Last night’s band rehearsal was with the ‘serious’ band. Again it was poorly attended though more people showed up than at the last few rehearsals. I guess the concert this coming Sunday made some folks feel some responsibility. Well, I think all the repressed annoyance broke out and mostly not in a good way.
Chatter and noodling were constant. No fun stuff just disrespectful nonsense. What’s interesting is that the conductor didn’t make any attempt to stop it verbally. He just calmly said, “from the top” and whoever was listening started playing. This new tactic by the conductor worked better than the no talking berating we usually get from him.
After band a few of the members and I talked about what’s going wrong with the band. We all agreed that it wasn’t fun anymore and that most were going because the band has been around forever and they will just weather the storm. Then we talked about why the band wasn’t fun anymore. The obvious annoyance by the conductor when things go awry is one thing. He will call out a section for missing notes or playing something wrong but not in a positive ‘this is how to fix this’ way. Then he yells at people for not practicing. Most members of the band don’t want to get yelled at and most of them don’t have much time, if any, to practice. I don’t think he realizes that his comments are perceived as negatively as they are. In fairness, he does praise sections when they do really well.
But the bigger problem is his method of recruitment to get new people in the band. He has an extensive network of doctoral performance graduates, and semi and pro musicians who he has convinced to play with the band on a regular basis. So far this is not a bad thing; it’s what he says to the band about why he’s recruited them that’s the problem. Basically he says, ‘I’ve got these guys here so you older folks don’t have to play so often. You can sit back and rest and just play the easier stuff.’ This translates to you older folks aren’t good enough for me.
At last night’s rehearsal he did less yelling and more praising so maybe he’s beginning to figure out why folks don’t show up anymore. We have a one week break after the concert and it will be really interesting to see how many people show up at the next rehearsal.