admin
Wedding singer - Sheldon Conrich

Most Requested Wedding Songs for Musicians

Most Requested Wedding Songs for Musicians

Wedding Songs - Most requested

It’s a month before a client’s wedding and it’s around this time that I will give them a call. It’s important for me to touch base with the couple to make sure they know I’m still here and ready to go. During this conversation I’ll go through some of the specifics for the day. This might include the order of the day, like timings and speeches. I will also grab any important contact numbers like best men, caterers, venue coordinators etc. Most importantly it’s the best time to discuss the wedding songs.

This part of the conversation usually starts quite broadly. When I ask what sort of music a couple likes there will invariably be some common genres thrown into the conversation. Depending on the age and background of the couple I tend to get a similar response to start off with. But as we delve a little further you get some gems appearing in their musical requests. I’ve played at a lot of wedding over my time as a musician and there have been some common wedding songs requested. Have a look at the list below and see whether you would have picked them too. Which wedding songs would you request on your special day?

Top Ten Requested Wedding Songs – Acoustic set

Instrumental music for weddings

  1. Thinking Out Loud by Ed Sheeran
  2. Stand By Me by Ben. E. King
  3. I’m Yours by Jason Mraz
  4. You Make My Dreams Come True by Hall and Oats
  5. Moon Dance by Van Morrison
  6. Fly Me to The Moon by Frank Sinatra
  7. Hey Jude by The Beatles
  8. Wonderwall by Oasis
  9. Don’t Look Back in Anger by Oasis
  10. Save Tonight by Eagle Eye Cherry

Top Ten Requested Wedding Songs – DJ set

Dj at your wedding

  1. Uptown Funk by Mark Ronson
  2. Happy by Pharrel Williams
  3. Cheerleader by OMI
  4. Respect by Aretha Franklin
  5. Superstition by Stevie Wonder
  6. Get Lucky by Daft Punk
  7. Billy Jean by Michael Jackson
  8. I Wanna Dance With Somebody by Whitney Houston
  9. Valerie by Amy Winehouse
  10. Blame it on the Boogie by Michael Jackson

What are your favourite songs that you’ve heard at a wedding? Did you hear a really interesting cover version that stuck in your mind? If you have a wedding coming up and would like to discuss wedding songs or hiring musicians feel free to get in touch.

admin
Top ten easy guitar chords for beginners

Top Ten Bad Habits While Learning To Play Guitar

Top Ten Bad Habits While Learning To Play Guitar

Learning to Play Guitar

As a guitar teacher I get a lot of students coming to me after teaching themselves. Generally these students have reached a point where they can’t take themselves any further and thus need to guidance and direction. But generally I find there are some common bad habits that appear when learning to play guitar. So here are my top ten guitaring bad habits.

Guitar Tips – Lose the bad habits

  1. Hand position – Generally people who are self taught aren’t thinking about their hand position. A lot of the time the thumb position, or wrist position are out of sync. This causes note buzzing, cramping and the inability to find simple chords quickly.
  2. Finger positions – If you’re learning to play guitar by yourself then your finger position technique will invariably be quite random. You’ll use whatever finger you want for a particular note. This is fine until the more advanced stages and then good positional technique is needed. If you want good finger speed or to not have to look at the guitar while you play then be aware of your finger positions.
  3. Tone quality – When you play a note on the guitar the tone relates to the quality of that note. How does it sound? If there is buzz, or a sharpness to it then it’s generally not a great tone. Bad habits are where you produce this type of tone but can no longer hear that it sounds bad. Keep listening and refining your tone at every stage.
  4. Timing – If you’ve only played by yourself chances are you may have an interesting sense of timing. This might mean that some times you speed up and slow down without realising it. There are a few solutions to this bad habit. Firstly use a metronome if you can’t play with a track. Secondly play with the track you’re learning. And lastly play with other people.
  5. Strumming technique – Initially you may want to strum a rhythm in any direction. This is fine but as mentioned if you’re learning to play guitar properly you’ll get a sense of when to strum down or up. Just be careful that you watch your strumming pattern directions from early on so that you don’t build unbreakable bad habits.
  6. Wrong chord names – When new students come to me I will ask them to play certain chords. Some times I’ll say play an Am and they’ll play an A7. It is useful knowing both the chord name and correct chord shape. It will help strengthen your memory of the chord and help when converting it to a barre chord.
  7. Picking technique – If you find yourself picking everything down all the time I hope you have strong forearms. Having a strong picking technique for those learning to play guitar will help massively with complex solos. A simple tip is to look into rotational picking.
  8. Pull offs – The pull off technique is actually quite simple but I find a lot of students initially trying to pull their fingers up and out. You may have some success with this but think about the tone quality of the note. Watch some YouTube videos of great players when they pull off and you’ll notice the difference.
  9. Only playing the open position – It’s fun to strum open chords but the neck of the guitar is quite long. This gives you lots of places to play notes and chords. Be careful not to get too comfortable with playing in just one area of the guitar
  10. Tuning – A more simple notion but try to avoid getting into this bad habit. Make sure you’re guitar is tuned before you play. Don’t get used to playing an out of tune guitar. Buy yourself a decent guitar tuner or use the online guitar tuner sites. You and the people around you will appreciate it, promise.

