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  1. #1
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    Default Your Band Boy Needs a Hand

    I was the assistant to the director for several years. One of the diverse tasks I had was to set up and tear down the orchestra or band (if we had string players, of course). This included carrying 3 or 4 tympani up and down two flights of stairs. By myself. Yes, one was copper. Bb, I think. Tuneable. Pedals.

    As I was generally the only person under age 60 around on Saturdays and Sundays, I couldn't even get help if I wanted it. Until I had a hernia repair operation and was out of commission for about two months. Well, it did take a couple years to get to that point ....

    So, my first bit of advice for this section is, help out if you can! Trust me: we'll tell you if you're being annoying.

    Yes, I'm the Artist Formerly Known as Saxpics.

    Check out my photoblog! Latest article: October 6, 2013, "The Eye (Brows) Have It."

  2. #2
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    But don't grab the percussion instruments if you haven't been taught how to move them. There is a wrong way to do it, and while it may not appear to hurt anything, it can destroy the usefulness of an instrument - timpani in particular. The rim of the drum is very important in playing in tune - do NOT pick up or roll or move by the rim!!
    Education: the path from cocky ignorance to miserable uncertainty.

    The chains of habit are too light to be felt until they’re too heavy to broken.

  3. #3
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    Default

    If you never help with set-up or tear-down you may be mistaken for a trumpet player.

  4. #4
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Carl H. View Post
    But don't grab the percussion instruments if you haven't been taught how to move them. There is a wrong way to do it, and while it may not appear to hurt anything, it can destroy the usefulness of an instrument - timpani in particular. The rim of the drum is very important in playing in tune - do NOT pick up or roll or move by the rim!!
    I would say that there's a wrong way to move anything. With this particular example, it never even occurred to me to do anything like what you mention: if you just look at it, you can see that you'd be trying to lift an (at least, if it's fiberglass) 50lb instrument by its weakest point. That's just wrong. Kinda like trying to lift a sax by a key or post.

    The very thought disturbs me ....

    Yes, I'm the Artist Formerly Known as Saxpics.

    Check out my photoblog! Latest article: October 6, 2013, "The Eye (Brows) Have It."

  5. #5
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    Default In general...

    ...drums disturb me...

  6. #6
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    Default

    Back on topic - By all means pick up your own chair and stand and put them away at the end of rehearsal!
    Education: the path from cocky ignorance to miserable uncertainty.

    The chains of habit are too light to be felt until they’re too heavy to broken.

  7. #7
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    Default

    There's always one guy or gal who does most of the work at the end of the session. In my bands, it's me. Last night I put everything back (tables, chairs, etc.) in the place we practiced, helped the drummer (a sub) pack out (three trips to car--he needs a cart, and then carried my instruments, stands, and music books to my car.

    When I am not the band manager, I always help set up my wife's my section, and then put away a bunch o' chairs before I leave. It's amazing how many people grab their flute and run. And then there are the folks who are still sitting and gabbing on their chairs 10 minutes after the practice.

    We have been kicked out of rehearsal spaces because we didn't leave it the way we found it. And we were paying for that place!

  8. #8
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    Default I'm enough of a realist...

    ...to understand that someone's going to have to clean up after the set has been struck. Relying on the members to do this is all well and good, but there will always be those who will not pull their weight. We generally get by this by either paying my wife a share (to both sing backup and to act as the "band boy"), or getting someone else on board to serve the role. (I have a friend who has done this a number of times.)

    In order to facilitate doing all of this in an organized fashion, we pack (and unpack) in a standardized fashion. All of the "small item" carrying cases are filing tubs, purchased through Staples or Office Depot. They "key" together and stack well on the carts (the small Rock 'n' Roller ones) and in the van or trailer. And, they (the boxes) are relatively cheap as well.

    The "on stage" tubs (for each player's portion of the band book) are black, each with our laminated label on the "front" side (to ease setup). All other tubs are color coded with (originally) clear tubs and colored tops, and now with colored tubs. Other cases are Pelikan shock-proof ones (for some sound components), Cordura zip up carrying bags (for the stands, monitors and keyboard), and a Cordura duffle bag "gig bag" for various odds and ends (tools, gaffer tape, mute stands, spare pantyhose (for the ladies), flashlights and the like).

    When we strike, I have everyone shut off their stand lights (but leaving them on the stand) and pick up their area, then either close their music box up or put the music in the set folders into the Common Music Box (if we are not toting the individual music boxes to a particular gig).

    Then, we strike the majority of what remains. The drummer picks up his kit, the aux percussion guy (who doubles as a vocalist) his, the piano player unplugs everything (but leaves it in place). The vocalists return their mikes to the general location of the Cordless Mike Box, and anyone who has a wired mike at his/her station unplugs the cable (but only lets it fall to the floor).

