The “I Do” Series [Part 8/8]: A Simple Task

So many funny and interesting things can happen between “rehearsal” and “ceremony” (or, at least, funny and interesting to me). Everything from unfinished programs to “where are the flowers” to “where is the groom” can just fill your wedding rehearsal hours with joy… or “joy” (depending on the situation). The thing that I find so funny and interesting is that months and months (sometimes years) of preparation go into an event that will only last roughly 30 minutes of which the main focus sometimes gets lost in minutia. Weddings are about two imperfect people coming together in the sight of a perfect God with the intention of spending the remainder of their lives together in an institution designed to serve as an example of God’s love and reconcilliation. As a musician, I’ve attended more weddings than I can count. Unless I actually know the bride and groom personally, I typically don’t keep up with what happens after “I do” (which always keeps my wedding ceremony success rate at 100%). My prayer and hope is that it’s for real and not just for show because marriage is serious and to be a part of that special day is an honor. To all my wedding musicians out there, keep in mind that your overall duties are simple:

1. Be professional.
2. Make the wedding ceremony sound great.
3. Remember that you are there to serve (in other words “it’s not about you”).

As long as you remember those three things, then you’re doing your job.

What do you think? Shared wisdom makes us all stronger.

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The “I Do” Series [Part 7/8]: The Golden Rule Still Works

Just in case the “Golden Rule” is something new to you, it goes a little something like this: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” This is a rephrasing of the scripture found in Matthew 7:12 which reads:

“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” (NIV)

After all this time, the “Golden Rule” still works. Why? Because it’s based in empathy. When you look up the definition for empathy, it reads “understanding of another’s feelings; the ability to identify with and understand somebody else’s feelings or difficulties”.

You may be asking yourself “What does the Golden Rule and empathy have to do with wedding tips for musicians?” Well, I’m glad you asked that question. If you are a musician being employed by a couple to provide music for a wedding ceremony, use a little bit of empathy to anticipate needs thereby increasing your customer service skills. Remembering the Golden Rule will help with this.

Think about it, if you were in the shoes of a glowing bride or a nervous groom, you can use that to your advantage to anticipate their needs. For example:

1. You’re more likely to show up before time because if it were your wedding you’d want your musician to do the same.

2. You’re more likely to be prepared because if it were your wedding you’d want your musician to be prepared.

3. You’re more likely to be patient because if it were your wedding you’d want a musician to be patient with you.

…so on and so forth. The bottom line is that when you put yourself in the shoes of the very people you are providing customer service to, you’re more likely to be as professional as possible because if it were your wedding…

…well… you get the picture.

What do you think? Shared wisdom makes us all stronger.

The “I Do” Series [Part 6/8]: Sounds Good To Me

When you think of a traditional wedding, what musical instruments do you typically think of? Piano? Organ? Harp? Violin? Those are generally the ones I think of, but I’m here to tell you that sometimes different and unusual combinations work. I remember playing a wedding with a flute and violin player and for as much as I couldn’t work that out in my head when I read it, the sound was amazing in person. Although that may have been unusual to me, to somebody else it might be a “regular day”. The bottom line is simply this, don’t dismiss instrumental combinations if they don’t make sense on paper. Some of the best music you’ll ever experience may be the result of something you hadn’t thought of (whether it be in a playing situation, a composing situation, or anything else inbetween).

Think about it like this… a crayon in and of itself is just a crayon, but a crayon in the hands of Leonardo da Vinci ceases to be “just a crayon” and turns into a medium for genius to flow through. Therefore, even if the instrument (or instrumental combination) is unusual to you, the skill and talent of the person playing the instrument may change your mind right before it blows your mind and THAT will cause you to say “Sounds good to me.”

Just a thought.

What do you think? Shared wisdom makes us all stronger.

The “I Do” Series [Part 5/8]: Respect Your Fellow Musicians

R-E-S-P-E-C-T, according to Bing Dictionary online, consists of three defintions:

1. esteem: a feeling or attitude of admiration and deference toward somebody or something
2. state of being admired: the state of being admired deferentially

…but the definition that I like the most is the third one which says…

3. thoughtfulness: consideration or thoughtfulness

As musicians, we need to always make sure that we have respect for each other. In a wedding ceremony, typically I play alone because that’s usually the request, but every so often other non-vocal musicians will be a part of the wedding ceremony. Sometimes the feeling can be anything from “Great to have you on board” to “You’re my competition so I need to prove that I’m better than you”. Regardless of what your personal feelings are at seeing another musician on a gig as specific as a wedding ceremony (or any gig for that matter), the bottom line is respect. They are there for a purpose and you are there for a purpose. In cases where your purposes have to coincide, be respectful towards one another (aka – “be thoughtful” or “be considerate”). Always remember that what you put out there will come back to you. Christians call it “sewing and reaping”. The world tends to call it karma. Whatever you call it, just make sure you put it out there. Even if it doesn’t come back to you the way you think it should, it will come back to you.

