Many years ago, when I was an undergrad at the University of Illinois, I fired a musician for constantly being late to rehearsals. I was music director for a campus production of The Wiz. There were two violinists. One was okay, and one was really good. The one who was really good was late to every single rehearsal. I fired him because, as great as he sounded, it wasn't fair to the other musicians who showed up on time, and it affected group cohesion. I started to see eyes roll every time he came in late. When I announced that he was no longer part of the orchestra, the sense of relief from the entire group was overwhelming. I never thought I would receive applause for firing someone.
Anyone who has worked with me can tell you that my pet peeve is punctuality. If it's a gig, I'll be there at least an hour beforehand. If it's a rehearsal, I like to arrive at least 30 minutes early. My idea of being late is arriving 5 minutes early. Most people don't realize I'm serious when I say that there's probably an emergency if I'm not there 10 minutes before report time. I've started playing guitar too late in life to ever be the most talented guitarist in town (unless it's a really small town), but my dependability will continue to help me open doors and build trusting relationships with key players.
While I don't expect others to be as chronically early as I am, I do expect people to show up at the time we've all agreed to meet. To me, there are some important reasons to show up on time.
- It allows space to prepare yourself mentally and physically for a rehearsal or show.
- It shows a respect for the other members of a group. If a rehearsal starts late, I often become resentful, thinking that I could be reading, getting some extra work done, or just taking a little extra time at dinner instead of rushing off to a rehearsal that ended up starting late anyway.
- It shows professionalism. When, in contrast to many musicians, you have a track record of showing up when you say you're going to show up, that's a big plus in developing a good relationship with a venue owner or a booking agent. Also, it may cost you money to be late if you've signed a contract that says you'll arrive at the gig site at a certain time.
I hope that today's tardy young performer learns from this experience. He won't be cast in an Act3 Productions show again, but he's young, and there will be other opportunities. If he takes this lesson to heart, he'll become as reliable as he is talented.