In Which I Compose a Symphony

So you take a pre-existing piece of music – or write your own, if you’re feeling particularly ambitious. Nothing too fancy, nothing too difficult. Make sure that it has obvious movements and delicate quiet sections, and isn’t too long. Ideally it should be performable by string or wind symphony, so that both bands and orchestras can reap the rewards of performing it.

You have your ensemble up on stage, but what the audience doesn’t know is that you’ve taken a large group of students – maybe your freshmen, or another ensemble – and planted them in the audience as well. They’re the second half of the ensemble.

The important part of the piece comes in with what you add in for this second half of the ensemble…

Several of them should walk in after the song has started and take seats in the middle of the front rows, loudly apologizing and stepping on people all the way to their seats, and then noisily adjust their seats/coats/purses before sitting. This should continue at random intervals throughout the first half of the song.

At quiet parts of the piece, have a large number of them loudly crinkle stiff cellophane for at least ten seconds’ duration.

Clap enthusiastically between movements and whenever else it (erroneously) appears that the stage ensemble is at the end of a piece.

At a choreographed moment, every planted audience member’s cell phone should ring. Some of them should turn theirs off after a moment, but a few people (strategically placed for high impact) should answer their phones and have full-volume conversations.

Loud, long-lasting coughing fits should punctuate all the prettiest parts of the song.

About halfway in, one person turns on a loud recording of a screaming baby. Do not turn it off for the rest of the piece.

Pairs of plants should have conversations mid-song about any number of topics, including the performance, their jobs, homework, and the cute guy they’d like to ask out.

Near the end, at a rousing part, several people should bring out the lighters (or cell phones, depending on the circumstances).

We’ll call it the Concerto Etiqueto, and the program notes will consist of a brief list of things no civilized concert-goer should ever do.

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