Distractions when professional musicians play live music comes with the territory. We perform in call kinds of venues, for all kinds of audiences, in all kinds of situations, so there are an endless number of distractions we have learned to deal with. Whenever there are live audience members, you can expect the usual coughing, talking and cell phones ringing. But this past week, we experienced some of the most distracting situations in our seven-plus years performing together.
- People Talking on Their Cell Phones During a Performance
This week, we had the pleasure of playing flute and guitar music in a gorgeous lobby of a senior community in Glendale, Arizona. The ceiling was high and the acoustics were wonderful for our instruments. We didn’t really plan in advance what style of music we would play, but the audience seemed to enjoy the classical music we started with, so we stuck with that. About ¾ of the way through our performance, we began playing Lacrimosa from Mozart’s Requiem in D minor, K. 626. Shortly after we began, we noticed a lady on her cell phone saying, “Can you hear it? Can you hear it? Can you tell what it is?” After we finished playing, she explained that she used to sing in the Arizona State University Chorale and they had very memorably sung Mozart’s Lacrimosa. She wanted to call her friend who sang with her to have her hear us play it! It was very sweet, but still a bit distracting hearing that going on as we were playing.
Later in the week, we played for another audience in Glendale, Arizona where one of our audience members also was on his phone for about the first half of our performance. This time, we were playing jazz standards. The fellow was in the back of the audience, luckily, but he had his speaker phone on while we were performing! The person on the line talked, at a loud volume, throughout the songs and then at the end, we could hear her shout, “Bravo!” It was so funny but also very distracting. She seemed to appreciate the performance, but wouldn’t keep quiet so that she wouldn’t disturb us! We just tried to stay focused and assumed she didn’t know she was on speaker phone.
2. Ambulances unloading patients During a Musical Performance
Tonight we played at a very unusual venue – the ambulance bay at Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix. It’s a very large covered area for ambulances and fire trucks to pull into with patients. Since it was all cement surfaces on 3 walls surrounding us, it was very live, with lots of reverb. That made it easy for our instruments to be heard, but it also makes it easy for other sounds to be heard. As the ambulances pulled in with all their beeps, revs and grinding noises, we were often in competition with them. Then there were the fumes trapped in that space from the diesel trucks that kept idling as patients were being unloaded. And, of course, there were the patients. We were there to bring calm to anxious moments, but there’s not avoiding the distraction of seeing sick, injured people being unloaded from ambulances and rushed into the hospital.
3. Incarcerated Patients Being Transported During a Musical Performance
Among the patients coming to and from the Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix hospital where we played tonight were two incarcerated patients. One was an older man in an orange jumpsuit. He was escorted out of the hospital and stood outside a van being guarded by several security officers and a police dog for an uncomfortably long period of time. The other man was shackled to a wheelchair and being guarded by 4 guards and a police dog. The dog kept eyeing us. We couldn’t tell if he was enjoying the music or if he thought our instruments might be potential weapons. It’s a challenge continuing to play music while all that is happening right in front of you!
We love playing for anything from formal performances to more casual events. And with all our experience, you can be sure that we will be able to handle any distraction that comes our way. To contact us about availability for your event, click here!