In this day and age of digital music – which means that printouts are on very thin, 8.5"x11" paper – we may need to rethink how we handle music. In the past, publishers and librarians did much of this work for us, but nowadays, most of us are on our own.
Just last week, I attended a concert at a semi-outdoor venue. There was a soloist on the concert and he played beautifully. (He shall go unnamed for the purposes of this article, but he has agreed to let me publish it.) There was one problem though. His music kept blowing off of the stand. He had the thing memorized, so didn’t miss a beat, but it was very distracting to the audience and probably to him as well. I wish I could say that this only happens outdoors, but it can even happen indoors if the ventilation system blows on your music stand. What are our options, so that this doesn’t happen to us? In order of priority, here’s what I’d recommend:
1. Memorization is always the best option, but not everyone has that skill. If you can manage it though, do it!
2. Use heavyweight paper. Most “normal” copy paper is 20-24lb. and it’s just too light to stay put. The breeze of someone walking by can even dislodge it from your music stand. You’ll want to go to at least 60lb. paper to insure the music won’t leave your music stand. These are my favorites in 8.5”x11” and 11”x17”. Both are heavier weights, won’t rub through when you erase, are almost opaque when held up to the light, and are heavy enough to withstand a breeze to your music stand.
3. Print double-sided and use a professional music tape to bind the pages together. You should NEVER have individual, single-sided 8.5”x11” pages on your music stand. That is always a recipe for disaster!
4. If you want to go one step further, you can purchase a binding machine that goes along with the above tape allowing you to bind up to 20 pages together.
5. Digital music readers. Some would put this higher on the list, but the bugs haven't been worked out yet. There is a chance the reader could run out of battery, freeze, or lose connection with the pedal page turner. I believe that in the next 20-50 years, this will be the way that most of us look at music, but for now it is one of a myriad of options that we have for reading music in a concert setting.
6. Music Stand clips are often used for fully outdoor concerts, but there’s no reason you can’t use them for indoor concerts as well.
7. One could always tape the music to the stand or to a piece of cardboard. If you do choose this route, make sure to use high quality packing tape, to insure that it doesn’t start to peel off during your performance. Keep in mind that this will trash your music and you’ll need to print out a new set the next time you want to work on the piece.
In the end, we are becoming more and more responsible for our own library needs. As someone who owns all of the above products and uses them frequently, I highly recommend that you invest in some of them as well so that you don’t wonder where your music is when you need it most!
As a Jew, you might wonder why I spend so much time in Church. Sure, I belong to a Temple and enjoy spending time there, especially for the community, but it doesn’t compare with the splendor and glory of some of the great churches around the world – many of which open their doors to the public for events of all varieties.
Most recently, I spent a long weekend in Montreal, and was introduced to two Churches. First, Notre-Dame Basilica has a light show that outdoes anything I have ever seen. Using the architecture of the church, the laser light show designers outdid themselves using the space to emulate nature in all its glory. Wind storms, waves, the change of seasons and a lovely sunrise, to name a few.
And second, we visited Saint Joseph's Oratory of Mount Royal which has its own 50+ boys choir every Sunday. We sat through the entire Catholic mass – in Latin and French - just to hear those boys sing. Truly angelic.
Last summer, I visited St. Marks Basilica in Venice, Italy, where Giovanni Gabrieli was Organist and Music Director for over 20 years in the early 1600's. All of his antiphonal music is written for that space and it was rather amazing to finally hear antiphonal music in there. (You can learn more about this visit here)
This June, for the second time, I attended Paul Winter’s Summer Solstice concert at St. John The Divine in New York City. It’s a cathedral that can seat over 6,000 people and the acoustic is so perfect that the group doesn’t need amplification to be heard throughout the venue. The organ is used in a way that I have never heard before. It surrounds and grabs you, shaking you furiously until it finally lets go – in all the best ways. I found myself in tears last year during the concert.
Closest to home, I have spent quite a bit of time at Old South Church in Copley Square over the past 25 years. I’ve lost count how many times I have performed in that space. Brass concerts with the Old South Brass and the Boston Conservatory Brass Ensemble, as well as chamber and full orchestra concerts with Symphony Nova. Symphony Nova’s office was even at the Church.
So, really, it appears that Churches are doing the same thing that Classical music as a whole is doing; adjusting to the changes in the world so that they can continue to survive. By becoming concert halls, in addition to places of worship, they can fill their spaces many more days than just Sunday and entertain an even more diverse audience of every creed and color. It’s a gift that they share with the world and it is always worth the trip. See you there!