I typically dress fairly casually for my evening rehearsals: a suit and tie would not be appropriate here. Jeans are more likely.
Except for Day One.
In his book Blink, Malcolm Gladwell describes a study of end-of-semester professor evaluations:
The psychologist Nalini Ambady once gave students three ten-second videotapes of a teacher – with the sound turned off – and found they had no difficulty at all coming up with a rating of the teacher’s effectiveness […] They were remarkably consistent even when she showed the students just two seconds of videotape. […] Then Ambady compared those snap judgements…with evaluations of those same professors made by their students after a full semester of classes, and she found they were also essentially the same. (Blink, pp. 12-13)
The lesson I take from this is that the messages we send during our first rehearsal – consciously and subconsciously – are incredibly important to the work we will do throughout the year.
So I wear a suit. I think it lets my students know I’m professional, serious about our work, and have enough respect for them to dress well.
Messages I’ll continue to send all year, but never with as great an impact as in the first few minutes of the first rehearsal.