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Beer Tent The general discussion forum, and the place to start a new "beer-tent-like" Piping Related discussion...

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Old 10-05-2019, 09:41 AM   #1
crossingnoises
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Default Takeaway tips from botched gigs?

I'm interested in any stories folks are willing to share about "takeaway lessons" after botching a gig.

I played a job yesterday. I did it for free, and I approached it with an easy, casual - and dare I say - dismissive attitude.

Before I struck in, I mentally went over my tunes and thought, "wouldn't it be nice to take a tune from this set, follow it by another tune from another set, and finish with another nice tune I know (from another set).

As I struck in to play, I simply blanked out. Taking the first tune out of the context of the original set paralyzed me on how it started. To cover, I just blindly jumped into the first tune that came into my head.

I had not played this tune in a while, and fell off of it for a bar or two.

I got back on my feet, and managed to remember one of the other tunes I'd selected, and got that one off the ground.

When this tune finished, muscle memory kicked in and without a thought I went into the tune that had followed it in the original set. This was a strathspey, and I don't think I'd played it in over year. A strathspey was not really an appropriate choice for the event, either (a church one). Another ugly falling off of the tune occurred to boot.

I won some winces from the crowd I was playing for.

Here's what's behind my question. Instead of endlessly kicking myself for bungling things at a decently attended gig, I am doing my best to keep things constructive. I now know it's a bad idea to spontaneously decide to mix up tunes from sets I've played hundreds of times before. Prepare the gig tunes beforehand, get them under the fingers so that the tune selection can roll off the fingers automatically instead of trying mentally patchwork tunes together as things are happening in real-time.

Has anyone else bungled gigs, and used the experience to gain takeaway lessons?

I forget where I heard it, but the idea is, "don't continuously beat yourself up over a mistake you made. Beat yourself up once, learn the lesson, and then add it to your abilities as you move forward."

How has failure helped you? Opinions and stories welcome.
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Old 10-05-2019, 11:46 AM   #2
Patrick McLaurin
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Default Re: Takeaway tips from botched gigs?

Don’t play in frigid weather. It’s just not viable. Be firm that you’ll be able to play indoors instead, at the memorial instead of at the grave. If they wouldn’t ask a fiddler, vocalist, guitarist, whatever elseist to play, you shouldn’t either because there’s a hell of a lot more than can and will go wrong when it’s absolutely freezing outside and you’ve been waiting in it.
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Old 10-05-2019, 11:58 AM   #3
CalumII
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Default Re: Takeaway tips from botched gigs?

No-one who knows me could accuse me of being the world's most organised person, but bitter experience has led me over the years to make a point of, before leaving the house, working through everything I need in a systematic way and pointing at it as I go: shoes...socks...flashes...kilt...sporran...


Remember you are the professional and if you're asked to do something, and you're not clear how it's going to work, find out. And don't be afraid of "no". Doors don't magically open by themselves. Bagpipes do not provide pleasing background accompaniment to a room full of light chatter and canapés. It's probably best if your saxophone playing friend doesn't "jam with you". And so on.



If you have to learn a tune for a gig, learn it a month beforehand and play it daily. Don't underestimate how easily it vanishes when the lights come up.
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Old 10-05-2019, 12:07 PM   #4
piper Q
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Default Re: Takeaway tips from botched gigs?

Regardless of situation, go in with a set tune list and stick to it. Practice it before hand.

To a skilled piper the tunes may be simple, but Hector the Hero can have some tricky grace notes if you haven't practiced it for a while.

Use a basic setting without many flourishes; more people will recognize the tunes in a simpler format.

If you're uncomfortable with the climatic conditions, realize that your piping may not be at it's best either.

Check your pipes the night before arrive early to allow the pipes time to settle in as you tune and practice. Have an emergency plan and tools.

Murphy was an optimist.
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Old 10-05-2019, 01:04 PM   #5
Linz
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Default Re: Takeaway tips from botched gigs?

Find out everything you can about the setting where you'll be playing, and don't forget that altitude may play a part.
Did a funeral years ago in a town on the other side of the mountains from where I live. Got there early, tuned up, and everything went well. Then at the funeral itself, struck in, started walking, and the bass went out. Ok, still have my tenors. Next step, both tenors went, so I finished with just the chanter going. I was mortified! Family was nice about it, I tried to give the fee back but they wouldn't take it, and even invited me to the wake afterwards. I declined and slunk home.... Found out later that the altitude was about 3000 ft higher than what I was used to....
A friend piped a wedding at a ski resort in California. He figured it would be in the lodge. NOPE! At the top of the highest run... about 11,000 ft... In February.... Did not go well....
So yes, altitude and climate may be an issue!
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Old 10-05-2019, 02:00 PM   #6
el gaitero
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Default Re: Takeaway tips from botched gigs?

Stick to what you know you can play well.
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Old 10-08-2019, 01:20 PM   #7
Dan Bell
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Default Re: Takeaway tips from botched gigs?

Don't take gigs that you don't really want to do. You'll resent the preparation.

When you do perform, be as prepared as you can possibly be. That means knowing yourself and your instrument well enough to know what you have to do to be ready to play at the highest level you are capable of. If I'm not willing to do that, I don't want the job.
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Old 10-08-2019, 02:44 PM   #8
piper_hm
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Default Re: Takeaway tips from botched gigs?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Bell View Post
Don't take gigs that you don't really want to do. You'll resent the preparation.

When you do perform, be as prepared as you can possibly be. That means knowing yourself and your instrument well enough to know what you have to do to be ready to play at the highest level you are capable of. If I'm not willing to do that, I don't want the job.
More importantly, don't take gigs that you can't do. If you don't know how to tune your chanter and drones properly, don't do gigs until you do. I cringe every time I hear a terrible performance...including one at a recent funeral for a police officer. Embarrassing
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Old 10-08-2019, 03:29 PM   #9
Klondike Waldo
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Default Re: Takeaway tips from botched gigs?

After one unfortunate experience with a drone reed that decided to go see what's in the bag just as the guests were arriving, I never go to a gig without played-in set of drone reeds and chanter reed tucked in my pocket or in the pleats of my plaid.
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Old 10-08-2019, 03:55 PM   #10
Patrick McLaurin
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Default Re: Takeaway tips from botched gigs?

That reminds me, I keep 2 drone stoppers permanently in my sporran. Haven’t actually used one yet.
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