Supporting   special needs music

prompts on stage

jeremyjuicewah

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Hi all. For some time I have been waging a battle with band members who have music stands on stage, worst culprits are two of the vocalists but the guitarists use them too for notes, maybe backing vocals, order of play, next Saturdays shopping list etc.

Apparently now the thing is having tablets on stage. I dont go to live music much, except the gigs I am playing in, but it seems that most bands use these for lyric prompts, next song instruction from the leader etc.

Anyone doing this? Some time ago I watched a youtube video of my band and I nearly puked when I saw all the rubbish on stage and how often guys leaned in to read notes. So I stopped using notes altogether, just clipped a reduced size order of play to the mic stand.

I sing about a dozen numbers at a typical gig, and play tenor or alto on some of them and most of the other numbers. Sometimes I get the words wrong, sometimes I drop a gollock on sax, not very often, and nothing too serious, but I feel much freer without notes. It doesnt matter if there is a change of order, its all in my head.


Whaddya reckon? Notes, no notes?
Mike
 

Nick Wyver

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Depends on the style of band. When I play in a horn section in a function band we had stands. Now playing in a blues and a funk band as the only horn player I play from memory but the singers in both cases have stands.
 

Jazzaferri

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I have used my iPad on stage for jazz stuff when I play guitar. I use it for big R & B band arrangements (7horns plus rhythm and vocals.

I don't use it for sax with blues or Rock stuff.

The magic starts when everyone can play it with their eyes closed.
 

Tenor Viol

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It depends on the nature and style of what you're playing I think. With one exception, I play in bands/orchestras with conductors. The big band doesn't have a conductor at the moment, but uses stands.

You can work on improving stage presence and tidying up while still using stands eg adding drops to the stands. My pet hate is water bottles
 

rhysonsax

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I think there are two aspects to this: how it comes across to the audience and how it affects the band's performance.

I play in a couple of covers bands with similarly (middle) aged enthusiastic amateurs. For the number of songs in our repertoire (over 150) and the amount of time we can spend rehearsing and learning tunes, there is no way I can get by without written sax parts.

But when I see pictures of the band in action or when I wander out front, I often see music stands high up (because of fading eyesight) and the top of the players' heads, with limited eye contact with the audience. That is really off putting for the audience. That is something that could be improved without removing the music stands and tablets completely.

The musical performance would be much better if everyone knew the music inside out, but realistically for amateurs playing fixed arrangements, it is unlikely we could manage that.

Rhys
 
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Stephen Howard

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The music stand is just like any other piece of kit - there are ways of using it that are better than others.
I nearly always use a stand. I've played with so many bands over the years than I simply can't remember all the charts...except on those rare occasions where there's a long run of gigs preceeded by a great deal of rehearsal (such as on a tour).
Cover bands often play much the same numbers - but the key might be different, as might be the layout (intros, outros, repeats etc.). If I were playing for a living I'd have the time to commit the charts to memory....but I'm afraid that most of my brain is taken up with remembering which key goes where on whose horn.

So just like a mic (and stand), there's a technique to using a music stand...and if you do nothing else, tilt the table as flat as possible and set the height as low as you can get away with. If you can set it off to one side, so much the better...but then you need to avoid turning your head to see the dots.
If none of those options are workable, try turning the stand into a feature. Fit a frontspiece to it or make it obviously part of the show by hanging bits of percussion off it (you don't have to use the percussion).

Try to avoid obvious movements when reading the dots (leaning in and squinting, for example).
If seeing the dots is a problem, try printing the charts larger.

Watching a video of yourself on stage is a superb way of honing your presentation - and you might be surprised at how bad some seemingly simple things look.
 

Eoe

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If you want me to memorize all the sets you have to pay more. If you are only going to pay me three hundred for a night I require charts..500 + a night with a guarantee of three nights a week for 4 months I'll learn the music.
 

brianr

 
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If you want me to memorize all the sets you have to pay more. If you are only going to pay me three hundred for a night I require charts..500 + a night with a guarantee of three nights a week for 4 months I'll learn the music.


where do you live ? Is there room for another sax player ?

