In the string world, stand partners are kind of like an arranged marriage. Having a good stand partner can make the gig so much more enjoyable, but it can also drive you crazy.
Here are some of the most common habits that get on a stand partner’s nerves. I’ve been guilty of many of these over the years, but I’m trying to be better!
1 – Messing with the stand
Trying to find the right height and angle is all about compromise. Some people just can’t seem to settle into a comfortable place with the music stand and are constantly fiddling with the height, placement, and angle.
2 – Talking at the wrong time
A good joke or quick-witted response to a bumbling conductor can brighten the day of your stand partner for sure. Some people just don’t seem to have the social awareness to know when to joke around and when to focus.
3 – Warming up on music that’s not on the gig
There’s a time and a place to work on other music, but it’s usually not right before a rehearsal or concert starts. It’s one thing to pull out the part of a challenging piece for an upcoming concert, but it’s another thing to be constantly playing your concerto.
4 – Showing off
This ties into number three, but it’m more obnoxious. Some people can’t seem to help themselves and are constantly playing fast, loud, flashy stuff, without the social awareness to know that they’re driving people around them crazy.
5 – Marking too much stuff in the music
When the principal player or conductor passes down something, you should certainly mark it in your part. It’s also super-helpful to indicate quick page turns, beat pattern changes, and anything irregular or potentially confusing. Some people go way too far, though, marking in fingerings, indication of which string to use, and all kinds of little notes to themselves. Unnecessary clutter can be pretty distracting to your stand partner.
6 – Not marking anything in the music
Some stand partners never mark a thing in the part, which can be just as annoying as over-marking the part!
7 – Bad page turner
The inside player is responsible for turning the pages forward. Like everything stand partner-related, there’s an art to being a good colleague and turning the page early enough (but not too early!) to allow the outside player to process the material on the new page.
8 – Fidgeting with gear
Some people are fidgety by nature, and this manifests itself in their stand partner behavior. Unnecessary motion and sound can mess with your stand partner’s concentration in a major way.
9 – Being a “gig vulture”
How’d you get that gig? Who’s the contractor? While these questions can be totally fine in the right circumstances, nobody like having someone around who seems focused on “stealing” your regular gigs.
10 – Being smelly
Cologne? Body odor? Neither of these things are good to smell like on a gig.