It's a musician's life...

Please feel free to add to this pitiful collection by writing to me at russ@russbutton.com.
Credit given where credit is due.

The Rabbit and the Snake
Beethoven's Grave
How to Cook a Conductor
As Long As The Drums Keep Playing...
Frederico Fellini goes to Heaven!
How desperate for a gig are you?
The Golden Urinal
Musical number
Traveling through Poland...
Horror Story...
A Dead Man's Tail...
Construction Lunchtime Blues...
Renter complaint...
In The Recording Studio...
What's missing here?
Fan Appreciation...
Trumpet Personality...
The Music City Pet Store
Visiting Day at the Lunatic Asylum...
Trombone Section Without A Clue
Toby Appel's Guide to the Orchestra
Light Bulbs
Q & A
Put Downs

A page of links to other musician jokes collections.


The Story of The Rabbit and The Snake

(as roughly told to me by Mark Levine some years ago)

There was a rabbit out walking the the woods one day when he bumped into a snake. He said, "Pardon me for bumping into you, but I am blind."

The snake replied, "That's OK. I'm blind too, which is why I bumped into you. As a matter of fact, I've been blind since birth!"

The rabbit exclaimed, "Really! I've been blind since birth too! What a co-incidence! I have to confess that since I've been blind since birth, I have no idea as to what I am! Would you help me by telling me what I am?"

The snake agreed and proceeded to touch the rabbit all over as this is how we all know that the blind can "see".

The snake then said, "Well, you've got this cold nose, two big floppy ears, and this fuzzy tail. I think you're a rabbit!"

The rabbit replied, "Really!? I had no idea! Why thank you very much!"

The snake answered, "You're welcome! Y'know, since I've been blind since birth, I don't know what I am either. Would you do the same for me as I did for you?"

The rabbit readily agreed, and after the examination proclaimed, "You're slimy and you haven't got any ears. You must be a club owner!"


Beethoven's Grave

After Ludwig Beethoven had died, a loyal friend went to Beethoven's grave to pay his respects. As he neared the grave, a stange sound became audible to his ears: one long note followed by three short ones. As he drew nearer to the grave, the sound became louder and was obviously permeating from the tomb. Beethoven's friend became quite frazzled by this and ran out of the graveyard and back into town to tell the townsfolk.

Beethoven's friend gathered together a small group of Beethoven's admirerers and critics to return to the gravesite to listen to the strange sound. As the group began to approach the gravesite, the eerie sound again became audible and grew louder as they approached Beethoven's grave: one long note followed by three short notes. The small group became quite frightened and huddled against each other prepared to see the ghost of Beethoven rise in wrath from the grave.

Then, one of the members of the group, a reknown music critic and an avid follower of Beethoven's compositions, gasped and said, "It's okay. I know what that sound is. It's . . . .

. . . . the beginning of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony backwards. Beethoven is "DECOMPOSING"."


How to Cook a Conductor

(From Ken Jean)

One large Conductor, or two small assistant conductors.
Ketchup
2 large cloves garlic.
Crisco or other solid vegetable shortening. (Lard may be used).
1 cask cheap wine.
1 lb. alfalfa sprouts
2 lbs. assorted yuppie food, such as tofu or yogurt.

First, catch a Conductor. Remove the tail and horns. Carefully separate the large ego and reserve for sauce. Remove any batons, pencils and long articulations and discard. Remove the hearing-aid and discard (it never worked anyway). Clean the Conductor as you would squid, but do not separate the tentacles from the body. If you have an older Conductor, such as one from a Major Orchestra or Summer Music Festival, you may wish to tenderize by pounding the Conductor on a rock with tympani mallets or by smashing the Conductor repeatedly between two large cymbals. Examine your Conductor carefully - many of them are mostly large intestine. If you have such a Conductor, then you will have to discard it and catch another.

Next, pour 1/2 of the cask of wine into a bath tub and soak the Conductor in the wine for at least 12 hours. (Exceptions: Conductors from France. American and German conductors often have a beery taste which some people like, the wine might interfere with this. Use your judgement.) When the Conductor is sufficiently soaked, remove any clothes the Conductor may be wearing and rub it all over with the garlic. Then cover with Crisco, using vague, slow, circular motions, and taking care to cover every inch of the Conductor's body with the shortening. If this looks like fun, you can cover yourself with Crisco too, removing clothes first.

Then find an orchestra. Put as much music out as the stands will hold without falling over, and make sure there are lots and lots of really loud passages for everyone. Big loud chords for the winds and brass, and lots and lots of tremolos for the strings. Rehearse these passages several times, making sure the brass and winds always play as loudly as they can, and the strings are always tremolo-ing at their highest speed. This should insure adequate flames for cooking your Conductor. If not, insist on taking every possible repeat, especially the second repeats in really big symphonies! Ideally, you should choose your repertoire to have as many repeats as possible, but if you have a piece with no repeats in it at all, just add some, claiming that you have seen the original, and there was an ink blot there that "looked just like a repeat" to you, and had obviously been missed by every other fool who had looked at this score.

When the flames have died down to a medium inferno, place your Conductor on top of your orchestra (they won't mind, they are used to it) until it's well tanned and the hair turns back to its natural color. Be careful not to overcook or the Conductor could end up tasting like stuffed ham. Make a sauce by combining the ego, sprouts and ketchup to taste, placing it all in the blender and puree-ing until smooth. If the ego is bitter sweeten with honey to taste. Slice your Conductor as you would any other turkey, and serve accompanied by the assorted yuppie food and the remaining wine.


