Hi and welcome to the FritzPro Music, Inc. blog! My name is Trish and I’m the President of the company. I will be using this space to tell stories of the events I’ve done, provide advice on selecting music, and to answer your questions about our services or your event. Even if you don’t choose us, I think that it’s important to be a savvy consumer and hopefully the information contained here will help you find quality professionals who will do a wonderful job for you.

On Social Networking…

I am fascinated by the social networking phenomenon, I have to say.  I am a person who grew up without a computer (oh no, I’m dating myself!) but early in my adulthood, I was one of the first people I know who raced to buy one and never had any fear of it as many of my friends did.  When the Internet came along…look out!  I was living in Europe at the time and just being able to send an email (FREE!!!) was unbelievable because at that time overseas phone calls were over a dollar per minute.  Fortunately for me my mom was also very excited about computers so she could receive my messages.  After all, what’s the fun of writing emails and not having anyone to send them to?  Sort of like being the only guy in town with a telephone (which actually happened, but that’s another story!)

Anyway, I have recently been exploring the world of social networking and although it’s still something of a mystery to me I can see the potential, not so much as a way to connect personally (for me, the telephone or in person will always be best), but as a way to connect with others professionally.  There is an undeniable personal quality to sites like Twitter though, because there will always be the occasional rant or invitation to look at new shoes (what can I say? Business woman or not, I’m still a girly-girl and love shoes!) but that personal touch strengthens bonds between collegues as well as reaches out to potential clients, business partners and just fellow travelers in general. 

I don’t know what this means for the bottom line in my business but at the very least, I’m learning a lot and making some new online friends.  Check out my twitter page and let me know what you think!  http://twitter.com/fritzpromusic

 

A Valentine’s Day Wedding

What could be more romantic than getting married on Valentine’s Day?  I think that it was fitting that our first wedding of the 2009 season occurred on Saturday February 14.  The bride and groom were mature folks who had found love a little later in life and were really sweet together!  The first time I met them, I was caught up in their enthusiasm.  It was clear that they knew how very lucky they were to have found each other and wanted to make the most of every minute. 

They chose a lot of custom music that meant something to them personally, including songs like “When I Fall in Love”, “There is Love”, and “One Hand, One Heart” in their ceremony music.  The families were obviously thrilled with the match and the love in the room was tangible.  The fact that they had taken the time to consider what was meaningful to them as far as music and ritual went just made it all the more special.  They lit a unity candle while “One Hand, One Heart” was playing and went out to greet their families, to let them know how much a part of this day they were, and how much they were loved.  Even a minor glitch in the ceremony where a poem to be read was misplaced didn’t mar the day.  They found it later and read it at the reception, which helped continue that really sweet vibe on into dinner. (Absolute proof that a little problem does not mean the ruination of your wedding day.)

We normally depart after the cocktail reception and leave the entertainment for the rest of the evening to a DJ or a Wedding Band, but on this occasion they asked if we would stay to accompany them on their first dance, a request we were more than happy to honor.  They chose, fittingly enough, “At Last” as their first dance song and the room was silent except for the music as they twirled together on the dance floor for the first time as a married couple.  Everyone was caught up in the sweetness of not only the moment, but also the obvious devotion of the bride and groom to each other.

Through all the preparations they were a joy to work with and I wish them all the happiness that they deserve together.  Congratulations Mattie and Jim!!!

What to do in the off-season

This is the time of year that as an events music professional, I dread.  After the hustle and bustle of the Holiday season brides are curled up at home, either with their new grooms or if they are still brides-to-be, with their fiances and bridal magazines.  Corporate retreats and incentive trips are few and far between and I am left to do my business housekeeping.  A lot of people think that we musicians lead a glamorous life (I hear it all the time!): we hang out at the beach all day every day and then when an opportunity to perform comes up we glide up in our limos, play, collect an exorbitant fee and glide away, surrounded by magic and mystery every step of the way.  Not so in real life (you’re thinking about the rock stars you see on T.V.). 

