"The Truth about Orchestral Players"

I’m sure tons of other people have seen and read this article already, but I figured even that post states it doesn’t know the source, so… that means it’s public domain, right? Also, if you haven’t read it, do that now.
We’re at the end of our teeny little miniseries about the clarinet this week, and I dug up this humorous article about the different ‘qualities’ or general characteristics of the instruments. While it isn’t specifically ‘clarinet,’ I still found it humorous. This week’s music post is the last in our little series, and next week, we jump right into another one that is totally unrelated. I thought about trying to find a small transition piece, but that wasn’t happening. Maybe next time.
In case I wasn’t clear enough about my source for this article, it didn’t come from my brain, and apparently it didn’t come from Chris Lamb’s brain either, so here is the original article, the beginning generalized bit I am quoting word-for-word below:

…let me set the record straight in plain English about some of the characteristics which typify the four groups.

  • Woodwind players have IQs in the low- to mid-genius range. Nerds with coke-bottle glasses and big egos, blowers tend to be extremely quiet, cowering behind bizarre-looking contraptions – their instruments – so nobody will notice them. It is often difficult to discern whether a wind player is male or female.
  • String players are neurotic prima donnas who won’t even shake your hand for fear of permanent injury. A string player will never look you directly in the eye. They never bathe carefully – or often.
  • Brass players are loud-mouthed drunkards who bully everyone, with the possible and occasional exception of a stray percussionist. They like to slick their hair back. Nobody knows why.
  • Percussionists are insensitive oafs who constantly make tasteless jokes at the expense of the strings and woodwinds. They look very good in concert attire but have the worst table manners of all musicians. They are always male, or close enough.

Now that that’s behind us, you should go finish the article if you haven’t already. Thank you.
Aside from the typical band geek jokes for most instruments (“How do you get two piccolos to play in tune? Shoot one.”), most people will be familiar with some of this stigma or even ‘social hierarchy’ of the band world. What’s so funny about this kind of article is that, in so many ways, it’s true.
Now, there’s a psych major who’s going to tell us about confirmation bias and all that, but… everyone can think of at least one person if not the first chair who typifies the sweeping generalizations mentioned in the article. And that’s funny.
But then again, it’s also like the whole “pets look like their owners,” idea that has escaped even my lips in the past. I have a dog, and I sort-of-kind-of didn’t even pick her out at the shelter. I’ve had her for a few years now, and just the other day a coworker swore that “she’s starting to look like me,” which, from my end, is absurd. Neither me or my Doggess have fundamentally changed our facial features or anything in the past few years.
Oh, by the way, I’m done talking about the humorous aspects of this. Buckle in for serious stuff.
These ‘phenomena’ fascinate me, and the big question, aside from the actual social constructs of interactions and roles inside the orchestra, both musically and politically, is this: is it that type of person that chooses the instrument, or is it the instrument (and the above things I mentioned) that changes the player? I say it’s the latter. I don’t have much more to say about this except that it’s an amusing read. And in the interest of factual accuracy or whatever, I’m sure there are just as many instrument people that don’t fit these descriptions, and there are just as many pictures of pet owners who don’t look like their dogs, but those wouldn’t make for very entertaining blog posts, would they?


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