As Long As The Drums Keep Playing...

Once upon a time, there was a journalist who traveled to Africa. He'd never been to Africa before and he was exited and just a little bit scared of what may await him upon his visit to the Dark Continent of Mystery and Wonder.

Sure enough, as soon as he stepped out of the plane, he heard this incredible, mystical sound of drums.

Drums!

DRUMS!

DRUMS!!!

"Oh man!" he thought. "I'm not in Kansas anymore Toto!" The sound of the drums permeated the air and filled his entire being with anticipation. Of what, he did not know.

As he was going through Customs, he could still hear the sound of the drums! He asked the Customs Officer, "Excuse me Sir. What is the meaning of the drums?"

The Customs officer replied, "Ahhhh... The Drums!!! As long as the drums keep playing it is good. But when they stop, it is

Bad!"

The journalist was stunned by this pronouncement and proceeded on through the airport to a waiting cab. When they were half-way across town the sound of the drums was every bit as strong as when he first stepped off of the airplane. The journalist then asked the cab driver what was the meaning of the drums.

The cab driver replied, "Ahhhh... The Drums!!! As long as the drums keep playing it is good. But when they stop, it is

BAD!"

Finally they finally arrived at the hotel, clear on the other side of town. The journalist was checked into his room, with all the doors and windows shut, and he could still hear the drums! He said to himself, "I know where to find the anwser to this mystery!", and headed directly to the hotel lounge.

He entered the lounge and walked up to the barkeep and handed him $20.00 and asked him, "What are these drums I'm hearing? What does it mean?"

The barkeep replied, "Ahhhh... The Drums!!! As long as the drums keep playing it is good. But when they stop, it is

BAD!!!"

The journalist replied, "Yeah. I know that already. What I'm paying you the $20.00 for is to know what it is that is so bad when the drums stop playing!"

The barkeep looked to the left. The barkeep looked to the right. He then leaned over with fear and dread on his face, and whispered into the journalists ear, "Bass solo..."


Frederico Fellini goes to Heaven!

I'm sure you're familiar with Frederico Fellini, the great Italian film maker. When he died, he had been working on a film that had endless problems. The leading man was a classic prima donna. The leading lady had no end to her allergies. The film was over budget and behind schedule. The monied backers were constantly ringing Fellini's phone. It was horrible. It was stressful. And it gave Fellini a heart attack which killed him. True!

So Fellini's walking up the cloud there, approaching the pearly gates, when Saint Peter sees him and comes rushing out with great joy! "Fellini!! It's great to see you!"

Fellini says to himself, "Huh? What's so great about it? I just died!"

Saint Peter grabs Fellini`s hand and pumps it furiously. "Fellini! You're just in time! We're about to start making a movie here in Heaven and we want YOU to direct it!"

Fellini replied, "Me??? Make a movie in Heaven? I don't believe it!"

"It's true!" replied Saint Peter. "We've got all the greatest guys in heaven to work on this film and now that YOU'RE here, we now have the director we need!"

Fellini looks down at his feet. "Gee, I dunno..."

Saint Peter looked perplexed. "What do you mean?"

Fellini replied, "You see. I've been making movies all my life. The last one KILLED me! I'm exhausted! I really need a vacation. Can't you come see me in a couple hundred years?"

Saint Peter was shocked. "But Fellini, you don't understand. *ALL* the greatest guys in Heaven are working this one! We've got a new script by Shakespeare!"

"Shakespeare?!?!?" replied Fellini incredulously. "A new work by Shakespeare? Oh I don't know..."

"But that's not all Fellini. we got Tchaikovsky to do the score!" announced Saint Peter.

Fellini looked at Saint Peter and said, "This is quite an honor, and I'd LOVE to do it but I'm too tired! Really I am! Can't you get Cecil B. DeMille?"

Saint Peter replied, "Fellini, he's a HACK!!! We've gotta have YOU! Did I tell you we got DaVinci to do the sets?"

Fellini was stunned. "DaVinci? DaVinci?!?!? I've ALWAYS wanted to work with DaVinci!!!! And Tchaikovsky!!! And Shake.... Okay, okay, okay... I'll do it!"

Saint Peter was overjoyed! "At last everything is Perfect! We now have the great Fellini directing the film. This is wonderful!!!"

So they're walking up the cloud there talking about the concept of the film when Saint Peter turns to Fellini, cocks his head and says, "Say Fellini. Did I tell you that God's girlfriend sings?"


How desperate for a gig are you?

(From Ken Jean)

In New York City, an out of work jazz drummer named Ed was thinking of throwing himself off a bridge. But then he ran into a former booking agent who told him about the fantastic opportunities for drummers in Iraq. The agent said "If you can find your way over there, just take my card and look up the bandleader named Faisal--he's the large guy with the beard wearing gold pajamas and shoes that curl up at the toes."

