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Nursing Homes etc - Setting up Sound

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Ferrara 12 Aug 02 - 03:14 PM
Genie 12 Aug 02 - 10:03 PM
GUEST 13 Aug 02 - 02:30 AM
GUEST 13 Aug 02 - 04:09 AM
GUEST,BlueJay 13 Aug 02 - 04:22 AM
Jim McLean 13 Aug 02 - 05:00 AM
Genie 13 Aug 02 - 06:32 PM
Genie 14 Aug 02 - 12:09 AM
Ferrara 14 Aug 02 - 12:43 AM
Genie 14 Aug 02 - 02:40 AM
GUEST,maryrrf 14 Aug 02 - 11:24 AM
Genie 14 Aug 02 - 12:11 PM
GUEST,Marion 18 Sep 02 - 03:19 PM
wysiwyg 18 Sep 02 - 07:40 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 18 Sep 02 - 08:00 PM
Genie 18 Sep 02 - 10:43 PM
Marion 21 Sep 02 - 04:55 PM
wysiwyg 21 Sep 02 - 05:55 PM
Genie 22 Sep 02 - 04:51 AM
saulgoldie 22 Sep 02 - 02:47 PM
wysiwyg 09 Jun 11 - 11:13 AM
wysiwyg 09 Jun 11 - 11:20 AM
GUEST,TomC 09 Jun 11 - 12:57 PM
GUEST,FloraG 10 Jun 11 - 05:28 AM
Genie 10 Jun 11 - 11:57 AM
GUEST 10 Jun 11 - 11:14 PM
Phil Cooper 11 Jun 11 - 08:01 AM
Barbara Shaw 11 Jun 11 - 09:40 AM
GUEST,Graham 11 Nov 13 - 01:34 PM
GUEST,PeterC 12 Nov 13 - 09:04 AM
BobKnight 30 Nov 13 - 06:44 AM
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Subject: Nursing Homes etc- Sound Systems
From: Ferrara
Date: 12 Aug 02 - 03:14 PM

In earlier threads on nursing homes, Genie and musicmic both said they bring their own amps. Being a total ignoramus on the subject, I would like to get more info.

F'rinstance, what about speakers?

When I played for service organizations, etc, two years ago, they used the facility's built-in sound system. Usually there was a lapel mike, but I always asked for a table or floor stand if it was available. We used one microphone for both voice and my zither or MacArthur Harp.

There was only one time when I managed to get a sound check: I was lucky enough to get there while a maintenance man was in the room, and he helped me get the levels adjusted on the sound system. The rest of the time I was on my own.

I discussed bringing my own mic and/or amp with various friends at the time, but didn't know if I would be able to hook into the built-in sound system.

Lots of times I sang without amplification. This can be a strain if the room is large.

Here's the funniest thing I ever ran into: I was playing for a luncheon at an Officers' Club. It was a big semi-circular room, windows all around, with a sliding partition to divide it into two separate meeting rooms. We had one half. There was a buffet on one side. The audience were seated, about eight to a table, at round dinner tables. (They fed me very well at this event BTW....)

Well, they had a table mike for me. So I did my first couple of songs, and then the management came in and told us, We're sorry, you're going to have to stop using the sound system. It seems the speakers were in both halves of the room. On the other side of the partition, there was some kind of awards or anniversary dinner, and they were trying to make toasts and give speeches, which was impossible with "Rose of Allendale" coming out loud and clear over the speaker system.

So. I moved right up to the tables and everyone moved to the nearer tables and I sang without a mike. They were very appreciative later that I had kept a sense of humor and gone ahead with the music.


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Subject: RE: Nursing Homes etc - Setting up Sound
From: Genie
Date: 12 Aug 02 - 10:03 PM

Rita, I hate to tell you this, but your experience with the partitioned dining room is not all that atypical. I had a similar experience trying to do a sing-along in a dining room with a memorial service going on in the mezzanine above us.

