broken consort: when someone in the ensemble has to leave
to go to the bathroom.
- cantus firmus: the part you get when you can play only
- chansons de geste: dirty songs.
- clausula: Mrs. Santa Claus.
- a tritone with a bent prong.
- like knitting, but faster.
- ducita: a lot of mallards.
- embouchure the way you look when you've been playing the
- estampie: what they put on letters in Quebec.
- garglefinklein: a tiny recorder played by neums.
- hocket: the thing that fits into a crochet to produce a
- interval: how long it takes to find the right note. There
are three kinds:
- Major interval: a long time.
- Minor interval: a few bars.
- Inverted interval: when you have to go back a bar and try again.
- intonation: singing through one's nose. Considered highly
desirable in the Middle Ages.
- isorhythmic motet: when half of the ensemble got a
different edition from the other half.
- minnesinger: a boy soprano.
- musica ficta: when you lose your place and have to bluff
until you find it again.
- neums: renaissance midgets.
- neumatic melishma: a bronchial disorder caused by
- ordo: the hero in Tolkien's Lord of the
- rota: an early Italian method of teaching music without
score or parts.
- trotto: an early Italian form of Montezuma's Revenge.
- lauda: the difference between shawms and krummhorns.
- sancta: Clausula's husband.
- lasso: the 6th and 5th steps of a descending scale.
- di lasso: popular with Italian cowboys.
- quaver: beginning viol class.
- rackett: capped reeds class
- ritornello: a Verdi opera.
- sine proprietate: cussing in church.
- supertonic: Schweppes.
- trope: a malevolent neum.
- tutti: a lot of sackbuts.
- stops: something Bach didn't have on his organ.
- agnus dei: a famous female church composer.
- metronome: a city-dwelling dwarf.
- allegro: leg fertilizer.
- recitative: a disease that Monteverdi had.
- transsectional: an alto who moves to the soprano section.
Maestro (to Horns): "Give us the F in tune!"
Violist (to Maestro):
"Please can we have the F-in' tune too?"
When asked by the Pope (I forget which one) what the Catholic Church could do
for music, Igor Stravinsky is reputed to have answered without hesitation: "Give
us back castrati!"
Three violin manufactures have all done business for years on the same block
in the small town of Cremona, Italy. After years of a peaceful co-existence, the
Amati shop decided to put a sign in the window saying: "We make the best violins
in Italy." The Guarneri shop soon followed suit, and put a sign in their window
proclaiming: "We make the best violins in the world." Finally, the Stradivarius
family put a sign out at their shop saying: "We make the best violins on the
Once there was a violinist who got a gig to play a recital at a mental
institution. He played the recital brilliantly, and backstage after the concert,
he got a visit from one of the institutionalized patients.
"Oh, the concert you played was just lovely. The Paganini caprice was
stunning, the counterpoint in the Bach came out so clearly, and the phrasing in
your Debussy was just exquisite!", said the patient.
"Why, thank you," said the musician (thinking this person seemed pretty
normal for a institutionalized person). "Are you by chance a musician?"
"Oh yes, I was concertmaster of an orchestra for many years, I've played all
of the major concertos: Tchaikowsky, Brahms, Mozart, all the major ones." said
"Wow, that's impressive," said the violinist. "Did you do recitals as well?"
"Oh yes, I've done all the major sonatas, Bach, Kreisler, Vieuxtemps, all of
the major ones," said the patient.
"Wow! Did you ever do chamber music?" asked the violinist.
"Oh yes. Duets, trios, quintets, sextets, all the major repertoire," said the
Puzzled, the violinist asked "Did you ever play string quartets?"
All of the suddenly the patient went berserk and shouted "String
quartets!... String quartets!... String quartets!... "
Quite a number of years ago, the Seattle Symphony was doing Beethoven's
Symphony No. 9 under the baton of Milton Katims.
Now at this point, you must understand two things:
- There's a quite long segment in this symphony where the basses don't have
a thing to do. Not a single note for page after page.
- There used to be a tavern called Dez's 400, right across the
street from the Seattle Opera House, rather favored by local musicians.
It had been decided that during this performance, once the bass players had
played their parts in the opening of the symphony, they were to quietly lay down
their instruments and leave the stage, rather than sit on thier stools looking
and feeling dumb for twenty minutes. Once they got backstage, someone suggested
that they trot across the street and quaff a few brews.
When they got there, a European nobleman recognized that they were musicians,
and bought them several rounds of drinks. Two of the bassists passed out, and
the rest of the section, not to mention the nobleman, were rather drunk.
Finally, one of them looked at his watch and exclaimed, "Look at the time! We'll
The remaining bassists tried in vain to wake up their section mates, but
finally those who were still conscious had to give up and run across the street
to the Opera House.
While they were on their way in, the bassist who suggested this excursion in
the first place said, "I think we'll still have enough time--I anticipated that
something like this could happen, so I tied a string around the last pages of
the score. When he gets down to there, Milton's going to have to slow the tempo
way down while he waves the baton with one hand and fumbles with the string with
Sure enough, when they got back to the stage they hadn't missed their
entrance, but one look at their conductor's face told them they were still in
serious trouble. Katims was furious! After all...
It was the bottom of the Ninth,
the basses were loaded,
the score was tied,
there were two men out,
and the Count was full.
Reprinted without permission from Edmonton Centre newsletter, Canada, and
Canadian RCCO newsletter.
The following program notes are from an unidentified piano recital.
Tonight's page turner, Ruth Spelke, studied under Ivan Schmertnick at the
Boris Nitsky School of Page Turning in Philadelphia. She has been turning pages
here and abroad for many years for some of the world's leading pianists.
