wedding music

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.

Summertime Music Musings

The double whammy wedding gig weekend is behind me. The first one went quite well. I had a lot of fun improvising on Canon in D. Everything was timed very well. I like it when that happens. The "rock music" wedding was interesting. I was shaky in a few spots and kept getting stuck in one part of "Another One Bites the Dust".

Another One Bites The Dust



Another One Bites The Dust By Queen. For piano, voice, and guitar (chords only). Film/TV; Pop; Rock. 4 pages. Published by Hal Leonard - Digital Sheet Music (HX.2135)

...more info

However, I just plowed through. Sometimes, I really "faked it", but it turned out ok. The groom got a little teary eyed saying his vows, which was quite touching.

Today, I returned to the place I temped at last month. I'm filling in for two admin assistants, one week in each department. My primary function will be to keep their seats warm, so I'm bringing my lesson planning binder with me and I anticipate that I will complete the year plans for my 40 students while on my assignment. Granted, it will be done in between answering the odd call, scheduling a handful of meetings and filing, but I'll have time to complete it. Maybe, just maybe, I'll have a chance to score study my intermediate students' repertoire while I'm there too.

During my last temping assignment there, I completed an article on rhythm and flow in music and Iaido for The Iaido Journal. I'm not sure when it will be published, but you could check the link regularly.

I got promoted to First Vice President for the local branch of the Alberta Registered Music Teachers' Association. At first, I was a little leery but now, I'm excited at the idea of completing my time on the Board one year early. I'm trying to wrap up my work on the Governance Committee this month so that come September, I will just focus on the Website Committee and the behemouth project known as the Honours Recital. I have to get caught up on the latter this weekend and call a committee meeting...on my week off.

On a completely different note (but just as exciting), the Calgary Iaido Club, where I train, got the green light to host its first national Open Iaido Tournament. We'll have seminars in other disciplines as well. Our planning meetings have been a welcome change from some of the Board meetings I've attended. Has anyone else ever noticed that when there are mostly men at a meeting, it goes far more quickly than when there's mostly women?

Alas, I've mused long enough. It's time to get back to putting together my music card games for the students. (c) 2006 by Musespeak(tm), Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.


Popular Wedding Music Selections

What a busy day! I was up around 8 this morning (unheard of for a musician) and doing yardwork. I have a love/hate relationship with my yard. I love nature, but I'm allergic to most grass and weeds. As the sun touched the flowers surrounding me, I could almost hear "Morning" from Edvard Grieg's Peer Gynt Suite, swelling into a brilliant crescendo as the sunlight burst through the clouds. I needed to take a break from housecleaning and decided to do a quick blog entry. Since I'm meeting a couple this evening regarding their wedding music, I decided to muse on popular wedding songs. Common processionals include: Canon in D and Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring. Common recessionals include: Halellujah Chorus, Trumpet Voluntary and Ode to Joy.

[amazon_mp3_clips widget_type="SearchAndAdd" width="250" height="250" title="Wedding Music" market_place="US" shuffle_tracks="True" max_results="" keywords="Here Comes the Bride, Wedding March, Canon in D, Ode to Joy, Hallelujah Chorus" browse_node="" /]

I wind up playing Canon in D and Trumpet Voluntary at many weddings. As for the most unusual? It's a tie between Forever in Blue Jeans and Born to be Wild for a recessional. You can find out more about popular wedding songs at these sites:

Seeing as it's summer (aka off-season for teaching), I'll cut down on my posts to one a week. Time to go enjoy some sun (er...houseclean, I mean houseclean). Really.

(c) 2006 by Musespeak(tm), Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.

Making Wedding Music Selections Easy

It may seem strange that today’s blog is about wedding music. However, people are known to get engaged over the holidays, when family and friends are together. Next month, bridal fairs will begin another wedding season. Usually, when I meet with a couple, they have no idea what music they would like performed at their ceremony. I normally run through a selection of songs and wait as the couple discusses whether they want happy or sad, fast or slow, bouncy or majestic music. The sole exception was the wedding of a classically trained pianist. She asked for Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata as well as other classics. She walked down the aisle to O mio babbino caro by Puccini.

Here are some useful links to help engaged couples choose ceremony and reception music:

© 2005, Musespeak™, 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.

Lost and Found....Odds and Ends

Here I was, happily posting blog entries when I was surprised by an e-mail from a friend a few days ago. She asked where my blog content went. Sure enough, "Musings" disappeared. My friend and I inspected the code and I explored my settings - all to no avail. This evening, on a lark, I changed the template to blue (Calliope's colour - Calliope is my writing moniker) and now everything is fine. The weekend's gigs went well. I was a little disconcerted by Saturday's wedding however. Small weddings in large churches make me feel odd to begin with. Small weddings in large churches where 90% of the guests don't sing along are especially disconcerting. I especially worked hard with the priest to pick mass settings that were familiar to the couple's families. I tried to lead in the singing but wound up sacrificing the chords I so studiously figured out the night before. What can I say? It was a quiet crowd. Lovely ceremony though and the couple looked fantastic.

Yesterday's gig was an adventure. I managed to improvise on four boogie woogie rhythms. The first attempt was the best, by far and garnered some applause and cheers. It was a good thing I practiced improvising as I wound up ditching the slow songs in favour of more upbeat tunes to match the crowd's mood.

There was a cowboy singing duo, complete with a washtub and amplified guitar in another room during cocktails. During dinner, we were located on opposite ends of the dining room, which was fine. However, as the evening progressed, the cowboys inched closer and closer to the piano. With 10 or 15 minutes left to my gig, I turned to the people sitting closest to me and said, "I think it's time for me to go get dessert." I wound up relaxing and listening to the cowboys for the rest of my time. There was no way I was going to win against an amplified guitar and cowboys who were challenging the patrons to sing and dance. As I was packing up to leave, the cowboys took over the piano area completely.

Ah well, them’s the breaks. It was an adventure and the food was delicious. Another gig came through the pipes this morning. Another wedding but it’s a cocktail music + wedding music + dinner music combo all in one place. Guess what they’ve asked for? You’ve got it, honky-tonk and boogie woogie.

© Musespeak, Calgary, AB, 2005. All rights reserved.