A lot of facilities hire entertainers without, apparently, giving any thought either to seating arrangements or sound systems. I routinely have to go to the front desk and ask them to turn off (or at least down) the 'muzak' that's coming over the PA. Also, it's extremely common to be asked to perform in the dining room during a meal yet find that the arrangement of the tables and chairs leaves no place for you to stand without being in someone's face. And one reason the staff often gets into a 'shouting' match with you (in nursing and rehab. centers) is that they are expected to do THEIR job (administer meds, take vital signs, and even do social service interviews) at the same time and in the same room as you are trying to do yours.

Do have your own small PA -- with built-in speakers -- if you can. Rogue makes a 4-channel one -- on wheels -- that lists for $400 but can often be bought for $200. And the Fender Amp Can is quite useful for many kinds of gigs.

I like wireless systems, but, as you indicated, they can have their drawbacks -- especially if you're tying into their speakers.

If I had to choose just one amp for all my gigs, it'd probably be the Rogue PA, since my voice sounds better on it than on the Amp Can and it's really quite portable. But the Amp Can would be a close second.

In any event, do discuss these issues with the A. D. beforehand if you can.

Genie


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Subject: RE: Nursing Homes etc - Setting up Sound
From: GUEST
Date: 13 Aug 02 - 02:30 AM

This is FOLK for G's SAKE! Leave the electronics at home.

If you can't project, keep your audience to the one or two in each individual room.


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Subject: RE: Nursing Homes etc - Setting up Sound
From: GUEST
Date: 13 Aug 02 - 04:09 AM

Hey other guest - this is folk! Don't be so projection-police!!!
There are some very fine voices which are best heard amplified.


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Subject: RE: Nursing Homes etc - Setting up Sound
From: GUEST,BlueJay
Date: 13 Aug 02 - 04:22 AM

Guest- are you seriously suggesting that folk music should not be presented to audiences unable to hear it unamplified? Folk music would not be where it is today if it were only passed from living room to living room. Surely you can recognize that larger audiences require amplification. Or else you are some kind of die-hard purist who would be happier living in the 1930's.

You know, unnamed Guest, there are many, many very fine musicians who may not possess the thunderous voice of the Gods which you obviously think that you have. Instead of berating folks who are trying to entertain WWI veterans, why don't you give some constructive tips on how to improve our projection? That would be valued here at the Mudcat, unlike your snide remarks above. Thanks, BlueJay


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Subject: RE: Nursing Homes etc - Setting up Sound
From: Jim McLean
Date: 13 Aug 02 - 05:00 AM

I once had to record a singer in a nursing home and set up my equipment under the piano. The sound check was fine but I experienced dreadful feedback once the audience came in. Hearing aids!! Jim Mclean


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Subject: RE: Nursing Homes etc - Setting up Sound
From: Genie
Date: 13 Aug 02 - 06:32 PM

Guest, they had amplifiers in the 1930s, too. Besides, I don't care if you've got a voice like Janis Joplin (or anyone else with ample pipes), if you have to be heard over ice-making machines, overhead PA announcements, staffers clearing dishes, and other staffers TRYING to out-shout you, you bleeping well need an amplifier.

Whether you need amplification or not depends on several factors, including the acoustics of the room, ambient noise, the kind of instrument you're playing (trumpets and accordions, and pianos usually don't need to be amplified), the volume of your voice, and -- oh, yes, -- whether it's important for the audience to hear all your lyrics clearly.

Anyway, if Rita wants to use an amp, it's her business.

Genie


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Subject: RE: Nursing Homes etc - Setting up Sound
From: Genie
Date: 14 Aug 02 - 12:09 AM

Jim, your post brings up a very important issue re nursing homes or any place with folks wearing hearing aids. Not only is it important not to overdo the amplification, but be especially careful about the volume in the treble range and about having the speaker too near the residents.

Ideally, the nearly stone deaf residents should be seated nearest the sound source (be it the speakers, the piano, or whatever) , but, a la Murphy's Law, it is always the ones with the overly sensitive ears (often because of hearing aids) who sit there.


