What song would you like performed in 2013?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Harp music is changing..

Bob Dylan, Christina Perri, Hunter Hayes--these are not artists that people normally associate with harp music. In fact, most people would never think of putting this contemporary music to harp--but harpists are attempting more music than ever before. Social media and technology allow the exchange of music at incredible rates. Collaboration between musicians can exist in the cyber world as easily as it can in a rehearsal studio. We email sound files, we skype rehearsals, and facetime with each other. The same technology is used to meet and work with clients. This way, we can personalize music--we can do "mash ups," customize playlists to the second, and coordinate with DJ's so that the transition between live musician and DJ is flawless and undecetable. Not every song is appropriate on the harp, and what the harpist or musician hears as a successful rendition may not be what the client thinks is acceptable. However, more often than not, there is a working foundation. At a recent wedding, I was helping the groom choose music and we were working primarily by phone. At first, he was leaning toward more traditional choices: Canon, Jesu, Trumpet Voluntary...but in a follow up email, he had inquired about Marry Me by Train. This was a signficant song for the couple. I already ahd this in my play list and it was easy to play for him. He thought about it and, as a musician himself, was able to offer a great suggestion to make the song better! This led to Unchained Melody, Music of the Night, and Here Comes the Sun. The bride did not know any of the music choices ahead of time and was moved to hear such symbolic music at her wedding. It is always a joy to make a client happy--no matter the music choices. Your choices keep musicians from being bored. Your choices for us to keep learning and trying new things. Your choices (and they are yours) are what make your event as perfect as it can be. Do not be afraid to ask your musician to try something contemporary.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Some FAQ's

I have heard from so many brides and mothers of brides in the last few days. Congratulations if you are planning a wedding. I am so thankful that many of you are inquiring about my services. Many of you just have questions and I am happy to answer them! I thought I would address a few of the most common ones in my blog. Remember, the best way to get an answer is to ask me!!!
Can you Hear me NOW?
If you are having an outdoor ceremony and you hire a harpist to play, it’s possible the harp might require amplification as the sound of the great outdoors and wind will drown out the instrument. In fact, this could even be the case for a string quartet. Most musicians know the venues and their own limitations. I have a sound system to use but in most cases, I am prepared for every outdoor location! I am a strong player with a full size concert harp.
Ask the Venue coordinator what the acoustic limitations of the venue are and consider a sound system for the harpist to apply a microphone to her performance. These are things to consider no matter if you’re on a beach, a mountaintop, near a waterfall, in Indianapolis or in a large church
The Church has Rules
I have blogged about this before but it bears repeating: If you’re having a Church Wedding Ceremony, remember, even if you’re a Member, it’s not just Your Church. There are almost always rules regarding music when it comes to churches and synagogues. Many locations require you to use their musician or pianist/organist. Some churches will not allow ANY secular music, meaning you’ve got to throw that strings version of Chris Brown’s Forever out the door and stick to traditional pieces like Pachelbel’s Cannon in D, or Bach’s Air on a G String, or Ave Maria by Franz Schubert! Before you assume, you should ask about any music restrictions at the church. I have lots of music in my repertoire and I promise we can find the right music for the ceremony and can move other pieces to the reception where they can be enjoyed.

Don’t be Afraid to Take charge of the Music
Whether you have hired me, another solo musician, quartet, band or DJ for the reception, you have options! Make sure to tell the entertainment what you do and DO NOT want to hear. You don’t have to pre-program every last second of the music (ceremony or reception), but you shouldn’t just let your musician make all the decisions unless you are completely confident in their style. I like to have the guidance of the Bride and Groom because we play songs that say something about you as a couple, your personal music tastes are important! At the same time, maybe there’s a song you hate or that has painful memories associated with it, make sure to ask that the song is NOT Played. There are many musical moments in your life you may not want to remember. Beyond that, obviously you should trust the pro to play great music but don’t be afraid to step in and ask the band or DJ to play more of your style of music if that’s the feel you want your wedding to have and the entertainer is straying too far from it.

