Yesterday I was telling a student about playing in the pit, and how our instruments get rather dirty sometimes, due to all the dust that accumulates there. She reacted with a surprised look, “I didn’t know you played pit!”
Now some of you might wonder about that. I would, but I know better now. These days there’s a “pit” group in high school marching bands. The “pit” uses players who don’t usually march, like oboes and even, at least at one school a student I had attended, strings. (Ridiculous, if you ask me, but you probably aren’t asking.)
I had to explain what a real orchestra pit is. One might wonder about why I had to explain too. Why is a student unfamiliar with that? Hasn’t the student ever attended anything I play?
No, in fact, most of my students never attend concerts I play. Sad, but true. They are busy, I’ll grant them that, but mostly they have little or no interest in hearing a professional group. I’ve encouraged them. I’ve even, in the past, offered comps to them. Never do they take me up on that. (I’ve given up at this point.) They want to play an instrument, but they don’t want to hear them being played.
I find that incredibly puzzling, and quite distressing as well. I wonder if I’m the only one who has such disinterested students. Am I doing something wrong?
Meanwhile … here are a few photos of the California Theatre that include the orchestra pit, taken by Bob Shomler, put up with his permission (Thanks, Bob!).
This was taken a while ago … I’m not sure which opera was being done. I’m guessing Tosca, perhaps, due to some people I see sitting in certain chairs, but that’s just a guess. (I know it was a while ago because the set up has since changed.)
This is from our latest production, La traviata: