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You left out the opposite to the Shimmy, the "Where's My Oscar Moment" Death Stare, directed at the timpanist who misses the biggest cue you give all evening, making you look a bit silly...


Look, it's not always 'Words With Friends' as you tend not to take your turn during rehearsals. It's either the Guardian crossword or the football scores. For shame.

The Sis In Law

Methinks the Conductor doth self deprecate a tad too much. And, knowing a trombone player or two, of course it's always them :D
Looking forward to Part 2 et al.


This is oh so familiar... In my younger days I played clarinet in several school orchestras (and was a chorister), for my sins. Our conductor was a touch eccentric to say the least, and he used to bring us in with a cry of "All together one at a time", which used to confuse some of the less alert musicians...

Edward Solomon

I'm guessing, as I'm the second trombonist to post a response to this, that this must make me the other of the "trombonist or two" referred to above. Incidentally, Lev, for the record, it's more often a case of the parts having appallingly poor instrumental cues (you mean you think we can actually hear that low flute entry?!), bad copy errors (yes, occasionally, especially with Kalmus parts, there are incorrect bar numbers, rests, notes, dynamics, expressions - need I go on?), and, of course, miscounting (or not counting at all in the (mistaken?) hope that the conductor will subconsciously recognise the need for said trombonist's cue and bring him in correctly after 120 bars).

Rob Workman

As a trombonist (of the professional variety) I feel I must jump to my semi-professional colleagues defence here. Since reading this I have stared long and hard in the mirror and challenged njhamer to another game of "Words with Friends'. *Where are we? I dunno, he'll give us a cue....*


Phew! Even the conductor admits the upbeat is an "impenetrable" gesture. Have made mental note of that for future reference.

Lev Parikian

Interesting to see the number of comments from trombonists here - glad to have got a reaction after years of effort ;-)
Who shall I take a potshot at in my next post?

David Smith

As someone who used to be a trombonist, I should refuse to comment on this post just so the author doesn't believe he's really touched a nerve.

But as another conductor of amateur orchestras, the ‘You Shouldn’t Have Played There’ Shimmy is remarkably familiar.

I look forward to 'Stopping After You've Made A Mistake And Pretending You Heard A Wrong Note In The Woodwind Section’, and could make myself very unpopular with other conductors by supplying names of the worst offenders in town!

Jonathan West

Ha! I have recently blogged about a similar experience - from the players' side.

I'm not going to name the guilty parties, but there was a definite tendency among a number of players to select a tempo for themselves, and then put their heads down and plough on regardless of what the conductor was doing.

You have to watch and listen

Jonathan West

OK, you're blog doesn't accept HTML tags. That last bit was supposed to be a link to here


Darin Wilson

Most trenchant piece of wisdom I got from my conducting teacher in college:

"There are no mistakes in conducting: only disasters".

Robert Onslow

And remember the optional vocal accompaniments to these gestures. For example I recall that the Left Hand Flemble is often accompanied by an extended "Grote", a cross between a grunt and a note (not necessarily a relevant note), crescendoing and shaking in sync with the Flemble itself.


"has been sitting around doing nothing for a while, like a trombonist"

Why would the trombonists complain seeing as that's exactly what's written in the part that they have to do? :-)

Looking forward to the bits about 'Stopping After You've Made A Mistake And Pretending You Heard A Wrong Note In The Woodwind Section’ and 'Anecdotes - How And When To Tell Them'.

Will you also be revealing
(a) where all the anecdotes come from
(b) why do they in conducting school teach all conductors to stop rehearsing that bit just before the brass come in?

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