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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
GUEST,Don Wise Throwing away the crutch.... (184* d) RE: Throwing away the crutch.... 03 Jun 13

Living in Germany I've noticed that it is fairly common to 'hide' behind the music stand. The negative side of this becomes very quickly apparent when people are playing for dances. My experience playing with a ceilidh band back in the UK in the late '60s/early '70s showed me that at least one person in the band, preferably the leader, has to keep an eye on events on the dance floor, particularly so given the very mixed abilities of the average dancers. Even the best caller can't be everywhere at once.

In Germany however, at a 'everyone mucks in' festival I used to go to, the musicians tended to hide behind their music stands and play on oblivious of what was happening on the dance floor. It was also very quickly clear to me that they had very little or no relationship to the dances they were playing - they were simply reeling off the dots and leaving the dancers to fend for themselves, not all of whom could relate the various sequences of the dance to the music. The result of this was often total chaos on the dance floor. Admittedly, the somewhat eclectic choice of dances- english, french, balkan, swedish, afghan etc. didn't help. I did persuade the band leader to actually learn some of the commener tunes she used and put her music stand to one side. She did this and reported that the difference was like night and day- she could now connect the music to what the dancers were doing, put the emphasis in all the right places and take steps to counter any signs of chaos on the dance floor. Not only that, she was enjoying the music much more.

The complete opposite of this was a family group who insisted on arranging everything as if they were giving a chamber music recital rather than playing for dancing. They ensconced themselves behind their music stands and, like the musos on the Titanic, played blithely on whilst the dancers gradually gave up and left the dance floor or stood around trying to work out where they were in terms of the music and the dance sequence. Quite simply, they played so delicatly that the necessary lead that the music should give the dancers just wasn't there or, more probably, didn't make it over the barricade of their music stands.

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