Murphy's Law Applies to Music
- Murphy's Law: If anything can go wrong, it will.
- The Murphy Philosophy: Smile. Tomorrow will be worse.
- O'Toole's Commentary: Murphy was an optimist.
- Murphy's Law Extended: If a series of events goes wrong, it will do so in the worst possible sequence.
- Evans' and Bjorn's Law: No matter what goes wrong, there is always someone who knew it would.
- Murphy's Eighth Law: If everything seems to be going well, you have overlooked something.
- Trotter's Law of Percussion Music: Percussionists will consistently lose their music as a concert approaches. Corollary: All parts will be lost at least once, and percussionists will not admit to losing any music until they are caught faking the parts.
- The Uncertainty Principle: The location of all auxiliary percussion instruments cannot be known simultaneously. Corollary: If a lost percussion item is found, another will disappear.
- Percussion Will Travel Principle: On every band trip one important piece of percussion equipment will be left at the school.
- Percussion Won't Travel Principle: On every band trip one important piece of percussion equipment will be left at the performance site.
- Diminishing Quality Rule to the Percussion Won't Travel Principle: At any festival one piece of percussion equipment will be switched with that of another school. Corollary: The one you take back will be of lower quality.
- Law of Lost Drumsticks: Percussionists will lose sticks. Corollaries: 1. Percussionists always claim the sticks were stolen. 2. The lost sticks will be found the day after new ones are bought.
- Stidman's Law of Doors: The largest of the timpani is always four inches wider than the door to the auditorium.
- Murphy's Law on Instruments: An instrument always breaks at the worst possible time. Corollary: The instrument will belong to a first chair player.
- Baldwin's Law: Instruments are easier to break than to fix.
- Wyszkowski's Law: Anything will work if you fiddle with it long enough.
- Principles of Instrument Repair: 1. The screwdriver of the correct size will be missing when it is needed to tighten a woodwind key. 2. When replacing a woodwind pad, all available pads will be the wrong size. 3. When a pad is accidentally dropped it will roll to the least accessible part of the bandroom.
- Law of Diminishing Repairs: After restoring one key on a woodwind instrument, three others will malfunction.
- Mouthpiece Inertia Principle: Brass mouthpieces are easier to jam than to dislodge.
- Halbrook's Axiom: A stuck key will work perfectly when the repairman tries it.
- Law of Selective Operation: Brass valves will stick on contest days. Corollaries: They will not stick when the conductor tries themThey will stick again when the student resumes playing.
- Richard's Complimentary Rule of Ownership: If you keep anything long enough you can throw it away. If you throw anything away, you will need it the next day.
- Communication Principle: When a conductor gives students letters for parents, 15% will be left on music stands, 25% will be inside the music, 15% will rot in instrument cases, 15% will be left in lockers, 15% will crawl under the student's bed, and 15% of the parents will receive the letter.
- Tillis' Organisational Principle: If you file it, you'll know where it is but never need it. If you don't file it, you'll need it but never know where it is.
- Rollin's Rule of Organisation: The more you plan, the greater is the confusion when things go wrong.
- Copier Breakdown Principle: Copiers will break down when there is only one more copy to make.
- Left-Right Principle: At least one person is out of step in any one march.Corollary: It is usually the same person.
- Reeley's Principle: Any piece you select as a closing number will have a final note one step higher than the first trumpet can play.
- Small Band Dilemma: The drum major is always the best trumpet player.
- Bogan's Law of Bus Trips: Bus breakdowns always occur on the longest trips.
- Travelling Amnesia Principle: Forgetful students always forget something.
- RT + 1 Principle: The scheduled return time of any trip will be one hour earlier than the actual return. Corollary: This happens even when you pad the return time with an extra hour.
- RT + 3 Principle: You will have to wait at least another two hours for the last parent to pick up a child.
- Blind Leading the Blind Principle: Band members playing correctly will always follow the players who are playing incorrectly.
- Murphy's Law of Small Band Sight-Reading: Invariably, the melody will be in an instrument you do not have. Corollaries: Cues will not be provided. If they are provided, they will be in the parts of your weakest section.
- Bidewell's Score Maxim: You will have to conduct from a condensed score.
- Murphy's Music Stand Principle: The music stand you get will wobble.
- Reely's Adaptation of Rap's Law of Inanimate Reproduction: If you take a music stand down and put it up enough times, eventually you will have two of them.
- Two Principles of Diminishing Concentration: Secretaries always interrupt rehearsal when concentration levels are at their peak. Players late for rehearsal are always those who sit in the centre of the band.
- Horn's Law of Teachers' Meetings: After-school meetings always occur on the day of an important after-school rehearsal.
- Missing Mute Principle: At least one mute will vanish from the brass section at any rehearsal.
- Extended Rest Theorem: The longer the rests, the less likely a section will enter after them.
- Contest Pronunciation Principle: If a name can be mispronounced as the programme is being introduced, it will.
- Two Recruiting Ratio Principles: For every student wanting to play clarinet, there will be six who want to play alto sax. For every student wanting to play alto sax, there will be seven who want to play snare drum.
- The "There's Another Hole in the Dam" Principle: Fix one spot in the music and another spot falls apart.
- Alternate Amnesia Axiom: Any alternate fingerings taught will be promptly forgotten.
- Lost and Found Principle of Music Folders: At least one music folder will be left on a music stand after each rehearsal. Corollaries: It will usually be the same player. If it is not the same player, there will be no name in the folder.
- Say It Again Sam Law: Even if everything is explained perfectly, there will still be a question. Corollary: You will have just answered the question one minute before it was asked.
- Beginning Players Concert Law: There will be one video camera for every three beginning musicians.
- Premature Deafness Ratio: A conductor's hearing loss is directly proportional to how many percussionists are started each year.
- McMurray's Programme Principle: At least one name will be left off the concert programme. Corollary: It will be the child of the headteacher.
- McMurray's Second Programme Rule: If there are two ways to spell a name, the wrong one will be selected.
- Murphy's Law of Clapping: If the audience can clap at the wrong time, they will.
- Two Principles of Cymbal Cuing: Cue the cymbal player or he will not enter. Cue the cymbal player and he still will not enter.
- Law of Selective Acoustics: The percussion section always sounds loudest where the judges are sitting. It cannot be heard from the podium.
- Hatch's Law of Clarinet Squeaks: Clarinet squeaks always occur in the most exposed sections of the music.
- Fillmore's March Law: If a march can be rushed, it will. Corollary: A march rushes in proportion to a band's inability to play it quickly.
- The Play It Again Sam Axiom: At concert festivals, three other bands will play your toughest piece. Corollary: All three perform before you do, and play it better.
- Surprise Symphony Principle: At least one section of the music which sounded perfect in rehearsal will go haywire.
- The Punctuality Paradox: Give a strongly-worded lecture about punctuality and you will be late to the next performance.
- Bidewell's Transition Principle: You are never as good as the previous conductor.
- Anderson's Solution: When in doubt, blame problems on the previous conductor.
- The Lowest Common Denominator Principle: After a concert, parents rave about the pop selection played and say nothing about the test piece.
- The Least Credible Sentence in Conducting: One more time.
by Robert Reely - in the September 1994 issue of "The Instrumentalist"