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A New York harpist trying to figure things out - and the mishaps and adventures that inevitably ensue.

10 Things To Do In Rehearsal While Waiting For Your Entrance (With Contributions From The Percussionists)

Kathryn Sloat

This past Saturday, I traveled out to Long Island to play with the newly formed Crane Alumni Festival Orchestra. This concert helped to raise money for festivals and scholarships for my alma mater, the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam. This concert was fantastic because it was made up of mostly music teachers. I’m totally not being sarcastic - the people on the podium of your average high school band or orchestra rarely have the opportunity to play their instruments anymore, so they were super excited about getting to perform again. I had a lot of friends playing in the orchestra, so it was like a big Crane reunion!

This concert was less fantastic because I only played in one piece, Leonard Bernstein’s Overture to Candide. This means that I sat around for long periods of time with nothing to do. Because this happens to us harpists a lot, I’ve compiled a list of fun ways to pass the time (with contributions by the Mannes percussionists, because they have a lot of the same problems we do!). 

1. Knit. This is my top choice for what to do when I’m bored in rehearsal. I once knitted a whole sock during an opera performance. 

2. Read a book. Duh. This is my second favorite thing to do, although I sometimes get nervous that I will be so absorbed in reading that I will miss when my piece is called. I had this same problem with reading on the subway - I have, on multiple occasions, missed my stop because I was too busy reading. 

3. Take a nap. Just make sure you have someone to poke you when it’s your turn to play. 

4. Do yoga. This may elicit some strange looks from the rest of the orchestra, but if you have an hour to wait for your entrance, you might as well get in a yoga sesh. 

5. Play a board game. You can team up with the percussionists for this one. I once played a holiday concert where we played Risk during the breaks.

6. If your conductor has a catchphrase, count how many times he says this catchphrase during rehearsal. No comment. The Cranies will get this one. 

7. Exchange funny faces with your friends in the wind section. They may be annoyed with you for distracting them, but that’s their problem. 

8. Live tweet the rehearsal/concert. Obviously don’t do this when you’re onstage for a concert, but I think it’s totally acceptable during a rehearsal or while you’re backstage. I once live tweeted a whole opera performance from backstage (the same performance in which I knitted a sock, and also read Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. I think I played a total of 10 minutes for the whole show… it was bad.). 

9. Do your homework. I haven’t done this one in awhile, but it’s the perfect time to get that theory worksheet done. It’s kind of like the music students’ equivalent of doing your homework on the bus.

10. And, of course, write a blog post about what to do during rehearsal. Which I tried to do on Saturday, but I quickly got annoyed with typing on my phone. So I’m finishing it now!

So what do you do in rehearsal to pass the time?