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Subject: RE: Nursing Homes etc - Setting up Sound
From: Ferrara
Date: 14 Aug 02 - 12:43 AM

Thank you for the help, Genie.

Guest 1, the first time I sang for a group of older people I said I wouldn't need a sound system (my lungs are pretty good since I got my new heart....I can be heard in the Royal Mile Pub while the dinner people are talking their heads off). The lady said, "You will with our audience! Some of them will have trouble hearing you, even with the microphone."

She was right.

Besides, my zither is not nearly as loud as a guitar.

Besides, I'm married to a folk nazi (Bill D, forgive me honey but you know you are....) and if I can ignore him, regarding choice of material, etc, I can certainly ignore you.... :-)

Cheers, Rita


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Subject: RE: Nursing Homes etc - Setting up Sound
From: Genie
Date: 14 Aug 02 - 02:40 AM

Rita, I didn't know you were married to Bill D. Or that he was a folk Nazi, either. Nice that you stick to your guns. *G*

Re using amps, remember that you don't necessarily have to use it just because it's there. Sometimes I take mine in and don't use it if the room is quiet enough. But try playing while there's a power mower, chain saw, or leaf blower right outside the window or while someone is using heavy equipment on the carpet in the hall while you're playing and singing.

Genie


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Subject: RE: Nursing Homes etc - Setting up Sound
From: GUEST,maryrrf
Date: 14 Aug 02 - 11:24 AM

I definitely CAN project, having worked for years without a sound system. But I think it's always best to bring one along. I've used the "house" wireless system in a retirement home and wasn't too pleased with it - they assured me I wouldn't need to bring my sound system but I wish I had. I agree that for a small room it's better without a sound system, but what about the guitar or your instrument. Sometimes the problem is that your voice can be heard all the way in the back of the room, but the guitar can't. I use the Fender Passport system and have been well pleased with it.


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Subject: RE: Nursing Homes etc - Setting up Sound
From: Genie
Date: 14 Aug 02 - 12:11 PM

The "house" PA system in most nursing and retirement homes is set up for the speaking voice, for announcements to be made. This usually means the system doesn't have much capability for sound pitch equalization, or it's set with the treble way up. Often nobody but the "maintenance guy" knows how to adjust it or even has the key to the cabinet where the amp itself is kept. If you haven't allowed for an extra 15 minutes to track down the "keeper of the sound system" and/or get permission to tamper with the settings, etc., you may have to live with settings that don't flatter the alto or soprano voice.

Also house systems usually allow for only one mic/input, so you won't be able to amplify both your voice and your instrument, if that's what you need.

One more thing I keep in my car trunk is a boom mike stand. It's a lot more comfortable to play guitar, dulcimer, etc., while singing into a mic on a boom than into one on a straight stand, and most senior facilities don't have booms.


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Subject: RE: Nursing Homes etc - Setting up Sound
From: GUEST,Marion
Date: 18 Sep 02 - 03:19 PM

Here's the thing. Although I am shopping for a PA system of my own, I don't have a car, so bringing my own gear to a gig means renting a car, which means charging $25 extra to partly cover the cost of the car. So, I would like to be able to play acoustically or use the house system when possible.

My question is, how do I know in advance if one of these options is viable? What questions do I need to ask the person booking me?

I was thinking that if the expected audience was 20 or less, I could plan on playing without PA - is that a sound policy? Or should I be asking about the size of the room rather than the number of people?

And for the house system - is there a basic checklist of questions that I should ask before agreeing to trust it?

Thanks, Marion


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Subject: RE: Nursing Homes etc - Setting up Sound
From: wysiwyg
Date: 18 Sep 02 - 07:40 PM

Although I have a car, mobility is a serious issue for me and so is amplification, if I still want to have a voice in a few years. Here's my thoughts--

1. Assume they have no suitable sound the first time you go to a place, and charge accordingly. Check out their system and if it's a good one, maybe give a discount for next time but maybe not, if they didn't quibble over the fee to start with. Maybe a volume discount for mutiple bookings, after the first visit where you explain how you work and check out their facility. But I always assume I will need my own stuff. Frankly, it's just easier to drag my stuff than to work with them to see what they have, on the phone.