Ed hit up everyone he knew and borrowed enough to buy transport to Iraq. It took several days to arrange for passport, visas, transportation into Iraq and the shipping of his equipment, but he was finally on his way. Ed arrived in Baghdad and immediately started searching for Faisal. He found guys in pajamas of every color but gold. Finally, in a small coffeehouse, he saw a huge man with a beard--wearing gold pajamas and shoes that curled up at the toes! Ed approached him and asked if he was Faisal. He was. Ed gave him the agent's card and Faisal's face brightened into a huge smile. "You're just in time--I need you for a gig tonight. Meet me at the market near the mosque at 7:30 with your equipment." "But," gasped Ed, "what about a rehearsal?" "No time--don't worry." And with that, Faisal disappeared.

Ed arrived in the market at 7:00 to set up his gear. He introduced himself to the other musicians, who were all playing instruments he had never seen in his life. At 7:30 sharp, Faisal appeared and hopped on the bandstand, his gold pajamas glittering in the twilight. Without a word to the musicians, he lifted his arm for the downbeat. "Wait." shouted Ed. "What are we playing?" Faisal shot him a look of frustration and shouted back, "Fake it! Just give me heavy afterbeats on 7 and 13."


The Golden Urinal

(From Ellen Ingalla)

A guy comes home three sheets to the wind and all three sheets ripping bad, Budweiser sloshing around in his belly like a keg adrift in a roiling sea. He loop-legs it through the door and is met by his wife, who is scowling, figuring he's been out jumping new bones.

"Where the hell you been all night?" she demands.

"At this fantastic new saloon," he says. "The Golden Saloon. Everything there is golden."

"Bullshit! There's no such place!"

Guy says, "Sure there is! Joint's got huge golden doors, a golden floor. Hell, even the urinal's gold!"

The wife still doesn't believe his story, and the ext day checks the phone book, finding a place across town called the Golden Saloon. She calls up the place to check her old man's story. "Is this the Golden Saloon?" she asks when the bartender answers the phone.

"Yes it is," bartender answers.

"Do you have huge golden doors?"

"Sure do."

"Do you have golden floors?"

"Most certainly do."

"What about golden urinals?"

There's a long pause, then the woman hears the bartender yelling, "Hey, Duke, I think I got a lead on the guy that pissed in your saxophone last night!"


Musical number

(From Ellen Ingalla)

Recently, the Minnesota Orchestra was doing Beethoven's Ninth under the baton of Milton Katims.....

Now at this point, you must understand two things:

1. There's a quite long segment in this symphony where the bass violins don't have a thing to do. Not a single note for page after page.

2. There is a night club right across the street from the Minnesota's Orchestra Hall, rather favored by local musicians.

It had been decided that during this performance, once the bass players had played their parts in the opening of the Ninth, they were to quietly lay down their instruments and leave the stage, rather than sit on their stools looking and feeling dumb for twenty minutes. Well, once they got backstage, someone suggested that they trot across the street and drink a few brews.

After they had downed the first couple rounds, one said, "Shouldn't we be getting back? It'd be awfully embarrassing if we were late."

Another, presumably the one who suggested this excursion in the first place, replied, "Oh, I anticipated we could use a little more time, so I tied a string around the last pages of the conductor's score. When he gets down to there, Milton's going to have to slow the tempo way down while he waves the baton with one hand and fumbles with the string with the other."

So they had another round, and finally returned to the Opera house, a little tipsy by now. However, as they came back on stage, one look at their conductor's face told them they were in serious trouble. Katims was furious! And why not? After all...

It was the bottom of the Ninth,
the score was tied,
and the basses were loaded.


Traveling through Poland...

The engineer of a train passing through Poland could see no lights because the power had been knocked out by a severe ice storm. "We're running out of coal," he said to his trainman, "but I think we're coming to Gdansk or Danzig, or whatever they call it now. Let's stop and send the porter out to buy some more fuel. Can you see a sign on the depot that says Gdansk in this dim light?"

The trainman replied, "It appears to be Danzig in the dark."

And the engineer shouted, "Buy coal, Porter!"


Horror Story...

Bob Hill and his new wife, Betty, were vacationing in Europe, as it happens, near Transylvania. They were driving in a rental car along a rather deserted highway. It was late, and raining very hard. Bob could barely see 10 feet in front of the car. suddenly the car skids out of control! Bob attempts to control the car, but to no avail! The car swerves and smashes into a tree.

Moments later, Bob shakes his head to clear the fog. Dazed, he looks over at the passenger seat and sees his new wife unconscious, with her head bleeding! Despite the rain and unfamiliar countryside, Bob knows he has to carry her to the nearest phone.

Bob carefully picks his wife up and begins trudging down the road, After a short while, he sees a light. He heads towards the light, which is coming from an old, large house. He approaches the door and knocks.

A minute passes. A small, hunched man opens the door. Bob immediately blurts, "Hello, my name is Bob Hill, and this is my wife Betty. We've been in a terrible accident, and my wife has been seriously hurt. Can I please use your phone??

"I'm sorry," replied the hunchback, "but we don't have a phone. My master is a doctor; come in and I will get him."

Bob brings his wife in. An elegant man comes down the stairs. "I'm afraid my assistant may have misled you. I am not a medical doctor; I am a scientist. However, it is many miles to the nearest clinic, and I have had some basic medical training. I will see what I can do. Igor, bring them down to the laboratory."

With that, Igor picks up Betty and carries her downstairs, with Bob following closely. Igor places Betty on a table in the lab. Bob collapses from exhaustion and his own injuries, so Igor places Bob on an adjoining table.