If you are looking for some more advice on learning to play guitar or would like some guitar lessons with me feel free to get in touch.

admin
Wedding ideas on a budget - DJ Live

How long does a wedding band play for?

How long does a wedding band play for?

Wedding Band As a musician performing in multiple wedding bands and set ups I am often asked how long I will play for? And actually as an engaged couple looking for musicians it’s quite an important question. Just how long will my wedding band play for? And am I getting value for money?

On the whole the wedding day will last around eight hours. Some are slightly longer and some shorter but I use eight hours as a general rule. So as a live musician you are likely to be needed to perform for up to  four hours. Between the live music a couple will expect to have a playlist of background music to continue the ambience of the day.

When does the wedding band play?

If you’re looking at a traditional wedding band set up then you’re looking at a minimum of four musicians. This will include drum kit, keys, guitar, bass with one or more of those doubling up as a singer. For that size you would assume it’s too large to perform during the ceremony or as background music during reception drinks and dinner. So your wedding band is likely to be the ones getting you on the dance floor for a boogie. In my experience you are likely to expect an earlier hour’s set dancing after the dinner but before dessert. And then your wedding band can play anything from an hour to two hours for a final dancing set to finish the night.

Hiring Live Musicians for your wedding

If you have a good wedding band then you will be offered smaller set ups during the day. With these smaller ensembles like a solo, duo or trio they can perform at the ceremony, reception and throughout dinner. In my experience a wedding band offering that service makes your life a whole lot easier rather than booking different musicians for different parts of the day. If you have the extra solo, duo and trio option then you’re looking at twenty minutes during the ceremony, 45 minutes to an hour for reception and another 45 minutes during dinner.

What to expect from your wedding band

Dj Live function band

As a wedding couple you should expect your wedding band to know the sort of music you like. And with that knowledge cater their sets throughout the day to your musical tastes. If you like a large range of music then you should expect your wedding band to mix it up during the day. Aside from your musical tastes your guests are likely to have a wide range of ages. So you should expect your wedding band to factor this into the sort of music they perform. I would also say that if your wedding band is experienced then they should be setting up the energy throughout the day. Earlier on you would want your band performing slightly more chilled numbers before building towards the up tempo dance sets.

If you are looking for a wedding band or smaller musical set ups like solo, duo or trio feel free to get in touch. I’d be happy to chat to you about anything you need to know.

admin
Top ten easy guitar chords for beginners

Easy Guitar Songs For Beginners

Easy Guitar Songs For Beginners

Easy Guitar Songs For Beginners

This blog is for those of you who are just starting out on the guitar and are looking for easy guitar songs for beginners. One of the biggest mistakes beginner guitarists do when they first start out is to learn songs that are too difficult. This can lead to a load of frustration and ultimately slow the learning progress. It can also dent your self confidence as a player. So in this blog I am not going to list off a load of easy guitar songs. Instead I will be helping you create a criteria for choosing your own easy guitar songs.

