This isn’t a strictly harp-related question; it’s more of an etiquette question.
There was a discussion here a while ago about this, and I think the consensus was that if you’re not playing at all in the piece being rehearsed, reading is OK, but if you’re playing in a piece with many long rests, it’s pretty disrespectful, as well as being dangerous lest one be regarded as a poor counter!
If I haven’t remembered the original post correctly, please feel free to correct me!
I agree with the idea that there really isn’t a strict rule about this.
There is a lot to be gained from paying attention to the conductor even when he is working with a different section and you don’t have anything to do for a while. Being able to grok his overall vision and interpretation is always beneficial, and with a good conductor you can learn a lot about a piece, and if a piece is worth playing it is worth
As a flute player primarily I rarely have this problem. There was one such occasion though where I was a solo flutist for a mass (orchestra and choir) that was over an hour long. I literally played 12 bars in the Sanctus, and was doubling the solo cellist. I was still required to be in all rehearsals (paid afterall), and I couldn’t exactly go offstage in the performance either.
So… I brought a book. I put a black cover on it and sat it on my music stand. I read through the rehearsals (both of them) and even in the concert. Doing it in the concert probably wasn’t the greatest thing to do, but I was buried back in the orchestra, on the stage floor (risers were for the choir only), sandwiched right in front of a 100+person choir and no one could see me. I couldn’t even see the audience. And if they could see me, they would have just seen me sitting there, occasionally turning a page on my music stand…
The conductor didn’t seem to mind. Or at least… I didn’t notice or necessarily care.
We are prohibited from bringing any sort of reading materials onstage during services (rehearsals &/or concerts) or using electronic devices such as iPhones or iPads It’s not considered professional behavior & is specifically banned in our work rules.
If I have a long tacet or movement(s) where harp is not required I can leave the stage during rehearsal & fortunately we have monitors (tv screens & sound speakers) backstage so I know what’s going on.
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