After a brief examination, Igor's master looks worried. "things are serious, Igor. Prepare a transfusion." Igor and his master work feverishly, but to no avail. Bob and Betty Hill are no more.

The Hills' deaths upset Igor's master greatly. Wearily, he climbs the steps to his conservatory, which houses his pipe organ. For it is here that he has always found solace. He begins to play, and a stirring, almost haunting, melody fills the house.

Meanwhile, Igor is still in the lab tidying up. As the music fills the lab, his eyes catch movement, and he notices the fingers on Betty Hill's hand twitch. Stunned, he watches as Bob's arm begins to rise! He is furthur amazed as Betty sits straight up!

Unable to contain himself, he dashes up the stairs to the conservatory. He bursts in and shouts to his master:

"Master, Master!.......The Hills are alive with the sound of music!"


A Dead Man's Tail...

(from Jeanne Case)

A student of proctology was in the morgue one day after classes, getting a little practice before the final exams. He went over to the table where a body was lying face down. He removed the sheet over the body and noted a cork in the corpse's rectum. Figuring that this was fairly unusual, the student pulled the cork out and, much to his surprise, music began playing.

"On the road again...Just can't wait to get on the road again..."

The student was amazed and inserted the cork back in the rectum. The music stopped. Totally freaked out, the student called the Medical Examiner over to the corpse.

"Look at this. This is really something!" the student told the Examiner as he pulled the cork out again.

"On the road again...Just can't wait to get on the road again..."

"So what?", the Medical Examiner replied, obviously unimpressed with the student's discovery.

"But isn't that the most amazing thing you've ever seen?" asked the student.

"Are you kidding?" replied the Examiner, "Any asshole can sing country music."


Construction Lunchtime Blues...

(From Bennie Cottone)

A Bass, a Baritone and a Tenor were doing construction work on the scaffolding of a tall building. They were eating lunch and the Bass said, "Corned beef and cabbage! If I get corned beef and cabbage one more time for lunch, I'm going to jump off this building."

The Baritone opened his lunch box and exclaimed, "Burritos again! If I get burritos one more time, I'm going to jump off too.

" The tenor opened his lunch and said, "Bologna again. If I get a bologna sandwich one more time, I'm jumping too."

Next day the Bass opens his lunch box, sees corned beef and cabbage and jumps to his death. The Baritone opens his lunch, sees a burrito and jumps too. The tenor opens his lunch, sees the bologna and jumps to his death as well.

At the funeral, the Bass's wife is weeping. She says, "If I'd known how really tired he was of corned beef and cabbage, I never would have given it to him again!"

The Baritone's wife also weeps and says, "I could have given him tacos or enchiladas! I didn't realize he hated burritos so much." Everyone turned and stared at the tenor's wife. "Hey, don't look at me," she said. "He makes his own lunch."


Renter complaint...

(From Bennie Cottone)

A man mentioned to his landlord that the tenants in the apartment above his were being a bit unruly, "Many a night they stamp on the floor and shout till midnight."

When the landlord asked if it bothered him, he replied, "Not really, because I usually stay up and practice my trumpet till about that time most every night anyway."


In The Recording Studio...


(from Jeff Eaton)

A musician who's spent his whole life trying to break it into the big time is feeling very depressed. He's been turned down by every single record company in the country, and no-one seems to recognize his unique genius other than his Mum.

So he decides to top himself, and dreams up an ingenious plan to get back on all the institutions who've rejected him all his life.

He goes into a recording studio and tells the engineer to record exactly what he says, and then copy it onto 1000 CDs, and send them out to all the record execs in the country.

He goes into the vocal booth, the red light goes on, and he begins;

"This is a message to all you sycophantic, talentless bastards who've ignored me all these years. I dedicated my life to writing beautiful, emotive, soul-touching music, and all you do is bin my tapes and sign pretty-boy bands and the Spice Girls. Well, I've taken all I can of your puerile, shallow industry, and it's YOU who've driven me to it !!! Bye-bye, murderers of Art!!"

With that, he pulled out a gun and sprayed his brains all over the studio wall.

The sound engineer glanced up and said "...Yep,..okay - that's fine for a level. Wanna go for a take?"


What's missing here?

(From Bennie Cottone)

A retired big-band singer gets an offer from a record producer to lay down some of her old hits for a nostalgia alblum. She brings her charts to the studio and is surprised to see only the producer there.

"Where's the band?" she asks.

"No need for a band any more," smiles the producer. "Everything is computerized."

"No piano? No conductor?" she asks.

"Nope. Everything is in this synthesizer. Your charts are already in there. All we do is press a button."

"How about clarinets, saxes, horns?"

"Right here in the machine! You'll never tell the difference."

"How about a drummer?" she asks.

"Nope," says the producer, "this rhythm machine takes the beat and runs with it all by itself."

"Well," says the old lady, "then who do I fuck?"


Fan Appreciation...


(from Terry Russell)

The gig is over, and the jazz club is almost deserted. The grizzled old tenor player is relaxing, having a drink, when in walks an absolutely and astonishingly stunning redhead.

