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1,421 Posts
How to Practice

*Find a nice, quiet place
*Get out your instrument
*Get everything (mute, rosin, valve oil, whatever)
*Set up a stand
*Get out all your scales, etudes, everything
*Set up a metronome
*Hold your instrument in your lap
*Post about how you don’t want to practice

Q) Christopher Hogwood, Daniel Barenboim, and Neville Mariner are all on the same plane when it ditches in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Who is saved?
A) Mozart

Q) How do you get a trumpet player to play 'fff'?
A) Write 'mp' on the part.

Q) What do you call a saxophone sectional?
A) Group Sax.

Q) What's the difference between a pop musician and a jazz musician?
A) A pop musician plays 3 chords in front of 1000 people, and a jazz musician plays 1000 chords in front of 3 people.

1,421 Posts

List of Characters

Pianists are intellectuals and know-it-alls. They studied theory, harmony and composition in college. Most are riddled with self-doubt. They are usually bald.

They should have big hands, but often don't. They were social rejects as adolescents. They go home after the gig and play with toy soldiers.

Pianists have a special love-hate relationship with singers. If you talk to the piano player during a break, he will condescend.

Bassists are not terribly smart. The best bassists come to terms with their limitations by playing simple lines and rarely soloing.

During the better musical moments, a bassist will pull his strings hard and grunt like an animal. Bass players are built big, with paws for hands, and they are always bent over awkwardly. If you talk to the bassist during a break, you will not be able to tell whether or not he's listening.

Drummers are radical. Specific personalities vary, but are always extreme.

A Drummer might be the funniest person in the world, or the most psychotic, or the smelliest.

Drummers are uneasy because of the many jokes about them, most of which stem from the fact that they aren't really musicians.

Pianists are particularly successful at making Drummers feel bad. Most Drummers are highly excitable; when excited, they play louder. If you decide to talk to the Drummer during a break, always be careful not to sneak up on him.

Saxophonists think they are the most important players on stage.

Consequently, they are temperamental and territorial.

They know all the Coltrane and Bird licks but have their own sound; a mixture of Coltrane and Bird.

They take exceptionally long solos, which reach a peak half-way through and then just don't stop. They practice quietly but audibly while other people are trying to play.

They are obsessed. Saxophonists sleep with their instruments, forget to shower, and are mangy.

If you talk to a Saxophonist during a break, you will hear a lot of excuses about his reeds.

Trumpet Players are image-conscious and walk with a swagger. They are often former college linebackers.

Trumpet Players are very attractive to women, despite the strange indentation on their lips.

Many of them sing; misguided critics then compare them to either Louis Armstrong or Chet Baker depending whether they're black or white.

Arrive at the session early, and you may get to witness the special trumpet game.

The rules are play as loud and as high as possible. The winner is the one who plays loudest and highest.

If you talk to a Trumpet Player during a break, he might confess that his favorite player is Maynard Ferguson, the merciless God of loud-high trumpeting.

Jazz Guitarists are never very happy.

Deep inside they want to be rock stars, but they're old and overweight.

In protest, they wear their hair long, prowl for groupies, drink a lot, and play too loud.

Guitarists hate piano players because they can hit ten notes at once, but Guitarists make up for it by playing as fast as they can.

The more a Guitarist drinks, the higher he turns his amp. Then the Drummer starts to play harder, and the Trumpeter dips into his loud/high arsenal.

Suddenly, the Saxophonist's universe crumbles, because he is no longer the most important player on stage.

He packs up his horn, nicks his best reed in haste, and storms out of the room.

The Pianist struggles to suppress a laugh.

If you talk to a Guitarist during the break he'll ask intimate questions about your 14-year-old sister.

Vocalists are whimsical creations of the all-powerful jazz gods. They are placed in sessions to test musicians' capacity for suffering.

They are not of the jazz world, but enter it surreptitiously.

Example: A young woman is playing minor roles in college musical theater.

One day, a misguided campus newspaper critic describes her singing as "...jazzy." Voila! A star is born!

Quickly she learns "My Funny Valentine," "Summertime," and "Route 66."

Her training complete, she embarks on a campaign of musical terrorism.

Musicians flee from the bandstand as she approaches. Those who must remain feel the full fury of the jazz universe.

The Vocalist will try to seduce you--and the rest of the audience--by making eye contact, acknowledging your presence, even talking to you between tunes. DO NOT FALL INTO THIS TRAP!

Look away; make your distaste obvious. Otherwise the musicians will avoid you during their breaks. Incidentally, if you talk to a Vocalist during a break, she will introduce you to her manager.

