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Thread: Playing Outside - the Downside

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
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    Catskill Mountains, NY
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    7,988

    Default Playing Outside - the Downside

    I played outside with a small group again yesterday. As nice as it was, I don't think I'll return. The wind was a challenge, blowing pages and music stands. With the surrounding noise and spacing, it was hard to hear the pages people were announcing and also the group singing and playing. It was more like playing alone at home, with people finishing at different times.

    Eventually, we'll be playing as a group indoors. Back to normal.
    Too many ukes, but I can't stop buying!
    https://www.catskillukulelegroup.com/

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Arizona
    Posts
    2,827

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    Yeah, our group did a few outside jams, I went to a couple, it was nice to see people after a year of zooming, but not enjoyable to play. We will be together in the music room next week! I have mixed emotions about that, our community is over 62% vaccinated, but this pandemic is far from over.
    Just Play

    Sopranos: 1st uke, Lanikai soprano LU-11 - Aquilas | 30's Martin style 0 - Martins
    Concerts: Kanile'a K-2 CP - Living Water | Islander AC-4 - Living Water | Waverly Street banjolele - Worth Browns
    Tenor: Martin Iz - Living Water low G
    UBass: Kala FS2 (fretless) - Pahoehoe

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    Briarcliff, TX - Fabulous Hill Country home to Willie Nelson, and me!
    Posts
    1,351

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    Stringed instruments without amplification really don't do so well in the great outdoors. We need the acoustics of a room. Which brings up a different subject, which I think I'll post on now. Thanks for giving me the idea.
    "The sole cause of all human misery is the inability of people
    to sit quietly in their rooms." - Blaise Pascal, 1670

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    Sparta, Wisconsin, USA
    Posts
    3,148

    Default

    It's one of the advantages of playing a uke with a side sound port. I can usually hear what I am playing while outdoors.

    I use those page clips that look like giant clear clothes pins if I'm using a notebook or songbook. Not a problem with an iPad, but sun glare can affect that.

    ...Always something.
    There is a subtle yet profound difference between the learning of something and the knowing of that thing.
    You can learn by reading, but you don't begin to know until you begin to try to do.

    --Lou Churchill, Plane & Pilot Magazine

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Chicago
    Posts
    362

    Default

    Our local groups have played at outdoor events for years. It's never ideal but we manage the best we can. When possible we set up in a courtyard, or at least around the corner from where the wind's blowing. We look for hard surfaces that reflect sound: a sidewalk or pavement instead of a lawn, a brick or concrete wall at our backs instead of shrubbery. Watch out for ambient sound: under an air conditioner or next to the expressway is not a good spot.

    We'll deploy the players who have good rhythm (and loud ukes) in strategic locations, spaced around the group so they can hear or at least see each other and everyone else can hear at least one of them. A drum can be awfully handy, or a bass, or a uke with an amp, or somebody to conduct. When all else fails, look up from the songsheet (seriously!) and watch the leader's strumming hand move up and down to get in sync. If you have more than one uke to choose from (ahem) a banjo uke is not only loud, it has a sharp attack and short sustain, making it clear and percussive and good for rounding up a herd of uke players who are straying off rhythm. A warm-sounding uke with fluorocarbon strings and a ton of sustain is not the uke you want for herding. Do not ask me how I know this.

    As for holding paper and music stands in place: clothespins, binder clips and duct tape. I keep them in my gigbag at all times. If it's an outdoor gig and I care about doing it right, I'll put the songsheets in vinyl page protectors and install them in a 3-ring binder. The uke player's life is not carefree: we got responsibilities and we must be prepared!

    Of course, these suggestions from the Before Times might not work so well now that social distancing is more important than acoustics. May we all soon be able to meet and play music in whatever location we want! Indoors sounds the best... but strumming with a few friends under the moon on a warm summer night is my favorite venue of all.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Tampa Bay, FL
    Posts
    9,429

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    Get an iPad instead of another uke, and put
    Onsong on it. No more papers flying about! We did, and we never looked back.
    Playing outside in FL is pretty miserable after April. Ick!
    "Those who bring sunshine and laughter to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves".

    Music washes from the soul, the dust of everyday living.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    Redmond, WA
    Posts
    747

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nickie View Post
    Get an iPad instead of another uke
    But then you have to deal with glare! There's no free lunch! Half our group couldn't read their tablets at our first outdoor outing last week.

    'Course, in Western Washington we were also confused by the weird glowey thing in the sky. It'll probably be gone by the next session and we'll have a good proper grey sky to keep things readable!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    Los Angeles, near the Beverly Center.
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    A few members of my group have been meeting in the back yard of one member. She has a large covered patio, plus rolls out a canopy over the driveway immediately next to the patio, which allows a good 10-15 people to play. She provides chairs and tables. It will get a little windy at times, but the full group of 55 have done outdoor gigs before, so we're well prepared with notebook clips and such.

    I gave up paper about 10 years ago, use my devices for my calendar, notes, text, all synced together, plus a 12.9" iPad Pro for all my music, about 500 sheets so far in forScore. I put it on an adjustable mount and don't have a problem with glare. I also have an Apple Pencil that works great for making quick notation on the PDF music sheets in forScore that I create on my Mac Mini with Canvas X Draw graphics design app.

    I prefer forScore because I can record each song directly into the song sheet. I then upload them to my website so the members can practice anytime as if we're actually together.


    This is Michael Kohan in Los Angeles, Beverly Grove near the Beverly Center
    8 tenor cutaway ukes, 4 acoustic bass ukes, 10 solid body bass ukes, 14 mini electric bass guitars (Total: 36)

    Donate to The Ukulele Kids Club, they provide ukuleles to children in hospital music therapy programs. www.theukc.org
    Member The CC Strummers: www.youtube.com/user/CCStrummers/video, www.facebook.com/TheCCStrummers

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Tampa Bay, FL
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arcy View Post
    But then you have to deal with glare! There's no free lunch! Half our group couldn't read their tablets at our first outdoor outing last week.

    'Course, in Western Washington we were also confused by the weird glowey thing in the sky. It'll probably be gone by the next session and we'll have a good proper grey sky to keep things readable!
    We're careful to only play in the shade. Where a glare is still possible, the iPad can be turned so as to get rid of the glare!
    "Those who bring sunshine and laughter to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves".

    Music washes from the soul, the dust of everyday living.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Location
    Canada Prairies, brrr ....
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    1,495

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    I love playing outside and sure am looking forward to playing out again. We have no issues with volume though the singers tend to have to push their voices to the limit. And yes it definitely is essential to have a sturdy stand and clips. I also always keep my foot on one of the stands legs.

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