She walks hesitantly over to the tenor player and says, "You know, I heard you play earlier tonight, but after I left, I just had to come back and tell you that when I listened to you play, I felt that you were playing just to me alone. I was entranced listening to you. Every note that you played touched me in such a personal and emotional way like I haven't felt in years. I want to take you home with me, pamper you, and make love to you until we're both exhausted."

Replied the tenor player: "So uh... did you catch the 1st or the 2nd set???


Trumpeter Personality

"There are two sides to a trumpeter's personality: there is the one that lives only to lay waste to the woodwinds and strings, leaving them lying blue and lifeless along the swath of destruction that is a trumpeter's fury; then there's the dark side...."

--Irving Bush


The Music City Pet Store

(From Bennie Cottone)

A man walks into a Music City Pet Store looking to buy a monkey. The store owner points towards three identical looking monkeys in politically correct, animal-friendly natural mini-habitats.

"The one on the left costs $500," says the store owner.

"Why so much?" asks the customer.

"Because it can write and arrange for small combos and groups up to 16 pieces," answers the store owner.

The customer inquires about the next monkey and is told, "That one costs $1500. It knows Jazz and Classical music. He can improvise or play technically difficult solos."

The startled man then asks about the third monkey. "That one costs $3,000," answers the store owner.

"3,000 dollars!!" exclaims the man. "What can that one do?"

To which the owner replies, "To be honest, I've never seen it do a single thing, but it calls itself a Band Leader."


Visiting Day at the Lunatic Asylum...

(as offered by Morrie Kuhlmann)

It was visitor's day at the lunatic asylum. All the inmates were standing in the courtyard singing "Ave Maria" and singing it beautifully. Oddly, each of them was holding a red apple in one hand and tapping it rhythmically with a pencil.

A visitor listened in wonderment to the performance and then approached the choir. "I am a retired choir director," he said. "This is one of the best choirs I have ever heard."

"Yes, I'm very proud of them," said the conductor.

"You should take them on tour," said the visitor, "what are they called?"

"Surely that's obvious," replied the conductor.

"They are the Moron Tapanapple Choir."


Trombone Section Without A Clue



(From
Bennie Cottone)

Toby Appel's Guide to the Orchestra

The members of the orchestra are divided into four sections. These are woodwinds, the strings, the brass, and the percussion. There's also someone standing in front of all these other folks playing no instrument at all. This would be the conductor. It is generally understood that the conductor is required to make musical decisions and to hold all of the instruments together in a cohesive interpretation of any given work. Not so. Rather, the conductor is necessary because the four groups would rather eat Velveeta than have anything to do with someone from another section. And, as we know, musicians are quite serious about their food.

Why all the animosity? Before I begin my explanation, let me set the record straight in plain English about some of the characteristics which typify the four groups.

Woodwind players have IQs in the low- to mid- genius range. Nerds with coke-bottle glasses and big egos, blowers tend to be extremely quiet, cowering behind bizarre-looking contraptions - their instruments -- so nobody will notice them. It is often difficult to discern whether a wind player is male or female.

String players are neurotic prima donnas who won't even shake your hand for fear of permanent injury. A string player will never look you directly in the eye and they never bathe carefully ... or often.

Brass players are loud-mouthed drunkards who bully everyone with the possible and occasional exception of a stray percussionist. They like to slick their hair back. Nobody knows why.

Percussionists are insensitive oafs who constantly make tasteless jokes at the expense of the strings and woodwinds. They look very good in concert attire but have the worst table manners of all musicians. They are always male, or close enough.

Now, is it any wonder orchestra members have little to do with anyone outside of their own section? For the answer to this and other pertinent questions we will need to examine the individual instrument and the respective -- if not respected -- players within each section.

The woodwinds:

Oboe players are seriously nuts. They usually develop brain tumors from the extreme air pressure built up over the years of playing this rather silly instrument. Oboists suffer from a serious Santa Claus complex, spending all their waking hours carving little wooden toys for imaginary children, although they will tell you they are putting the finishing touches on the world's greatest reed. Oboists can't drive and always wear clothes one size too small. They all wear berets and have special eating requirements which are endlessly annoying and which are intended to make them seem somewhat special.

English horn players are losers although they dress better then oboists. They cry at the drop of a beret.

Bassoon players are downright sinister. They are your worst enemy, but they come on so sweet that it's really hard to catch them at their game. Here's an instrument that's better seen than heard. Bassoon players like to give the impression that theirs is a very hard instrument to play, but the truth is that the bassoon only plays one or two notes per piece and is therefore only heard for a minute in any given evening. However, in order to keep their jobs -- their only real concern -- they act up a storm doing their very best to look busy.

It takes more brawn, and slightly less brain, to play contrabassoon. They are available at pawnshops in large numbers - the instruments as well as the players -- and play the same three or four numbers as the tuba, although not quite as loud or beautiful.

Okay, now we come to the flute. Oversexed and undernourished is the ticket here. The flute player has no easier time of getting along with the rest of the orchestra than anyone else, but that won't stop them from sleeping with everyone. Man and woman alike, makes no difference. The bass flute is not even worth mentioning. Piccolos, on the other hand, belong mainly on the fifty yard line of a football field where the unfortunate audience can maintain a safe distance.