In real life, I spend the first 3 months of the year in my office 8-9 hours per day working on things like income taxes for my business and the people who work for me, filing music and administrative paperwork, developing new marketing ideas and cleaning up in general.  There is a lot of “behind the scenes” work that must be done in order to make music into a viable business and all of this work is done without pay.  Right now I am finishing up gathering my tax information for my CPA (yes, I pay an accountant to do my taxes because as an incorporated business, the forms are too complicated and time consuming for me to accomplish on my own) and hoping to have a chance to start mixing work on our new demo recording.

This time of year is also a busy time for meeting prospective clients.  I do love that part!  Lots of couples get engaged over the holidays so I field a lot of inquiries this time of year and love that sense of “fresh starts” that meeting new people brings.  It also gives me the impetus I need to keep drudging through the boring stuff: “If I finish all of this, I get to play for my clients!”. 

Even though there’s this aura surrounding music as a career, it’s pretty much like any other business as far as day-to-day tasks are concerned.  And, at the end of the day I also have to put several hours’ time in practicing my instruments so that once I do get to the performance I sound polished and terrific! 

Even during the busy season, the office work goes on.  I suppose I should be happy that I have this time to catch up or even get a little bit ahead because once the “season” starts, it goes full-tilt until next January!

What does a Music Coordinator Do?

First a little background: I am a professional musician with 2 college degrees and conservatory training under my belt.  When I was first starting out I was sure I would play with a symphony orchestra.  As it turns out, it was not meant to be…other opportunities arose and my musical life took an unexpected turn.  At first I thought it was a step backward even though it was what I needed to do at the time, but in true “life is funny” fashion, it led me to where I am now: a successful, happy independent business owner with the perfect product to sell: beautiful music for weddings!

Once I decided to enter the wedding music market, I went out and learned absolutely everything I could about wedding planning, and brides and grooms so that I would better be able to serve my clients.  What I found out was that to a lot of musicians, the wedding is the job of last resort, and one that they do simply because it’s “easy money” and not because there is any sort of honor or grace in it.  Well, if they think it’s “easy money” they’re not doing it right!  And as for honor and grace…  Weddings are among the most honorable and graceful rites we have, and the music should reflect that.  I for one, am humbled and honored every time I am chosen to help a couple celebrate the beginning of their lives together. 

Preparing for and coordinating/performing wedding music is time consuming and very detail-oriented work.  Your wedding is probably one of the most meaningful, personal events in which you’ll ever participate and generally costs a great deal of money to boot.  The ceremony music sets the backdrop for the entire event and as such, needs to be perfection itself.  I’m not talking about technical performance of the music; a lot of musicians play beautifully.  I’m talking about that “something extra” that takes your wedding from the mundane to the sublime. 

From the very first contact with a bride, groom, wedding coordinator or family member, I am studying the people and their vision for this extremely special event.  By meeting with them and talking extensively, I can really understand what is important to them and help them realize the musical portion of that vision.  I’m not saying that I have “super powers” or anything special really; what I do have is a genuine interest in how they feel and what they want.  I leave my own ego at home and listen to what they’re saying (and feeling) and help them translate that intangible information into the perfect music soundtrack for their ceremony.  I like to say that every wedding should be like the weddings we see in the movies: perfectly coordinated and reflective of the true inner being of the bride and groom.

Before the ceremony, I spend time with the wedding coordinator or mistress of ceremonies to ensure that we both know exactly what will happen during the processional so that there are no mixed signals or mis-cues.  This extra preparation helps everyone feel relaxed and stress-free.  When there is a family member or friend helping as opposed to a professional wedding coordinator, I will even help with the line-up and last minute preparations so that they can enjoy the experience with confidence.

I will also prepare the music in such a way that my musicians don’t have to look for anything; it’s all there in order so that there are no awkward gaps in the processional to wait for us.

