Many of us live in Arizona for its exceptional number of spectacular days to enjoy outdoors. So, when it comes to planning a wedding or event, holding it outdoors is always a popular choice. Whether you’re planning an engagement party, wedding shower, wedding ceremony, cocktail hour, vow renewal or other event to celebrate your wedding, an outdoor venue could be perfect choice. Outdoor venues can be found at resorts, private event venues, golf clubs, parks and, of course, backyards of private homes.
For any event, there are countless considerations to make sure your day goes smoothly and everyone enjoys themselves. But for outdoor events where you’re planning to have live music, there are several special considerations to keep in mind.
- Temperature. Besides basic comfort, temperature is something to keep in mind for musicians for several other reasons. Extreme temperature can actually permanently harm wooden instruments such as violins, violas, cellos, basses, guitars, clarinets, oboes and bassoons because the thin wood the instrument is made of can be prone to cracking as it goes from warm to cool or cool to warm. A cracked instrument can sometimes be repaired but could cause permanent damage to very valuable instruments. Additionally, extremes in temperature cause the instruments to fluctuate in intonation. Instruments that are out of tune with themselves or with other instruments in the ensemble will not be pleasing to the ear. Professional musicians are skilled at re-tuning their instruments, but it is very disruptive to the musical experience if they have to constantly be stopping between songs to re-tune.
- Precipitation. When musicians ask for cover from the rain, it’s not just because they don’t want their hair or outfits to get wet. In fact, moisture can negatively affect musical instruments in significant ways. For wood instruments (violins, violas, cellos, basses, guitars, clarinets, oboes and bassoons) if the wood gets wet, it could swell and ultimately crack. Some cracks can be repaired, but others cannot. And with instruments that cost tens of thousands of dollars, this is a significant risk. For wind instruments with pads that cover tone holes, the pads can absorb moisture which could cause the pads to swell and require costly replacement. For higher end instruments, this would mean sending the instrument across the country to a qualified instrument repair person to do the work. In addition to pad damage, rain can also affect the wind instruments’ mechanism, washing away the oils that keep the valves and keys operating smoothly. Again, adding the oil to an instrument could mean an expensive and time-consuming shipping to a repair person across the country. Another consideration is PA or sound systems for instruments such as guitars that require power. These can easily be damaged by moisture. Because of the problems moisture can cause for instruments, it’s important that areas for outdoor musicians have tarps underneath them and extended covering above so that wind doesn’t blow moisture onto delicate musical instruments.
- Sunshine. The issue with sun is not just the heat. Sun causes glare that makes music difficult to read and makes it challenging for musicians to see cues from each other, officiants, planners and the couple. Musicians rely on visual cues in order to determine when to start and stop playing, so it is best to have shade for outdoor events, especially weddings. Sun also causes instruments, especially those made of metals (flutes and brass instruments), to heat up substantially. When metal instruments heat up, it changes their pitch and makes them uncomfortable and difficult to hold.
- Wind. Wind is an issue for musicians because it makes turning pages and making them stay put as needed a big challenge. Outdoor musicians always arrive to outdoor performances with clips for their pages, but that becomes interruptive when they have to keep un-clipping and re-clipping their music. Additionally, flutes blow across the embouchure hole to create the tone, so with strong winds blowing directly at them, the tone can get distorted or destroyed. Wind can also affect the way sound travels through the air, so it can negatively affect how the sound disburses outdoors.
- Bugs are not only an annoyance to guests, but can be especially distracting to musicians. Bugs can land on music, blocking the notes, can tickle or sting skin making it difficult for musicians to concentrate on small muscles that it takes to play their instruments. And of course, painful or itchy bug bites can make it very challenging to continue playing, especially if they’re on fingers, arms or faces that are used for playing the instruments.
While everyone enjoys beautiful outdoor events, when you’re planning an outdoor event with live musicians, we just encourage you to be thoughtful of the challenges the outdoors can bring for musicians so that they can give you the kind of quality performance you deserve.