Tuesday, October 07, 2003

The bus is driving down the highway, we've left the house on time, and everything seems about perfect.
Someone asks for the briefcase. It's missing. Along with all our music, which makes it nearly impossible to pull off a full fledged concert. Someone remembers they left it behind.

This is just a few moments of what our day looks like when we have a concert! Of course, a lot of times everything (or nearly everything) goes well, and nothing is left behind. But then again, there are those days when nothing seems to work out.

Having grown up performing, it had never really occurred to me that some people have never experienced doing a concert. So, read along and you will get some idea of what it's like :)

Here's a typical Sunday morning church service concert.

We all get up pretty early, a lot of our Sunday concerts are in the Boston area, so we have a two hour drive to get there. Breakfast (at least for me) is usually a grab whatever you can eat, mom usually makes sure the younger kids have something to eat.

Nothing terribly interesting has been conjured up in my head about how we load up our equipment. I guess it's pretty basic. The sound system (which is usually set up in the house) is broken down (taken apart) and carried out front -which is where we park the bus while loading. We carry about 20 instruments, plus the sound system (such as speakers, keyboard, mics, etc). All together it's around 70 pieces ranging from -1lb to 60-70 lbs. We fit it all in one of our coaches' baggage bins except for the upright bass, the tuba, and our music. Usually it takes about 1/2 hour to load up, but it really depends on how many of the kids are helping!

The next step is the trip! The places we sing are anywhere from 5 minutes to 5 hours away. On the longer trips it was particularly uncomfortable in the van, on the bus, it's much better! The boys usually bring the nintendo and between that and normal kids entertaining each other stuff, they're pretty quiet. The fact that the bus is 40' long, with the nintendo in the back, and plenty of front seats also brings the noise level down.
I've had the opportunity to finally stand in front of the white line!! On public transportation coaches, it's against the rules to stand in front of the white line that separates the driver from the passengers. It's exhilarating to stand there going down a hill!
I can't think of anything else about the trip that's worth mentioning, other than it's been SUCH a blessing to have the coach, it's totally different than travel in a van.

Most of you who have come to hear us sing have a pretty good idea of what goes on during a concert, provided you were there while we set up. It takes us about 1/2-1 hour to set up, and give the final sound check. Normally we don't have any problems with the equipment, or forget things, but there are exceptions. Among the things we've forgotten in the past is our banjo, the power supply for the keyboard, and all of our music. Also, our equipment has simply ceased to work right before a concert! In case of such an event, we're usually called apon to make a part, play from memory, or just do without. I can't recall a time when we've had to cancel a concert on the spot though, dad does a great job of somehow finding exactly what we need to make it work.

As for the concert itself, it can be such a varied experience, depending on how our day has gone, what type of audience we have (smiling/non-smiling :) what music we are doing, etc, etc. Even our concerts at the mall (where we do two concerts on a weekend, same material, same place) don't turn out the same. Still, usually after the concert, everyone relaxes and most of the 'problems' encountered during the concert are forgotten. Most of those problems tuen out to be things that are really small, but while performing can seem bigger than they are. So, you've really got to keep that in mind, when little things bother you, just let them go. Those little things can be anything from someone being out of tune, to someone with a-less-than-positive-attitude remarking about your performance. It can also be a personal struggle, such as not having practiced enough beforehand and making mistakes.

The trip home is oftentimes the most fun. Whatever tension may have built up during the concert is gone, there's no more worrying about how a certain part of the concert will turn out, or what to do about that lost power supply. There's no more staying dressed up, I usually bring along a knapsack of clothes to change into after the concert. Usually if we're on a long trip or have had a long day we'll stop at a grocery store and pick up popsicles and make sandwiches. That is especially refreshing on a hot summer day! Somehow vehicles that don't have the greatest AC seem to REALLY heat up after a concert. Sometimes it gets noisy on the trip home, but with most of the boys sitting in the back of the bus, it's very bearable, and not one bit as annoying as it was in the van.
Sometimes the last five minutes of the trip can be discouraging, knowing the sound system has to be unloaded from the bus and put away in the house. It takes about the same amount of time to unload as load (20-30 minutes). Once it's put away, the whole thing is over!!! That is, till the next concert :)

Friday, October 03, 2003

Hello all!

You can visit the more often updated blog (by Bonnie) at this link. http://www.bonniemacdonald.blogspot.com/