2. Amp Can. Build up the biz and buy a car and then splurge on bigger sound.

3. Lightweight luggage cart. I have a GREAT black-powder finish one, $14 from WalMart, light and sturdy and with wings that fold out to hold wide things, bungee cords included. On stairs I carry the amp, which is on it, by the handle, and the cart comes too (I do not take it apart) All other gear is over the shoulder to leave hands free. I am considering getting a BIG carry-all with built in cart-style wheels, like a giant carry-on bag only these are trunk size, to cut down the number of things to maneuver, and it would be big enough to put the amp inside actually and add everything else I take except autoharp.

4. I always prefer to use my own sound stuff, just because then I know it's all there and how to hook everything up. If the Amp Can is not enough, there are lighter weight and heavier weight PA's. But I do not care to waste my time figuring outt their sound system. If I were gigging in clubs that would be different-- I might assume the owner or bartender would have a clue about the house sound system. But for people for whom music is an exciting, novel thing to add to their event or program-- I figure they know less than I about their sound system, and will be no help at all.

5. When in doubt, accept the booking, and punt. It's better than an unpaid date and good for checking out a possible bread and butter money-maker.

6. A partner with a car. *G*

Good luck!

~Susan


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Subject: RE: Nursing Homes etc - Setting up Sound
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 18 Sep 02 - 08:00 PM

Hi, Ferrara! It looks like all bases have been covered on this issue. Most of the nursing homes where I play have one stand-up mike and a mike stand. But not all of them. Yesterday, my wife and I went with Pastor "Skip" for our monthly service at an area nursing home. They don't have a stand-up mike and stand (or at least they have never set one up. Pastor "Skip" has had throat problems his whole life and his voice doesn't project well, so he just walks up close to the patients and speaks slowly to them (A good idea, in itself, as long as you don't exaggerate in a way that sounds condescending.) As you now know, I have a strong voice, so I don't bother bringing the amp that I have that I can run a mike and a guitar out of. It weighs a ton (although when the Gospel Messengers sing, I bring it and set up four mikes... and bring the amp in with a luggage cart much like the one Susan mentions. Most rooms where I sing are small enough that I don't feel a mike is necessary for my voice. If you can be heard at the Royal Mile, you can certainly be heard in almost all nursing home rooms.

If I could add anything else it's that residents of nursing homes need to be touched, perhaps even more than they need the music. For me, that means being as close to the patients as I can get, and moving among them before and after I sing, laying my had on them and talking with them. Being recognized as an individual means everything to the patients(and all of us others, too.)

Finally, I can't imagine lugging in a full sound system with speaker and speaker stands, an amplifier and mixing board, and all that. I have never played in a room that could justify that level of amplification. My amplifier/equalizer and output lines for mikes and a guitar is self-contained. I needed one with four mike outputs. You could probably find a LIGHTER-WEIGHT amplifier than mine that has fewer mike outputs but would do the trick.

It was great meeting you and Bill in D.C. :-)

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Nursing Homes etc - Setting up Sound
From: Genie
Date: 18 Sep 02 - 10:43 PM

Good advice, Susan.

The Amp Can is portable enough to be taken on a bus.

Instead of a mike boom, buy a crook-neck extension which you can use with the facility's own mike stand.  (Most facilities have a mike stand, but ask ahead of time.)

Just ask the AD ahead of time about their PA.  If necessary, ask if you can speak to the maintenance person, or whoever is knowledgeable about the system.
Will you have access to the controls?  Can you, with advance notice?
How many inputs does it  have?

Whether you will need an amp depends on several factors other than just the size of the room. E.g.:
¥  Will there be other activities going on within earshot?  (Yard maintenance, vacuuming, overhead PA announcements, dining room clearing or set-up, social service conferences, people watching TV in their rooms with the volume up full blast, etc.)
¥  The acoustics of the room.  (Some rooms swallow sound.  Others amplify every noise and add reverb, too (great if you're the lone sound source --- horrible if you've got a bunch of people talking in other parts of the room).
¥  How spread out the group will be.  Programs are often held in dining rooms, and if folks seat themselves, you can be sure a few of them will sit in the back of the room and others just about everywhere else (just like a class of 30 students in a lecture hall designed for 500).

