On Friday, March 10th 2017 at 6PM I had the thrilling opportunity of singing the national anthem for the Red Sox vs. Orioles spring training game at Jetblue Park, also known as Fenway South. I had sung the anthem for the Red Sox 6 years ago at their old stadium in downtown Fort Myers. Performing at the new state of the art Jetblue stadium was exciting and I was definitely riding an adrenaline rush while standing before a sold out crowd of 11,000+ fans.
Let me tell you about something that nearly messed up my performance - a random outburst by a large section of the crowd yelling "oohhhh" right before the phrase "Oh say does that start spangled banner yet wave." I just smiled and kept going since I have learned over the years that in situations like this: just keep going even when out of the blue distractions happen.
Well, I later learned this was not out of the blue for the Baltimore Oriole fans in the crowd. This was their tradition! The team is famously nicknamed the O's and so they had to voice their famous letter of the alphabet right in the middle of my performance. It is so funny because at that moment a flood of thoughts raced through my mind and I even thought I might get nailed in the head with a rogue baseball.
The anthem was well received and I was thankful for the fans that came up to let me know how much they enjoyed it. Best of all I had my sweet husband and two girls in the crowed as well as some close friends. I am so thankful to God for blessing me with this wonderful gig.
A couple weeks ago I had the pleasure of performing a surprise song during a vowel renewal at Lovers Key State Park in Fort Myers. The couple was celebrating 40 years of wedded bliss and were fortunate to have their son and daughter plan a lovely, intimate ceremony on the beach. The weather was impeccable with gorgeous views and lovely works of tree art to look at that could only be inspired by God himself. My mission was to perform the couple's song, "Somewhere" from the famous musical Westside Story. Because I grew up watching the film version thanks to my mom, I was already very familiar with the song and have sung it for past musical theatre auditions as well. This time was certainly different though since I sang it acapella.
My instructions were to wait for the ceremony to end, with a verbal cue. However, the glistening waves were much too excited and very loud. I couldn't here the minister. So, I crept up behind the closest tree I could find and waited, peeking every so often. Two times a park ranger on his 4-wheeler drove right by the ceremony and I was praying that he would not give up my cover. I could see him eyeing me with some confusion and rightly so - I was dressed in a black cocktail dress, and hiding behind a tree. Below is a pic I snapped.
Finally it was time and I began the song as I walked up to the small gathering. The couple looked very confused, but delighted at the same time. Eventually I saw some tears streaming down a few faces in my audience, and I felt much more at ease. The couple was so grateful and truly surprised by my performance. Congratulations again to this special husband and wife!
Below is the live sound recording:
Every now and again, I have the opportunity to perform for a variety of events. You might think they aren't worth while for someone who primarily performs for wedding ceremonies; I think the exact opposite is true. One might ask how singing the national anthem for a college volleyball game or competing in a vocal competition helps a musician perform better for small intimate weddings, but I can tell you from personal experience that it most certainly does.
Last month I had the opportunity to volunteer my singing voice for Florida Gulf Coast University's women's volleyball game against Indiana. It was so fun to return to my alma mater and contribute to the community. My husband was at home babysitting our kiddos, but he did get to live stream it.
Late October I had a friend shoot me a link with a "You should do this" message. It was a national sing-off by Way-FM to find a vocalist to sing the National Anthem for the Casting Crowns concert later this month. Unfortunately the competition was judged on the number of votes each contestant brought in and not solely on their talent. A person could even vote every hour if they wished. Although I entered the competition late and didn't really have a prayer in terms of votes, I was so honored by the support of my family and friends. I did end up getting around 950.
So What? ...How does this affect me as a bride?
As you may haven noticed, Melodic Expressions has been slowly undergoing a revamp of its brand and image. The most exciting change is our new slogan: The Professional Musician Collective. To us, the word "professional" means a musician that is not only talented and trained in their art, but who has a well rounded performance history, one that consists of mostly paid gigs that are consistently growing in number and variety. A musician can be "all that and a bag of chips" in practice, but not get anywhere in their career unless they perform outside the rehearsal walls....over and over and over. The proverbial phrase "practice makes perfect" can only get one so far when it comes to musicianship. I'd like to change the phrase to "performance makes perfect". After all, a near perfect wedding is what every bride desires for their special day.
A musician can be all that and a bag of chips in practice but not get anywhere in their career unless they perform outside the rehearsal walls....over and over and over.