The trombone is known for its pleading, voice-like quality. "Listen," it seems to say in the male tenor range, "Why won't anybody hire me for a gig?"

Trombonists like to play fast, because their notes become indistinguishable and thus immune to criticism.

Most Trombonists played trumpet in their early years; then decided they didn't want to walk around with a strange indentation on their lips. Now they hate Trumpet Players, who somehow get all the women despite this disfigurement.

Trombonists are usually tall and lean, with forlorn faces. They don't eat much. They have to be very friendly, because nobody really needs a Trombonist.

Talk to a Trombonist during a break and he'll ask you for a gig, try to sell you insurance, or offer to mow your lawn.

Picking the Tune
Every time a tune ends, someone has to pick a new one.

That's a fundamental concept that, unfortunately, runs at odds with jazz group processes.

Tune selection makes a huge difference to the musicians. They love to show off on tunes that feel comfortable, and they tremble at the threat of the unknown.

But to pick a tune is to invite close scrutiny "So this is how you sound at your best. Hmm..."

It's a complex issue with unpredictable outcomes.

Sometimes no one wants to pick a tune, and sometimes everyone wants to pick a tune.

The resulting disagreements lead to faction-building and [under extreme conditions], even impromptu elections.

The politics of tune selection makes for some of the session's best entertainment.

Example 1 No one wants to pick a tune.
(previous tune ends)
Trumpet Player "What the f#@*? Is someone gonna to pick a tune?"
Trumpet Player "This s%!* is lame. I'm outta here." (Storms out of room, forgetting to pay tab).
rest of band (in unison) "Yes!!!" (Band takes extended break, puts drinks on Trumpet Player's tab).

Example 2 Everyone wants to pick a tune, resulting in impromptu election and eventual tune selection.
(previous tune ends)
(Pianist and Guitarist simultaneously)
"Beautiful Love!"/"Donna Lee!"
Guitarist to Pianist "You just want to play your fat, stupid ten-note chords!"
Pianist to Guitarist "You just want to play a lot of notes really fast!"
Saxophonist "'Giant Steps'." (a treacherous Coltrane tune practiced obsessively by Saxophonists.)
Guitarist and Pianist (together) "Go ahead, A$$shole."
Trumpet Player "This s%!* is lame. 'Night in Tunisia'." (a Dizzy Gillespie tune offering bounteous opportunities for loud, high playing.)
Saxophonist "Sorry, forgot my earplugs, Maynard." (long, awkward silence)
Pianist, Guitarist, Saxophonist, Trumpet Player all turn to Drummer "Your turn, Skinhead."
(Drummer pauses to think of hardest possible tune; a time-tested Drummer ploy to punish real musicians who play actual notes.)
Drummer "Stablemates."
Trumpet Player F#@* this! I'm outta here." (Storms out of room. Bartender chases after him.)
Trombonist "Did someone forget to turn off the CD player?"

Not only are these disagreements fun to watch; they create tensions that will last all through the night.

(As an educated audience member, you might want to keep a flow chart diagramming the shifting alliances. You can also keep statistics on individual tune-calling.

Under no circumstances, though, should you take sides or yell out song titles. Things are complicated enough already.)

20,011 Posts
Yogi Berra on jazz: "90% of all Jazz is half improvisation. The other half is the part people play while others are playing something they never played with anyone who played that part. So if you play the wrong part, its right. If you play the right part, it might be right if you play it wrong enough. But if you play it too right, it's wrong."

1,421 Posts
Q) What do you call a guy who dies and goes to heaven but has to enter through the kitchen?
A) A musician.

Two men were at a bar and one said, "Hey, I had my IQ checked and it was 175." The other responded, "That's a coincidence, so is mine; what do you do for a living?" "I'm a physicist," was the reply.
Again came, "That's a coincidence so am I." This was overheard at a nearby table and these two compared IQ's at 160 and were surprised that they were both brain surgeons.
At another nearby table one man despondently said to the other, "Did you hear that? I had my IQ checked and it was only 52." The other said, rather enthusiastically, "That's a coincidence. So is mine. What instrument do you play?"

A trombone player in the orchestra is collecting money to help bury a fellow section player who had recently passed away. He comes upon a man on the street and asks him if he could spare $25 to help bury the trombone player.
"Here's $75," he replies, "see if you can find two more."


