Sunday, November 23, 2008

Outside gig in November?

Well, I was hired to piano for a charity event at the Moraine Country Club. I was scheduled to play from 6-8 inside for a dinner with a seven piece combo (piano, bass, drums, A-sax, T-Sax, Trombone and trumpet). Then I was to move the electric piano to an outside tent to play with the Hauer 18 piece big band until 11:30. Since I was to play for 51/2 hours, I decided to take my best keyboard and was glad that I did. The outside temperature was in the teens! The club had a few tall patio heaters, but they were placed near the dance floor. The stage was freezing and there was a strong cold breeze that kept blowing the music off my music stand. The trumpeter had a few extra clothespins for me to use to secure the music. This is the first time I ever played the piano with driving gloves, earmuffs, and a winter coat! The band sounded great and the crowd loved it! I will remember next time to wear several layers as the year before I had a patio heater next to me and I was hot! I will also remember to layer at inside rehearsals in the winter months as the last UD Big Band rehearsal I had a heavy rugby shirt on and the room was in the 80s.

The next morning, I played with the UD big band at a TWIGS christmas affair. My amp blew a speaker the previous Thursday, and the pianist said that she would bring an amp for me Saturday. I left rehearsal Thursday and drove directly to the Hauer music store and my friend Michael Hauer fixed it in five minutes. I was charged $10. What a great place! Anyway, I left my amp and a 30 foot extension cord  in the car overnight Friday so it went to the gig Saturday morning. It was a good thing that I did, because the amp the pianist brought for me was smaller than a toaster and the nearest outlet was 20 feet away! There was no way a bass plugged into that tiny amp would cut through an 18 piece big band. I ran to the car and saved the gig with my newly repaired amp. The lesson here is to take everything you could ever need to make the gig successful! 

Sunday, November 16, 2008

bad rehearsal, good performance

Monday, I had a rehearsal with the Sinclair Gospel Choir and the director placed me right next to a new drummer. He was extremely loud and I couldn't hear the choir or any other instruments. I asked the sound engineer if I could have a monitor, but he said that he didn't have any more. I could see the pianist playing the keys, but couldn't hear a single note. I was in the very back of the stage. The choir was in front of me singing away from me so I didn't hear them either. 

The director kept telling the drummer to play softer, but he said that gospel music has loud drums in it. We told the drummer that we have played music for years and to always do what the director instructs, but he wasn't ready to listen to us. Because of his defiant attitude, I didn't get very much out of the evening. I went home with a headache and ringing in my ears. We met again Friday and I had decided beforehand what I was going to do. 

Friday was a totally different story.

As soon as I got there, I noticed that the bass amp was right next to the drummer again. This time, I brought a thirty foot guitar cable. I left the amp where it was, but sat on the other side of the piano so I could hear the piano and also hear the choir through the pianist monitor. This worked like a charm. The show choir was to perform the second half of the concert and I play bass for them as well. The drummer for this is very skilled at balancing the drums with the other instruments. The show choir rehearsal was fantastic.

Saturday night, I set up on the other side of the piano again and the entire performance with both groups was wonderful. The singers are very accomplished and the audience loved it.

Remember: It is your responsibility to always make sure that you can hear all the other instruments as well as yourself to insure a good performance. Just a simple fix like moving my chair 30 feet made all the difference in the world! 

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Wright State U lecture

Last Thursday, I was asked by WSU Professor James Tipps to be a guest lecturer for his Music Education Major class. Since it was very close to Halloween, some of the 24 WSU kids were all dressed up in some very creative Halloween costumes. The hour-long session started at 8 AM, so I really had to alter my teaching style from the previous week when I lectured at the University of Dayton at 10:30. I found myself talking louder, roaming around the room, and asking a lot more questions to get additional involvement from the kids. It didn't take long until the class figured out that this was going to be fun. Thanks to Larry Bohannon, Sales Rep. for Macmillan. I had tons of free stuff such as pens, bags, and sample CD of the K-8 series.

WSU Dr. Ellis requested a sample set of 5th grade texts for WSU last year, so every student had their own text in which to follow my presentation.

This was a lot of fun and it was great being asked to lecture at my Alma Mater. WSU had certainly grown since I attended. I remember having band class in the University cafeteria. Now they have their own Creative Arts Center. 

I just found out that my concert Friday at the Kettering Medical College has been postponed. This give me time to rehearse for the bug Sinclair College Quarter recital next week. I should get the music by this weekend. I bought a new 5 string bass so this should be very fun hitting all those really low notes with the Gospel choir. Interviewing an author of a Contemporary Christian Music Book for the next podcast episode. 
More on this next post.