DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am primarily a classical musician, but I dabble in other styles of music, as well. In my 10 years of playing professionally, I’ve noticed it becoming more common for musicians to bring bottles of water onstage with them during a concert. This is especially true of nonclassical concerts, but I occasionally see it in classical settings, as well.
Whenever I see this, I am reminded of my late former teacher, whom one might have described as old-fashioned, complaining about seeing a jazz concert in which the performers had bottles of water onstage with them. He felt it disrupted the performance.
On the other hand, I have many times felt that as a wind instrumentalist, my performance would benefit from being able to drink water as needed during a concert. Please solve the dilemma, Miss Manners. Which is more important: ambiance, or hydrated performers?
GENTLE READER: Deceptively neutral as your question is, Miss Manners is quite aware that any suggestion on her part that aesthetics are relevant to art would be met with accusations either that she is indifferent to the health of performers or that she is putting visual appearance before musical quality.
It would do her no good to point out that performers, like other mortals, are subject to fads, or that their track record, where medical matters are concerned, is not impressive. Witness the sleeping, not to mention pharmaceutical, habits of some well-known musicians -- or the many opera singers who used to advertise cigarettes.
As the question really is more one of aesthetics than etiquette, Miss Manners leaves it up to the individual performer to determine the appropriate trade-off between actions that make performance easier and those that may put off sensitive audience members.