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DR. S

IS THIS A JOKE!

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As a person who plays weddings and other gigs every week as a part of a group who goes out and hustles business aggressively, and works hard on teh guality of product we offer, I never ceased to be amazed by what people put out there try to sell.

Check this out, go and listen to the music clips, especially the Bach Air. At least she's up front about what she's offering by posting clips, but then the big question, has anyone actually listened to these clips and then hired her? I shudder to think.

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Interesting modulation in the Air. The other clips sound like violin parts from an orchestral arrangement. None of this has any redeeming qualities. She may not be one, but she sounds like an average middle school kid.

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As the person who owns this website, I just wanted to respond

briefly to the comments posted here.

Dr. S., I mean no offense to the "real" wedding musicians. However,

is it fair to call a musician unqualified if someone is willing to

pay for your services? I think I am quite clear about my

qualifications. I do not claim that I have an advanced degree in

music, when I do not. I simply state the groups I have played with

and how long I have played weddings. I've never had a complaint at

any wedding I've played at, and most of my bookings do come from

word-of-mouth.

Further, I realize the sound quality of the clips are not

wonderful. It seems this was attributed to my playing ability;

could this not also, at least in part, be attributed to the way the

clips were recorded? I admit they are not perfect; in all honesty,

they are only on the website because clients sometimes don't know

what a song is called, but know the tune. This makes my job a bit

easier. These clips are not meant to show what I'll sound like

live. I am always willing to play for a client before they hire me,

and since no one is ever forced to hire me if they don't like my

playing ability, I see in no way how this takes advantage of

people.

Also, I fully recognize that there are musicians more "qualified"

than I am, but if I am a better marketer of my services and get

hired in that way, and clients are satisfied with what they are

provided, I see nothing wrong with this.

It sounds as if you work very hard at this craft, marketing

yourself and I am sure, charging accordingly. If, by chance, we are

in the same market, I am confident that we still are serving very

different clientele. You will be hired by those with exclusive

musical tastes, who know what they want and what they are paying

for. I am hired by clients that are looking for someone who

specializes in the music and service they are looking for at a

reasonable price. That's the beauty of a capitalist society. You

and I can both charge for our services, and clients can choose what

they are looking for and what they are willing to pay for.

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Ms Baily, you ask, "Is it fair to call a musician unqualified if

someone is willing to pay for your services?" Yes, it is. You are

free to hire a plastic surgeon who has been sued in the past for

malpractice. If you are disfigured by that doctor, was he

unqualified? The right to ply any craft does not, by itself, make

one qualified. Those professional musicians who have seriously

studied their subject at recognized schools in a rigorous

curriculum, under capable teachers, and received degrees and or

honors recognizing their skills in their chosen field, are

infinitely more qualified than those who just decide that they are

qualified. As in most things, consumers get what they pay for. If

you really believe that you are qualified, then re-record all those

clips in a professional way and give your potential customers a

chance to hear what you really sound like. Be proud of what you

have on display, or wait until you can be. There can't be much

point to letting your clients hear anything but your best effort.

I'm sure you wouldn't want any more listeners to think your clips

are humorous. I know you didn't mean them to be.

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Meghan,

I salute your marketing entrprise and your willingness to lay samples out there for your potential clients.

More power to you!

By the way, what equipment did you use to record your samples?

Andy

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Andrew, Thanks for the compliment. Putting some type of sample on

the site was important to me, because most people in this market do

not. While they're not perfect, it seemed more honest.

To record, I simply recorded a .wav file through the microphone on

my computer. I realize this is not the best way to do it, but at

the time, it worked for me.

Do you have any suggestions on a better way to have used this

method? I'm certainly open to suggestions (without renting a

recording studio, at this point).

<edited to add spacing>

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No matter how you play, if you are going to go to the trouble of

making a nice website (looks good to me) and have streaming clips,

 and you DON"T  get a professional recording, you are

just spitting into the wind.

I'd also suggest putting some (professional) photos on your site.

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Agree with Allan,

Good recording as it is, very important and it is not very expensive. It is a good sound I hear there but the quality of the recording does not reflect it. Effective WEB design is very important and not an easy job indeed. PErsonally I am still thinking,,; the last three years.

Despite what ever, it is nice to hear and see recordings and designs.

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Since a license or certificate is not required to play wedding

(unlike surgery operation), there is not much meaning talking about

qualification. If potential buyers are well informed about the

price and quality before ordering the service, which I think is the

case of Baily, I don't see anything inappropriate. Some like $200

prime steaks, some are satisfied by $5 burgers. Good to have the

choices.