During the processional itself, I not only play the music that we have decided upon together, but also I am watching the various members of the wedding party enter and make their way down the aisle so that we can bring each musical segment to an elegant end just as the last person of each group arrives at his/her destination…no waiting for the song to end and more importantly, no ending of the song before they’re in place. 

By being attentive to the progress we are also able to cover for any little things that may (and often do) go a little astray.  My favorite is when there are little children involved!  They are so adorable and it means so much to everyone to have them there (and I love it, by the way, and don’t see their little eccentricities as intrusive or a recipe for disaster!  Quite the contrary!) but we all know that the little ones can be unpredictable on their best day.  I had an adorable flower girl (around 3 years old) at a wedding last year who was so intent on doing a good job that she dropped her rose petals one at a time!  It took forever but we covered the time with the music and all of the guests were simply enchanted by her!

The result speaks for itself: a perfect soundtrack for the bride and groom’s perfect day! 

My advice to you when choosing musicians for your ceremony is by all means, interview a number of them.  Listen to how they sound on their website or demo and narrow the list to the ones that appeal to you aurally.  After that, reserve time to have a thorough conversation on the telephone or in person, if possible, to make sure that the ones you ultimately choose will have all of your needs in mind.  I know for my part that if I don’t provide what the prospective client is looking for, I will never try to talk you into hiring us anyway.  In fact, if I know of someone who I feel would be a better fit for you, I’m happy to recommend them!  I always go into an interview hoping to be hired, but would never compromise ethics or integrity for a sale. 

Hello 2009!

Time flies and I have once again neglected this blog.  I want to first apologize to the folks who have not only read my humble thoughts but also taken the time to post comments.  Thank you so much!  I promise to do better in the coming months.

Right now, though, I am proud to announce a very exciting event in which FritzPro Music is participating on April 5, 2009.  It’s called “I Do” and it’s a completely new concept in wedding shows, the brainchild of one of my very favorite wedding coordinators (and genius extroadinaire!), Michelle Kilgore of Weddings By Michelle.  I can’t even explain it here, but suffice it to say that it will be a more intimate, more personal and altogether more enjoyable experience than you ever imagined a wedding show could be!  That’s because it isn’t a wedding show but rather a completely new approach to “all things wedding”!  Don’t take my word for it; hurry over to the website and see for yourself! 

Here’s what Michelle has to say:

idologowborder

We are pleased to announce “I Do!” presented by Weddings by Michelle on Sunday, April 5th, 2009 at the Portsmouth Renaissance Hotel, from 1:00 - 4:00 pm.

Be inspired as we create a wedding before your eyes with great ideas from this year’s guest speaker, Janie Medley of the Bride’s Café.

Be pampered with sparkling spirits and fabulous food from the newly renovated Portsmouth Renaissance Hotel.

Be informed with expert advice from wedding coordinator Michelle Kilgore.

Be wowed by the area’s premier vendors.

Be showered with thousands of dollars in gifts and discounts for every bride in attendance.

Seating is limited to the bride and one guest, so you must apply!
For further details and registration information, go to
www.idobywm.com 

FritzPro Music, Inc. feels very honored to be included in this group of Hampton Roads’ very best wedding professionals and know that you will be wowed by everything you see and hear!

A Cold Day in November

We made our first trip ever to a venue called The Mill at Fine Creek in Powhatan, VA for a wedding on Sunday.  It is located west of Richmond and although the drive was long from Newport News (about 2 hours), it was really beautiful, especially once we got off the highway to drive the last 20 miles or so.  It is a stunning venue with a number of wonderful settings both inside and out to provide the perfect backdrop for any type of wedding.  To see it for yourselves, please visit their website: http://www.themillatfinecreek.com/ 

 My couple was hoping for an outdoor wedding when they hired me and I told them that I would be happy to play outdoors but that the temperature restrictions are clearly defined in my contract (no outdoor performance below 65 degrees).  Of course, I personally use this as a guideline where we can decide because 60 degrees and sunny feels really warm, whereas 65 and cloudy or damp feels really cold and our instruments react accordingly.  The reason for the restriction isn’t because we just don’t feel like wearing a jacket, but because there are real problems with both the instruments and the sound of the group at lower temperatures.  Having said all of that, however, there are always exceptions and Sunday was one.

