Sunday, December 20, 2009


One of the reasons our performance at Gordon House was such a success had to do with familiarity in various manifestations.

* We've played there several times now, so I knew exactly what to take and how to set it up and arrange the players, the players knew how to get there and to come in the easiest way and the residents remembered us and had an idea of what to expect. There was none of the last minute adjusting and flurry of getting ready that can wear me out even before starting to play. 

* Having played in the room before, we were able to play well to its acoustics for the best blend of sounds at a volume level suited exactly to the environment. 

* All the studies showing how beneficial music is for the elderly and those with brain dysfunction talk about how familiar music can trigger all sorts of positive responses, and there's no music more familiar, and having more positive associations, than Christmas music.

* The current membership of the Kenwood Players has been in place since June, and we've met just about every Friday. The group has come together both socially and musically. We're used to playing with each other and have a good idea of what to expect and how to best contribute to the overall sound. The director of Gordon House is a church organist and choir director and he volunteered after we played that he was really impressed with the blend we achieved.

* By the time we'd rehearsed for the Art Center benefit, then did that, then rehearsed again after that, we were very familiar with the arrangements I'd done, so everybody had worked out little improvised riffs and accompanying patterns to all the tunes we did. There was a nice mix of the freshness of improvisation within the somewhat settled arrangements.

* For the final three numbers we did full sing along and I was able to slip into singing leader role, which is much more familiar to me than straight performing. People often mention how effective it is when I move around from person to person to encourage them to sing. If you're used to "performing", that can seem unusual, but for me it's straight performing that's more of a challenge, especially on flute and horn.

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