While every gig has its challenges, the Sunday morning church gig has some unique surprises that you won't find anywhere else. First, the sanctuary where you will be seated is a big echo chamber where the smallest sound carries forever. Sanctuaries can be drafty, be too hot, too cold, have horrible site lines, and a host of other surprises. Pack these supplies to keep you prepared for every scenario at your next church gig.
Being in one of the most echo producing rooms you will perform in, having a practice or travel mute will allow you some quiet warm up before the service, or if you need to test play a couple notes before an entrance.
If you have back up mouthpieces, go put them in your glove compartment, coat pocket, or something you know is going with you to your gig. At some point in your career, you will show up to a gig and have forgotten or lost your mouthpiece along the way. Let's make sure that day is not this Sunday!
3. "I always have these in my case." aka. Famous last words.
Put the necessary oils and greases in your case now, make sure you have multiple pencils , and make sure you have a clean cloth on hand. Why? We always assume the oil is available, and then it isn't. Having a pencil for your colleague who forgot theirs is a great way to make a new friend. Non brass players get freaked out by our spit valves. Keep a cloth on the floor to drop your spit if you are feeling some raised eyebrows, and you can use it to set mutes on as well to avoid clunking through the service. Make sure the cloth is clean and not covered in weird stains that will make the choir members nervous!
3. Bring your mutes (even if the music doesn't require it)
As a brass player, you will always be too loud for the church choir. Your sound will carry so well that you will most likely get the hand from the conductor during ensemble music. Though the music might not call for it, having some mutes to help soften your sound might make your job a lot easier when playing any softer is not an option.
Church sanctuaries can be notoriously drafty. I remember one Easter, the weather was uncommonly warm so they decided to open up all the windows (of which there were many) in the sanctuary. Clothespins. Pack some for your self and some extras for your stand partner (and soon to be best friend because you had extra clothespins to share).
5. Music Stand and/or Stand Light
Does your gig require you to bring a music stand? Put it in your car now, next to those extra mouthpieces! Many times, you will be tucked away off to some corner of the organ or choir loft, and your lighting will not be ideal. Even if you gig does not require a music stand, bring one. You might be the lone musician and they didn't realize the church doesn't own one until you show up.
Hopefully these 5 items have inspired some additional must-haves that you will include for your upcoming gig. Too much preparation rarely creates an issue, so act now and enjoy some success on Sunday morning.
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