Don’t Blow your guests eardrums!
DJs and Bands LOVE loud music, maybe you do as well. But, it’s not a good idea to blow the speakers out at your wedding. Granted, as the night goes on and the dancing is really cranking, the music should be louder, but make sure you have a word with your entertainment beforehand to keep the music at a tolerable level as the evening progresses. This is what makes harp music a great choice for your ceremony. It is peaceful and a more controlled volume for your ceremony. I do a sound check with someone from the venue before I start to play so that each and every guest is welcomed by harp music. I also check with the coordinator before the bride walks down the aisle so we are sure that her arrival and processional is the most beautiful!

Don’t get stuck on one genre of music
Remember my famous line: the music is what stays with you!!! You will be somewhere and hear the music from your wedding and it should matter to you! It should bring tears to your eyes or at least warm your heart. If your venue doesn’t have any restrictions and your parents are letting you make the decisions, then we can and should use the music to help personalize your wedding. You love 80′s new wave, country or you are a Hip-Hop connoisseur, Great! You wouldn’t let your DJ only play one style of music at the reception so don’t play that music all night at your wedding. It might be what you love but you won’t hear half of the wedding music as it happens before you walk down the aisle. Let’s choose a great variety of things to make the prelude more of a mini concert to welcome your guests and set the tone of the ceremony. Contemporary music can still be appropriate for your wedding and venue. Too much of a good thing is never good. A great musician will be able to incorporate your music taste and still provide some variety. We want everyone to enjoy themselves! In general the rule for Music Entertainers is, play a great mix, everyone has fun!

Do you Need to Practice?
I rarely come to ceremony rehearsals. Usually it is because I am already booked but another reason is that I don’t need to and you shouldn’t have to pay for something you don’t need. I have already spoken with you, and most likely the celebrant and/or coordinator so I know what is going to happen. My pricing includes my hour at least an hour before the ceremony to touch base with the people in charge to be sure that I understand exactly what is going to happen and review the program. For an additional fee, and if it helps your peace of mind, then I can attend the rehearsal and go through the music however please check with your venue and coordinator to be sure that this is alright with them.

Friday, December 30, 2011

The Christmas Bride

The Christmas Bride

I have encountered 3 types of Christmas Brides: The first is what I call a “winter bride.” She has chosen this time of year because her venue will be beautifully decorated, there could be snow outside, it gets dark early enabling the use of candlelight at an earlier hour…She doesn’t really want Christmas music played during her ceremony because she wants it to be about her. She doesn’t want the music to overshadow her actual ceremony. If the wedding is before December 25th, doesn’t mind some in the prelude. Music such as “The First Noel” and “O Holy Night” are incorporated during the seating of the Mothers, or even during lighting of the Unity Candle. Sometimes “Joy to the World” is used as a recessional piece. The triumphant melody is perfect to accompany the newly married couple.
The second is the Christmas Bride that loves Christmas. She wants every poinsettia, every string of lights, and wonderful Christmas music played at her service. The bridal party dresses in festive colors like red and gold, and she uses music to really fulfill her Christmas wedding fantasy. This bride seeks to use Christmas music in her wedding. She makes the most of titles such as “Joy to the World” for her recessional and “Silent Night” during the lighting of the Unity Candle. “Greensleeves” is always a favorite as part of the processional. My favorite musical moment from a Christmas wedding is when the groomsmen of a wedding entered to “We Three Kings.” The humor was not lost on the guests.
The last is the Christmas bride that has her wedding any other time. She wants to have a Christmas wedding but decides against it for many reasons: the timing is just off, traveling is difficult, she can’t use her venue of choice, she can’t risk the weather--there are many reasons but in her heart…she wants the season to be represented in her wedding somewhere. It is a little more difficult to find ways to work in music. I have always said that music is what really makes a wedding individualized. It doesn’t matter why a particular piece is significant. If it is important to you then you should include it. There are many places to work in special music and even if it is seems out of place to your guests, sometimes a thoughtful mention in your program or at your reception will give them your explanation. You may really set an example for future couples that are struggling with their own music decisions.
There are many things to consider when planning your wedding: location, theme, guest list. Music can definitely bring a specific holiday feel to your wedding no matter when you are getting married.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

This wedding was special....

