It’s happened to all of us: you get out of your car, whistling a happy tune, saunter into your rehearsal (or concert!), unzip your bass, and reach into that music pocket…..
….only to find that your stupid folder is not, in fact, in your trusty music pouch, but back on your stand at home, and you’re up a creek without a paddle.
I’m Guilty as Well
The first time I forgot my music was for my local youth orchestra. I remember my conductor clamping both hands on his head as I sheepishly mumbled, “Uh, Ray… huh huh” in my doofus high school way. He tore me apart and told me to get back home and get it. Not a happy day for me.
The second (and last, thankfully) time I forgot my music was for a dress rehearsal of Carousel, which I was playing for the local community theater. Again, I was in high school (apparently I had issues with bringing my music during my teens!), and this time was worse–I was the only bass, and the whole show had to go on sans low end as I scurried back home to grab my forgotten part. The conductor gave me a little lecture about responsibility, which made me feel very bad and must have done the trick. I now routinely pull my car over on the way to gigs, pulling my bass out of the back of the car and feeling around to make doubly sure that that darned folder is really in my case.
Four Guys Without a Scrap of Music
A friend of mine was sharing an embarrassing incident that happened to him recently on a gig. He used to function as the contractor for string quartet gigs for a regional orchestra in the area, and he would generally play the gigs and provide music for the four people involved. A new personnel manager got hired in the orchestra recently, and apparently there was a mix-up as to which party was responsible for making sure that there was music for the gig.
To make a long story short, the quartet ended up at the gig without any music at all, and to make matters worse, they were the focal point for the opening of a new center, positioned front and center as the crowd came in. So they stood, each playing a solo rendition of “Happy Birthday,” an orchestral excerpt or two, or whatever else they had memorized. Not exactly a resounding string ensemble! This is the kind of goof that everyone notices, regardless of musical training–people aren’t used to seeing a string quartet trade random solo snippets for a couple of hours. The people that hired them were furious.
Make Sure You Have Everything Before Leaving the Train
Four good-natured but somewhat scatterbrained guys that I went to grad school with had a similar situation happen to them: they were meeting in downtown Chicago for a gig, and the guy with all the music fell asleep on the train, waking just before his stop and bolting off, in his haste leaving all of his binders on the seat next to him. The train roared off (well, puttered… the El isn’t exactly a fearsome train) and he was halfway down the steps before he realized his unfortunate mistake.
These guys ended up doing the same thing as the first quartet, playing Don Jan excerpts, scales, and all other sorts of blatantly non-gig repertoire. They slunk out of there as soon as they could. No check ever came…and they never asked about it.
My Forgetful Student
Unfortunately, it seems like I’ve passed at least a few of my bad habits on to my students, among them my penchant for forgetting my music. On of my students was playing a string quintet arrangement of The Entertainer in which he was the featured musician at the Brevard Music Festival one summer. His teacher was in the audience, and he noticed as the ensemble filed on that the bassist had no music in his hand. Bad sign! They got set up, tuned, and began. It quickly became apparent that the bassist was improvising the part….and that he barely remembered any of it! He ended up playing something that was equal parts Joplin and aleatoric randomness. Not a good thing when you’re the soloist.
His teacher came backstage, hopping mad, and let him know what he thought of that particular spectacle. Hopefully that talk did for my student what the conductor of Carousel did for me all those years ago.
Have you ever forgotten your music? What happened? Let us know!