MUSICIANS AT YOUR OUTDOOR EVENT
Summer has finally arrived! Having survived Mother Nature’s version of weather for the past five months, all of us in New England deserve the warmth of the sun and the beauty offered up by flowering trees and gardens.
The coming seasons - summer and early fall - are prime time for outdoor wedding and party plans. As details are discussed and specific plans evolve for your event, there are a number of items to keep in mind vis a vis your contracted musicians as well as your guests:
• provision for shade matters — Fine classical instruments (wooden ones especially) and human skin have at least one thing in common: both are susceptible to permanent damage due to direct sun exposure. As you make decisions on the exact location on the property for the various segments of the day, be aware of those spots where midday and early afternoon sun is most direct. Assuming shade is nearby that spot guests can, of course, migrate there should sun exposure be an issue for them. Musicians need to be situated out of direct sunlight from the start as sun exposure can cause irreparable damage to wood.
• ground conditions matter — Musicians need to be able to set up on level, dry ground. Gently sloping hillsides, sandy beaches, rustic woodlands: while such terrain may offer potential for an even more scenic event, there is definite possibility for unsteady seating and significant challenge for musicians. Check with your venue for best suggestions of a very level area to situate musicians; some venues have an area with a flat, wooden surface for just this purpose. And if the ground is retaining moisture from a recent round of wet weather, both musicians and guests will appreciate avoidance of negotiating resulting muck.
• chance of, or actual, precipitation matters — The weather is threatening but your long standing plans have been for an outdoor event… If your event is taking place at one of the many quality venues in our area, your site contact will have spoken with you about contingency plans in case of rain, and will let you know by what time on event day the decision must be made. San Diego weather might be the California Dreamin’ of event planning, but we all know this is New England and there are no guarantees with the weather. Undoubtedly, your guests will be most comfortable without the worry that the sky will be opening up in the next 5 minutes.
Musicians must be located out of any precipitation whatsoever for a host of reasons. Direct moisture causes permanent damage to fine instruments. And precipitation of any kind – including misty air, fog, etc. – causes bows to experience limp and inadequate tautness of the horsehair (i.e. a bad hair day for bows renders them useless for playing). Of course, we wish everyone perfect weather and no worries in that regard for event day!
• air temperature matters — Why do most musician contracts- including Suite Occasions contracts – include a temperature clause? Just as with precipitation, temperature has potentially harmful effect on fine instruments. Wooden instruments expand and contract a bit given temperatures that are too cold (especially) and this leads to potentially permanent damage. Additionally, the strings of violins, violas and celli are much affected by temperature extremes. No matter how perfectly the instruments are tuned to begin a gig, strings made of gut wrapped in silver or aluminum expand or contract – thus going flat or sharp – in extreme weather. Understandably, many non-musicians are not aware of this fact.
The bottom line: You have gone through the process of hiring professional players in the expectation that their live performance will be the same top quality as their sample music. You will be assured of that quality if the few points above are a part of your planning.
Bring on the great weather. We look forward to playing for your event!
Faith Miller/Suite Occasions