Playing Outdoors

SAhonen-4.6.2016-Suomen Joutsen-1696

photo by Puolustusvoimat / Ahonen

Summer is coming and finally summery weather is reaching Finland too. We are used to play outside all around the year, but during the summer seasons the outdoor gigs are even more frequent. I think that is one extreme part of our job but sometimes it brings a nice change too.

Playing outside requires to take some details in consideration. Wooden instruments are sensitive for temperature changes and they crack more easily than instruments made out of metal or plastic. At work we use two different instruments, one for inside concert use and one for playing outside gigs. There is also a risk of the rain. Usually the wood winds can skip the concert if it’s raining, but last summer I experienced couple of rainy gigs. So the outdoor instruments are not the best one.

I’m using my old mouthpiece with a synthetic reed and this combination produces quite loud sound. I often have a feeling that the sound is disappearing in the air if there is no walls to project it back so loud sound is better against strong brass. Also we are walking sometimes while playing outside, so you might brake the mouthpiece easily if it hits you teeth for example.

We usually can’t decide which clothes we want to wear outside because we have the uniforms. Depending on the weather it’s either too cold or too hot to play. For me around 20 plus degrees Celsius is the most convenient temperature, as it’s almost the same as inside. Last summer I began to feel dizzy when it was really warm and sunny and had to quit playing. And during the winter I was freezing many times but also my wrist began to hurt because of the cold and over-using it. After having these wrist problems I decided to learn to play with leather gloves. It’s actually not that difficult if you have really thin and tight  gloves. My only problem is my short little finger that doesn’t fill the glove to the end. I also learned to play a bit with a Freewing. It’s still a bit new for me but it helps a bit to take away to pressure from my right thumb and wrist.

When playing outside you either use marching stand attached to your instrument or if you have a regular music stand you will also need clothespins for example to hold your notes on the stand. There always will be some wind… With the marching stand you have to make smaller size notes (A5) so sometimes it’s difficult to read if the print is very small. And the sun might shine too bright and we can’t use the sunglasses with the parade uniform. Sometimes some bugs get a bit too interested of the players and cause some difficulties to focus. When walking, the notes will also move so for me the best is to learn the pieces by heart so you can follow where you have to go. But that of course needs more time and practice.

I think this pretty much covers all about playing outdoors. All you need to know is when to come and see us playing outside, and it’s easier to follow the concert calendar.

Happy summer!



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