musician for hire

Valuable Lessons for Wedding Musicians and Brides

Wedding season is winding down. Phew! Today's wedding should go well. The bride and I met months ago and got all the songs selected. I've played at this church before and last night's rehearsal was a snap.

The jury is still out on the one scheduled in two weeks. There are quite a few special requests for this one, which I didn't get until recently. Over the summer, Bride #2 rescheduled our meeting twice. She finally came with her fiance late this week.

At the meeting, she said that she wants five hymns sung. That was three more than what I was told initially. One thing I've learned is that if you want singing at a wedding, bring in singers. Don't expect the congregation to sing with enthusiasm. Most will mumble, if at all.

To make a long story short, she's going beg her friends over the weekend to form a choir and then we'll have to work out some time (when I'm not teaching, at meetings, etc.) to rehearse.

A few lessons here for brides:

  1. If you plan on having numerous special requests, book your musician(s) well in advance. Yours isn't the only gig on the roster. We musicians want to make your day special by playing well. Many musicians have busy music studios. Most musicians/teachers' schedules are extremely tight. The more time you give us, the better.
  2. Factor in rehearsal time and fees if you book more than one musician, such as a pianist and a singer.
  3. Meet with your musician(s) well in advance. If they are not familiar with some of the music you would like played at your ceremony, they need time to prepare it.
  4. If you put off booking a musician to one month or less before your wedding - good luck finding one. If you find someone willing to take you on, most likely, no special requests will be allowed.

And for musicians:

  1. If the client has to reschedule once, fine. If he/she must reschedule twice, unless it was for a dire emergency, drop the client. The money is not worth the hassle.
  2. If you decided to take on a client and are presented with several last minute requests, take control of the situation. Be very firm about what you require, your availability and what you are willing to do.
  3. Do not bend over backwards for problem clients. You should not compromise your other loyal clients (or your sanity) for this. The money is not worth the hassle.
  4. Charge for rehearsals. This is above and beyond the contracted terms.

*** Ironically, as things turned out, I choked on the third line of the Recessional at today's wedding (Jeremiah Clarke's Trumpet Tune). I drilled it a lot at home too. How frustrating. I stumbled my way back to the beginning of the piece as quickly as I could, segued into an improvisation on Canon in D and finally, segued into Houki Boshi, the Japanese pop tune I performed at the APTA Festival.

I guess I'm too used to playing Clarke's Trumpet Voluntary. I really should review the other, less requested recessionals more often, just in case.

*** (Sept. 22/07) Wedding #2 went more smoothly than I thought. To my surprise (and the bride's delight), the wedding guests did sing with enthusiasm and reverence, even on the hymns that were earmarked as just background music.

The only bumps occurred at the start when I thought the groomsmen were ready to enter the Sanctuary. They weren't, so I had to segue from Doxology to an improvisation on Canon in D; which I did so I could keep both eyes on the back door. The first bridesmaid entered too soon, so I had to make up some transitional chords in my left hand as my right quickly flipped to the bridal party's song. Other than that, everything went well.

(c) 2007 by Musespeak(tm), Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.

Wedding Music and Wedding Gigs

What goes into preparing for a gig? A little bit of administration and a sufficient amount of practice. Things never go according to plan, so you also need to be prepared for anything. I played at a wedding on Saturday. I don’t mind sharing it since it was an interesting gig (and the couple were wonderful to work with, so I hope they don’t mind that I share this).

The bride contacted me in the summer to perform at her wedding. We played phone tag for a couple of rounds first. She was in the process of finalizing the date and venue but wanted to check my availability.

One week later, she dropped of a deposit to secure my services, with the balance to be paid at the ceremony. By mid-September, we had enough information to negotiate length of the engagement and cost.

 

 

This wedding was a little different from the norm. The couple wanted cocktail music prior to the ceremony. No processional, signing of the register or recessional music. After the ceremony, they asked me to play Forever in Blue Jeans by Neil Diamond.

 

 

They made several special requests, which I was fine with since they gave me ample notice. A little My Fair Lady, a little classic rock and some rumbas. I wound up purchasing a fake book with over 1,000 songs in lead sheet format. It was a good excuse for me to learn how to improvise an accompaniment. Slowly but surely, I am getting better at it.

 

 

I began practicing in earnest for the gig three weeks before the wedding. However, a horrible cold impeded my practicing two weeks before the wedding. That’s when we finalized all the details that were required on the booking agreement. The bride paid the outstanding balance when she submitted the signed contract.

 

The families were in the throes of last minute preparations when I arrived. Musicians feed off of the excitement in the air on performance day. But my stomach churned when I reached the piano. The damper pedal was broken. Of all the pedals, it had to be the one pianists need the most for pop songs.

 

 

 

After a mild panic attack, years of lessons kicked in and I remembered finger pedalling, which involves holding notes longer than written and blurring the sounds together that way. It went all right but I was completely thrown off by the loss of my favourite tool. My right foot kept reaching for the pedal that wouldn’t work.

 

I had a couple of false starts in Forever in Blue Jeans but smoothed things over with comedic patter. Other than that, was quite pleased with my faking prowess that evening. I had a healthy break when I dined with the guests (prime rib, yummy!) and sat through speeches.

Want to know more about what it’s like to perform at gigs? I’m writing my first novel (it’s fiction but inspired by reality). Not sure when it’ll be published, seeing as I’m only on Chapter 3. Stay tuned!

 

© 2005 by Musespeak™, Calgary, Alberta, Canada. All rights reserved.