Here are some common pitfalls to avoid.
- Being unsure: If you're not sure if you want to stop or not, and you kind of say something but not really, some of your performers will stop and some will keep on going and it will be a mess.
- Speaking softly: Many directors will start walking up to the cast in the middle of a song, and will say something. Everyone will know that they're supposed to stop, and nobody will understand why the pianist is still playing.
That's because the pianist is usually busy looking at the score and did not see the director walk. It's also because the piano is loudest to the person closest to it, which means that the pianist can't hear people if they are speaking at a regular volume a few feet away. To stop a pianist from playing, make sure to use your loud voice.
- Turning to the pianist: Some people turn to the pianist in the hopes that that will stop him or her, but not only is this not assertive enough, it also makes the pianist wonder if they're doing something wrong.
- Talking: many directors and teachers mean for their talking to interrupt the song, while others like to give vocal directions during the song. Either one is fine if done consistently, but if you like to do both, you need to use a clear word for the pianist to know when you want him or her to stop playing.
- Pick a word: It doesn't matter what that word is, as long as it's always the same. Best in the music world is "stop," and in the theatre world "hold." Some common words that do not work are "wait," "hey," or "hum."