Personal bloopers

February 6, 2009 at 04:14 AM ·


inspired by a recent blog I thought it might be amusing to do (resurrect) a personal blooper blog.  I can recall dozing off in the concertmasters chair during an outdoor concert late at night somewhere in Italy.  The wind played the opening of Dvoraks new world and I jerked awake very suddenly and bashed ou8t the first violin entry a beat too soon as a reflex.

Wine afterwards was good though...



Replies (36)

February 6, 2009 at 05:10 AM ·

If you took your prunes you would have been able to count each beat of rest better!

February 6, 2009 at 05:16 AM ·

actually I`d have been able to join in with the opening.

February 6, 2009 at 06:21 AM ·

Years ago, during my first performance as concertmaster of my youth orchestra, I walked onstage and faced one of the most terrifying moments of my life:

I had to tune the orchestra using the piano, since our first piece was with a soloist!

Not being a pianist at all (my sister played...our parents ensured that we never crossed paths musically since we would have fought like dogs), I stared at 88 keys and cursed my ignorance for never bothering to learn where the heck A-440 was.

Well, after vaguely remembering this concept of "middle C" I was able to locate said A-440. I was so excited, I proceeded to pound that one key relentlessly, with all the energy and force I could muster so that the winds and brass could begin tuning.

In fact, I hit that key so hard, so many times in succession, the pitch on that poor piano began to warp. The teacher of the piano soloist (a rather esteemed instructor who has published a rather popular line of piano instruction books), was sitting behind my family in the concert hall.

They heard her repeated gasps of "what the HELL is he doing to that piano!!!??"

Well, as a teacher myself now, I always make sure to cover all these sorts of little details with my students before throwing them into the pool of music. :P

February 6, 2009 at 12:33 PM ·

I'm sure I've already talked about these: my nose started to run dangerously in a concert (allergies I think). I had to stop and my knid teacher ran to get me the closest thing he found, toilet paper!

A string unrolled at the begining of a gig, too


funny stories on this discussion...

February 6, 2009 at 03:54 PM ·

I recall doing an audition a million years ago that went rather badly.  Concerto went well.  Solo Bach went really well.  Excerpts went well, until the "Enigma" scherzo:

  1. Play 5 notes, freeze on spot.  Heart stops.  Glance at PM, start again.
  2. Play 5 notes, freeze on spot AGAIN.  Heart does not work now.  Glance at PM, who graciously nods.  Start again.
  3. Play 5 notes, freeze on spot, YET AGAIN.  Heart gives up and leaves.  Glance at PM, who looks a little ashen at this point.  Start again.
  4. Nail it.

It is funny now, but that was a big disappointment, especially because the rest of the audition was actually pretty ducky.  Of course I washed out in the 1st round. Ironically, that Elgar was one of my strongest zerps.  Best laid plans...

Not my finest moment.

February 6, 2009 at 04:30 PM ·

My previous orchestra was doing The Journey of Sir Douglas Fir, a superb 55 minute musical narrative for a children's concert. I'd played this umteen times already as associate CM. However, at this particular performance the actor who plays numerous parts including a comedic one as the "train conductor" was ON that night. He was so dang funny I could not play an entrance as my eyes were all watery from laughing so hard. At least I wasn't the only one. The conductor was trying to keep a straight face and ignore the antics also.

February 6, 2009 at 04:38 PM ·

that's called enjoying yourself with classical music to the fullest, ray! :)

February 6, 2009 at 04:53 PM ·

... and here comes that beautiful violin solo ... oh dear, I was supposed to play it! Too late now, it was only three notes.

February 7, 2009 at 08:28 AM ·

Didn't wear a bra to one of my recitals, college student, forgot to do the laundry, a phase in my violin career where I moved my arm too much when playing, certain parts of my body shook a little too much as a result, a lot of immature boys were at the recital.


you put two and two together....

February 7, 2009 at 12:50 PM ·

OMG Jazzy! LOL >^D   I feel bad for you also! Did you feel like a real boob?

My teacher Naomi Gjevre was holding a master class in Studio one day and I got asked to play. She stopped me after two or three meassures and asked me why I "' was moving around like that, Hefetz hardly moved at all', and why that particular contact point." My mind was utterly blank, just stared and was frozen like a statue and then blurted out real loud....."I Don't Know!" She told me to sit down, observe and keep working with Dr. Pinell....... End of my Participations for that semester! >^D !