Six Things to Avoid

  1. Don’t go all over the fretboard. If you’ve just started playing the guitar then chances are you won’t have much knowledge of the fret board. Early on you want to focus on the first five frets of the guitar. You’ll spend a lot of time learning one song if you go all over the fret board too early.
  2. Don’t pick songs with obscure chords. If you have only a handful of chords under your fingers then it would make sense not to choose songs with awkward finger positions. Allow your fingers to adjust to simple shapes first before tackling complicated ones.
  3. Don’t pick songs with lots of chords. A lot of guitar playing comes from muscle memory. If you have very little muscle memory then your playing is through conscious control. That means each note or chord has to be thought out before you play. If you are still at this stage then choosing a song with fifteen different chords will prove difficult and time consuming
  4. Don’t choose the most rhythmically challenging songs. To begin with you will be developing your strumming techniques and guitar rhythm patterns. Taking on songs with semi quavers, triplets, with lots of off beats at an early stage will be a long and painful process. Keep your rhythms simple at the early stages.
  5. Don’t choose barre chord songs. Barre chords generally require a certain amount of guitar trained hand strength. If you choose these types of songs too early all you will get is cramp in your hand and a large amount of buzzing.
  6. Don’t try a slash solo on day one. So you love Guns ‘n’ Roses and Slash is the reason you decided to play guitar. Does that mean you can play like Slash from day one? Nope. So rather than trying to play his solos which require a strong technique, finger speed and knowledge of scales focus on simple melodies.

Five Things to focus on

  1. Choose simple chord songs
  2. Choose songs with simple and slow rhythms
  3. Choose songs with short simple melodies based on the first five frets of the guitar
  4. Simple chord shapes are the way forward at these early stages
  5. Pick songs you know well. A song is a lot easier to play when it’s familiar to you.

I hope these tips will help you find more easy guitar songs for beginners. I wanted to give you these ideas so that you could pick and design your own learning path. Every person has their own unique musical preferences. So with these tips in mind you’ll be playing your favourite songs in no time. There are plenty of tab songs written out for you on Ultimate Guitar Tabs. This is a great resource for early stage guitarists.

If you still want some definite easy guitar songs for beginners then check out my simple guitar songs blog. If you’re looking for a guitar and would like some guitar lessons with me feel free to get in touch. I teach at my studio in Borehamwood or via Skype.

admin
Top ten easy guitar chords for beginners

New Years Resolution – Learn the guitar

New Years Resolution – Learn the guitar

New Years Resolution - Learn the guitar

Another year has passed and it’s time to think of some new years resolutions. Some of you will want to quit smoking. Others will want to start a gym membership. Mine is to become fluent at Italian – nothing major! For those of you who’ve thought about picking up an instrument why not try learning the guitar?

What do you need?

To learn the guitar you’re going to need a few guitarist essentials. The first and most important thing will be the guitar. It is important to decide what type of guitar you want to learn. Are you a fan of classical music – Mozart, Beethoven, Bach etc? If so then you may want a classical guitar. These guitars have smaller bodies with nylon strings. If your preference is more pop, country or folk music then you may want to get an acoustic guitar. Acoustic guitars have a larger body and metal strings. Alternatively if you love rock and solos then you’re probably suited to learning the electric guitar. Just remember if you learn the electric guitar you’ll need an amp and lead to compliment the guitar.

Some things you’ll need regardless of the type of guitar you decide to play are:

  • A guitar tuner
  • Spare strings
  • Capo
  • Plectrum
  • String winder and cutter
  • Guitar cleaner and cloth
  • Strap (for acoustic and electric)

How much will it cost?

So your new years resolution is to learn the guitar. That notion means you will invariably have to spend some money. You can get a cheap acoustic guitar for around £60, and cheap electric and classical guitars for around £100 – £150. I would suggest doing a quick google search to get a feel for the sort of prices guitars and guitar accessories cost.

You may also want to buy a few starter and chord song books. These will definietely compliment any lessons you have with a teacher. Speaking of guitar lessons….In the London area you’re looking at around £30 to £50 an hour for a lesson depending on how central you go and the experience of the teacher. It is recommended to have weekly lessons especially at the beginning to keep you from making bad habits.

