Learning New Orleans Jazz for Weddings and Parties

by Robbie Schlosser · 1 comment

Thanks in advance for reading this article. I appreciate your interest and hope you get a few good ideas. I'd love to hear what you liked. Please write me a little COMMENT below. Start a conversation. Tell me what you think, and I'll reply. Promise.
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Recently I wrote about my experiences learning to play traditional New Orleans Jazz.  Let me add to the story.

Preservation Hall Jazz Band, late 1970s

Preservation Hall Jazz Band, late 1970s

Back in the mid 1970s I met a group of musicians who’d been entertaining party-goers all their lives.  The Preservation Hall Jazz Band.  As they saw it, their misson was to help “the good times roll”, whatever the occasion.  Simply put, they played to make people happy.

And I’m so happy we met!

Many times my wife and I visited with them in New Orleans and here, in San Francisco.  And I learned so much from talking with them and occasionally playing with them.

So many thrills — I can’t really call it “work”, can I?

Playing with more experienced musicians is how these men learned.  And I hope I managed to get many of the lessons they learned when they were coming up.

What a privilege!  In my opinion, their music embodied the most important qualities of traditional New Orleans jazz.  It is powerful, lively ensemble music, presenting a melody with a distinctive beat.  Enthusiastic, but lovely and heartfelt, and not super fast or super loud.  Deceptively simple and accessible to everyone.

The way these men played music applied skills handed down from older, more experienced practitioners.  It involved many things, including how they performed together, what sights and sounds they paid attention to, what purposes their music was serving, and how they acted with the people they entertained.

Thinking back, I’ve come to understand many things about my times with these men.  Here’s one: In actually doing something, you can learn lessons you can’t pick up any other way.  Not from interviewing someone, holding conversations, listening to recordings or webinars, reading books, attending seminars, or watching movies.

Of course, you’re always bound to learn something from everything you do.  But really, there’s only one way to learn how to do something like this — create music — and that’s to do it.  Badly at first, and then better the more you get good advice and practice.

Guess why I’m telling you about learning to create music?  Right — the same applies to learning to plan music for weddings and parties.  No one is a naturally-born wedding or party planner.  Everyone starts from “square one”, and has to learn the basics and the fine points from veteran professionals.

I was there some 40 years ago, struggling with what I needed to learn about music from the men I was lucky to work with.  Now, thousands of weddings and parties later, I’ve managed to learn what it takes to arrange music for the perfect event.  And now it’s my turn — I’m glad to help people struggling to plan the music for their own celebrations.

Back to playing  New Orleans music.  I’m still practicing every day, entertaining at weddings and parties nowadays.  The band draws from a far broader repertoire of songs, but we play with the same feeling.  And I continually refresh the lessons I learned from those men over 30 years ago.

How about YOU?  What enduring lessons do you rely on?

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Thanks for reading this article. I appreciate your interest and hope you get a few good ideas here. Got one or two? I'd love to hear what you liked. Please write me a little COMMENT below. Start a conversation -- I'll reply. Promise.

By the way, does a friend need help selecting wedding or party music? Do them a favor: EMAIL this article, or SHARE it on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.

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Meanwhile, the Magnolia Jazz Band entertains at weddings and parties throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. If you are ever nearby, you’ll love catching us in action, seeing and hearing us create a great mood.

How can I help you? Call 408-245-9120 or use Robbie@MagnoliaJazz.com. Planning a celebration? Ask about our availability.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Sara - momwithahook

Sounds like how my husband learned how to play music. He learned from various people growing up – non traditionally but he is a great musician. Life is one of the best lessons – even more so than education in some ways. It is in the interaction with people as well as in our mistakes and successes that we learn.
You’re not too far from Sacramento – looking forward to seeing you play sometime in the future.

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