Hey!!...that’s my chair!
You showed up to rehearsal an hour early….spent 20 minutes setting up the myriad of instruments needed….did a little shedding, getting used to the position of instruments, then, thought you’d go and relax for 10 minutes before the downbeat. When you get back on stage, you find that half your setup has been moved, your chair is gone, your music is lying on the floor because your stand got nicked…...DAMN!!!!! “Thanks a lot, my considerate colleagues.”
Let’s face it, in every profession...well, in life, you’re gonna have to deal with all kinds of people. Sometimes, this can be the best part of your job….people who are an absolute pleasure to be around. Other times, it can be a nightmare.
So, what can you do to make this a great experience….well, a lot actually. Remember these simple words….”Only you can control you.” Knowing how to navigate around this touchy subject takes a little practice, a little experience, and a whole lot of patience. Let’s look at that last word….patience.
Learning how to be patient can be one of the hardest things to accomplish in life, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be glad you did. Being patient is like eating a bowl of pistachio nuts...you have to be ready to work a little before eating them…. one at time. Half the battle with patience is learning to limit the amount of emotion in a reaction. Emotions like anger, frustration, or panic can lead to a response fueled with fire and brimstone. Instead, maybe take a small breath before launching into your much warranted tirade. This little pause might give you a more sympathetic response, which in turn will help to solve the conundrum more quickly.
I have found that there is one golden rule when dealing with colleagues in an orchestral or small ensemble setting…..Never offer advice or comments unless they are asked for…..period. Your job is to...well, do your job, regardless of whatever obstacles are in your path, whether it be unprepared colleagues, incompetent conductors….yada, yada, yada….the list goes on.
I find a really great rule of thumb is, no matter what the circumstance, give the other person the benefit of the doubt. You never really know what the story is, with the offending dolt who took your chair. Maybe instead of laying into the person who you think grabbed it, go offstage, grab a couple of chairs, and offer one of the chairs to someone in need. You’ll feel better, probably have a great rehearsal and might even make a friend in the process. Because isn’t that what makes life grand…...friends and relationships! Now...gimme back my chair!!!