As a guitar teacher I often get students come to me for lessons who’ve taught themselves. We have to spend quite a few lessons working on ironing out bad habits, so be careful!

Some advice for you

If your new years resolution is to learn the guitar then remember music is a language. If you have the mind set that you’re trying to communicate as you play, it will help you to focus on how you’re playing and what you sound like. A lot of people don’t listen to themselves as they play and thus aren’t aware of what they’re doing right or wrong. Don’t be afraid to try things but make sure you’re listening.

If you would like to learn the guitar with me feel free to get in touch. I teach guitar at my studio in Borehamwood.

admin
Wedding ideas on a budget - DJ Live

New Years Eve Entertainment – An Essex Affair

New Years Eve Entertainment – An Essex Affair

New years eve entertainment

Happy new year everyone. Well it’s been a few weeks since I’ve been on here and for good reason. I’ve found some time to head into the studio to work on a collaboration project. So watch out for updates on that one as the project develops. I also took a well earned break for a week and headed to Milan. If you’ve ever been to Italy you’ll know it’s all about food and talking. I feel like I may have eaten my body weight in the short space of time we were there. If you haven’t been to Milan I highly recommend checking out some of the newly developed Garibaldi and surrounding area.

Aside from the writing and short break I teamed up with ‘The Function Band – DJ live’ – to provide some much needed new years eve entertainment at Stockbrook Manor. Stockbrook is a large country club and golf course out in Essex. Strangely we had actually performed the previous night at Stockbrook manor for a wedding. This happy coincidence was great for me as I could leave all my equipment in place for the next evening.

New years eve entertainment is different to that of a wedding or corporate event. Generally people on NYE – and especially an Essex crowd – are looking to party all night long. With weddings and corporates there’s generally a building energy that occurs with a more mellow start, ending with the climatic party. That said we still wanted to hint at this format and thus we began with an acoustic set. To get around the energy problem we made the acoustic set very upbeat. So although it was stripped back instrument wise, the energy was still high. I think the crowd appreciated this as it’s definitely something different to an ordinary club approach.

The DJ live band for the new years eve entertainment was a nice mix of musicians and singers. We had the DJ, percussion, two sax players, a violinist, myself on guitar and four singers. As you can imagine it was a big production with the singers and musicians mixing with the crowd mid song. I feel this interaction again is something that made it feel just that little bit more special. Also that fact that the stage was a brilliant sparkling white on multiple tiers couldn’t have hurt.

We had the crowd dancing away until 2am so I think we can safely say “job done”. I’m looking forward to performing at lots of events this year including weddings, corporate dos, parties and much more. If you’re looking for a musician for your event or need some new years eve entertainment for 2016 feel free to get in touch.

admin
Sign of the times EP - instrumental music

Why Jazz Guitar Lessons Will Improve Your Playing

Improving With Jazz Guitar Lessons

Jazz guitar lessons

We all know that jazz is a niche genre of music. It’s also a style of music that we see very little influence on the modern pop chart. If you look at modern society you can see there is very little place for bebop or ragtime so why is it a good idea to take some jazz guitar lessons?

If you’re a guitarist like me then you’re always looking for new ideas. It is true to say that songwriters in the modern pop world have had to create simplified chord progressions and melodies. The progressions are repeated throughout the song with very little variation or imagination. Obviously there are the odd pop songs that stand out and make you think for a moment. But for the best part you’re not going become a top guitarist by learning Taylor Swift’s back catalogue.

Why Jazz guitar lessons?

When you look into jazz guitar, you’re actually delving into something far greater. You’re looking into a style of music which was invented over a hundred years ago. It was at a time when the industry wasn’t tainted by the most record sales but on artistry. An interesting and clever chord progression with melodies to suit was the first thing on a songwriter’s mind. Arrangements were also different. Yes there was song structure – A B A etc but writers weren’t afraid to look for alternative song formats. Melodies weren’t safe. If you weren’t a good musician then it was pointless tackling a Charlie Parker standard. Musicianship was at it’s peak as was the quality of the music.

