Orchestra etiquette

Being a member of Innominato Strings is great fun and very rewarding. Because we are such a large and exuberant group of adults we have all agreed on a few ground rules to make sure it all runs smoothly and happily. Please take a few minutes now to improve your orchestra etiquette by familiarising yourself with these Orchestra Rules.

Preparation & Set Up

1. Be respectful of the conductor and your fellow musicians.

2. If you can’t make it to a particular session, please let the conductor know beforehand.

3. Try to arrive 10-15 minutes before the scheduled start time. Use this time to:

  • help with the chairs (if you are able)
  • unpack
  • tune your instrument
  • apply rosin to your bow
  • set up your music stand
  • arrange your music and other materials
  • be seated ready to start rehearsals promptly at the scheduled time.

4. The orchestra is normally set up in a semi-circle facing the conductor who stands in the middle. Cellos and 1st violins are in line and facing each other on the conductor’s right and left respectively. Basses are behind the cellos. Violas are next to the cellos (on the inside), and the 2nd violins are next to the 1st violins (inside). Please see the General Seating Plan for more detail. If you are first to arrive please start arranging chairs for the session.

5. Each “desk” comprises two players who share one music stand. Please sit in the desk allocated to you by the conductor, as close to your desk partner as practicable but with ample room to move your bow without distracting (or injuring) others.

6. Position your stand so that you can see both the music and the conductor. You will need to develop the ability to watch the conductor, if only out of the corner of your eye, at the same time you are reading the music.

7. Have your music bound in a folder and arranged so that pages may be quickly turned without disruption to the group. Avoid having loose pages, however it is a good idea to bring along clothes pegs or similar to keep pages from blowing away.

8. Have a 5B pencil and eraser easily & quickly accessible for marking your music as directed by the conductor.

9. TURN OFF YOUR MOBILE PHONES and PAGERS or switch to SILENT MODE for the duration of the session.

10. Keep the rehearsal space free of clutter.

11. Be mindful of other instruments around you – on the floor, on chairs etc. These instruments are fragile and expensive. Ensure your own instrument is safely out of the way during break times, but be aware of where other instruments are and be very careful as you move about.

orchestra etiquette

Orchestra Rehearsal Etiquette

12. Pay attention to the conductor at all times.

13. Sit centered, with legs slightly apart and feet flat to prevent musician-strain on your body. Please do not cross your legs, or wrap them around a chair leg.

14. Do not talk, whisper, sing, whistle, play or tune your instrument while the conductor is speaking.

15. Do not talk, whisper, sing, whistle, play or tune your instrument while other sections are working with the conductor. Follow along silently in your own part.

16. Do not mark time with your feet, knees, hands, head, ears or other body parts while playing.

17. In rehearsal, stop when the conductor stops, it saves time.

18. The conductor will give you directions for bowing, dynamics, expression, technical points and other requirements for each piece during rehearsals. Mark all these instructions onto your music clearly in pencil so that they may be understood by others.

19. It is customary to follow the leadership of the players in the front desk. This means, for example, following their bowing, coming in at the same time they come in and not holding on to notes longer than they do.

20. Due to time constraints sometimes you’ll often find it necessary to play a section or bar repeatedly and you won’t have time to switch between playing your instrument and marking your music. Don’t worry – it is more important not to disrupt the session by having others wait for you to be ready to play. Catch up with markings during the break, at the end of the session or out of session.

21. If you get lost and stop playing during a piece, don’t panic. Try to follow what’s going on so that you can re-join when you are sure again. If you are still lost or having difficulties repeatedly, wait for an appropriate opportunity to ask for clarification.

Going Home Time

22. If you are able to please help to stack the chairs away after the session.

23. Leave the rehearsal space clean and tidy for the next group.

Homework

24. Practice, practice, practice. It is also a good idea to listen to recordings of the pieces if you can.

Orchestra Concert Etiquette

25. If you are unable to participate in a scheduled performance, please inform the conductor beforehand.

26. Please wear all-black unless directed otherwise by the conductor.

27. Be punctual and well prepared. As with rehearsals, try to arrive 10-15 minutes before the scheduled start time or otherwise as advised by the conductor. Use this time to:

  • unpack
  • tune your instrument
  • apply rosin to your bow
  • arrange your music and other materials
  • assist with set-up as required

28. Position your stand so that you can see both the music and the conductor.

29. Have your music bound in a folder and arranged so that pages may be quickly turned without disruption to the group. Avoid having loose pages, however it is a good idea to bring along clothes pegs or similar to keep pages from blowing away.

30. TURN OFF YOUR MOBILE PHONES and PAGERS or switch to SILENT MODE for the duration of the performance.

31. Be respectful of the conductor and your fellow musicians.

32. Enjoy the experience!

33. Be mindful not to chatter or be otherwise disruptive during a concert performance, or during performances by others, or between sequential performances.

34. Acknowledge applause after a performance by bowing to the audience in unison as directed by the conductor or soloists.