The Ady Ensemble is getting everything ready as it approaches its first rehearsal later this week. With lots still to do, we were reminded of an issue that the ensemble had to address some time ago, and which has resulted in some serious ongoing experimentation undertaken on behalf of its members. With this in mind we bring you our current report on this ongoing issue, which has been dubbed, “The Monte Carlo Dilemma.”
(Disclaimer: reading this article may induce tea and biscuit consuming behaviours. Therefore, we strongly advise that before proceeding that you ensure that your kettle is full, that the plug is inserted and on, and that the bikky barrel is well-stocked.)
As is the case with many ensembles, the tea break is an important component of each rehearsal. The players look forward to that halfway-mark in a rehearsal, which affords time for them to down a hot cuppa, take the opportunity to catch up with someone sitting on the other side of the room during the rehearsal (despite the fact that they’d most likely been spending some of that rehearsal time texting, and sending pictures of either themselves, the person sitting next to them, a boring or impossible passage that they have to play/endure, or catching the conductor in an unflattering position), catch up on gossip, payout on the conductor behind their back, and get something to nibble on with their cuppa.
It’s the last point that can be the most important when it comes to the tea break, which can (literally) leave a sour taste in the players’ mouths, and put them right off their game for the rest of the rehearsal (and the following rehearsals if they know that there’s nothing to look forward to at the halfway mark). It would be fair to say that, generally speaking, musicians are very discerning when it comes to their biscuit selection, and parallels with Napoleon’s famous comment about an army marching on its stomach do come to mind (although this shouldn’t be taken literally; bowings can become very tricky whilst musicians are playing on their stomach). With this in mind, the biscuit selection for the Ady Ensemble’s rehearsals has been one that has painstakingly taken considerable forethought, and which has evolved after much input from the players and others.
We started our rehearsals with the offerings of a packet of the Arnott’s Family Assorted, coupled with a packet of Tim-Tams- the latter provided for those (perceived) select few with a more sweeter tooth than others. By the end of the rehearsal, we noticed that the ‘Family’ was almost completely untouched. In hindsight, this was no surprise, since the total absence of anything creamy in the ‘Family’ made it not even remotely competitive with the Tim-Tams. However, we felt that it was important that those with plainer tastes (i.e. not cream filled biscuits) should be catered for. However, with not enough Tim-Tams to go around a group of twenty-odd mouths, we had something akin to an uprising almost on our hands. Something had to be done urgently to rectify this situation prior to the next rehearsal.
For some time, the combination of the Arnott’s Classic Assortment, with a packet of Tim-Tams (the classic milk chocolate variety, we should add) was able to placate most tastes, and having the local constabulary on speedy dial soon became unneccessary. With the inclusion of the Shortbread Cream, the Monte Carlo, and the Kingston, the ‘Classic’ was significantly more competitive with the Tim-Tams than its predecessor. However, the other members of the ‘Classic’, such as the Scotch Finger and the Choc Chip, were highly neglected in comparison. It was becoming more and more apparent that our players weren’t that interested in the plainer, cream-free, biscuits. Although we were encouraged by these results, we knew that more information gathering, via field-study, was required.
After following this combination for some time, we received some input from a player, who took the trouble to contact us to lament about the shortage of Monte Carlos in the ‘Classic’. As a result, for a couple of rehearsals the ‘Classic’ was supplemented by an additional packet of Monte Carlos, along with the firmly established Tim-Tams. Whilst some biscuits from the Monte Carlo packet were consumed, and also from the ‘Classic’, the purchasing of a whole packet of Monte Carlos seemed to be unwarranted. With the dry biscuits from the ‘Classic’ still being poorly consumed, there was only one choice left for us to make.
With it becoming obvious to us that the player’s desire for cream filled biscuits was overwhelming, to the point of neglecting any other- more drier- options, the following rehearsals saw the introduction of the Arnott’s Assorted Creams alongside the Tim-Tams. This coupling has been the most successful yet, with both packets becoming lighter (and therefore the clear plastic inner packaging more transparent) by the end of the rehearsals. With only five options, compared to the six in the ‘Classic’, the Assorted Creams also provided us with more Monte Carlos as well. Since adhering to this mix in our offerings to the players, the only variation now has now been in trying out the different varieties of Tim-Tams- such as the Turkish Delight, the Double Coat, and the Dark Chocolate Classic Dark. Other varieties, such as the Dark Chocolate Rum and Raisin, the Honeycomb, and Choc Orange, have yet to be explored, but no doubt will be in time. Whether this more informed biscuit selection has contributed to the increased playing standards of the ensemble over the years is still under investigation. We will keep you posted as more information comes to hand (or to saucer).
Do come and join us to hear the Ady Ensemble play at their next concert, “Hot Vodka”, on the 11th of June, 2016, at 4pm. If the opportunity arises, things of a biscuit nature may also be discussed.