February 7, 2009 at 04:40 PM ·

Jasmine, would you happen to have a video of that performance? :)

February 7, 2009 at 07:19 PM ·

Marty, HAHAHA!  And relive that moment all over again--never....

February 7, 2009 at 07:29 PM ·

...thought I'd was worth a try.

February 7, 2009 at 08:34 PM ·

Jasmine, talking about bras, I once went to a course and... had forgoten to put a bra! I was 18, it's not like if I was 6 or so. I was so shy that I went back home and phoned my teacher and lied by telling her that I was stuck in a trafic jam and that I would by late...   lol!


February 7, 2009 at 09:27 PM ·


That is just too funny.  I'm trying my best NOT to visualize the performance, but I can't seem to control my active imagination. :-)


February 8, 2009 at 05:20 PM ·


Buri, you lost to Jazz on this…

February 8, 2009 at 08:24 PM ·

Please keep us abreast of this situation as it develops.

February 8, 2009 at 10:49 PM ·

You guys are all just so funny....  :o\  :0)



February 9, 2009 at 01:15 AM ·

Jasmine, don't worry, your picture isn't here so they can not imagine the scene with "your" face! lol!  

Guys,  on my highschool concert (brass and wood wind instruments only) the rule was to dress with a black skirt or pants and a girl playing in the first row had a short skirt with white underwear!  Everybody noticed it in the audience immidiately!  

To all violinists never do this and put one that matches at least!


February 9, 2009 at 07:26 PM ·


Look on the bright side, at least the stage wasn't booby trapped.


Well.........  I guess you could argue that it actually was.  Never mind. ;-)

February 9, 2009 at 10:47 PM ·

Quote from Jasmine: "... a lot of immature boys were at the recital ..."

I bet they had a real headstart in the maturing process after that!

August 1, 2009 at 12:11 PM ·

Gene - you mentioned problems with a piano "A".

I was sub-leader in a Birmingham Prom concert with a BBC orchestra, and as our leader had gone off after the overture so the piano could be moved into place, it fell to me to give the "A". Knew where it was o.k., poised my finger over it, looked round to see everyone was ready and played - the "A" and "B" together! Huge cheer from the audience. When our leader came on and took his bow, turned round and complained that I got more applause than he did.

August 1, 2009 at 01:34 PM ·

OMG-LOL!!!!!  More applause than he!!!!  That's funny!

August 1, 2009 at 03:58 PM ·

Bravo! But enough of this sophomoric humor  (and you guys know how much I hate sophomoric humor). So, as titular head of the "I Hate Sophomoric Humor Club," let's nipple this in the bud. Here are some tips which I genuinely feel can elevate the conversation instead of milking this juggernaut of puns for all they're worth. (After all, as the famous philosopher Martin Buber once said, we shouldn't let our spirits sag.) Now, if mammary serves me correctly, there is a story about Sir Thomas Beecham, who asked the oboist in the orchestra to give an "A" so that everyone could tune up. This particular oboist had a very, very wide vibrato. Beecham looked around at his musicians and said the immortal words, "Gentlemen, take your pick."
:) Sandy
- I do hope this posting gets the booby prize for relevance.

- If this is your cup of tea, special kudos to anyone who gets a correct count of the number of puns or other wordplay in this posting. You hold in your hands all of the tools you need to figure it out and grasp them.

August 1, 2009 at 04:03 PM ·


August 1, 2009 at 06:05 PM ·

15....... Sandy that Knockers me over! ROFLMHO!!!!!

August 1, 2009 at 06:18 PM ·


August 2, 2009 at 05:58 AM ·

I have sometimes seen a book on opera bloopers which tells some great stories but during the nine years I worked in an opera pit (somewhere in Europe) I used to experience some amazing things.  Here is an example:

Years ago I was in the pit chugging through the Saint-Saen's "Samson and Delilah".  I was sitting on the outside of the first violins so I had a decent view of the stage.  In the production we were staging the second act used to begin with Samson chained to a large waterwheel contraption - presumably instead of a camel - singing about his dreary life as a slave under the Egyptians.