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I truly appreciate the constructive criticism provided in this

forum, and I had planned on adding some of the things already

suggested, and will further look into other suggestions not

previously considered (i.e. looking into professional

recording).

Thanks again.

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I would certainly re-record the clips (as well as saving them in mp3 format to take up less space). Sound quality is one thing, but having your G string 2 cents flat is another. If your clips don't represent the way you would sound in performance, then they will only serve to discourage prospective clients. My string quartet found this out the hard way with our first website.

The issue of qualifications is one that could be raised in almost any industry. Just as there are good and bad mechanics, doctors, or lawyers, there are good and bad musicians and good and bad luthiers. The question, though, is whether the public has the knowledge to discern between the two, and whether the price differences reflect that. The market is not always efficient in setting those price levels. As an example (away from the music business): You have two mechanics in an area. They both charge the same prices for their work, and they both have "ASE certified" signs hanging in their windows. One, though, is dishonest, not overcharging, but charging for repairs that aren't necessary. In this era when most people don't know very much about how their car works, how is the unsuspecting customer supposed to figure out that their car didn't actually need those repairs? They may even think that the dishonest mechanic is helping them, by "catching" things that others have missed.

In the same way, how is a public that is untrained in music supposed to recognize the difference between musicians or ensembles? That's where the inefficiency of the market is revealed.

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After years of working for people untrained in music, I seem to be on the verge of letting nature take its course. Like begets like. I'm getting old, and may be a little too afraid of my neighbor's children. When I can no longer cultivate my garden, so be it. Ho, Ho, Ho.

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I think the emphasis on educational credentials is way over-blown. I have been doing 20-30 gigs per year (mostly weddings) for 15 years, as part of a string quartet/trio, or flute quartet/trio. None of us is a conservatory grad. I think only the flute player was a music ed major. Everybody else was trained for a non-musical career -- engineering in my case. Several of us do teach music, however.

Even so, we are a well-respected group and generally booked well into the future. Here's our homey (not very professional looking) web site with some mp3 samples:

Piedmont Chamber Players

We made recordings in one of our member's homes using a DAT. It's not great, but it seems to serve its intended purpose. Click the Quartet Selections link or the Trio Selectios link. (I'm particularly proud of the flute quartet arrangements of 'Wild Mountain Thyme' and 'Rights of Man' which I arranged and are found near the bottom of the table.)

Well, maybe you think these samples suck too.

HS

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Playing solo, especially violin, is a risky business.

All this and that,, have no place to hide.

She is playing solo, no piano, no cello, no other big sound at the back ground, so all intonation, bow, etc issues are naked.

Getting a piano at least, at the back ground will provide a big support.

The other thing is the recording, it is naked too..

Add some echo or make the recording in a bigger, higher room so add some acoustics, this is again a good way to boost the sound and playing. There is a reason why big concert halls have great acoustics.

But the point is this, the sound and playing is offered as it is.

I think this is a good way to start.

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Hank... your group sounds good.

Is it my imagination, or are there no sound clips on the website that this thread is about (or perhaps they are burried somewhere I cannot find them)?

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Meghan,

I have an Ederol R9 and find it records string instruments very well. It's memory medium is an SD card, so you can readily transfer it to computer and hence to website, CD, or whatever. The concerts I have attended and simultaneously recorded actually sounded better (according to some in the family) than the concert - and for those recordings the recorder was just sitting in my shirt pocket, backed by a piece of cardboard.

After a lifetime trying to really record my sound and compare my different instruments, I have succeeded with the Ederol. (I think I first learned about it here at Maestronet).

I understand the Zoom (which SHAR sells for about 1/2 the price of an Ederol) is good also. My son bough a Zoom to use "on the road" sometimes to record short tracks when he is not in his recording studio (www.Gangofhair.com).

Andy

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quote:


Originally posted by:
Yankee Fiddler

I too, don't hear any streaming clips when I look at the website. My sound is turned all the way up.

The clips do appear to have been removed.

Let me respond to a couple of points made by Ms. Bailey -

You do indeed imply competence by stating that you are classically trained, have 15 years of experience and play in this and that orchestra etc. By removing your clips (to be re-recorded and reinstalled?) you removed the one peice of information that was the only true indication of what they are getting. If someone listens to your clips, likes it and hires you, more power to you - as stated, there are no license requirements to hang out a shingle.

