Sunday, February 19, 2012


This is the second time in the last year that I've done two shows at once - clearly I am an idiot.

Right now I have my Legally Blonde hat on, and have spent the last hour divvying up three keyboard scores to be played between two keyboard players - not hard, just really tedious.  Then I need to figure out how to program a Kurzweil  PC88 for the Keys 2 player.  For my own setup, I'll be using Mainstage, and I need to finish programming the Mainstage concert this week, also. 

The other show is more of a cabaret, and involves no programming of keyboards whatsoever - the challenges there lie in the amount of arranging/transposing and studying styles of pianists from different eras.  Its been a lot of fun studying the music of the 1920s, and hearing musicians like Eubie Blake, James P Johnson and WC Handy.  The stride pianists always make me want to practice more.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Crowd Control and Death Threats

Student crowd control methods vary in singing situations, but working with teens is where it gets extremely challenging. Some people use bribes (chocolate) and guilt.  Once I worked with a teacher who used duct tape on students - who seemed to enjoy it, strangely enough.  Another teacher used water spray bottles (yes, like training kitties).

Musical theatre crowd control is an art, though, which uses subtle levels of coaxing, rewards and carefully timed breaks. But when patience runs out, there's a common gradual descent - usually in the form of the following stages:

Stage 1 - Polite Requests
"Please keep it down, people"
"If you're talking you're not listening."

Stage 2 - Annoyed Requests
"Shut up please"
"____, I love you dearly, but please clamp it shut"

Stage 3 - Swearing Requests
"Guys, shut the f*** up"

Stage 4 - Threats of Violence
"____, I WILL cut you if you don't stop talking"

Stage 5 - Death Threats 
"_____, stop it or I'll beat you to death"

Stage 6 - Creative Death Threats*
"____, I'm going to kill you in your sleep. I know where you live, and I'm coming to strangle you in your sleep tonight." 

*I honestly can't write the best ones here, sadly, because my mom reads this blog.  But the most impressive homicidal threats I've ever heard tend to crop up during tech week.