Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Holiday Music

Saturday began the round of holiday music, with the Downtown Association's holiday open houses, sleigh rides & music. I'd intended to be out of town, so hadn't booked an event, but was called on at the last minute to fill in for another musician at 'Bella Casa,' as I'd stayed in town after all! The same threat of inclement weather prevented the scheduled musician from making it in - serendipity!

I love playing for the holidays! The music is fun (I enjoy finding unusual arrangements & less familiar pieces) & folks are so appreciative. The first listeners were a dad & his toddler son, who listened for a minute, then said 'harp!' They spoke several languages - at least French, German, Spanish & English - I told the boy (perhaps 2?) that some adults didn't know what a harp was! They listened intently for several minutes before re-joining the rest of their party.

Several folks did a double take as they entered the shop, commenting - "OH! It's live music - I thought it was a recording!!" Then they try to decide if they just paid me a compliment, or insulted me. I take it as a compliment :)

Today & next Tuesday I'll play during the lunch hour in the Lobby of Oregon Mutual Ins. company. They've invited me to play holiday music the last several years, & it's a welcome break for the employees & clients.

These are 'wallpaper' gigs, background music while folks go about their business - shopping, going between their office & another, or passing through the lobby on their way to lunch. These are 'wallpaper' gigs - & some musicians seem to find them tedious. I actually enjoy being 'background' music - folks can continue talking & going about their business, but when I stop playing, they miss that sweet accompaniment.

I arrange my set by key signature, beginning with all levers down (Key of Eb) & end with one or two sharps (G or D) I have a list of the songs in order, & note which book it's in. My 'big book' is filled with music in sheet protectors, & I have several books of Christmas & Holiday music arranged for the harp. Many of the arrangements come from my copies of 'Folk Harp Journal' & I've arranged & written out others. For a long 'wallpaper' set, I can play pieces over after about 40 minutes, but do have enough music to play about 2 hours without any repeats.

Today I'll be playing about an hour, & have a 'short set' list from which I'll play. It's rather gray & rainy today, fortunately there's parking right by the main entrance, & my harp, stool & music only take two trips to unload.