So here’s a brief rundown – in 7 points – of the prep you should do before a gig. Give some wiggle room as some require different dress, or instruments. Regardless, there are some things you shouldn’t forget… inevitably it has happened before!
How to prepare for a gig
1. Prepare any music you can in advance – no brainer that one!
2. Maintain all of your required instruments: a failing valve on a gig is not professional, especially since it is easily avoided. Bring instruments, mouthpiece(s), valve oil, slide grease and a spare Bb if you like – if for nothing other than piece of mind. Remember your section mates may be glad of the oil. Incidentally I bring a piece of chamois on a string to clean out the lead pipe as a clarinet player would – later I will show you how I make these.
3. Bring all the mutes you think you will need, then bring the couple you don’t think you will need – hardly difficult to bring these as extra though apply reason; you probably won’t need too many on a combo or pop set, but in a pit or orchestra you will have no fewer than 3 (often).
4. Bring a 2-4B pencil to mark your parts with. These pencils write quite darkly and are easily read in poor lighting. They are much more kind to the paper you write on, and so your part can be erased and returned in relatively decent condition. Cnsider hire parts – you don’t want to inflict the next player with your bizarre additions – believe me, I have seen weird and wonderful things. I have also written weird and wonderful things on parts… Probably a topic in itself 😉
5. Plan your route and transport in advance; this is just part of good driving. You will be much more relaxed and in good form if you aren’t panicking for directions to the gig venue. Ask about parking at the venue, always see if you can chance a space – you don’t want to lug that terribly heavy -misc equipment- to the gig… Tell them it is all part of health and safety!
6. You are required to do the best job that you are being paid to do; you should therefore keep your chops in good shape for playing – if that means practising less on the day of the gig, do that. If it means practising more before the gig, then do that. You should dress appropriately to the gig. Remember that gig clothes are a claimable expense – in the UK anyway!
7. Don’t be ‘that guy’. You know, the one who tunes with a high C, plays the rehearsals far too loud and ends up busted by the first half. Relax, be friendly, make everyone’s job easier. Compliment section mates – even offer the violas a lift home (before the gig) 😉