 A few small titters could be heard from the audience at this point and I strained to see what they could be laughing at.  It was a very "unfunny" part of the opera as you can imagine.  What I witnessed I will never forget.  Somehow the mechanics of the wheel that Samson was chained to had become entangled with the scenery and as Samson slowly progressed around the stage the backdrop could be seen lifting up! Despite his demanding aria at that moment Samson had become only too aware of all of this and his decision, whilst singing, to suddenly start walking slowly BACKWARDS so that the scenery started to descend provoked uproarious laughter from the audience and almost brought the whole opear to a halt.  

The opera proceeded almost without incident until the end.  I say 'almost'  because during the bacchanale scene (in the third act?) members of the ballet company apparently complained to management the next day the some members of the male chorus were acting out the orgy scene to literally! 

August 2, 2009 at 03:05 PM ·

Operas are always disaster-prone. Did a run of Rigoletto once where we were playing in a cinema as the Opera House was out of action. so we had a good view of the stage. When the Duke is seducing Gilda, let's just say it got more realistic each night! Don't think she was too happy.

In another production of Boheme - right at the end when she's lying on the bed dying of consumption, the bed collapsed. And there were the others trying to hold it up in place while they all sang. The hardest bit was to do it with straight faces - especially for those of us in the orchestra.

August 2, 2009 at 11:55 PM ·

My favorite story (not authenticated by me, but seen in print) was the revenge taken by the stage crew on a... fussy soprano.  Toward the end of the run of Toscas, they removed the mattress hidden behind the ramparts of the castello, over which she leaps to her death.


They replaced it with a trampoline...

August 3, 2009 at 01:01 PM ·

<They replaced it with a trampoline...>

That should help her hit the high notes ...

Just goes to show that live performances do have their ups and downs.

April 22, 2017 at 12:52 AM · Orchestra mishaps, I was the concertmaster of my youth orchestra, and I was introduced, walked on stage to tune, fell off the stage. Got back up, went to take my seat, missed the chair, got up, sat down IN the chair this time, but it broke. I wasn't even embarrassed, I was annoyed and also thinking it was really funny.

April 22, 2017 at 05:36 PM · As a graduate assistant at the School of Performing Arts of U. S. International University in San Diego, one of my responsibilities was to play in the pit orchestra of the San Diego Civic Light Opera for their summer musicals, I have several stories:

1. (Not a blooper, but funny) My first year there, they used Wedgeforth Bowl at the San Diego Zoo as the stage. They drained the moat at the Seal Stage, as that is where the orchestra sat. There were fleas running around in the pit (from the seals?). One of our second violinists (a fellow student) was itching so badly at the end of the performance, that she dove into the swimming pool back at the dorms while still in her black concert dress.

2. Same year, during "Sound of Music," Sheila Kornbluth, the harpist of the San Diego Symphony, would "entertain" the actors on stage by showing up in different costumes down in the pit -- once as a witch with a pointed crone's hat. At each performance the actors would find some excuse to look (i.e., stare with amazement) into the orchestra pit to see what new thing she was wearing to each performance of the 2-week run. At the point where "Uncle Max" asks about a flag on a castle in the distance, he looks into the pit at her. Sheila waved a small Israeli flag. "Max" (whom I believe was being played by a Jewish actor, playing a part in a play about escaping the Nazis) almost lost it on stage.

3. (A true blooper) Next year at the Aztec Bowl at San Diego State, a singer from the New York City Opera who was a guest voice teacher for that year at USIU, was performing as the King of Siam in "The King and I." His costume consisted of an Indian-style (Asiatic-not American) loincloth and a small vest. During one of his solos, the loincloth slowly started unwrapping until he was just in his tidy-whities, he quickly turned his back to the audience, re-wrapped his loincloth, faced the audience again, and announced in his booming "King" voice, "It is a puzzlement!" (one of the lines already well-known to the audience). The audience ROARED!

April 22, 2017 at 06:38 PM · Joel Jacklich, wow that last one is embarrassing.

April 22, 2017 at 07:47 PM · Haha funny stories here. I had a blooper last week while playing in the band with a musical. We were with only two violins and played with microphones. At one of the soundchecks I couldn't here myself. The technical guy adjusted several times but we still couldn't here me playing. Then the violinist next to me asked: "what's that on your violin?" OMG still had my hotel mute on my violin because I practised something while waiting for the soundcheck. I removed it and everything sounded all right then. It was in a cold church but my face suddenly felt really hot.

April 22, 2017 at 08:47 PM · Yeah, hehe, that seems to be a common thing with violinists, we're very spacy, and will forget something as stupid as taking the mute off for sound check.

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