I’m in a new city, with a new performance crowd, and in a bunch of new ensembles. It has opened my eyes to some habits that I had started to ignore at my undergrad. Stuff I had started ignoring as just character traits of people I’d performed with for years now leaps out as unprofessional behavior. A lot of it comes from adults long out of school, too, so keep that in mind when you start performing in the wider world!
Be early. If you’re not at LEAST five minutes early, you’re late. I’d argue that ten to fifteen is better. Especially at the professional level,the conductor expects that people are in their seats and ready to begin on time. You should get to rehearsal early, put down your stuff, and get your socializing out of the way, so you’re not the reason the director is shushing people.
PRACTICE. I get that there’s eight MILLION things you have to practice for. However, you shouldn’t take a gig in the first place if you don’t have time to prepare it. Once you receive your music, learn your parts and be ready to go for rehearsal. Rehearsal is not practice – rehearsal is for polishing, not note plunking.
Keep snide comments to yourself. No one wants to hear your muttered “Seriously?” when the director tells you to do something. Eye-rolling at someone else’s biffed solo is a bad look. Just because the rehearsal isn’t living up to expectations doesn’t mean you should have a snotty attitude about it. The aloof, vocally annoyed person is just as likely to get dropped as the unprepared person. The well-prepared, cheerful person with a good attitude is going to get hired again, and complimented, and talked about to other people who run gigs.
Also: venting to other performers in the gig can be okay, but there’s a fine line between venting and badmouthing. Sometimes it’s better to say nothing at all to anyone at all related to the event – that’s why I recommend keeping some non-performer friends at all times.
Show the director respect. The director is the one in charge of the performance, for the most part. That means whatever happens is their responsibility, as long as the performers prepared and did their best. Having questions and comments in rehearsal is fine, just keep them polite and don’t interrupt others with them. Even if the director is completely wrong, it’s better to listen than to get in an argument. Arguing won’t reflect well on you.
Take the production seriously, not yourself. Unless you’re the only person in a performance, then the goal should be to make the entire production look good, not just yourself. Work for the greater good, not just your own. If you’re not the best person in the room (which you shouldn’t be!), then chill – your goal is to improve and grow and help make a good performance. That’s all you need to do. Laugh at your mistakes and move on, don’t stress and act embarrassed.
(If you’re absolutely sure that you’re the best performer in the room, take a step back and see if your ego is blinding you. If it isn’t, then you need to start auditioning for better ensembles – there’s always someone in the area better than you, and you should be working with them for your own growth.)
You would be shocked at the way grown adults will act in rehearsal sometimes. Some people believe that, because they are a Professional and Very Busy, they can be rude or unprepared. Don’t turn into that! Every great ensemble I’ve been in has been great because people were kind, prepared, and ready to work. Aspire to be one of those people. You got this!