The clarinet is, without a doubt, the easiest of all orchestral instruments to play. Clarinets are cheap, and the reeds are literally a dime a dozen. Clarinetists have lots of time and money for the finest wines, oriental rugs, and exotic sports cars. They mostly have no education, interest, or talent in music, but fortunately for them they don't need much. Clarinets come in various sizes and keys - nobody knows why. Don't ask a clarinetist for a loan, as they are stingy and mean. Some of the more talented clarinets can learn to play the saxophone. Big deal.

Let's continue now with the real truth about... the strings. We begin with the string family's smallest member: the violin. The violin is a high-pitched, high-tension instrument. It's not an easy instrument to play. Lots of hard music is written for this instrument. Important things for a violinist to keep in mind are: Number one -- the door to your studio should be left slightly open so that everyone can hear your brilliant practice sessions. Number two: you should make disparaging remarks about the other violinists whenever possible, which is most of the time. And number three: you should tell everyone how terribly valuable your instrument is until they drool.

The viola is a large and awkward instrument, which when played, sounds downright disgusting. Violists are the most insecure members of the string section. Nothing can be done about this. Violists don't like to be made fun of and therefore find ways of making people feel sorry for them. They wear shabby clothes so that they'll look as if they've just been dragged under a train. It works quite well.

People who play the cello are simply not good looking. They have generally chosen their instrument because, while in use, the cello hides 80% of its player's considerable bulk. Most cellists are in analysis which won't end until they can play a scale in tune or, in other words, never. Cellists wear sensible shoes and always bring their own lunch.

Double bass players are almost completely harmless. Most have worked their way up through the ranks of a large moving company and are happy to have a secure job in a symphony orchestra or anywhere. The fact that it takes at least ten basses to make an audible sound tends to make these simple-minded folks disappear into their woodwork, but why do they drive such small cars?

Harpists are gorgeous. And they always know it. They often look good into their late eighties. Although rare as hen's teeth, male harpists are equally beautiful.. Harpists spend their time perfecting their eye-batting, little-lost-lamb look so they can snare unsuspecting wind players into carrying their heavy gilded furniture around. Debussy was right -- harpists spend half their life tuning and the other half playing out of tune.

Pianists in the symphony orchestra work the least and complain the most. They have unusually large egos and, because they can only play seated, also have the biggest butts. When they make mistakes, which is more often than not, their excuse is that they have never played on that particular piano before. Oh, the poor darlings.

The brass:

Trumpet players are the scum of the earth. I'll admit, though, they do look good when they're all cleaned up. They'll promise you the world, but they lie like a cheap rug. Sure, they can play soft and pretty during rehearsal, but watch out come concert time! They're worse than lawyers, feeding off the poor, defenseless, weaker members of the orchestra and loving every minute of it. Perhaps the conductor could intercede? Oh, I don't think so.

Trombone players are generally the nicest brass players. However, they do tend to drink quite heavily and perhaps don't shine the brightest headlights on the highway, but they wouldn't hurt you and are the folks to call with all your pharmaceutical questions. They don't count well, but stay pretty much out of the way anyway. Probably because they know just how stupid they look when they play. It's a little-known fact that trombone players are unusually good bowlers. This is true.

The French horn. I only have two words of advice: stay away. Horn players are piranhas. They'll steal your wallet, lunch, boyfriend, or wife or all the above given half a chance or no chance at all. They have nothing to live for and aren't afraid of ruining your life. The pressure is high for them. If they miss a note, they get fired. If they don't miss a note, they rub your nose in it and it doesn't smell so sweet.

The kind-hearted folks who play the tuba are good-looking and smart. They'd give you the shirt off their back. The tuba is one of the most interesting to take in the bath with you. It's a crying shame that there's only one per orchestra. Would that it could be different.

And finally -- the percussion. These standoffish fools who get paid perfectly good money for blowing whistles and hitting things that don't deserve the considerable space they are allotted on the stage. Aside from the strange coincidence that all percussionists hail from the Deep South, another little known, but rather revealing fact, is there are no written percussion parts in the standard orchestral repertory. Percussion players do have music stands and they do use them -- to look at girlie magazines. Percussionists play whatever and whenever they damn well feel like it and it's always too loud! The ones with a spark of decency and intelligence play timpani, or kettle drums.

Most percussionists are deaf, but those who play kettle drums pretend to tune their instruments for the sake of the ignorant and easily duped conductor.

The guy with the short nose who plays the cymbals is no Einstein, but he's also one of the best guys to share a room with on tour. Cymbal players don't practice -- I guess they figure it's bad enough to have to listen to those things at the concert.

Percussionists pretend to have lots of kids whose toys can be seen quite often shaken, dropped, or manhandled to great effect. Whole percussion sections can be seen and now and then on various forms of public transportation, where they practice getting up and down as a group. This represents the only significant challenge to a percussionist.

And that just about does it. I trust that this little tour has enlightened you just a little bit to the mysterious inner world of the symphony orchestra. This world, one which is marked by the terrible strain of simple day-to-day survival, is indeed not an easy one. Perhaps now you will be a bit more understanding of the difficulties which face a modern-day concert artist. And so the next time you find yourself at the symphony, take a moment to look deeply into the faces of the performers on the stage and imagine how much more difficult their lives are than yours.

This is surely what's on their minds ... if anything.


Light Bulbs

Q: How many altos does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: Five. One to change it and four to whine "It's too high!"

Q: How many Deadheads does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: 12,001. 1 to screw it in, 2000 to record the event and take pictures of it, and 10,000 to follow it around until it burns out.

