From Drew McManus (who’s also shown up in Andrew Taylor’s blog, and from whom we’ll be hearing more), comes this, about classical music on TV:
When I take a group of adult students to a rehearsal or talk to them about what to look for at the symphony, I mention many of the same things you mentioned in the footnote to “Opera troubles”:
I’d love to see an orchestra televised a different way. Instead of showing us the horns when they play, show us the horn players emptying spit out of their instruments, as they’ll do several times during a concert. Show us the strings frantically turning pages in their music, when there aren’t any pauses that can give them time to do it. Show us the second trumpet sitting motionless on camera — for quite a while — then play two notes, and then sit motionless again. Show us, in other words, what really goes on, including the musicians taking their lead from the concertmaster, if the conductor isn’t any good. None of this might do much for the music, but it might make absorbing (and informative) TV.
I also like to point out the eye rolls among violinists. For operas I tell them to look for the brass players reading a book or playing with a Palm Pilot. I’ve actually seen some laugh out loud when they see it happen for the first time. They almost get giddy waiting for it to happen again.