The true act of professionalism onstage is basically never to make anyone look bad! I have been the brunt of this many times when I was younger, and happened to be working with folks who were less than professional in their own right, and who loved to “blame the kid” all the time, when it was really their lack of class and ability that created the problem in the first place! A lot of these folks just love to push the blame on someone else, especially when they know they’re less than good at what they do!
I would say that the number one “bad manners” onstage is sharply turning your head and staring at someone when they make a mistake. This is not only demoralizing to that person, but it reflects really badly on the one who is doing the glaring and the finger pointing! It takes time to learn all this onstage “etiquette” but it’s truly worth it if you want to project the right image to the audience. After all, as they always say, most of the time, you’re the only one who really knows anything went wrong, and that most of the audience will have absolutely no idea that something went awry, especially if you don’t bring attention to it!
Even though I was the brunt of many of these errant criticisms when I was younger, I thankfully have not passed this onto my relationships with my musicians. It’s so important to build up those player’s confidences, not to mention to build up their trust in you! After all, a good and happy band will always be a band that trusts in one another’s approach to these situations, and to the way the music should be handled and presented.
Another important part of the onstage approach is how you deal with the audience…hostile or not. This is key, and really only comes with experience, or you may be lucky enough to actually already have the correct “people skills” to be able to handle these situations correctly. Either way, I had started out with the “aloof” attitude towards the crowds, with “letting the music speak for itself” as a key approach. Trouble was, that never seemed to go over that well, and once my true personality came forth in my life, I was able to make that happen onstage, and I was able to relate to the audience, be funny and therefore relax the entire situation!
So, more on this in future installments but suffice to say, “onstage etiquette” and persona is one very important thing for the development of you career and image!! Have fun!