Compared to the market I play in, you charge top dollar, in fact more than a conservatory graduate in one of the professional orchestras would charge.

I know there is no recourse (and I wouldn't go there if there was) - I am a big believer in free enterprize and capitalism, etc., I just feel that you are not serving other 'giggers' well. If your clips were true indicators of your playing, then perhaps the ones who hire you cannot tell the difference, but many in the audience will, and it will leave a negative impression that may sway a later decision about using strings for a future event.

By the way, Meghan, I became aware of your sight via an e-mail I received from some musician friends - who recieved it from others, etc. Some were wondering if it was an April fool's joke. This may not be very nice, but I guess it is in your best interest to know so you can take steps to improve it.

AND - I guess I should put it out for equal scrutiny: here is a link to my group:

http://www.fortestrings.com/index.html

Go under music and you'll find clips there. Most were professionally recorded, but are undoctored, had limited takes, and they are a few years old - needing an upgrade as we have improved, but they are adequate. I play viola in this group. I open 'Amazing Grace' (sorry about the measure where the 2nd violin comes in, I didn't adjust pitch fast enough) and I also carry the melody in part of "All I Ask of You."

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I remember at my wedding, we used a pianist and requested a few

wedding songs like Cannon's Paccabell (sp?). I distinguishly

remember she made a tiny mistakes as I was walking down the isle. I

was disappointed to be honest. So, yes, Dr. S, people are

listening. On another note, this past Sunday, my son was asked to

play at a wedding along with two flutists from his youth orchestra.

This was a last minute request and they don't get paid. (I guess

the youth orchestra gets paid some.) I was horrified. Imagine

ruining someone's wedding! Fortunately, there were only three

pieces they wanted them to play. Although they only had a little

over 30 minutes to go over. They pulled it off OK. Hope there will

be no complaint

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I did choose to take the clips down at this time. I made the decision after careful consideration, knowing that my website is under such close scrutiny at the present time. If I left the clips up, there would be more posts about how my playing is awful, if it doesn't reflect my real sound, why leave it up, etc. etc. And so I chose to take them down. I have every intention of replacing them when better recordings are made; as always, I will give clients the opportunity to listen to me live.

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The issue of what constitutes a 'professional' ends up being rather nebulous in any case. How many of you fiddle players out there (particularly those concerned with defining terms) are able to improvise a cadenza to even a modestly complex concerto ? A show of hands .....? That was done routinely not too long ago. The profession of music is no more a meritocratic system than politics - maybe a decent comparison, since the judgments that impart success are neither totally objective nor totally subjective. Our notions of what is great music, what are great performers, what are fine instruments are all thoroughly mediated ones: we are on the receiving end of a long consensus formation with little prospect of tracing things back to a zero point.

So, let's all sit at a keyboard tonight and try to improvise a fugue.

MK

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Well, you can wander into the ridiculous. I feel quite certain that if those skill sets (improvisation for instance) had been part of my training, in a similar environment that Bach, Mozart, or Beethoven was raised, that I would be able to perform those acts reasonably well (certainly not as well as any of those fellas). But let's take your train of though and apply it to the world we live in. What would be the minimum requirements of a "qualified" vendor.

Perhaps I'd start by stating that being able to tune one's instrument would be right at the top of the list.

Let me ask one other question of the forum out there. How many of you, if you produced clips such as the ones that were the subject of this thread, would have thought after hearing them, "perhaps I'm not quite ready to ask people to pay me to play?"

It's been one of my gripes with the Musician's Union that they require no standard of skill or professionalism for membership. There really is no organization that a musican can join (other than an ensemble of repute) that says to the world that this person has achieved a specific level of skill - such as a CPA or Passing a Law Board Exam, etc. Too bad, but understandable for how is one to be judged? In the end it is subjective.

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Aahh, I always miss the good threads. The clips are down now so I can't comment on the skill of the performer in question.

However, there is no law that brides must have taste. (And trust me, I have worn enough god-awful bridesmaid dresses in my life to attest to that firsthand.) If someone wants to buy an ugly dress, hire a lousy caterer, contract a bad musician, whatever... well, it's their wedding.

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You didn't miss the link posted by Dr. S. It has some good sounds. I doubt if anyone in the Forte Strings group enjoys working with a "Paccabell" client, but the observation about someone in the audience also is true. Good contracting is an awesome skill.

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