    While this is underway, I'm going to the can to change back from concert dress into work clothes. (My wife and the band boy have already done this before the end of the last set.) Even in the dead of winter, I wear a T shirt, shorts and sandals for the tear-down, so hot do I get.

    Once this is done, I set up the payroll and pay out everyone for the job. (If they have to leave earlier than this, then they have to wait to get paid until the next rehearsal.) This both gets them out the door, and gives us a break from the rest of the tear-down. (I generally put away a full liter of water while I'm doing the pay out.)

    That finished, it's back to packing.

    • My lovely wife properly stores and winds up the stand lights. In order to fit them all into the Stand Light Tub, they have to be oriented just so, with the cords wrapped up across the light and the strut, and even then they are a very tight fit.

    • Next, she folds the stands and stacks them in the Stand Bags, spotted out in the middle of the dance floor. Three bags for all of them, and they are a nuisance in that they do not stack well on the carts.

    • We use Stone Lined hat mutes for the brass (nice and flashy visual effect, as well as it looks better than a bunch of brass players hunched over and playing into the stands). All eight of these are picked up by my lovely wife and stored into their Hat Box

    • I (and I alone) pack up the cordless mike equipment (mikes, transformers, receivers and spare battery magazine). I have found these "wandering off" on two occasions, and I'm not about to drop a couple of hundred bucks because of some other distractions. They go into the Cordless Mike Box, a Pelikan case with foam inserts.

    • The wired microphones are dropped into the Microphone Box. This is a particularly enjoyable task, and there's always a volunteer to handle this duty. Don't know why, though...maybe they like the neat twist fasteners that it closes with.

    • Then, I (and the band boy, if we have one) tear down the sound system. Speakers and mixer is placed on the dance floor with the rest of the stuff. We then pack the speaker stands and mike stands up into the Sound Stand Bag. (They are a particularly irritating part of the tear-down, consuming almost as much time as everything else). The sub-mixer panel goes into its Pelikan carrying case (the hated Sub Mixer case - it's big, heavy, slippery and doesn't stack well at all), along with its transformer and special Y cable. The monitors (JBL 10s) go into their carrying bags.

    • Then we start on the sound cables, speaker cables, monitor cables and the like. They are all coiled up, strapped together with their attached cable straps, and dropped into one tub (the Sound Cable Tub). The sound snake gets coiled into the Sound Snake Tub.

    • Next comes the electric power cables. All of ours are black heavy duty equipment, and they all fit into one more tub, the Power Cable Tub. The three electric snakes go into two more Power Snake Tubs.

    • The chairs are the venue's problem, but I usually stack them up just to get them out of the way during the tear-down.

    As each of these tubs is filled up, they are shifted out to the dance floor. If we have a "band boy" besides my wife, they are tasked with accumulating these boxes onto the carts, with the music boxes on the bottom. (Black boxes get sorted out to the trailer first, so they go on the bottom.) Otherwise, I handle this aspect once all of the pack up is completed.

    Once we're finished, the boxes are all skidded out to the trailer and stacked into an interlocked mass on the floor of the trailer. The keyboard (in its padded case) and monitors (in theirs), and the two carts go on top, along with the odd piano stand, bench and other "small" item. Mixer and FOH speakers go on the floor behind it all. Horns go into the back of the car, along with garment bags, the gig bag and other odds and ends. Then, I close out with the facilities people, take one last look around, and then take my lovely wife (and the band boy, if we have one) out to "late supper".

    Total time into an "average" venue is about four hours, including a lunch period once it's all sitting on the dance floor, out of the vehicle. Total tear-down time can be as little as a hour, but usually an hour and a half, this running from last tune to out the door. And, it is a hard and fast rule that we always have that meal break during setup - it makes all the difference in the world.

    What is a real killer is doing two jobs on the same day. That results in a full twelve hour day for us, in addition to the playing part. In those cases, it's critical to put it all away properly in order to be able to set it up again in a timely fashion.

  9. #9
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    Default

    I often have gigs, where I'm not the owner, so all I have to do is show up with my instruments, stand, lights, etc. I have been using something called a Pack and Roll but they don't last more than two years. I'd love to find a light aluminum version of this, thinking that then maybe it would last longer. I don't need it to fold away, but most do and then the pieces used to hold it together often pops off and gets lost. Any ideas folks?

  10. #10
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    Default

    If you do not need a basket attached by the maker, maybe something like one of these may do the trick. I use a similar dolly for putting away my bass gear in the garage.
    Education: the path from cocky ignorance to miserable uncertainty.

    The chains of habit are too light to be felt until they’re too heavy to broken.

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