What do you think? Shared wisdom makes us all stronger.

The “I Do” Series [Part 4/8]: The Smile of Confidence

Vocalists. Gotta love ’em. My wedding experiences usually consist of amateur vocalists–amateur in the sense that they sing phenomenally (i.e. – can sing the paint off of your car and then repaint it another even more beautiful color), but not professionally (i.e. – singing is not their 9-to-5 job everyday). As a result, wedding singers of this calibur have differing levels of confidence. I have played enough weddings to tell the difference between those you are used to doing it and those who may have done it a handful of times. Either way, as the pianist/keyboardist you need to set the foundation so that the vocalist you are working with can do what they need to do with a sense of confidence and peace. There’s nothing worse than a shakey vocalist singing with a questionable pianist/keyboardist. In addition, the audience (although not musical experts most of the time) can detect “musical fear” and that’s the last thing you want to give off during a wedding. Therefore, be a strong pianist/keyboardist and remember that a smile can go a long way. Think about it, if someone were to frown at you while you were in the middle of a performance, it might make you question whether you’re doing a good job or not. Vocalists (as well as other instrumentalists) go through the same thing, so encourage one another. Most often times, a bride/groom won’t select a vocalist sight unseen/sound unheard so, if anything, the musical job can be done by all involved, but confidence is probably going to be the biggest roadblock. Therefore, brush your teeth, rinse with some Listerine, and lead the way with a flash of a few of those pearly whites. The smile of confidence can go a long way to a great performance.

What do you think? Shared wisdom makes us all stronger.

The “I Do” Series [Part 3/8]: The Test of Endurance

This blog is brought to you in the wake of my own wedding anniversary just a few days ago so just a quick note to my wife to simply say 143.

The bride is having second thoughts… the groom is late… bridemaids are having wardrobe malfunctions… the limo is on the way and almost there, but not there yet… the church is full of people who have nothing to do except listen to you before the main event starts… and you’re running out of songs to play. Sometimes weddings can be a test of endurance because any number of things can happen that could delay the start of the wedding ceremony. As a well rounded, well prepared musician, always make sure that you have an army of songs ready to go (songs that aren’t already a part of the actual ceremony). I learned a long time ago that having a plan can go a long way and as a wedding pianist/keyboardist, you should have a backup plan just in case the ceremony is delayed. Typically most songs last about five minutes (taking into account that you don’t play a 40 minute solo per song), so prepare a list of about 12 songs because the math works out pretty good (12 songs at 5 minutes per song equals 1 hours worth of material).

The hope is that you won’t need it because playing for an hour straight is definitely a test of endurance, but in case you need it you’ll be ready.

What do you think? Shared wisdom makes us all stronger.

 

The “I Do” Series [Part 2/8]: The Musical Ninja

In the last blog (https://lunsfordenterprises.wordpress.com/2013/06/10/the-i-do-series-part-18-john-327-30/), we visited the scripture found in John 3:27-30. In a wedding event, you have to remember that the event is not about you, it’s all about the bride and the groom. If you’re not one of them, then you’re making things happen “behind-the-scenes” so to speak. Of course, due to the nature of being a musician at a wedding (or being a musician period), you’re going to not only be heard, but seen as well. Therefore, it is your duty to make sure that you become a “musical ninja”. You will obviously be heard (because that’s what you were hired for in the first place), but “musical ninja” in the sense that you are seen, yet you are not seen. Contradictory as that may sound, it is achieveable. The main things to remember are simply this:
 
1) Wear either black and white or all black (no eye catching colors).
2) Make sure that you are setup and in place beforetime.
3) Do the job that you were hired to do and do it well.
 
If you stick to those three basic rules then people will know you were there, but your presence won’t distract from the main event. An homage to John 3:30 which reads “He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.”
 
(Key words: “less and less”)
 
What do you think? Shared wisdom makes us all stronger.