Thursday, August 30, 2007

Wedding bands (not bans)

When I think of wedding bands, I don’t immediately think of the rings that go round your finger - although obviously that’s an integral part of a wedding - but of the groups that play at weddings. Having been involved in a number of weddings in my long and illustrious career, I know the stresses and joys of playing at weddings.
Of course most wedding bands are groups that actually play at the reception. My experience (thank goodness, say I) has been limited to playing during the wedding service. I’ve played at weddings by myself, with other musicians - both experienced and inexperienced - and with singers. For some reason it’s always a bit of a nightmare: the musicians don’t often get to rehearse when all the other people are rehearsing, and in a number of cases, various musicians who’ve never played together before are called together for the day and expected to sit down and make the best of it.
I don’t know which is worse, playing for a wedding by yourself, where the whole onus of the couple’s future happiness seems to be falling on any dud notes you play, or playing with an ad hoc group who do their best to come in together, to play the same sort of rhythms and in general keep their ears at full pitch in order to achieve something reasonable.
Of course I know that the couple’s happiness doesn’t depend on what the musicians do. If most couples I’ve known are anything to go by, they barely notice the music. The groom is standing nervously for hours (so it seems to him) before the bride arrives, and when she does arrive the last thing his focus is on is the music. The bride has far more important things to worry about, like whether the flower girl will actually make it down the aisle without (a) dropping the flowers, (b) bursting into tears and wailing for her mummy, or (c) deciding that she’s the sole focus of attention and making sure everyone in the church notices her.
So on most occasions the musicians could play what they like and only a few attentive members of the wedding party would pick it up. And as long as the musicians get their little envelope with the amount of cash inside, everyone’s happy.

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