I arrived around noon to set up for a 2:45 prelude and it was so beautiful I couldn’t believe it!  They were setting up outside and the day was so gorgeous I couldn’t imagine holding the ceremony anywhere else.  It was sunny and warm with no clouds in the sky.  I set up everything and right on schedule my other musicians arrived and we got down to the business of our brush-up rehearsal and a full rehearsal with our guest vocalists (friends of the bride and groom) before the ceremony was to begin.  About 2:15, clouds started appearing out of nowhere and the temperature dropped at least 10 degrees in a matter of minutes.  My groom came looking for me and asked about the temperature and also wanted advice about what to do.  At this point, everything was set, everyone had made every effort to ensure that the ceremony went off perfectly and there were mere minutes before everything was set to begin.  I told him that yes, the temperature was now quite a bit below our threshold, but that we would go ahead as planned because there really wasn’t anything anyone could do and if we changed location now it would be 2 hours before everything was re-set.  I also told him not to worry; everything would be wonderful. 

There are times when being gracious outweighs contracts and this was one of those times.  I switched instruments (from flute to clarinet), which gave me more flexibility (clarinet can be “forced” more easily than flute when temperatures are low) and my string players both agreed to gut it out (they had brought their outdoor instruments which are far less valuable and temperamental than their indoor instruments) and we started right on schedule.

In the end, we didn’t sound quite as glorious as we would have given a warmer day, and we were definitely dreaming of fires and warm puppies, but the setting was perfect, the ceremony went beautifully, and the music provided the ideal “soundtrack” to our couple’s wedding day.  I wouldn’t have changed a thing! 

Beautiful Wedding at the Hilton

I played a wedding at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront Hilton last weekend and was it beautiful!  If you’ve never been there, it is certainly worth a look if you want an oceanfront wedding.  The facility is just beautiful, the staff is wonderful, and you can’t beat the view.  We were in the Peacock Ballroom for the ceremony and it was really windy outside so the backdrop was the ocean in all of its wild glory with big waves crashing against the beach.  The cocktail reception was in the Prefunction Area outside of the ballroom which also provides and endless view of the ocean.

I was working with a Mistress of Ceremonies rather than a professional planner, so I made sure that she felt comfortable about everything concerning the ceremony, and I also made sure to come out to the foyer a few moments before the ceremony was set to begin.  She was happy about this because there were a couple of last-minute delays that would have been difficult to communicate had I not been nearby, but as it was everything went off perfectly and everyone entered right on cue; just like in the movies!

After the ceremony, we went to the Prefunction Area for the cocktail reception and switched gears for some jazz until it was time to go into dinner.  I couldn’t believe how quickly the Hilton staff turned the ceremony room into the reception room, complete with fairly elaborate decor!  They opened the doors right on schedule and it looked absolutely gorgeous; lots of “wow” factor!

Wedding season is coming to a close but I still have one or two more coming up, one of which is in a venue I’ve never had the privilege of playing.  It’s a little out of the way, in Powhatan, VA (west of Richmond), but the photos I’ve seen are stunning and I can’t wait to see it in person!

New Recording in Progress

We have an exciting project in the works that I wanted to share.  We are in the process of recording and compiling a new demo!  Since our last demo came out 5 years ago, we have re-defined our services and improved our group choices so want to reflect the upgrades with a beautiful new demo recording.  These things do take time, so we don’t expect to have it finished before November but we want to make sure that each track reflects a different facet of the gem that we believe is FritzPro Music!  We do all of our recording “live”, meaning there are no slick edits or deletions of any flaws that might be present.  We want you to hear exactly what you can expect on a live performance.  What would be the point of dressing up a recording in fancy edits and gimmicks anyway?  After all, the jig would be up the minute we started playing (you would be disappointed because no live group can live up to a digitally perfect recording) and how long would we stay in business after that?