127 Posts
Q: Why should you have a tenor repair your furnace?
A: Tenors know everything about hot air!

A guy walks into a pet store wanting a parrot. The store clerk shows him two beautiful ones out on the floor. “This one’s $5,000 and the other is $10,000.” the clerk said. “Wow! What does the $5,000 one do?” “This parrot can sing every aria Mozart ever wrote.” “And the other?” said the customer. “This one can sing Wagner’s entire Ring cycle. There’s another one in the back room for $30,000.” “Holy moly! What does that one do?” “Nothing that I can tell, but the other two parrots call him ‘Maestro’.”

A bass died and went to Heaven (where all basses go when they pass on). St. Peter greeted him at the gate and asked, “Sir, how many false notes did you sing in your life?”

The bass answered, “Three.”

“Three times!” said St. Peter.

Out came another angel and stuck the bass three times with a needle.

“Ow! What was that for?” asked the bass, while rubbing his arm.

St. Peter explained, “Here in heaven, we stick singers once for each false note they sang down on Earth.”

“Oh,” said the bass, and he was just about to step through the gates when suddenly he heard a horrible scream come from behind a closed door. “Oh my goodness, what was that?” asked the bass, horrified.

“Oh,” said St. Peter, “that’s a tenor who arrived a while ago. He’s just about to start his third week in the sewing machine.”

Q: Dad, why do the tenors sway left and right while performing on stage?
A: Because, son, it is more difficult to hit a moving target.

What’s the first thing a soprano does in the morning?
Puts on her clothes and goes home.

What's the definition of a bad soprano?
One who's so bad that the tenors notice.

What's the difference between a soprano and a piranha?
The lipstick.

How do you tell if a bass is actually dead?
Hold out a cheque (but don't be fooled: a slight, residual spasmodic clutching action may occur even hours after death has occurred).

What is the difference between a world war and an amateur choral performance?
The performance causes more suffering.

Why do amateur choruses travel so often?
Keeps assassins guessing.

What is the difference between an amateur choral director and a chimpanzee?
It's scientifically proven that chimpanzees are able to communicate with humans.

1,421 Posts

Radio presenter, Tim Pollard, on BBC Radio Jersey, when introducing a piece of music by the well-known British composer Eric Coates, said:
"All Eric Coates ever wanted to do was to write music to entertain. But for a while he was a professional viola player."

Q: What is a chord?
A: Three violists playing in unison.

After a long orchestral career, a Violist decided in his final few weeks of concerts to be adventurous and use fingerings in the third position. He practiced his excerpts carefully at home, and on the night of the concert, at the crucial point, shifted into third. His finger broke. After going to the hospital to get the bone set, the man collected disability forms from the symphony office, filled them out and sent them in. A few days later he heard from the insurance people that none of his claims could be met. "We're sorry," explained the adjuster, "but Violists are not insurable above first position."

Q: Why is it that Violists never practice?
A: The spirit is willing, but the Flesch is too hard.

Q: What is the difference between a Viola and a chainsaw?
A: A chainsaw blends with chamber ensembles.

Q: Why does a Viola make such an excellent murder weapon?
A: Because it is the classic blunt instrument, and never has any fingerprints on it.

A Violist in the symphony was involved in a car accident and became paralyzed from the neck down. Management moved him back a stand.

Q: What's the difference between an oboist and a violist?
A: The oboe player sustains brain damage after taking up the instrument.

The violist in the back of the orchestra section turned to his stand partner when the page was filled with sixteenth notes and said, "You'd better take this. I have a wife and kids."

Q: Why did Einstein play a violin instead of a viola?
A: Because he was intelligent.

A musician was driving across a bridge when he saw someone poised on the railing, ready to jump off. He stopped his car, ran to the railing and grabbed the man before he could leap. He noticed that the would-be suicide was carrying a viola case under his arm.
"Don't jump!" he urged. "Just think of never seeing another beautiful sunset; of never hearing the birds sing again."
"I don't care," said the desperate man.
"Then think of your loved ones, your wife and children, who will never see you again."
"They are part of the problem," was the answer.
"Then think of the music. If you jump you'll never hear a recording of William Primrose again!"
"Who's William Primrose?"
"Go on and jump!"

Q: How many violists does it take to tune a viola?
A: Five. One to hold each peg, the other to turn the viola round.

Q: How do you get a dozen violists to play in tune?
A: 1. Shoot 11 of them.
A: 2. Shoot all of them.
A: 3. Who the hell wants a dozen violists?

Q: How do you transcribe a violin piece for viola?
A: Divide the metronome marking by 2.

Q: Why did the violist marry the accordion player?
A: Upward mobility.

