I sometimes tell my students that they need to know their music well enough that they can continue playing even if their music blows off the stand. Last week during Les Mis I found myself in a situation that required really knowing my part.
We had just started the show and as I turned the page it sort of accordioned down: the pages are taped together as a lot of musicals are, but they aren’t bound. So down went the music and the next page began with an oboe solo. There was no time to gather it up, so I just played the solo by memory.
It really was no big deal, and I wasn’t nervous at all. The biggest issue was to play without laughing — playing oboe and laughing at the same time isn’t really an easy thing to do.
But yes, we have to know our music well. And now I can use this as an example of what might happen and what we need to do sometimes. I love when that happens … as long as my situation ends up with a happy ending.