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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Would you Take a (Music) Stand?

Hi there,

A photo from I gig I did recently was posted on a Facebook page and someone commented snottily underneath (I might have imagined the 'snottily' but I don't think so!). 'Why are there music stands on stage?' I don't like them either - they take up valuable stage real estate and take the performer's gaze away from their audience. But! Sometimes they're necessary.

So you know, Mr Snotty, why there were stands on stage in this instance? Well, we were doing a gig called 'Exile on Main Street' where we played each and every track, in order, from the critically acclaimed Rolling Stones opus of the same name. Even the Stones haven't played most of these songs live. So unless you're a huge Stones fan, you're probably now thinking, 'hmm, which songs were on that album again?”. Well that's just my point. There was one single you might know, but only because Linda Ronstadt covered it (Tumblin' Dice). After all, 'critically acclaimed' really means 'no singles' right? And it's a double album too - 18 songs. I have fallen in love with this album but let's face it, there isn't a huge audience for this gig and we are lucky if we get to perform it once a year. It's a huge amount of work learning 18 unknown and not incredibly accessible songs as it is, for one gig every year or so, let alone doing it without cheat sheets.

Artistic use of music stands - the NSW Police Band
We are professional musicians after all and do sometimes need to actually make money from our art. I worked out my hourly rate for a gig like this once. When you take into consideration all your time to learn the songs, rehearse with the band and then perform the thing, it is often in the region of $1 an hour – now that would make even Nike blush! Not many of us are musicians for the money of course and having to learn songs is far from a hardship, but give us a break Mr Snotty!

I think nowadays with the gadgets we have available, we can be smart about this. Unless it's an all-singing all-dancing cabaret-type show (where I believe music stands are an absolute No No) I think an electronic tablet (I'm allergic to Apples so I'm not going to say 'ipad') has such a small footprint that it is allowable. I think a glance at it every now and again is forgiveable. I don't think that's the same as being lazy if it's used in moderation.

By the way, we got overwhelming praise for our Exile gig and nobody mentioned our use of music stands – and I don't remember seeing you there Mr Snotty?

Till next time...