Q: What's the difference between a chainsaw and a viola?
A: After you pour gasoline in a chainsaw, people don't throw lit matches at you.

Q: Why don't orchestrators indicate scordatura in viola parts?
A: The instrument is already detuned; it would just confuse the player.

Q: What do you call the cadenza in a viola concerto?
A: Comic relief.

Q: What's the most common tuning system for violas in Western music?
A: Badly-tempered.

Q. If a violist and a percussionist caught a cab, which one would be the musician?
A. The cab driver.

Violists don't change light bulbs. They are never in the spotlight anyway, so why bother?

Ten-year old Susie comes home from her first day of school all excited.
"Mommy, mommy; the music teacher is going to give me music lessons at school. And look, he gave me a viola to play. See? Isn't it pretty?"
"That's nice, dear."
The next day Susie comes home from school full of excitement.
"Mommy, Mr. Jackson showed me how to play 4 notes in first position on the C string!"
"That's nice, dear. Wash your hands, it's time for dinner."
And the next day Susie comes home from school, again full of excitement.
"Mommy, Mr. Jackson showed me how to play 4 more notes ... on the G string!"
"That's nice, dear. Wash your hands, it's time for dinner."
On the 4th day, by 5 o'clock Susie hasn't come home. 6 o'clock passes. 7 o'clock...
Her mother is frantic. She calls the police, Susie's friends ... no word at all.
Finally, at 11:30 Susie comes home - carrying her viola case, exhausted, with a somewhat vacant look on her face.
"Susie, where have you been? Daddy and I have been worried sick. Are you OK?"
"I'm sorry Mom. I know I should have phoned you, but I got a last minute call to sub with the Philharmonic."

Q: What's the difference between a viola player and a Duracell battery?
A: The Duracell battery has a good life.

Q: Name one thing a violinist can do better than a violist.
A: Play the viola.

A third-desk viola player is clearing out his attic one day and he comes across an old lamp he doesn't recognise. As he tries to wipe some of the dust off, a genie pops out, offering to grant him three wishes.

He thinks for a moment and says, 'I want to be a better musician than I am now.' The genie simply nods, and the violist doesn't feel any different.

At the next orchestra practice, the viola player was promoted to second desk! When he gets home, the violist rubs the lamp a second time, asking to be an even better musician than he currently is. Again, the genie nods and says nothing.

Next practice, the violist finds himself in the lead seat! After practice, the violist rushes home and excitedly rubs the lamp for his final wish, yet again asking to be a better musician. For the third and final time, the genie nods and says nothing.

On the way to practice, the viola player can barely contain his excitement about being an even better musician. When he arrives, what was his new position?

Last desk violin.

1,421 Posts
The Menuhin joke reminded me of this classic comedy skit: Morecambe and Wise with guest André Previn. It's a bit long by today's standards (12+ minutes) but I guarantee you will laugh out loud, probably more than once. Previn is the perfect foil in this sketch!


21,453 Posts
Yogi Berra on jazz: "90% of all Jazz is half improvisation. The other half is the part people play while others are playing something they never played with anyone who played that part. So if you play the wrong part, its right. If you play the right part, it might be right if you play it wrong enough. But if you play it too right, it's wrong."
If lovin' you is wrong, I don' wanna be right.

21,453 Posts
The Menuhin joke reminded me of this classic comedy skit: Morecambe and Wise with guest André Previn. It's a bit long by today's standards (12+ minutes) but I guarantee you will laugh out loud, probably more than once. Previn is the perfect foil in this sketch!

Wow. Who knew Previn was such a funny guy?

127 Posts
Q: What do you get when you get 3 dozen lawyers and a dozen violists at the bottom of the sea?

A: A damned good start.

Q: What do you call a violist up to his neck in cement.

A: A cement shortage.

Q: Why is a viola like a lawsuit?

A: Everyone is happy when the case is closed.

Q: What do attorneys, banjos and violas have in common?

A: They are all offensive and inaccurate.

Q: What's the difference between an onion and a lawyer or a viola

A: Nobody cries when you cut up a lawyer or a viola

Q: What do you call it when an airplane makes an emergency landing on a highway and in the process squashes a car containing a lawyer and a violist

A: A public service.


127 Posts
But Luna. Lawyers are like leeches...except that leeches have a use. ~smirk~

My copyright lawyer has a least he says he does. Unfortunately its to siphon money out of my pocket. :rolleyes:

1,290 Posts
Watch this space for an upcoming post -

25 not-previously posted VIOLA jokes!

Why not post them now?
Because I'm posting in VIOLA time!

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