Real, Live Musicians? At My Event?
It’s a bit of a funny thing, asking people to show up with their instrument of choice and play what you tell them to. It can feel a bit archaic, like we’re all suddenly in a Jane Austen movie. It might even feel a bit awkward, asking living, breathing professionals to come, sit in a corner of your church/hall/home, and just do what Spotify does. So it’s perfectly natural to wonder, why not just go with Spotify?
Over the years, sitting behind the cello at hundreds of events, I’ve been able to narrow down a couple of ways live music changes things. The differences are subtle, but make the sort of impression that lasts.
I remember Sarah and I played an outdoor reception once. It was a summer afternoon, a laid-back affair where you could tell by smell alone when the barbecue truck had shown up and people talked louder and louder as the shadows grew longer. Some ladies sat behind us, observing our set list and pointing out their favorites, which we obliged.
After a while, a little girl came up, eyes wide. I don’t know why, but kids are like moths to a lamp with instruments, especially ones they can reach out and pluck. We gave her a little demonstration, let her pluck out a song on my cello, and provided a Disney princess accompaniment to her joyful twirling.
I like to think that the delight and fascination with a wooden box with strings going doink never really goes away (at least it didn’t for me). Maybe that little girl will remember her encounter with a cello, or maybe not; at least in that moment, she’d gotten to experience something special.
Everyone wants their own soundtrack, right? Music that responds to you, or reflects your taste, or comments on the soundtrack-worthy parts of your life? If John Williams could write the score for my life (he won’t, I’ve asked), it would be undeniably cooler.
I’ve worked with some brides to coordinate a movie-perfect entrance, where the strings pause on a tender chord just before the church doors are opened. When everyone rises and the bride appears, we create a swoon-worthy swell that makes my heart soar. Equally, Sarah has a knack for creating these moments spontaneously. Just a few weeks ago, we played for a bride walking down the aisle to Pachelbel’s Canon in D. Sarah chose the perfect time to launch into the high point of the melody, when she saw the bride’s eyes meet the groom’s.
Moments like those bring tears to my eyes, even after years of helping create them. They’re personal, irreplaceable, fleeting. Even if you don’t remember the exact notes we played, you remember how they made you feel.
“Remember that party we went to?”
“I don’t think so.”
“You know, the one with the string quartet?”
“Oh, yeah that one!”
Need I say more? Live music makes an impression that lasts.
They say music decorates time the same way art decorates space. It is an honor and a privilege for us to enhance your time with our art, even if in the end all we leave behind are memories and moments. Your time, irreplaceable as it is, is too important for Spotify.