I should mention that for ONLY 300 per night I will write out the charts, lick the leaders boots and carry the heavy PA at the end of the gig to the waiting van, whilst holding the door open for the band leader.
If he wants me to make passionate love to his granny, I will have to think about it, but not for too long, before agreeing.

only 300 per night. I'll have some of that, thanks:)

Ps im assuming we are talking UK pounds. I dont want a rate of exchange of 30 Outer Mongolian "whatevers" to the pound.
In which case I reserve the right to negotiate re the granny.
 

jeremyjuicewah

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Watching a video of yourself on stage is a superb way of honing your presentation - and you might be surprised at how bad some seemingly simple things look

It seems I have to back off a bit. I had no idea so many live performers use stands and notes. Above comment is pretty well what started this. An open air gig a couple of years ago was videod. It wasnt bad, but you could hardly see the band for mic stands and music stands. Singers staring fixedly at song sheets. It was awful. For a pop and rock and blues band I dont think anyone needs them at all. Thirty to thirty five numbers from a catalogue of 150, with effort and courage the stands could go. Big band, well a small big band, I played in one, wouldnt have dared sit down without the music, cant see its possible to work it all together the way its meant to be. But when its me with a tenor and the number is Lets Twist Again, although I love the sax in this one, its not that hard and its not a big deal if I deviate a bit from the script.

Anyway, until I joined this band I had never heard of music stands on stage, and for this kind of thing I think its a bit mad, but it appears that its now very much done. One of our vocalists is 74, never been in a band before, I can understand him needing the psychological crutch of words in front of him, and we are amateurs and we are in it for a good time too, but I hate all that rubbish like a forest all over the stage. Maybe the trouble is there are 8 of us, 9 but the harp player is out long term.

I will shut up about it I think, I am most likely not going to get my way.
 

rhysonsax

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II will shut up about it I think, I am most likely not going to get my way.

As a step in the right direction, get everyone to lower their stands right down, flatten out the desks and TRY to look up and make eye contact. And everyone should have some fun, including when there are mistakes.

Rhys
 

Jazzaferri

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Back in my youth we used to make about $100 Cdn a night per player for bar gigs. I stopped being a pro in 1969 cuz i couldn't stand being poor. When I got back into the pro world again after I retired from the "real" world I was shocked to find that good pro jazz players who can read and play anything are still getting $100 a night per player for bar gigs. Concerts and weddings usually pay more but back in time we could live (albeit frugally) on 4-5 bat gigs a month.
 

MandyH

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If I had to memorise anything, I would be playing in NO bands.

We were encouraged to lower the stand so that our shoulders and heads were clearly visible above, and lower the stand so all stands were at the same height (in a standing sax ensemble). This did mean they had to be lowered to the height suitable for the shortest person, which was rather low. I make a point of practicing everything with the stand low, it takes a bit of getting used to, but it feels comfortable after a while.

We were also not allowed to have "clutter" (water bottles, spare coats, playlists) around on the floor - just the player, the stand and the sax.

Even when playing outdoors, we were discouraged from using a random array of coloured pegs - black smallish bulldog clips can be used inside the perimeter of the music stand, rather than converting the stand into some bizarre coloured hedgehog.

We went to a Chris de Burgh concert recently and his guitarist had a music stand (I assumed he was a recently-joining member of the group) and another musician had an iPad on a stand.

If eyesight is a problem - I took my Bari Sax, the music stand and some music to the opticians to get the correct prescription for a pair of spectacles used only for playing the saxophone.
 

brianr

 
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If eyesight is a problem - I took my Bari Sax, the music stand and some music to the opticians to get the correct prescription for a pair of spectacles used only for playing the saxophone.

Now, thats a great and practical idea. Nice One.

Do you think If I took my tenor along to my Physio he could help co-ordinate my tapping feet with my rushing brain and my flying fingers ?
 

Tenor Viol

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In fairness to @jeremyjuicewah he has hit on a valid point about presentation. Groups / bands / orchestras do need to think about it. As mentioned by @MandyH on platform you don't want coats, bags, instrument cases, water bottles (pet hate of mine) and other impedimenta.
If you perform regularly then stands should be same or at least say all black. Use card or backing or folders so that audience doesn't see a pile of papers. Consider buying stands drops / frontals
 

spike

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Yes it is very important to make a good impression on stage ;-)
No music stands and handbags are an absolute No No !
Sommerfest_08.jpg Sommerfest.jpg
 
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spike

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I'm Baffled Stephan - that's the same tent.
No wonder I couldn't find my silver lamé dress
 

Jazzaferri

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Well I have to say @Stephen Howard you have more *alls than I do. If I wore an outfit like that I'd trip over the mic stand and take out a few of the audience I am certain.
 

Pete Thomas

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img_6340crop-jpg.7913

You finally found the Holy Grail of mouthpieces then.
 

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