As both a performer and Conductor, a live performance is always a surprise. Anything can happen and anything has happened in my career. I thought I would share some of these stories and hope to make you smile as well as inspire you to tell us a story about a performance you might have had. : )
For my first solo on clarinet, performing with an excellent community orchestra, I had to be the echo, repeating back 2 notes that the orchestra played. I was playing the part of a cuckoo bird. I hid in the balcony. The audience was supposed to be surprised by these repeated notes that would seem to come form nowhere. They were sure surprised because by the time I was supposed to play all that came out were squawks and squeaks! If you play a reed instrument you can never forget to keep your reed moist. When it dries out it simply won't play...it will squawk! My friends teased me about this for months afterwards. The audience laughed and was very forgiving, thankfully.
As a music teacher and conductor of young teens, so many mishaps happened at performances. One year our band proudly played a Holiday concert at a local Mall. The kids knew the music well. The audience was huge. It was so exciting to be able to perform for this crowd, but...when I began conducting, only half the band played! I stopped and whispered angrily to the group. "What's going on? Why isn't anyone playing?" I never expected this response,
" Oh, Mrs. Gutlerner!" one of the musicians answered, "Just look at those 2 security guards! They are gorgeous!!!" Sure enough, all the girls were staring and giggling at them. I walked up to them, apologized and told them to please move to behind the group where they couldn't be seen by my kids! It was embarrassing for sure, but sometimes music teachers have to do these things! LOL! They really were good looking!
At another concert, performing in a local supermarket for the Holiday season, the percussion students forgot to bring their percussion bag, which was filled with all our percussion items such as tambourines, triangles, bass drum beater, etc. When we set our equipment up one of them asked me where I put the percussion equipment! I was furious of course! This was not my instrument nor my responsibility. The fact remained that although the snare drummer had his sticks in his pocket, we had no beater for the bass drum! Use your hand? What could we do? One creative student said she would see if there was anything in the store we could use and ran off to go up and down the aisles in search of something to play the drum with. She happily and proudly returned within minutes holding a mini toilet plunger! It was perfect, had a rubber bass so it wouldn't damage the drum and a small wooden stick handle just like the real beater would. We performed our concert well and got lots of laughs when people discovered that we were playing the bass drum with a toilet plunger. After the concert, the students bought it, then all autographed it and presented it to me. It hung in my classroom for years reminding people not to forget things and also to be creative when necessary.
I could go on to tell you about the mouse than ran across my foot in the middle of a piece, or the centipede that crawled into my trumpet player's trumpet and wouldn't crawl out, or the girl who got locked in the on stage bathroom and kept banging on the door, baffling us and ruining one of our pieces by the wrong rhythm, or how I used bubblegum to stick someone's pad back onto their sax so they could play again....or how during one of our pieces a young kid in the audience projectile vomited over most of the flute section in the middle of performing "Holiday for Flutes" a flute section solo piece...!
Your turn! Do you have any funny stories to recount about a performance you were in? Or you could comment about some of these experiences I just shared ,perhaps it triggered another memory for you? Thanks. : )