I had a wedding about 2 weeks after 9/11. My vocabulary didn’t’ include words like “Shanksville, Pa” “nine-eleven,” or “World Trade Center.” It was about the client or the venue. Music was still Canon D and Trumpet Voluntary or occasionally What a Wonderful World.
My daughter had just started her second year of Mom’s Day Out. I took her because the scope of the day wasn’t fully known at 9 am. I heard about the 3rd plane as I got home. I still couldn’t believe the first two.
The world changed and 10 days later we had a wedding. The church wasn’t full because of the difficulties of airline travel. Jennifer (the bride) called me Friday asking my advice, my preferences. Was I too scared to attend? What should they do? Her pastor advised her and Mike to go ahead. Who knew what was going to happen in the next few weeks, or month? We needed this celebration to remind us that life would move on. The caterer didn’t have everything needed for the food because of the shipping delays, and the DJ had suffered a loss in New York. So about 1/3 of the guests showed up to celebrate with Jennifer and Michael. It was a beautiful event. She wanted to include some patriotic music into her ceremony and we asked the whole congregation to sing God Bless America together. What a memory. I always think of them during this time of year. They have 2 children now and while they no longer live in Indiana, they always visit family and go to the church where they were married.
She had options. We could have cancelled, postponed, rescheduled. Vendors surely would have made changes to contracts for this event...deposits refunded if needed, etc but we all chose to get up and say that we would not be stopped. Even a wedding was a sign that the country, our people…we would move forward.
I have never written about 9/11. I have in my journal, of course…notes for my children. I have my version of the history lesson but never really anything on a blog. There wasn’t a reason to write about it. Then 2 years ago, Jennifer found me on Facebook. We relived those 12 days in writing and she finally called me. She has some great video of her wedding and she says it really helps during the anniversary of 9/11.
It got me to think of my friend who had a wedding during Hurricane Irene. The bride and the venue made the decision to postpone the wedding. No one wanted their friends and family travelling in the weather. I guess this blog is just to say that things happen beyond our control. It could be a man-made event, God’s will, or accidents but they happen. We have learned to be forward thinkers, problem solvers and hopefully, a kinder community.

Monday, August 15, 2011

What is the name of "that" song?

The conversation usually starts with something like this:
“Do you know THAT song”? Or “Do you know the song that is in that commercial? The really pretty one?”

Yes, I do. The answer, almost always, is Canon in D by Pachelbel. It is such a simple concept for music. 8 notes, or chords, repeated…hence the Canon. (This is not to be mistaken with a military CANNON).

Written around 1680, the piece was rediscovered in the 19th century. It gained more notarity in the 1980’s with the movie Ordinary People. It is not generally known why it was written although one theory is that it was written for a wedding. It was originally written for 4 instruments. Now you hear it scored for large chamber groups, soloists, duets, and even electronic music. It is not a Christmas piece although is heard more frequently during this season. Trans-Siberian Orchestra has a rather popular version frequently heard with lyrics at Christmas. It is used in video games (Might and Magic by Nintendo), movie scores (Ordinary People and The Thin Red Line)

What makes it so special? Well, you hear the chord progression in a number of contemporary songs which makes it familiar. It covers many genres and styles.

I remember my first bridal show many (many) years ago. The coordinator told me to sit there and play the “money song.” I had no idea what she meant until I was about 20 minutes into the show and played Canon. A mother of the bride started to cry. She said that was “the one she wanted her daughter to use.” That’s when I knew. There was something about piece of music. Sure, I had heard it before. I had played it many times. It had gained some notice from a Toyota commercial during the 80’s but what was it about the piece?

