Re: Gigs

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Posted by Marty Neilan on November 24, 1999 at 22:23:18:

In Reply to: Gigs posted by Bradley on November 24, 1999 at 17:53:15:

As one who has played in orchestras, quintets, and solos in church AND has been a choir director, accompanist, and minister of music (part time, volunteer for that one)I would like to say YES, it is very plausible. Having been on both sides of the fence, here are some of my suggestions on the subject. They may differ from others, but they do give a positive outlook.

1. Talk to as many people as possible. Call up churches and get the numbers for their choir directors, accompanists, ministers of music, etc. These are people who do music out of love for it and for God and not usually for money, so they will usually be happy to talk to you unless you hit them up for dollars in your opening sentence.

2. You may have to play for free to get started, or even sometimes once established. I played for several years with a semi-professional brass quintet in northern New Jersey, and we often got paid a minimum for playing at other churches and sometimes nothing at our home church. HOWEVER, as we built our reputation churches and other organizations would hire us for special events and we would get referrals for weddings (the real money).

3. In general, the large churches have more money, and the 'mega' churches have even more. Don't expect to get a fat check from a small country church. On the other hand, I have made a couple hundred playing several shows during a major holiday production for a large church.

4. Watch the papers for information on the major musicals some large churches put on around Christman, Easter, or another time. Even if the church already has an orchestra, they will usually hire out to add a lot more people. They are investing a huge amount of time and resources into this production and will want to fill any holes and usually pay better than for a normal service. Even if you only sub for a couple of performances, it will probably be financially rewarding. see #3.

5. Leave you ego at home! Don't sell yourself short, but a humble attitude goes a long way in most religous institutions. Music directors have to put up with their lead vocalists egos (no hate mail please, but this really is true at many churches) so they don't want yours.

6. Get there on time, and when you get there, be a professional through and through, before, during, and AFTER the service / production. As with #5, attitude is critical.

7. Play your absolute best. Treat even a free church gig the same as you would a major audition. If you knock their socks off, they will want you back for future events and to solo. Few churches will turn down a first rate musician.

I hope this helps.

Marty Neilan

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