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Technology and Good Manners

Nicole Esposito | October 2016

    Technology offers an abundance of conveniences and opportunities for students. Information is readily available online, and most people, places or things are reachable through a handy gadget or app. As a result, the lines of proper decorum are often blurred, and it is easy to inadvertenly create problems through online interactions. Although technology changes rapidly, professionalism and consideration are timeless, and plain old common sense goes a long way. Take advantage of resources without taking them for granted and be aware that how you interact with others including teachers, directors, employers, and peers can have lasting effects on your future.

Guidelines for Web, Social Media and Email Communication
1. Be clear and courteous with each communication.

2. Hey is not an acceptable greeting when writing a teacher or professional. Hello, or Dear Professor Smith, are the best options.

3. Address people by their title and name, especially when emailing someone you do not already know. Wait to be told that it is okay to address them in a more informal way, such as by a first name.

4. Check through correspondence for typos or errors before sending. Autocorrect can often severely change the intention of a phrase, and not always in a positive way.

5. Use Facebook, texting and other forms of social media communication in an emergency only, unless the person with whom you are communicating has indicated this as the preferred method of contact. When you first contact a teacher or professional, it is better to use email and send a more formal correspondence. Though a teacher or professional may be friendly with you on Facebook, always show respect in response.

6. Be careful about commenting on someone’s post or public profile on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Insta-gram or other forms of social media. It is okay to offer appreciation of others work, but avoid critiques and unsolicited advice, especially to those who have far more experience.

7. If you are asking something of a teacher through email, be sure to do it with enough advance notice. Emailing a teacher in the evening about something for the next day is not acceptable. Be respectful of teachers’ private time.
8. If you ask a question of a teacher or other professional, and he or she responds with helpful information, always follow up with a thank you.

9. Information is shared easily and quickly today, so avoid putting anything in your online profiles that may not cast you in the best light. You never know who may be watching. First impressions, good or bad, are hard to break.

1. If possible, arrive at lessons five minutes early. Be ready with the flute out, or at least easily accessible, and your notebook, music and recording device ready. Always ask a teacher if it is acceptable to record a lesson, if you are not sure of the policy.

2. Never enter a room, an office or a studio if the door is closed without knocking first – even if you can see the teacher inside. Most teachers will open the door when they are ready. Ask the teacher if you are unsure what he or she prefers.

3. Be sure your cell phone is turned off and put away during the lesson, unless you are using it as your recording device.

4. If you need to talk to a teacher about something non-flute related, it is best to ask at the beginning of the lesson, or in an email prior, if you can reserve a few minutes at the end of the lesson to speak. If it is a more serious issue, set up a meeting outside of the lesson time. Your lesson hour is one of the most important hours of the week, and it should be reserved for focused work.

5. Phrases to avoid saying during a lesson:
•    “I know.” If you already knew, then why were you not doing it.
•    “I’m trying.” The teacher knows you are trying. Before immediately responding to a suggestion with this, take a moment to reflect on the issue. If you still feel you are giving the effort but not getting the result, ask a question instead of defensively stating, “I’m trying”.
•    “I didn’t have enough time to practice this week.” Everyone has a busy schedule, however setting priorities and managing your time are part of learning how to be prepared.
•    “I had so much work to do for other classes this week.” This is a variation on the last statement. although teachers may be compassionate, they do not want to hear that another class is more important than theirs. You would not typically walk into other classes and complain about how much you have to prepare for a flute lesson. Come into each lesson with a positive attitude and motivated spirit.

6. When the lesson is over pack up your items in a timely manner so that you do not infringe on the next person’s lesson time.

7. Always thank teachers for lessons.

1. Always arrive at rehearsals on time (early) and prepared. Do not diminish the experience for yourself or colleagues by coming unprepared. It is disrespectful to your peers, the conductor and to the music.

2. Take advantage of digital resources for your preparation. Download tuning and metronome apps on your phone or tablet to have on hand for practice
sessions. Listen to a good-quality recording of the piece on YouTube, a live-streamed digital concert, or downloadable music library. Look up any musical terms with which you may be unaware.

3. Keep your cell phones off and put away during rehearsals, and concerts.

4. Learn to be diplomatic with your section members regarding issues that may arise. In general, it is best to let the conductor address musical issues. If a problem persists or goes unnoticed, it is the responsibility of the section leader to make the section aware of this. Avoid singling people out and just telling them that they are doing something wrong. Instead offer solutions that are helpful and inclusive.

5. Do not do distracting things such as speaking when the conductor is speaking, air practicing by clicking the keys, tapping your foot, turning to look at players behind you, doing homework, watching a movie on your iPad etc. It is important to be attentive even when it is not your turn to play.

6. Cleanliness is important when working in close quarters with others, however avoid wearing strong smelling lotions, or perfumes. Some people may have allergies and certain smells cause reactions, scratchy throats or coughs.

7. Dress appropriately for rehearsals and concerts. If you are sitting down, women should avoid skirts that go above the knee. Men should be sure that pant legs are long enough and that they are wearing the appropriate color socks. Avoid overly flashy clothing, jewelry and shoes. To be in an ensemble means to be part of a team. You want to blend in more than stick out. Be sure to check the ensemble’s specific dress code requirements.

Recitals and Solo Performing
1. If you are performing on an elevated stage, be aware that short dresses will appear even shorter. Err on the side of caution and make sure your upper and lower hemlines are not too severe. Wardrobe malfunctions are undesirable in a performance.
    Be sure to try concert clothes and shoes in advance to ensure comfort and function. You do not want to be distracted by ill-fitting clothing or uncomfortable footwear.

2. If you need to take water on stage, try to have it in a small transparent cup. Avoid large or colorful water bottles, glass that might break, and anything with a cap. It is best to place the water in an easily accessible, yet non-distracting location. Water does not belong on the piano; use a music stand, piano bench or something similar and place it near the back end of the piano. If possible, keep water backstage and take a drink between pieces or intermission.

3. Be sure that you have all of your music organized before going on stage. If you are playing with paper scores, be sure that they are in order, and that no parts are missing. If you are playing from an iPad or tablet, make sure it is charged, functioning and easily operable during the performance.

4. Walk on stage clearly and with confidence. Smile. Be welcoming to the audience as they welcome you on stage. Set their minds at ease and show that you feel comfortable and are ready to share an experience with them.

5. If you are performing with others, prepare ahead of time the order in which you will enter and exit the stage to avoid clumsiness upon arrival and departure.

6. Always acknowledge the pianist and bow together. Practice bowing ahead of time so that it is not awkward. In general when bowing, keep your head down and count to three. 

7. If you are performing as soloist with an orchestra or other ensemble, when you first walk onstage, be sure to shake hands with the concertmaster before bowing. This acknowledges your collaboration with the group. When the piece is finished, first shake hands with the conductor, then again with the concertmaster, before bowing. Include the group and their leader while accepting the audience’s applause.      

photo above courtesy of Indiana Wesleyan University