I have been fortunate to be asked to play in so many weddings, anniversaries, memorial services, concerts, among others that sometimes I reflect on the many amazing experiences I have encountered, and I how I have learned to deal with emotions in important gigs. I will never forget an early wedding I played when I first started gigging. I was playing a piece of music and I could hear people in the front row crying at a wedding. One of the guests in attendance (who actually happened to be a father of the bride) later came up to me with tears in his eyes, thanking me, and telling me the music I was playing (The Beatles) was his Dad's favorite, and was played in his wedding. I realized early on at the power of music to invoke emotions in people of any age, and it's effect on my emotions in response to those in attendance. Sometimes when you are playing you can get caught up in the feeling of an event, and it's best to think of the chords, and notes that are coming and forget what is happening around you. Crying bridesmaids/brides/grooms etc. can throw a novice for a loop, but it's best to just play on and think of the music and the emotion you're trying to convey. I also find it rewarding after playing a piece of music at an intimate concert, and seeing the waterworks in someones eyes. I recently had a woman come up to me aftet and concert and tell me she loved my rendition of "At Last" by Etta James, as it was played at her wedding. Her husband had recently passed away, and she felt connected to him through the music. The connection humans have through music is so powerful and inspirational. Quite frankly, I've gotten to the point where everything I play is on auto-pilot, especially pieces I have played for years.
Another one of my fondest memories recently was playing a memorial service, where I was asked to play Joni Mitchell's "All Sides Now" after the daughter of the man who had passed away gave a moving speech on his life, and what the song meant to him. I played it while the room was clearly in tears, with open crying, and held back tears while hitting every note to make sure the man's life and memorial would be remembered even more vividly. I had to duck under my music stand when the piece was over and wipe tears off of my eyes, as the mood in the room was contagious, and I couldn't help but be drawn into the beautiful speech his daughter made, and the way he would be remembered. The gift of playing such memorable music for people has really given me meaning in life, as some can forget that there's more to a lot of gigs than just showing up and playing and getting the check. Not only do you have to be accurate, and play during adverse weather and other conditions (heat, cold, wind, insects, etc) you have to play with such emotion that people can feel it, and never forget the moment. This can't be faked, and can only come from the soul.
Through many gigs played I have realized which pieces work in each situation, and am grateful for the repertoire I have built up over the years, which is a reflection of Minnesota/Wisconsin folks musical tastes. These things I cherish, and am so grateful to be asked to play at so many wonderful people's events. Thanks for reading, and hope to see you at a gig! Until than, I will keep bringing the music to the people!