My cellphone rant

Home Forums Performing My cellphone rant

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 30 total)
  • Author
  • #62570

    Since I became a working musician in the 1990s technology for musicians has come a long way. I remember posting something about selling MP3s on the Internet on this very forum. The response I got was something like, ” well who would want to do that? That’s just not for most harpists.” Now we are using cell phones, iPads, all kinds of technology. I’m using an iPad to read scores at a gig. I don’t have a data plan on it but you can put it in silent mode during a performance.

    My rant this week is about people and their cell phones. I had booked two other musicians to play a wedding with me this past weekend. I didn’t think to tell everyone to turn off their cell phones. Sure enough the violinist’s phone lets out with an electronic version of Fur Elise in the middle of the ceremony. Everyone was looking at us . And of course he can’t find the button to turn the darn thing off. I’m thinking “Just disconnect the call!” Either that or give me the phone and I’ll throw it off the edge of this balcony. The very next day as I sat in church the 40-something woman next to me had a cell phone that went off at the worst time playing “I like to move it, move it… I like to move it….” (And all I could think was why in the world would this woman have that for her ringtone). She couldn’t find the button to turn it off either. I have another music partner I have stopped booking because she would have her iPhone on stage with her. She had that smart phone addiction where you have to constantly be checking for messages. I told her it looks really bad to see your musician on stage so bored that they’re looking for their email between songs. She never could understand and kept doing it so I don’t book her anymore. Of course I’m sure no one on this forum would be guilty of these things! Just my rant.


    I was at a performance abut a week ago, and somebody’s cellphone went off. It was on the old fashioned ringing sound, and because they ensemble was playing a trio by Ligeti, it took us all a few seconds to realize they ringing noise wasn’t coming from a performer.


    Zombies exist. Wandering aimlessly (into your lane) searching for a signal, updating facebook, having the same meaningless conversations about whats for dinner and what so and so said. I refused to own one for the longest time, I barely use it still.


    The recorded message for my cell phone is “Do not leave a message here I don’t keep this thing on! Call me at home.”


    I have never heard someone checking their cell phone between songs. That’s a pretty nutty thing to do. But I can see it happens. I was thinking about the times when the lector at my church would ask people to take a moment and turn off their cellphones. For a split second there is silence, then a ripple of sounds would carry from one side of the room to the other. I’m always amazed of how many people leave the volume up on their phones. Use the buzz!

    Allison Stevick

    I use my cell phone as my primary means of communication. My family does not even have a landline anymore, because we had no use for it. I see cell phones as more of a blessing than a curse, and don’t think that every person who has one is somehow automatically completely inconsiderate, or a walking zombie. Many people do use them responsibly.
    That being said, I think it is *absolutely ridiculous* that someone would have their phone on stage at all! And, though I had my phone go off once in a class (I was VERY embarrassed), since then I have always, *always* double-checked to make sure it is on silent/off before church/concerts/meetings/performing/etc. Seriously, it is not hard at all to just learn how to properly use your own phone, and make sure it doesn’t bother other people.


    Oh my God Donna! Your post has triggered my rage over cell phones. My partner is a critic in Boston(goggle The Hub Review. That’ him). We go to many live performances during the season: plays, opera, ballet, period instrument orchestra, celebrity performers, etc. You get the picture. I could go on all day about the cell phone incidents that have made me want to kill someone at a performance. Here are a few: At a Dawn Upshaw recital two years ago, an old bag in a designer suite MADE A CALL during one of the encores to tell her chauffeur to come pick her up. She was two rows directly behind me. I decided that when the encore was over and the applause started, I was going to let this woman have it. When I turned around to scream at her, the woman directly behind me(and directly in front of the offender) said to me “How much will you pay me to punch her in the nose??” A number of times, people have turned their cell phones on during intermission and then neglected to turn them off when the second half started. One time a woman next to me had her phone go off in the first half of a concert and again in the second half! People text during performances as well, which if very annoying and distracting.