So why do I think it’s important to at least venture a little into jazz guitar lessons? Well it’s pure and simple. By learning the fundamentals of jazz you’ll learn everything you need to play other styles of music (with the exception of genre specific rhythms). On a harmonic front you’ll learn about chord structure, varying ways to use chords and why they sound the way they do. On a melodic front you’ll delve into sounds other than the traditional major scale. Modal thought processes will shift you’re solos from predictable melodies to licks with class.

Do you need to love jazz to learn it?

This is a tough one. I’d say that developing your chops as a guitarist means allowing yourself to be influenced by many styles of music. It’s the fusion or hint of another style into your playing that creates originality. You don’t need to be a great lover of jazz to take jazz guitar lessons. You just need to be someone open to the idea that the lessons will ultimately broaden your musical understanding. And ultimately make you a more rounded player.

Take a look at my short series of the modes of the major scale. If you find some of those sounds to be interesting then I think you’d enjoy tackling a few jazz guitar concepts.

If you want jazz guitar lessons or just guitar lessons in general feel free to get in touch.

 

admin
Icons of musical notation

Wedding Singer vs DJ

Wedding Singer vs DJ

Wedding singer - Sheldon Conrich

If you’re planning your wedding then you may be at the stage of deciding on your music. So the question of whether to have a wedding singer or DJ maybe on your mind. There are certainly good reasons why you would want a wedding singer and equally why you would want a DJ.

Live Music at your wedding

Wedding ideas on a budget - DJ Live

When it comes to weddings we all know that the day is special and unique. Couples will remember the day for the rest of their lives. The photos and videos will bring the day back to life in an instant. So the question is do you want live music at your wedding? From my experience as a musician and performer I’ve noticed something interesting about live music. The energy that the wedding singer or band create is something that you can’t replicate with DJ tracks. The modern musicians can walk and perform around the room interacting with guests. This is again something that is lost with a DJ on the basis that they are fixed behind the decks.

Visually there is also something really magical about having live musicians performing. Seeing the saxophonist move over the keys or the guitarist strumming away brings a new dimension to the wedding day. And although you may find live musicians more expensive it is important to remember that you want your wedding to be an extra special day. Having a wedding singer performing at your wedding gives a uniqueness that you will always remember.

These days the wedding singer can use backing tracks very much in the style of a DJ. This is called DJ live and thus brings the to two worlds together – DJing and live musicians. Aside from DJ live you also have multiple band options from the solo wedding singer up to a full band.

DJ at your wedding

Dj at your wedding

What you get with a wedding DJ is to hear your favourite music sung by your favourite artists throughout your wedding. If you as a couple are people who love certain bands or singers then the DJ can cater to all your music tastes. If you like a large mix of music from funk to blues to Afrobeat to jazz then a DJ can throw this into your wedding day. This diversity is something that may be lost by certain live bands because they may specialise in certain types of party music.

With a DJ you’ll also get someone who will take up minimal space. For the couples who want a smaller wedding and are worried about venue space, then a DJ allows more guests to fit into the venue.

A DJ can also MC for your which will save you having to hire a professional MC throughout the day. But there are some very good reasons to hire professional master of ceremonies. Don’t let me sway you away from that decision.

It’s down to you

Ultimately there are reasons why you would want a wedding singer, band or a DJ. So the decision rests in the individual couple. The most important thing is that you are happy with the music on your wedding day. Whether you choose a DJ or live musicians it’s just about creating the right atmosphere throughout the day.

If you’re looking for a wedding singer or DJ feel free to get in touch. I’d be happy to discuss any of your musical needs.

 

admin
Learning to play the guitar - Making mistakes

Learning To Play The Guitar – Making Mistakes

Learning to Play the guitar – Making Mistakes

Learning to play the guitar - Making mistakes

The first thing to know about learning to play the guitar is that you will and must make mistakes. Making mistakes are an integral part of the learning process. I see a lot of my students get frustrated and stressed when they hit one wrong note or incorrect rhythm in a progression. I can see the intensity on their face with the fear that they’ll make a mistake. The realisation is that most of their learning comes from the wrong notes they play or hitting the wrong string.

Why should we embrace mistakes?

