June 01, 2015
Are you planning an outdoor party or wedding this summer?
There are so many beautiful outdoor parks and places in Minnesota that make the perfect setting for events. When the weather cooperates, an outdoor event is a marvelous experience for the guests as well as for the musicians!
A little extra thought and preparation on your part and that of your musicians and your other vendors can help your event go smoothly. I have had plenty of experience performing live piano music for outdoor events in Minnesota and would love to share my insights!
When I meet with a client or bride and groom to plan the music for their outdoor party or wedding ceremony and reception, I always ask them to outline their back up plan should the weather turn ugly. Without exception I receive the response, "It is NOT going to rain, not on my special day!" I realize it is difficult for people to think about their picture perfect outdoor event not happening the way they envision it to happen. But they will have peace of mind if they are willing to plan a back up option and ask their musicians and other event professionals to provide them with a back up plan as well.
As a musician with expensive portable pianos, audio speakers, mixer, microphones, and cables, I come prepared for dealing with the wind, sun, rain, insects and uneven terrain. My number one concern is to assure the client will receive the beautiful music that I have promised to perform for them while retaining my safety and that of my equipment. I explain ahead of time to my client that should it start to rain during the middle of their event, I will need to cover my equipment with my tarps. If it is a very light rain, I can possibly continue providing music although I will be under a tarp as well!
When I arrive early at a location, I check in with the person in charge to find out if there have been any changes to the set up location for my equipment. If the weather is agreeable, I set up my piano and amplification as agreed upon.
Here are my favorite tools when playing piano music for outdoor events.
TARPS. When performing I have my tarps near at hand should I quickly need them. Here is an example of just such a time when they were needed. It was a bright sunny day and not a cloud in the sky. I was playing my piano for an outdoor wedding at a vineyard. During the middle of the ceremony one lone small cloud made its way across the clear blue sky. When it arrived over the wedding site, it cut loose with a downpour for 5 minutes. It then stopped raining and proceeded to move off across the sky. I was glad to have had my tarps handy!
SUNGLASSES. I don't want the sun to be glaring in my eyes when I am trying to see if the wedding party or bride is ready to come forward to my processional music. Of course, sunscreen is important to keep prevent sunburn.
BUG SPRAY. I am not going to let bugs keep me from doing a good job! Bug spray totally saves the day...not just for me, but others too! Last year I arrived early before a wedding at Fort Snelling Memorial Chapel There were some picturesque places around the chapel for photos, but the photographer and bride and groom were being eaten alive by mosquitoes. They were elated when I gave them my can of bug spray. I am sure their photos turned out much better after that!
MUSIC CLIPS. I have a lot of them! If there is a wind, clips help keep my music in place. The long ones work best.
DUCT TAPE. A couple of times it has been so windy, I have had to duct tape my music stand to my portable piano! Whatever works, right?!
You can tell from my description above that I come prepared to do my best at making music for outdoor events happen.
But there will be times when an event cannot go on as planned. Drenching rains, an all day rain forecast, gale force winds, etc., can force an event to move to a place of shelter. That is when it is important that the person hosting an event have a back up plan, preferably inside a safe building. A tent can provide relief from heat, sun and rain. Not all tents are rainproof though and may not withstand extreme wind conditions. I have had to carefully position my piano to avoid leaking from holes in tent roofs. I have even seen a tent roof rip in half from the wind and blow over in a rainstorm. Arrangements must be made ahead of time to order a tent or receive permission from an owner to use their building. This may incur additional cost. It is important to find out how your event professionals will handle their duties should the event need to move indoors. The caterer, decor person, rental supply company, florist, musicians, photographer, etc., may need additional time and have different requests in order to set up in an alternate location. Some may have additional costs if the venue location is changed. These are important issues to be discussed prior to an event.
Spring, Summer and Autumn in Minnesota are wonderful seasons to host outdoor events, but having a back up plan is a must! Make your plans and ENJOY your outdoor event with peace of mind!