Jerry, I agree about the "touching" thing (bearing in mind, of course,  that not all senior facilities are "nursing homes").  But while I do prefer to move through the group while I'm playing and singing (even when I'm not at a nursing home), I find it difficult to touch people a lot while I'm playing the guitar.  (Cf. the thread on handshakes from hell.)     I usually go around the room and introduce myself to anyone who seems amenable to that, either before or after the music program.  During the program, my contact with individual residents is more verbal, musical, and visual.

Genie


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Subject: RE: Nursing Homes etc - Setting up Sound
From: Marion
Date: 21 Sep 02 - 04:55 PM

Thanks for the responses.

WYSIWIG, what does "punt" mean?

Genie, do you know a website for the Rogue PA? Is Rogue the product name or company name? I searched yahoo but didn't find a audio company called Rogue (in the first 60 matches, anyway).

Marion


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Subject: RE: Nursing Homes etc - Setting up Sound
From: wysiwyg
Date: 21 Sep 02 - 05:55 PM

Punt = Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome. In other words, deal with it and remember that you are smart enough to solve things as they come up and take more suitable gear next time to that spot. *G*

Or dropkick the AD, that's another thought. *G*

~Susan


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Subject: RE: Nursing Homes etc - Setting up Sound
From: Genie
Date: 22 Sep 02 - 04:51 AM

Susan, go to musiciansfriend.com for info about Rogue equipment. They either bought Guitar Center or vice-versa, I think. Not sure what the arrangement is, but they are linked. They sell Rogue, but maybe other companies do too.

Genie


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Subject: RE: Nursing Homes etc - Setting up Sound
From: saulgoldie
Date: 22 Sep 02 - 02:47 PM

I profoundly appreciate the guidance from the very experienced and capable performers who have posted here. I could only hope to someday be "big" or "good" enough to be allowed to carry your gig bags! And I am honored to be in the company of so many professionals who so enthusiastically give their time. It has been my understanding that many professionals are just "too busy" to do so. So thanks to you!

Saul


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Subject: RE: Nursing Homes etc - Setting up Sound
From: wysiwyg
Date: 09 Jun 11 - 11:13 AM

This thread happened to hit my eye today in my Trac ed threads dept. and I had a thought I htrink is worth sharing if I have not said uit before.

Set-up time at the nursing home is PRIME enterntainment.ministry time with the residents and ther STAFF. You will probably attract a crowd before you even get to the designated room, and you will definitely run into overworked, numbed-out, great-hearted staff from the moment you step out of your vehicle till you get back into it to leave.

It's important to plan for this, both in terms of your tech prep-ahead plan and your patter with the people. You'll see. Just try not to get frustrated at how long it will take to set up the way you like to set up, in that environment.

You will soon see that this is a huge part of why you are there, and why you will be invited back, and it's good for the development of your patience, too. :~)


And saulgoldie-- what it takes is not any particular professionalism, but just a willingness to look the fool. (Go see!) (And report back!) :~)

~Susan


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Subject: RE: Nursing Homes etc - Setting up Sound
From: wysiwyg
Date: 09 Jun 11 - 11:20 AM

Allay prufreed.

BTW I now carry a lighter setup: Cot-carry-bag (with folded mic stand, cords, songbooks, harp stand, mic, music stand, pick case) in one hand and tiny Vox amp about the sz and wt of a car battery in the other.

~S~


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Subject: RE: Nursing Homes etc - Setting up Sound
From: GUEST,TomC
Date: 09 Jun 11 - 12:57 PM

Another alternative to the Can Amp is the Roland Cube Street amp. It's lightweight and can run on batteries or electrical outlet, has a microphone and a line (instrument) input with a nice selection of effects.