I think about a study I saw once on the symmetry of the face. The more symmetrical the face, the more attractive it was said to be. This has to be some of what makes Canon so special. It is very symmetrical. It has these wonderful, full, rich chords and progresses in a pleasing manner. The chords lead the ear to the next note. Each new melody drives us forward to the next variation. The melody is still familiar yet changes to entertain the ear. It matches the symmetry of a wedding: bride and groom, attendants, parents, guests on each side, and the couple facing each other, moving together during the ceremony…

Canon has been used in every facet of a wedding. From prelude to postlude, the entrance of brides, mothers, lighting of candles, and everywhere in between. Even the brides who use some very contemporary music almost always include Canon in there. It is familiar, a musical cue to our guests that a wedding is taking place. It provides a dynamic musical setting for a wedding, which has the same similar highs and lows.

I even like to play it. I really do. I probably play it over 100 times a year in performance and I still love it. I love the variety, the progression and the look on the faces of audiences that hear it. I never get bored with it. It’s amazing what those 8 little notes do for an event. One of my happiest parenting moments was when my daughter learned it on the piano, and then the melody on the violin and played it with me.

So now you know. Canon in D by Pachelbel. Played as a solo, duet, trio, ensemble, chamber group…we all have a favorite arrangement or performance. Remember what I always say about music: The choice that you make is how you make things unique. Don’t shy away from a music selection because you think it is overused. Choose it because you love it, it suits your wedding, and because it will be performed by a musician that cares as much about it as you do.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Meeting with your vendors

Weddings have seasons just like almost anything else...there is the busy season when we find ourselves working on weddings every day, the engagement season when we first hear from potential clients, bridal show season, and finally the planning season. I am currently in planning season.

I am meeting with my current brides to help the music match the dream they have had since they were little girls. Some are very prepared and have been sending me mp3 files and YouTube clips for weeks. Others are already overwhelmed by hundreds of flower choices and cakes flavors.

Either way, we always find music to make the most of the event. There are pros and cons to both types of brides. If you know what you want, sending me files is a great way for us to get as much accomplished as we can prior to the meeting. I know what type of music you want, specific titles, etc. That way, when we meet I can just start to play the music for you and we can organize it to match your ceremony. It also tells us if something doesn't sound "quite right" on the harp.

If you aren't sure what you want then I thank you for your trust. Over 20 years experience helps me to know pretty quickly if you are more contemporary or traditional and once I know what song the bride is using for herself, everything else falls into place pretty quickly.

Having your ceremony outline is helpful but not necessary. Most ceremonies are fairly similar. We can always make adjustments later if needed. Also, we aren't limited to one meeting. I also SKPE, send music files via email and can play for you over the phone.

Don't assume that your favorite contemporary song won't work either. Let me know what it is. I am willing to try anything once and you just never know. Sometimes the most gorgeous harp songs come from rock ballads. If I can't find the sheet music, I know many talented arrangers that can help me!

This is one of my favorite times of the year. I have met so many amazing brides and their families the last 6 weeks. I have a few more bridal shows to do this spring and then it's right into the actual wedding season.
Thanks for letting me be a part of your special day!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Happy 2011

Wow! Between twitter, facebook and now tumblr, I am behind on my blogging. I do it, I know it do it...I just think I do it while I am meeting new clients or other vendors.

It is 2011. I have already performed a wedding, and two private events! This is turning out to be a great year. There are still plenty of open days left in 2011 so please don't hesitate to contact me about your wedding plans.
The trends this year look to be harp duets. Flute and violin have been in the top requests this year but I have also been asked about cello, vocals, guitar and even accordion! I am willing to try anything.

New music is also going to be important. While more contemporary standards are still on the hot list, brides are pushing for new music that is important to them. Remember, music is what stays with you and triggers a memory. Your cake is gone, dress is stored away, and pictures on a disk...but you will be somewhere and hear the music from your wedding. Especially now that we are able to perform a wider variety of music. As musicians, we have greater access to more music and are able to try new things.

Let me know what you think the trends will be for 2011!