If you’ve ever considered organizing a recital night, have a read of some thoughts I’d jotted down on the subject. I have put together my second one for March this year and am hoping it is as great as last years one.
A few years back, our band sponsored me to go to the National Piping Centre in Glasgow for a weeks worth of tuition. It was a week of unbelievable, eye-opening stuff regarding piping and I was extremely lucky to have got the chance to do that. One of my plans was to milk the week for whatever I could. I really wanted to make the most of it and managed to get to a few band practices, including Field Marshall Montgomery! When I left that week, during the 8 hour bus journey back home spent mostly in a giant strangers armpit, I was so excited to use my newly made contacts to try and raise the level of piping mojo down here in the south. We are extremely lucky in the piping world to have such an openly communicated system. Whether it’s the top level of pipers out there, or your average street piper, most of the players out there are openly in touch with everyone else. With the likes of social networking, it’s made so easy now to open channels to people all over the world…. and bla bla bla …. without going on too much.
So last year, after having kept in touch vaguely with some of the people at the piping centre, and with the help of the band here, we brought Chris Armstrong down and he put on an amazing performance for everyone who came. This year, now trying to keep up with this new tradition we are hosting an evening with Glenn Brown from the piping centre too. We usually put together a flyer and just go for it. I thought it would be great to try and share how simple it is to host a recital night and bring pipers from around the world to play in your area. Here is the way I’ve done it –
1. Preparation Stuff
a) Find a venue willing to host a piping recital and visit them. Always bare in mind things like:
– where people will sit and see (Shape of the room etc)
– price (Some venues do free evenings with x number of guests!)
– travel (Is it near a station or easy to get to for travelling people?)
– food (I tend not to do the food thing, but some venues will do food)
– any other common sense stuff really!
– Do you want any other entertainment – pre band, pre solo performers? A raffle maybe?
– Build an evening plan with times and what you want happening when. Really important to stick to this for time management as people may have travel plans home.
b) Budget :
– Price up the flights, hotel, food, taxi/buses, piper cost, raffles etc (and any unforeseen costs like extra baggage on flights!)
– Price your tickets so that you would need X amount of people in the audience.
– Make sure whoever is funding it (if it’s a band for example) know that if not all the expense is made, the cost will not entirely be recovered. We have found that things ended up costing us very little for the recital (less than twenty pounds) so still extremely worth it.
2. Booking it all
a) Get an idea of who you want to bring to play. Most of the top pipers have hectic schedules. Email them with your idea, and include maybe three tentative dates as a start and just see how it goes with the reply. This is the waiting bit and the hard bit. Finding dates in common that don’t clash with band, solo or other type of event can be painful but there will always be a date in the end.
b) Once all agreed, book the venue first. I find this best as venues are more lenient if it ever came to suddenly making a quick change early on. Flight booking can incur charges so I play it safe. Once the venue is secured, I usually phone the player and just make sure it’s still ok to book the flights etc (point of no return really!). Hotels and flights are then booked! Just make sure dates and times are correct. The last thing you’d want is to get that wrong and suffer the wrath of angry people on the day. Angry people are scary 🙂
My own reason for doing this is for all people interesting in piping to attend, so I advertise it around Facebook, Twitter, band website (and other websites!) and all the local bands I can. I do find that politics sometimes plays a really annoying part in attendance with bands sometimes not wanting to attend because they think we capture people and brain wash them into playing with us. Completely not the case. We don’t capture people and eat them either – it’s just an innocent, fun filled night of socializing with like minded musicians (and drummers sometimes!). It’s all about the music and piping enthusiasm!
PS – Only kidding drummers! 😉
Keep a spreadsheet of guests paid so far. If you are doing tickets before hand (always a good idea!) then remember who has paid. You need to be really strict with this as handling other peoples money needs to be done well. You don’t want arguments flaring when someone who has paid isn’t marked as paid. I always keep peoples names, numbers, email addresses, whether paid, whether a receipt has been sent and whatever else is useful. Up to you really. Back this file up too. Keep it somewhere safe each time it is updated, but also be careful with data privacy (obvious). Delete it once the recital is over and don’t put it in a public place.
4. The logistics
There’s plenty of small details involved. You need to work from the top. Someone out there will be arriving at an airport. You need to ensure that person is picked up, and/or knows where they are going to be met. What I do, is host whoever is coming down myself and pick them up, look after their stuff and I’ll do the food runs and driving around kind of things. Other items to remember for the actual night : start times, whether or not you have float for change (tickets at the door), whether you’ll play music while people are coming in …. all those types of things. It’s quite a lot, but the way to work through it is to imagine you are a paying guest and just run through in your mind how they will enter the building and what you’d expect as a guest – always works a treat that way!
Lastly, always keep a journal of what you have done so far. Date it, and add notes. You’ll need this if things become hectic. I find that having kids throws my mind all over the damn place at the best of times so to keep organised, this is a must have. Try and enjoy the night as well. Get people involved to help out !
**Will update with any other thoughts!