The best way to think about it goes back to us as babies. If you look at how babies operate they are like a walking time bomb. They fall over, bump their heads, stick things in places they shouldn’t be and all in the name of progress. If a baby was to think to them self ‘I can’t do this because it might hurt’, they’d never take a step and thus never walk. This notion of trying regardless of any mistakes made is something that schools make you unlearn. They are always looking for perfection. If you don’t do this homework perfectly then you’re a bad person. If you don’t get any amazing grade you won’t go to uni etc. And this follows us into work life and finally to our hobbies like playing the guitar.

When you’re learning to play the guitar it’s like becoming a baby again. Suddenly there is a huge fretboard in front of you which will eventually allow you to produce some amazing sounds. But before you become the next Jimi Hendrix or Wes Montgomery you will throw out some of the worst sounds you’ve ever heard. Buzzing, wrong notes and odd timings will appear out of nowhere and you have two ways to deal with it. The first is to tense up, get angry, frustrated and invariably put down the guitar in protest. The alternative is to accept the process and see the bigger picture.

Kids vs Adults

How do I know this is absolutely true? I teach guitar to a large range of a ages. On a weekly basis I’ll interact with students from the early ages of 6 years to the tender age of 86. And what I notice is that the kids generally play with no fear. Some times this means that the sounds coming from them can be all over the place. But these sounds regardless of how bad they may be are played with a smile. The older students tend to think too much. They ask themselves ‘why does this sound so buzzy?’ or ‘why can’t I play the damn note?’. If they’re on that pathway you’ll see the frustration build and build. And it is my job to help them as they’re learning to play the guitar but also break the frustration cycle.

In conclusion

Whether you’re learning to play the guitar by yourself or via a guitar teacher be realistic. Strive to improve. Perfection is a very subjective thing. One person’s great solo is another person’s idea of white noise. Mistakes are good even if you don’t want to hear that. So next time you’re practising and you hit a bum note do it with a smile. The next time you forget to play a chord on bar three, breath and remember next time round to throw it in. If you do these things you’ll be well on your way to being a great guitarist.

If you’re looking for guitar lessons feel free to get in touch. I’ve posted a load of free guitar YouTube lessons so check them out when you have a moment.

 

admin
Wedding ideas on a budget - DJ Live

Wedding Ideas on a Budget – DJ Live

Wedding Ideas on a Budget – What is DJ Live?

Wedding ideas on a budget - DJ Live

For those of you planning a wedding we all know it can be expensive. There are four key elements to organise early on if you want a stress free wedding – the date, the venue, the caterer and the music. Aside from the date aspect the other three parts will tend to be the most expensive lay outs for your wedding. If you have a tight budget and don’t want spending to get out of hand then you want to think of some weddings ideas on a budget. Today I wanted to share with you an alternative music idea that is beginning to battle with the traditional wedding band. This new musical route is called DJ live.

So what is DJ live?

DJ live has found itself at weddings for two reasons. It’s an affordable alternative to the traditional wedding band and mirrors what is going on in the music industry right now. DJ live consists of a DJ, a variety of singers, and traditionally a guitarist and saxophonist. I say traditionally because DJ live is in it’s infancy and the guitar sax option has seemed to be the most popular at these early stages.

During the course of the night the DJ will play a variety of genres of music in the form of backing tracks. The singers, guitarist and saxophonist (or percussion, violin) perform along with the tracks blending DJ and live music together.

Why is this so popular right now?

As mentioned if you’re looking for wedding ideas on a budget then DJ live is an affordable musical alternative. Another reason for the popularity of DJ live seems to be the ability to cover a wide range of genres and eras of music. A DJ live band can perform anything from big band swing, to 80’s synth pop, to modern dance classics. And the best thing about having a DJ control the music is the seamless transitions from one song to the next. The sign of an amateur band lies in they way the start, finish and transition the music they’re playing. A live band can literally kill the atmosphere with a delayed transition or poor start to a song.

So in terms of wedding ideas on a budget you’ll be able to save yourself money on expensive bands. And this will ultimately keep your stress levels down to a minimum.

If you need any help and advice on choosing a DJ live band feel free to get in touch. I’d be happy to give you more info and ideas for saving your money at your wedding. If you’re still looking for a live music set up then maybe a smaller duo or trio would work for you. If that is the case feel free to check out Trio Sec.