The thing that takes time is getting all of the players together and keeping everything as relaxed as possible so we have to do the recording over numerous sessions.  We do have some tracks completed at this point however, and they are terrific (if I do say so myself!).  We hope that you’ll be patient and I will post another entry about the demo the moment it is completed.

 Coming in the next couple of days… more wedding stories!

Another Picture Perfect Wedding at Kingsmill

We do a lot of weddings at the Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg.  It is a stunning venue high above the James River with the best of everything; staff, food, decor, and customer service.  It’s one of those places where, once a couple chooses to have its wedding there, they practically carry them around on a satin pillow!

Anyway, we played a wedding there last Saturday and it was truly amazing!  We played mostly standard music for the prelude and processional, but they added one really sweet feature to the ceremony that was unique and extremely touching.  They had several very special family members who had passed away and they decided to honor them at the ceremony.  They asked us to play “Somewhere in Time” from the movie “Out of Africa” (which is extremely beautiful) while they laid a rose for each person on a special table.  It really made the ceremony special and touched everyone there, guests and staff (and musicians) alike.

The groom also wanted to give his bride (who is of Irish descent) something spectacular as part of his wedding gift, so secretly hired a bagpiper to make a grand entrance at the end of the ceremony, to lead them out.  This was a big secret, so we went through the motions of planning recessional music, but then at the last minute, he appeared! He entered from a staircase high above the lawn where the wedding was taking place so she looked a little confused because they were ready to begin the recessional and we weren’t playing.  The sound was soft at first but became louder as he descended the stairs.  By the time he reached the end of the aisle, she was laughing and crying so hard that I’m sure she couldn’t see him anymore!  He marched smartly down the aisle, stopped in front of them, turned around and led them out.  I’m glad we didn’t have to play anymore after that because we were tearing up too.

I just love these kinds of touches that change a wedding from a beautiful ceremony to an experience that is truly personal, unique and memorable.

A Wedding Story

I know that a lot of my posts have been informational in nature, to help you through the complicated maze of decisions you have to make when planning your wedding, but I also want to share some wedding stories with you.  I love playing weddings and I love all of my brides and grooms, and I think I have the greatest job in the world, namely going to people’s weddings for a living!

I did a wedding yesterday that was really sweet.  The bride and groom decided to have their ceremony on the beach at Dam Neck Naval Annex.  The beach is beautiful, but relatively undeveloped in that it’s a more natural setting than say, the oceanfront in Virginia Beach.  They had a simple arch of flowers and only a few chairs set up with most of the guests standing informally.  They chose to go almost completely non-traditional in their music choices, so except for the recessional (which was Mendelssohn’s Wedding March) we played all jazz standards.  The bridal party entered to “Isn’t it Romantic” and the bride came down the aisle to “Just the Way You Look Tonight” and although the guests seemed surprised at first (when they came in before the ceremony we were playing jazz standards) they seemed to enjoy the music and it was entirely appropriate for an informal beach wedding.  I say informal, but that was only the surroundings.  The bride had a lovely traditional gown and the groom was attired in a tuxedo, but with no shoes!

They proceeded onto the beach just before sunset with the few clouds in the sky reflecting brilliant red and violet colors.

After the ceremony we continued playing for them while they had their pictures taken and it provided a festive atmosphere for them while they posed, danced and played near the water.  I’m sure the photos will be gorgeous!

One thing I learned on this wedding (yes, even after over 400 weddings, I still learn something I can use every time) is that I need to make sure that there is either a source of light for tearing down or to make sure that everyone understands that we need to be off the beach before dark.  It didn’t become an issue in this case because just as we were thinking we would have to call it in order to make sure we could see to break down our equipment they finished with the photo shoot and went into the reception.  The next time a similar situation comes up I will know to talk with the bride early in the game so that we don’t have any confusion on the wedding day.