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Subject: RE: Nursing Homes etc - Setting up Sound
From: GUEST,FloraG
Date: 10 Jun 11 - 05:28 AM

Do you use more top end balance - older people can often hear this better than the base?
FloraG.


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Subject: RE: Nursing Homes etc - Setting up Sound
From: Genie
Date: 10 Jun 11 - 11:57 AM

One thing about the Amp Can is that, probably because of its size, it's rather treble-heavy, even on the lowest tone-control setting.


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Subject: RE: Nursing Homes etc - Setting up Sound
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Jun 11 - 11:14 PM

We were visiting my 90 plus cousin Dorothy Caldwell in a nursing home. We had a small private room, and somebody had brought in a lovely lunch. We were trying to enjoy it, but the music, 50s rock and roll, coming from the next room, was loud, and not very good. I was comissioned to ask somebody to turn down the stereo. I remember looking through the door, seeing two scruffy looking performers singing their hearts out and had to come back and explain, it's live.


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Subject: RE: Nursing Homes etc - Setting up Sound
From: Phil Cooper
Date: 11 Jun 11 - 08:01 AM

I have found with senior performances that you're better off bringing your own sound system, or not using one at all. The in house systems are not designed for live music. I played one place where there was no mic stand. I used a larger system than the ones described above, but that because there were generally two of us doing the shows.


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Subject: RE: Nursing Homes etc - Setting up Sound
From: Barbara Shaw
Date: 11 Jun 11 - 09:40 AM

We pack our entire small sound system into a large, hard-shell rolling suitcase, bought at Goodwill for about $5: PA, 2 speakers which mount onto 2 folding stands from a home theater kit (bought at Walmart), single condenser mic, cables. This is compact, portable and ready to roll at all times. I also use a folding cart (Job Lot store) to carry the music stand, mic stand, guitar, gig bag containing music books, tuners, etc. Frank carries his own banjo strapped onto a rolling luggage carrier. Having it all on wheels makes things SO much easier. Having the cart gives me a place to stash my jacket and purse within reach during the program.

Reading a bit of the above posts, yes indeed the residents enjoy watching every minute of the setup and breakdown as well as the music portion of the program. It provides a welcome break from the regular routine.

BTW, we have a larger sound system, not nearly so portable which we use when necessary in larger venues, but our small system works surprisingly well in nursing homes and churches.


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Subject: RE: Nursing Homes etc - Setting up Sound
From: GUEST,Graham
Date: 11 Nov 13 - 01:34 PM

I'm a relative nubie to playing these gigs but we were requested to come in a play more upbeat and energetic music. We put together a 2 man show with my mate and I playing guitar/voice (him) and an electronic drum kit (me). We used a small (300W) PA and played lots of up tempo stuff from the 60's and 70's with prerecorded backing tracks to fill in bass and other instruments depending on the song. We kept the volume in the medium/low range and got feedback from the audience (usually around 40-60 people) throughout. There were a few folks who found it a little too much, not their cup of tea but the majority seemed to really enjoy it, some danced & sang along. We were invited back twice so I'd class it as a success so far. Anyone else had any experiences with more up tempo stuff?


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Subject: RE: Nursing Homes etc - Setting up Sound
From: GUEST,PeterC
Date: 12 Nov 13 - 09:04 AM

Astrid I use a DJ Tech 50 watt battery/mains amp (from Maplins - which has radio mic if we need it) and it and all our kit, including chairs) is on a converted shopping trolley that we can just wheel in to the room. The amp is really just for my rather quiet tenor guitar, Astrid's accordian usually does not need anything, but she always has her pickup just in case. Picture of set up HERE


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Subject: RE: Nursing Homes etc - Setting up Sound
From: BobKnight
Date: 30 Nov 13 - 06:44 AM

Regards the amplified versus acoustic: I was asked to bring a PA by the local co-ordinator for 50+ events, as some of them may be hard of hearing, I would have preferred to do it without amplification, (less work for a start) so it's not always up to the performer. :)


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