My very first gig in San Antonio turned out to be a wedding gig I got through PianoAccompanists.com – a handy site, I must say! It was to be a very simple venture: the singers wanted me to accompany one song, and also asked if I had my own equipment to bring to the event. I responded that I had no equipment, unfortunately, but if they could somehow borrow an instrument, I’d be happy to do the event, plus a rehearsal scheduled earlier the same day, for $100*.
They managed to borrow an instrument from the sound guy, and requested I contact him to ensure I could work with what he had on hand. My requests: a keyboard with over 4 octaves (his keyboard had 5), a keyboard stand, a music stand, a sustain pedal and a bench. He okayed my list, and it was all set . . . I thought.
The event turned out to be an outdoor wedding – and while it was a gorgeous day, it was windy enough to cause my music to whip around crazily, occasionally snatching up the sheets and whirling them around the courtyard with the energy of a manic toddler.
The other issue was the sustain pedal, which apparently was not among the music swag that was borrowed. Non-pianists never quite understand how hard it is to compensate musically without a pedal – and honestly, most pianists don’t know how much they rely on said pedal until it is unavailable. Its only when one tries to finger pedal ‘Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring’ (with the rest of the flowing, legato wedding favorites) that it truly sinks in – that pedal is important.
Luckily, I had solutions for both problems: a spare sustain pedal in the trunk of my car, as well as scotch tape and monster paper clips, which attached my music to a binder. Fortunately, the clips eliminated the need for me to slap the music down continuously with one hand. The only thing I was not prepared for were the unnaturally large and bloodthirsty mosquitos gnawing on my legs and feet. I didn’t have anything in my car for them, sadly.
Taking this gig into account, and other experiences as well, I thought I'd put together a list for freelancers who want to anticipate any and all musical emergencies:
The Pianist Emergency Kit
3 ring binder
3 hole puncher
Large binder clips
Sustain pedal (something along these lines)
Any list suggestions from other freelancers are welcome!
*I considered this somewhat of a lowball offer. Usually my minimum for a wedding is a $125 flat fee, not including a rehearsal. But for this case, it was one easy song, a nearby location, 2 hours of my time (plus I’m still not even sure what is normal in this area, blah blah blah)