    I was talking to my partner about this again last night and I’m going to say something here which is probably going to anger many of you. But when I think of all of the times that a phone has gone off during a performance, when someone has been talking(and talking, and talking) during a performance until I have to tell them to stop, when someone is texting during a performance, when someone is eating M & M’s from a crinkly bag during a performance, it is always, always a woman who is doing it. It’s never a man. Now, I’d like an explanation as to why that is…

    Gretchen Cover

    After the Patron X incident in which an Iphone alarm kept ringing during a Wagner performance by the NY Philharmonic Orchestra at the Lincoln Center, I keep my cell phone in the car whenever I go to any performance. I just played at an Easter cantata and one of the chorus member’s cell phone rang during the performance…fortunately during a loud section. Hmmm, don’t know if it was a man or woman.


    Carl, seriously? I think we can all agree that cellphone rudeness is an annoying and growing problem, but I don’t buy your gender specific accusation one tiny bit. I have seen and heard many a guilty male culprit. (Wasn’t Patron X that Gretchen referred to a man???)

    My personal rule is to not take a cell phone onstage during a performance. I will confess to being guilty of playing Words With Friends sometimes during rehearsals if I’m taceting movements….

    Angela Biggs

    Donna, I have a friend whose cell phone message is similar to yours. It seems to work, too.

    I do a lot of singing in churches. Specifically for funerals. It’s one of my worst fears, that my cell phone will go off during a funeral. The idea gives me actual chills. I leave my phone in the car if I’m having a bad morning, because it’s just the kind of thing that could act up and make my day even better.

    Otherwise, when I wake up on the morning I’m singing at church, I turn the ringer off. When I put the phone in my bag, I check the ringer. When I walk out the door, I check the ringer. When I get to the church and settle in, I check the ringer. If my husband is with me, I ask him about *his* ringer. Twice. I frequently miss calls because I’m not as obsessive about turning the ringer back *on,* and forget about it for a few days. Oh well. People who know me know I don’t like talking on the phone anyway!

    I simply cannot imagine bringing a phone on stage. Maybe if you were using it to tune? But I have a Windows phone, and I haven’t had any luck with those tuning apps.


    I think we have gender equality within the population of inconsiderate cell phone users. My violin partner whose phone went off during the wedding is male, the flute player on stage female. Another man in church took the phone call to tell the person calling that he couldn’t talk to him because he was in church… My last near head-on collision was with a man talking on his cell phone.


    Dearest Kim and others- I wasn’t making an accusation. I was asking a question based on the experiences I had had. I can’t say I’m glad to hear stories of male owned phones going off inappropriately. It’ awful no matter who the owner is. There is equipment that can block cell phone signals over different size areas(50 feet, 100 feet, and more). But for the moment it is illegal. I’m sincerely hoping the day will come, soon, when it will be standard in theaters and concert halls.


    As an observer it’s both interesting and scary when one realises just how plastic our brains are and how compelling this behaviour and these habits are. It is shocking to read these reports and how others behave during concerts and plays, such common habits are widespread (apparently audiences in a theaters are lit by phones during a perfomance and in pop concerts everyone’s filming the gig with their hands up in the air), so I guess people assume that if it’s become a norm then it ceases to be deemed rude, but then where are the boundaries ? You read about actors having to cope with this mid-stream on stage.
    Furthermore I found two books: ” The Activity Illusion” by Ian Price (UK) explores how much people need to get a constant fix and reward from calls and messages, to feed their status and ego, with almost a preference for interrruptions over the task in hand, craving the fillip and the ‘reward’. Another “Alone Together: why we expect more from technology and less from each other” by Sherry Turkle (USA) cites a girl with splints on her sore thumbs from constant messaging, who would not knock on her flatmate’s door for fear of being intrusive, and school students exchanging 100 messages before lunchtime, preferring text to talking.
    But hey, in a masterclass when the maitre’s phone went off, we all found it amusing…


    Rudeness and lack of consideration are nothing new. My aunt Margaret, who died last year at 93, wen to the Metropolitan Opera to see all of the productions each season, from 1939 to 1966. She told me that when the performance was of an Italian or French opera, there was noticeable talking in the auditorium, people would arrive late, etc. When the production was a German opera, you could hear a pin drop. There was total silence, and everyone was in their seat on time. The audience for German opera was always better behaved.


    Okay let’s not start offending French and Italian opera goers.

    Mark Twain:
    “I have witnessed and greatly enjoyed the first act of everything which Wagner created, but the effect on me has always been so powerful that one act was quite sufficient; whenever I have witnessed two acts I have gone away physically exhausted; and whenever I have ventured an entire opera the result has been the next thing to suicide.”

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 30 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.