One of the best parts of playing in a band are the gigs. And if you play in a Community Band chances are that during the summer you will be playing at outdoor concerts.
I play in the Sycamore Community Band and have had opportunities to play in some great places like the Lanier Mansion in Madison, Indiana or overlooking the Ohio River in downtown New Richmond, Ohio. My question for you is; are you prepared for the outdoor concert season?
Let’s Start with a Decent Music Stand
Below is what a decent music stand DOES NOT look like:
You should never use one of these types of music stand for an outdoor concert. They are way too lightweight.
There is one thing that outdoor concerts have that indoor ones do not; WIND. First gust of wind and this stand is on the ground and your music is flying everywhere. You will not be winning points with your band director.
This is the one that I have and have been using it for a number of years. It is on the heavy side (weighs around 6 lbs) but it comes with a carrying bag. It is K&M model 10700:
I know it is kind of pricey but look at it as an investment. The feet on this thing are large and look to be made of rubber. They grip the ground. Also in the top of the picture of the stand are little wings that adjust and are useful when the piece is more than two pages.
In the years that I have had it the wind has never toppled and I am talking about a stand that had on it the music folder and music for an entire 2 hour show. I have never regretted paying the extra money for this stand. And when a gust of wind comes along during the concert, I love it even more.
Next, Music Stand Clips
Well, a gust a wind comes along in the middle of the concert and your music stand is upright, but your sheet music is airborne and is last seen flying over the tubas. That is why you need Music Stand Clips.
The ones that I use are made by Manhasset and I have 3 of them. They are the model 1200 MusiClip:
They have a right angle clip that slips over and attaches to the edge of the tray on the music stand. That right angle lets you push them flush up against your music. They extend 12 inches vertically and are clear so they cover but enable you to see your music.
Once again, they are kinda pricey but I have tried many solutions and though not perfect, this one seems to work best. It is especially good for page changes during the tune and making the change to the next number.
Music Stand Light (Are You Sure ??)
I know, you are playing outside, why would you need a light. I have been on a number of outdoor stages and amphitheaters and if you are in the back you could be in a dark cubby hole. And don’t rely on having ample lighting at any venue. Just as some insurance, carry a music stand light.
This is the one that I like, the Mighty Bright Encore Music Stand Light; the 54910. It is the smaller cousin to the Mighty Bright Orchestra Light. (See, I don’t always pick the most expensive one) I don’t personally own this light, but I have used one when playing with my big band, Gentlemen of Swing. One thing I like about it for playing in a big band, it can light up three pages of music. It is smaller than the Orchestra Light and can easily fit into a pouch.
In Praise of Gard Wheelie Bags
I know, this is an out-and-out plug, but my Gard Wheelie Bag has been a lifesaver for me.
During the outdoor concert season, the stage is not always convenient to the parking lot. And as I get older my bari sax is not getting any lighter. So I splurged and got a Gard Wheelie Bag for my baritone sax
Once again, it is very pricey. I have had mine for a few years and have never regretted the purchase even though it cost a lot.
The bag has a whole lot of storage. I have my instrument stand, music folder, two mouthpiece setups, straps, music stand light, and a whole lot of other crap in this bag. It has a good amount of padding on the inside. Not great but better than most “gig bags”. I can say that, even though it has straps on the back, I will not be lugging around my bari sax on my back. Maybe for some of you young bloods, but for me, not gonna happen!
Other Stuff But Do You Really Need It
These are some other things that I tried but later abandoned. Of course, it may work for you or you find it is something you just cannot live without
This is one that is pretty nice; well constructed and will attach to most stands. It also comes in two sizes.
This one of those “nice to have” items. Me, I put my water bottle on the floor next to my music stand and try not to kick it over during the concert.
Music Stand Accessory Shelf
This is an example of “good idea, but where do I put it?”
I like the idea of having an accessory shelf that clipped on to the bottom of my stand. I put pencils, spare reeds, tuner, and a whole lot of other things on this shelf. The problem was where do I put it for travel? It does not collapse so it is very bulky. Besides life is short; do I really need all this stuff?
So, Are You Ready for the Outdoor Concert Season
These were all things that I went through to get ready for the outdoor concert season. It was all trial-and-error. Some things work and some things didn’t.
I would love to hear from you and to keep this conversation going. Care to share some of your outdoor concert season successes?