Q. How many drummers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: "Hey! Don't they have a machine to do that?"

Q: How many bass players does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: None. They let the keyboard player do it with his left hand.

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 likely to be saved?
A: Mozart

(From the Greywolf)
Q: How many guitarists does it take to change a light bulb?
A: 13. 1 to change it and the other 12 to stand around and say, "*I* can do that!!!"

Q. How many bassists does it take to change a light bulb?
A. 5. 1 to change it and the other 4 to keep the guitarist from hogging all the light.

Q. How many drummers does it take to change a light bulb?
A. 5. 1 to hold the bulb, 4 to get drunk enough to spin the room.

Q. How many lead singers to change a light bulb?
A. None. "Let the bass player do it."

Q. How many sound engineers to change a light bulb?
A. "Hey, man. I just do sound."


Q & A

Q: What's the difference between an onion and an accordian?
A: Nobody cries when you cut up an accordian.

Q: What's the difference between a violin and a viola?
A: A viola burns longer.
A: A viola holds more beer.


(From Jory Prum)

Q: What's perfect pitch?
A: Tossing a viola 50 ft into a toilet bowl without touching the rim!


Q: How do you make a trombone sound like a french horn?
A: Stick your hand in the bell and crack all your notes.

Q: You're driving on a dark country road and come across a dead skunk and a dead trombone player. What's the difference between the two?
A: The skunk was on his way to a gig.

Q: What's the ultimate definition of an optimist?
A: A trombone player with a pager.

Q: What do you call someone who hangs around with musicians?
A A drummer.

Q: How can you tell that there's a drummer at your front door?
A: The knocking keeps speeding up.

Q: How can you tell that there's a singer at your front door?
A: They never know when to come in.

Q: What's the difference between a saxophone and a lawn mower?
A: Vibrato.

(From Katie Button)
Q: How can you tell the last stand 2nd violinists in an orchestra?
A: They're the ones without knives in their backs.

Q: What's the difference between a bull and a big band?
A: On a bull, the horns are in front, and the asshole's in back.

(From Doug Davies)
Q: How do you know if the stage is level?
A: The drummer drools out of both sides of his mouth.

Q: How does a jazz musician make a million dollars?
A: Start off with two.

(From Alan Land)
Q: How can you tell that there's a singer at your front door?
A: They never have the right key.

(From Bill Langdell)
Q: Why did the saxophone player leave his instrument on the dashboard of his car?
A: So he could qualify for a handicapped parking space.

Q. How do you make a trombone player's car get better mileage?
A: Remove the Domino's Pizza sign from on top.

(From the Greywolf)
Q. What do you call all those cute giddy girls who cluster around the guitar player?
A. Singers.

Q. What's the difference between a bagpipe and a trampoline?
A. You take your shoes off when you jump on a trampoline.

Q. What do you get when you throw a bagpipe, an accordion and a banjo out of a ninth story window?
A. Applause.

Q. Which one will hit the ground first?
A. Who cares?

Q. What do you call the guy who tells the tour equipment trucks where to go?
A. The semi-conductor.

(From Gary Sloane)
Q. How do you get two piccolos to play a perfect unison?
A. Shoot one.

Q: What's the definition of a minor second?
A: Two flutists playing in unison.

Q: How many flutists does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Just one, but he'll spend $5,000 on a Sterling silver bulb.

Q: How many oboists does it take to change a light bulb?
A: One, but by the time he gets done shaving the tip, you won't need it.

Q: What's the first thing a saxophonist does when he wakes up in the morning?
A: Goes to his day job.

Q: How do you make a trombone sound like a french horn?
A: Put your hand in the bell and miss lots of notes.

Q: How many french horn players does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Just one, but he'll spend two hours checking the bulb for leaks and alignment problems.

Q: What do you call a house occupied by five french hornists?
A: A crack house.

Q: How many french hornists does it take to play split lead?
A: One.

Q: How do you contact a baritone player?
A: You-phone-`em.

Q: What's the range of a tuba?
A: Twenty yards, if you've got a good arm.

Q: What's a tuba for?
A: 1 1/2" X 3 1/2".

Q: How can you tell a drummer is knocking on your door?
A: He rushes.

Q: What do you call a drummer without a girlfriend?
A: Homeless.

Q: What's the difference between a drummer and government bonds?
A: The bonds mature.

Q: What do you say to a drummer wearing a suit?
A: Will the Defendant please rise.

Q: Why are violins smaller than violas?
A: They're really the same size. Violinists' heads are larger.

Q: How do you get a violist to play a down-bow staccato?
A: Put a tenuto mark over a whole note and mark it solo.

Q: What do a bad airplane mechanic and a violist have in common?
A: Both screw up Boeings.

Q: How many violists does it take to tile a kitchen?
A: One, but you have to slice him VERY thin.

Q: What's the difference between a soprano and the P.L.O.?
A: You can negotiate with the P.L.O.

Q: If you drop a conductor and a watermelon off a tall building, which will hit the ground first? `
A: Who cares?

Q: What's the difference between a conductor and a sack of fertilizer?
A: The sack.

Q: What do you need when you have a conductor up to his neck in quicksand?
A: More quicksand.

Q: What does a good conductor weigh?
A: 28 oz. (not including the urn.)