In 1988, Ms. Spelke won the Wilson Page Turning Scholarship, which sent her
to Israel to study page turning from left to right. She is winner of the 1984
Rimsky Korsakov Flight of the Bumblebee Prestissimo Medal, having
turned 47 pages in an unprecedented 32 seconds. She was also a 1983 silver
medalist at the Klutz Musical Page Pickup Competition: contestants retrieve and
rearrange a musical score dropped from a Yamaha. Ms. Spelke excelled in "grace,
swiftness, and especially poise."
For techniques, Ms. Spelke performs both the finger-licking and the bent-page
corner methods. She works from a standard left bench position, and is the
originator of the dipped-elbow page snatch, a style used to avoid obscuring the
pianist's view of the music. She is page turner in residence in Fairfield Iowa,
where she occupies the coveted Alfred Hitchcock Chair at the Fairfield Page
Ms. Spelke is married, and has a nice house on a lake.
Orchestra Personnel Standards
- Leaps tall buildings in a single bound.
Is more powerful than a
Is faster than a speeding bullet.
Walks on water.
Gives policy to God.
- Leaps short buildings in a single bound.
Is more powerful than a
Is just as fast as a speeding bullet.
Walks on water if
sea is calm.
Talks with God.
- Leaps short buildings with a running start and favorable winds.
almost as powerful as a switch engine.
Is almost as fast as a speeding
Walks on water in an indoor swimming pool.
Talks with God if
special request is approved.
- trumpet player
- Barely clears a quonset hut.
Loses tug-of-war with locomotive.
fire a speeding bullet.
Is occasionally addressed by God.
- Makes marks high on wall when trying to clear short buildings.
over by locomotive.
Can sometimes handle a gun without inflicting
Talks to animals.
- second violinist
- Runs into buildings.
Recognizes locomotives two times out of three.
Is not issued any ammunition.
Can stay afloat with a life jacket.
Talks to walls, argues with self.
- Falls over doorstep when trying to enter buildings.
Says "Look at the
Wets self with water pistol.
Plays in mud puddles.
Loses arguments with self.
- horn player
- Lifts buildings and walks under them.
Kicks locomotives off the
Catches speeding bullets in teeth and eats them.
with a single glance.
- Wilson is tired of paying for clarinet reeds. If he adopts a policy of
playing only on rejected reeds from his colleagues will he be able to retire
on the money he has saved if he invests it in mutual bonds, yielding 8.7%,
before he is fired from his job? If not, calculate the probablitity of him
ever working in a professional symphony orchestra again!
- Jethro has been playing the double bass in a symphony orchestra for 12
years, three months and seven days. Each day, his inclination to practice
decreases by the equation: (total days in the orchestra) x 0.0076. Assuming he
stopped practising altogether four years, six months and three days ago, how
long will it be before he is completely unable to play the double bass?
- Wilma plays in the second violin section, but specializes in making
disparaging remarks about conductors and other musicians. The probability of
her making a negative comment about any given musician is 4 chances in 7, and
for conductors is 16 chances out of 17. If there are 103 musicians in the
orchestra and the orchestra sees 26 different conductors each year, how many
negative remarks does Wilma make in a two-year period? How does this change if
five of the musicians are also conductors? What if six of the conductors are
- Horace is the General Manager of an important symphony orchestra. He tries
to hear at least four concerts a year. Assuming that at each concert the
orchestra plays a minimum of three pieces per concert, what are the chances
that Horace can avoid hearing a single work by Mozart, Beethoven or Brahms in
the next ten years?
- Betty plays in the viola section. Despite her best efforts she is unable
to play with the rest of the orchestra and, on average, plays 0.3528 seconds
behind the rest of the viola section, which is already 0.16485 seconds behind
the rest of the orchestra. If the orchestra is moving into a new concert hall
with a reverberation time of 2.7 seconds, will she be able to continue playing
this way undetected?
- Ralph loves to drink coffee. Each week he drinks three more cups of coffee
than Harold, who drinks exactly one third the amount that the entire brass
section consumes in beer. How much longer is Ralph going to live?
- Rosemary is unable to play in keys with more than three sharps or flats
without making an inordinate number of mistakes. Because her colleagues in the
cello section are also struggling in these passages she has so far been able
to escape detection. What is the total number of hours they would all have to
practice to play the complete works of Richard Strauss?
From: EFFICIENCY & TICKET, LTD., Management Consultants
The London Symphony Orchestra
Re: Schubert's Symphony No. 8 in B minor.
After attending a rehearsal of this work we make the following observations
- We note that the twelve first violins were playing identical notes, as
were the second violins. Three violins in each section, suitably amplified,
would seem to us to be adequate.
- Much unnecessary labour is involved in the number of demisemiquavers in
this work; we suggest that many of these could be rounded up to the nearest
semiquaver thus saving practice time for the individual player and rehearsal
time for the entire ensemble. The simplification would also permit more use of
trainee and less-skilled players with only marginal loss of precision.
- We could find no productivity value in string passages being repeated by
the horns; all tutti repeats could also be eliminated without any reduction of
- In so labour-intensive an undertaking as a symphony, we regard the long
oboe tacet passages to be extremely wasteful. What notes this instrument is
called upon to play could, subject to a satisfactory demarcation conference
with the Musician's Union, be shared out equitably amongst the other
Conclusion: if the above recommendations are implemented the piece under
condsideration could be played through in less than half an hour with
concomitant savings in overtime, lighting and heating, wear and tear on the
instruments and hall rental fees. Also, had the composer been aware of modern
cost-effective procedures he might well have finished this work.
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