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Reading Music On Stage

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by GregBass1979, Feb 27, 2008.

  1. GregBass1979


    Feb 26, 2008
    Ok..so is it way too unprofessional to either A}Have a small music stand with your tune list/music book in it like waist level in front of you or B} have a mic stand clip with cue cards? Obviously for small low paid bar/club gigs this might fly but not big shows. Let me know what you think..as my band has at least 4 sets of older classic rock and original tunes that have similar chord structures that are VERY hard to memorize and it's nice to have something to fall back on.:bag:
  2. No way! I've seen Moonchild play a show (Mike Patton, Trevor Dunn, Joey Baron and John Zorn) and they all had a music stand ... And you can't really say that they aren't pro's :D
    By the way: that was a very good show
  3. freehandsystems.com

    the cool way to do it..
  4. derrico1

    derrico1 Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2005
    Charlottesville, VA
    I've seen these, but at $899 I prefer to pile all my money into a stack and burn it.
  5. jimbob


    Dec 26, 2001
    Charlotte NC
    Endorsing Artist: Acoustica Mixcraft; Endorsing Artist: DR Strings
    I hate paying a cover charge at a club to watch a coverband that has music stands as their stage props!

    Musicstand = Didn't Practice Enough

    If a musician is "in the band" and getting paid, then he/should should have practiced enough on their own and in rehearsals that they should have the songs down and do not need a music stand. If the need arises, write tough parts/changes on the set list or grab a sharpie and write it on your arm....tell people it's a tattoo.

    If you are sitting in/subbing it's acceptable to have charts on stage.
  6. I use a music stand off to my side for sub gigs only. Usually I just glance at it right before the song starts to refresh my memory on the chord progression.
  7. JKT


    Apr 30, 2007
    Buffalo NY
    Endorsing Artist: Barker Basses
    So, from an audience standpoint, who the heck knows who's subbing or not? I see artists at all levels of the business use a music stand from time to time. Unless you're someone like Paul McCartney who instead has an elaborate teleprompter system.

    It seems at higher levels it might be someone like a Nathan East or a Jimmy Johnson that can be seen on stage with Eric Clapton one night and Kenny Loggins the next, where if you're sharp you may see a music stand off to the side here and there. The exception I guess would be your average indie or pop act. Particularly if there was much dancing/jumping around or other performance elements that would preclude those sort of things from sitting around.

    In my band I hate using charts but sometimes need to jot something new down or often someone will bring in an original idea that we may decide to try. I make every effort to get off the page asap though, as otherwise they tend to stick around longer than they should. The two guys doing a lot of singing and playing use music stands now and again.

  8. Rickett Customs

    Rickett Customs

    Jul 30, 2007
    Southern Maryland
    Luthier: Rickett Customs...........www.rickettcustomguitars.com
    The only thing I disagree with is (Jimbob,BTW, you did clarify that well), I've done a few shows where sheet music was the only option, no rehearsals, short term band, limited # of gigs, in fact I have not spoken with none of them since, I don't know if that was exactly "subbing in", I wasn't filling in for another bass player.
  9. hunta


    Dec 2, 2004
    Washington, DC
    I think it looks pretty unprofessional to be reading off stands at a show. Generally. If the music is really killer then I'll forgive a music stand, but if it's being used as a crutch it's a no-no. The cover band I used to play in used stands at every show, and I wasn't a big fan. The band leader throwing temper tantrums in the middle of shows probably sucked worse though...

    I'd like to see some full orchestras play without stands. CAN U HANDLE IT? :)
  10. Rickett Customs

    Rickett Customs

    Jul 30, 2007
    Southern Maryland
    Luthier: Rickett Customs...........www.rickettcustomguitars.com
    Fair enough, I'm game :D Can't speak for the rest of an orchestra though.
  11. RED5


    Jan 14, 2008
    Suffolk County,NY
    I do it but I've rigged my mic stand to hold an index card for song lists/keys/changes or note. I try to make time when I can to do this prior to going on and the key is to make it as obscure as possible to the audience side. On the other hand? I play with a cover/dance band that relies on pick up players. The band leader literally buries himself in music stands congas,timbales ,horns with stands,signage, lights, monitors and what ever else he finds around the house. It looks awful. Sloppy and non pro. His dad was a pro sax player way back and pix of his band (at the Copa no less) everyone had a stand with the band's name on it,and a chair to sit on! so I guess it's what he grew up with? BTW? new thread musicians that sit during gig?
  12. GregBass1979


    Feb 26, 2008
    cool..so it seems pretty much split 50/50 on this issue.I try to make it look like I am reading something off the floor or only take a few glimpses off to the side sometimes. If you're playing with a big band {jazz} or something like that it would expected to see music stands, like those poly podium things in jazz orchestras.:eyebrow:
  13. AlunJWDavies


    Nov 28, 2007
    If you're doing I IV V stuff, not so much. If it's complicated, I don't see the problem.
    I go to concerts to HEAR the music, not to watch lame stage moves.
    If optics are a problem, you could photocopy the charts at 150% and put them on the floor. Cuts down on the clutter. I've done it because I'm crap at memorizing. Takes up too much space in an otherwise cluttered brain pan.
  14. kevinmoore73

    kevinmoore73 Supporting Member

    Jun 18, 2007
    Cleveland, OH
    I play in a small jazz group and I have the charts on a stand for every song we play, whether I really need it for that song or not.
  15. I didn't realize they were so expensive...seems like a laptop could do the same job at that price point. And using a laptop, people wouldn't know you were reading music, you could have been controlling some synth sounds...:smug:
  16. Fnord Explorer

    Fnord Explorer

    Feb 3, 2008
    I've done some subbing before where I just got a CD of what I'm going to play and I listen to it, make some lead sheets for every song on a blank page with thick black marker and maybe some notes, arrange them in order of the setlist, and set them on the drum riser (since I usually stand next to it) and change pages between songs. Certainly less obtrusive than a music stand.

    Of course, I've never had to completely sight-read parts on staff paper. I can usually just wing it with charts. As bass players we have more liberty in that respect than keyboardists or guitarists. :D
  17. lawsonman


    Dec 19, 2005
    NW IL
    I don't use one for music but I have my floor monitor rigged up for my cheat sheets for lyrics.At my age I can't always remember all the words to 48 songs.
  18. 57pbass

    57pbass Supporting Member

    If I am subbing on a gig or working on tunes I am not 100% comfortable with, I will always keep a stand within my sightlines and if possible - hide it from the audience.
    I would rather play the song correctly than worry about what someone watching thinks...they are also listening...
  19. In a rock band, having a bunch of music stands on stage can look kinda cheesy. I was in a band once where the lead singer had a music stand and lyric book on stage. As a band we thought it looked bad, and many people that came to see us said it looked bad. He didn't last that long. At the same time, many bands use set lists taped to the floor as notes, and lots of pros use teleprompters, so it's not like people don't do it.

    I guess I would just recommend that if you have to have something, keep it on the floor where it's hard see it if you're in the audience.

    It's unfortunate, but plenty of people care about how you look on stage, and may not care about how things sound.
  20. BassChuck

    BassChuck Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    I'll use a music stand and music if I don't have the piece memorized. I can read music. Its a skill I'm proud of and a tool I'll use if I need to. But I won't use it unless I need to.

    Someone posted a YouTube vid of Marvin Gaye singing "What's Goin' On". Jamerson is playing and he's using a music stand.

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