Q: How many critics does it take to change a light bulb?
A: None. They work in the dark.

Q: What's the difference between a lawnmower and an accordion?
A: If you put them in Tradin' Times, you can sell the lawnmower.

The patron Saint of accordion -- Our Lady of Spain.

Q: How many soundmen does it take to change a light bulb?
A: One, two, three... one, two, three.

Q: What does New Age Music sound like when played backwards?
A: New Age Music.

(From Ken Jean)
Q. Did you hear about the terrorists that attacked an orchestra rehearsal and held the entire viola section hostage?
A. They threatened to release one violist per hour until their demands were met!

Q. What is the difference between a world war and a high school choral performance?
A. The performance causes more suffering.

Q. Why do high school choruses travel so often?
A. Keeps assassins guessing.

Q. How do you get two piccolos to play in unison?
A. Shoot one.

Q. What's the difference between a bass player and a drummer?
A. About half a measure.

Q. How can you tell a trombone player's kid at the playground?
A. He bitches about the slide and doesn't know how to swing.

(From Jim Pennock)
Q. What's the difference between a 16" pizza and a musician?
A. The pizza can feed a family of four.


(From Arthur Atkinson)

Jerry Garcia awakens to find himself in a white room, near a bandstand surrounded by instruments. Jimi Hendrix and Duane Allman are tuning their guitars. John Lennon is seated at the piano. Janis Joplin, Buddy Holly, and Elvis Presley are warming up at microphones.

As they make room for him on stage, an awed Garcia says "Wow! There really IS a Rock 'N Roll Heaven! This is fantastic!"

Just as Elvis leans over and says "Heaven?", Karen Carpenter enters the room, sits down at the drum set and says...

"OK, people, 'Close To You' from the top. One, two, three,..."


(From Jeff Quilliam)

Q. How many clarinetists does it take to screw in a light bulb?

A. One can do it, but he'll spend hours looking through boxes trying to pick out the perfect light bulb.


(From April Ipock)

Q. What has 151 feet and 6 teeth?

A. The front row at a Merle Haggard concert.


(From Dennis Cotton)

Q. How many Country bass players does it take to change a light bulb?

A. 1, 5, 1, 5, 1, 5

Q. How many female country singers does it take to sing "Crazy"

A. Obviously all of them.

So many Drummers....so little time!

Q. How do you make a guitarist turn down?

A. Put a chart in front of him


(From Steve Erickson)

"Dad, I wanna grow up and become a musician!"

"Son, you can't have it both ways."

(From Ron Klein)
Q: What kind of a calendar does a trombone player use?
A: Year at a glance.


(From Commander Dave of the Rhythm Rockets )

Q: How do you get a guitar player to turn down?
A: Put a chart in front of him!

Q: How do you get a guitar player to slow down?
A: Ask him to read it!


Put Downs


"He'd be better off shoveling snow."
--Richard Strauss on Arnold Schoenberg.

When told that a soloist would need six fingers to perform his concerto, Arnold Schoenberg replied, "I can wait."

"I would like to hear Elliot Carter's Fourth String Quartet, if only to discover what a cranky prostate does to one's polyphony."
--James Sellars

"Exit in case of Brahms."
--Philip Hale's proposed inscription over the doors of Boston Symphony Hall

"Why is it that whenever I hear a piece of music I don't like, it's always by Villa-Lobos?"
--Igor Stravinsky

"His music used to be original. Now it's aboriginal."
--Sir Ernest Newman on Igor Stravinsky

"If he'd been making shell-cases during the war it might have been better for music."
--Maurice Ravel on Camille Saint-Saens

"He has an enormously wide repertory. He can conduct anything, provided it's by Beethoven, Brahms or Wagner. He tried Debussy's La Mer once. It came out as Das Merde."
--Anonymous Orchestra Member on George Szell

Someone commented to Rudolph Bing, manager of the Metropolitan Opera, that "George Szell is his own worst enemy." "Not while I'm alive, he isn't!" said Bing.

"Madam, you have between your legs an instrument capable of giving pleasure to thousands and all you can do is scratch it."
--Sir Thomas Beecham to a lady cellist.

"After I die, I shall return to earth as a gatekeeper of a bordello and I won't let any of you enter."
--Arturo Toscanini to the NBC Orchestra

"We cannot expect you to be with us all the time, but perhaps you could be good enough to keep in touch now and again."
--Sir Thomas Beecham to a musician during a rehearsal

"Jack Benny played Mendelssohn last night. Mendelssohn lost."
--Anonymous

The great German conductor Hans von Buelow detested two members of an orchestra, who were named Schultz and Schmidt. Upon being told the Schmidt had died, von Buelow immediately asked, "Und Schultz?"

"Her voice sounded like an eagle being goosed."
--Ralph Novak on Yoko Ono

"Parsifal - the kind of opera that starts at six o'clock and after it has been going three hours, you look at your watch and it says 6:20."
--David Randolph

"One can't judge Wagner's opera Lohengrin after a first hearing, and I certainly don't intend hearing it a second time."
--Gioacchino Rossini

"I liked the opera very much. Everything but the music."
--Benjamin Britten on Stravinsky's The Rakes's Progress

"Her singing reminds me of a cart coming downhill with the brake on."
--Sir Thomas Beecham on an unidentified soprano in Die Walkire

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