The Gigging Musician Podcast

The Most Important Gigging Skill

June 03, 2021 Jared Judge
The Gigging Musician Podcast
The Most Important Gigging Skill
Chapters
The Gigging Musician Podcast
The Most Important Gigging Skill
Jun 03, 2021
Jared Judge

In this episode, Jared discusses the most important skill Gigging Musicians must have when they are on a gig and the dangers of not having this skill.

Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, Jared discusses the most important skill Gigging Musicians must have when they are on a gig and the dangers of not having this skill.

Unknown:

What's up gigging musicians. It's Jared, today I wanted to talk about the most important skill you have to have when you are at a gig. And so a quick story for you guys back in, I'd say it's October of 2018. I was playing a wedding for my string quartet, I booked it did all the planning for it, it was a string quartet gig for a wedding. And I had put myself on second violin. The way you know, for those of you who are not String Quartet musicians, there are two violins, a viola and a cello part. And the two violin players do not play the same music. Typically, it's the first violin player who plays like the lead part, the higher notes, that kind of thing. second violin tends to play lower parts, it's more of a supporting role. They do like the harmonizations, etc. And so I put myself on second violin. And I do that a lot for my gigs, because, you know, I did a lot of the heavy lifting of booking it. And I tend to not want to take on the extra responsibility of playing the lead part, so that I could be prepared to handle unexpected situations. So I had this gig, October 2018, I was on second violin for this gig. And we were about two, three minutes away from the gigs starting, and we're warming up, I'm tuned in and everything. And then all of a sudden, I hear a snap. And I looked down at my instrument, and the lowest string, the G string broke on me. So I was stuck with the three higher strings. And, you know, that was a problem because I was playing the lower part. second violin tends to play more on the G string than the first player does. And so, you know, I was starting to panic, like, what can I do? But So I turned to the first violin player, and like, she was, you know, looking at my violin, like with a kind of panic look on her face. And I knew that she was a great musician, and I knew that I could handle the first parts. And so I asked her, Can we switch? And it's, you know, it's kind of a big ask, because typically, for string players, like violin players, they tend to practice their music before showing up. And it's a big ask for somebody to have to play unfamiliar parts. Just, you know, even though the second violin parts not as technically complicated as the first part, it's still it's a big ask. So I asked her, can I play the first part, can you play the second? And thankfully, she said, Yes. Which meant all of a sudden, I was playing, you know, the the lead role on three strings out of the four that I typically needed. The gig went great. The bride and groom, and all the guests, nobody was any the wiser. Nobody knew that I had an instrument equipment failure. There was also a singer on that gig that we were accompanying for a piece, singer had no idea and we got a great review afterwards. But I bring that story up, because, you know, without the most important gigging skill, that gig would not have gone well. So by this point, you know, maybe you figured out what that important gigging skill is. And I call it the ability to sight read at situations. So in music, you know, we're all musicians listening to this podcast. I'm not as familiar with the non classical world, but it is definitely still a concept in nonclassical. sight reading is when you're given a new piece of music, and you've never heard it before, you've never played it before. And sight reading is playing it on sight without practicing. So trying to go for a perfect performance of it. So basically, it's the ability to handle new situations without preparing. And so I always I think sight reading at gigs, you know, not necessarily music, but being able to sight read every situation and problem solve. That is the most important thing because gigs are unpredictable. There's awesome, I love gigging you know, I play gigs every weekend, but every single gig has some quirk or nuance or some problem, something that comes up that you cannot possibly predict. And your ability to problem solve in the moment is what is going to make those gigs go perfectly regardless of what's thrown at you. You know, I can think of literally 1000s of different scenarios where something has gone wrong, like we didn't have chairs set up for us so I had to go and figure out that situation site read that situation and find the banquet Captain to find us some chairs or or go bring them myself. Other situations where, you know, maybe we needed power outlets, but they didn't have any power outlets available. So we had to run an extension cord so I read that situation. And even beyond that, like being helpful to others, like there was this one gig I was playing at a very nice restaurant in Milwaukee and It was for a wedding ceremony but the florist was panicking because she was not ready about three minutes before the ceremony was supposed to start she was like trying to get candles into these giant glass vases was not clearly struggling and I was ready you know for the gig my instrument was set up I was tuned warmed up. And you know, I sight read that situation. I knew that person was struggling that I couldn't help them out and make their job a little bit easier and help the get go even smoother. And so, you know, I Where did I get the sight reading thing from? You know, I love sight reading music. Back when I was an undergrad studying percussion under the tutelage of Dan Armstrong. One of the things that he would have all of his students do at his marimba lessons. Yes, I'm also a marimba player. He had us all the time sight read in our lessons, and he would have us practice sight reading. We used Jeez, I can't remember. I think it was Goldman gold. I have to get back to you think it was Goldberg? It wasn't the Bach Goldberg Variations. It was actually like a method for marimba Goldberg method for marimba, I can't believe I can't remember right now. But please forgive me if you're a percussionist, he would have was just cite read different exercises in that book in our lessons, and practice it. And I just loved it. And then when I went on to study conducting, I had another teacher at UW Milwaukee, Jim burmeister. And what we would do is we would practice score reading at the piano, which means we would see an unfamiliar piece of music, he would put that on a piano rack for us and just say, go ahead and play it. And the cool part about that was, you know, when you're a conductor, you're learning. You're learning to read music in different clefs, so that you can effectively conduct an orchestra. So the sight reading is not just reading new music in a clef that you're familiar with, like if you're a treble clef musician, you know, you might be reading something in alto clef, tenor clef, and even with transpositions. So effectively forcing me to practice sight reading to a degree I never thought possible. And I do believe that that translates to real life to like my ability to sight read music, and problem solve on the fly without having any time to prepare means that I can approach new situations at gigs and be able to figure them out, and ultimately be a better gigging musician, be a better band leader and serve my musicians and clients at a much higher level. So that's the benefit of being able to sight read situations. And think about that, you know, the next time that you're at a gig and something goes wrong, instead of being paralyzed by fear, and, you know, paralyzed by not knowing how to handle it, jump into action, spring into action, start to problem solve, you figure out what is something I can do right now to improve this situation. Even if it's a small thing, even if it's asking somebody else for help. That is totally a great way to handle a situation if you're not sure what to do, ask but don't just sit there and do nothing. Because doing nothing is what will cause that gig to not go as well as you would hope. So, hope you got something out of this. If you enjoyed this podcast, go ahead and like and subscribe to it. And if you want to give a get a free two week trial of the software that I use to book and plan all of my gigs, go to BookLivePro.com. Thanks for listening! See you on the next episode of the Gigging Musician podcast.