The nitty gritty stuff that live performance demands is vital for a musician's growth: controlled nerves, maintained composure and song continuity during mishaps (ex. sheet music blows off the stand in the wind, or the sun is blaring hot, your sweating bullets causing your eyes to burn so badly you can't see any lyrics, or the bugs are biting even with bug spray and you can't focus on playing the piano because you're raging war on mosquitos with your right hand while continuing to play with your left). I could go on and on. The main things is that each time musicians conquer these glitches during a performance, they are stronger for it, making them extremely valuable. With a pro there is confidence and added security. Whatever might happen, the professional musician has most likely been there before and the music will not be ruined for it. Look for a musician who has performed for a variety of audiences both large and small within different environments/venues.
Look for a musician who has performed for a variety of audiences both large and small within different environments/venues.
Our professional musician collective at Melodic Expressions is exclusively made up of Southwest Florida's top performing artists. Most members have an extensive background in their Music education, ranging from a Bachelor's degree all the way to a Doctoral degree. They are active members of prominent music ensembles like the Naples Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus, Southwest Florida Symphony Orchestra and the Naples Philharmonic Chamber Choir to name a few. A number of members hold the position of music director at their local churches, operate their own studios for music instruction, and perform regularly at public events.
We have exciting news today. Our acoustic duet Barefoot Saturday has just released two new singles. They are both covers, and the first is a must listen for all brides. "Like I'm Gonna Lose You" by Meghan Trainor is such a great option for a laid back contemporary ceremony and of course, it's a great song within a cocktail hour set list. Take a listen here and consider having Barefoot Saturday perform live for your big day. The second song is "Let it Go" by James Bay. This song features vocals, guitar and piano. It's a great representation of the kind of sound you'll get when you book Barefoot Saturday. For those of you who are local, Chip will be performing in November in Naples, FL. See flyer below.
Naples 8th Ave. South continues to grow in popularity amongst brides as a prime option when it comes to beach ceremony venues. This is where we performed during a special vowel renewal for Allie and Anibal. While I don't know the specifics behind the love story of this young couple, I can only tell you that their love for each other was extremely evident as was the excitement of a numerous amount of guests who were overjoyed to attend a ceremony and reception to celebrate the couple's public expression of unity in marriage.
The string quartet was chosen to serenade guests as they arrived. They played classical and contemporary music as well as special requests (highlighted with links). See their ceremony playlist below:
1. What a Wonderful World (Louis Armstrong)
2. Can You Feel the Love Tonight From the Lion King (Elton John)
3. Hallelujah (Cohen)
4. Clair de Lune (Debussy)
Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring (Bach)
Bridal Party Processional:
Now We Are Free (from the movie Gladiator)
Canon in D (Pachelbel)
1. Ave Maria (Schubert)
2. You and Me (Lifehouse)
Recessional & Postlude
1. La Rejouissance (Handel)
2. Entrance of the Queen of Sheba (Handel)
I ended up loving the selection that Allie chose for her bridal party processional. Make sure to take a listen - it's just perfect. The ceremony interludes were sung along with the quartet by myself as the soloist.
The last piece by Handel for the postlude is a very intricate piece to play. Here is a live video sample:
This past Sunday afternoon, I had the pleasure of performing ceremony music for my dear friend's wedding. Amanda and Josh were married on a beautiful private property in Fort Myers. The rustic backyard that was complete with beautiful pond and an "old florida" charm was actually the home where Josh grew up. What a special place for these two to become one.
Amanda was truly one of the most beautiful brides I have ever laid eyes on. And I'm not just saying that because she's one of my best friends from back in High School.
Her dress was so unique and special. A lovely blush pink with lace bodice and pleated tulle definitely made this a one of a kind wedding dress.
Her choice in ceremony music was just as original. She made a point to not have something played that was overly done at weddings. Her selection also was a great balance between traditional and contemporary pieces. Careful attention was paid to which songs would be instrumental vs. sung.
For the prelude I played mainly background melodies on the piano to set the mood. I did perform and sing a special song request by Amanda, Without You by Emily Hearn. This folksy song was perfect for an outdoor wedding with its laid back harmonies and adorable lyrics:
Words are just words 'til you put 'em with a melody,
sing 'em from the tallest tree as a song.
Love is just love as you've seen it on the movie screen,
'til the moment that your dream comes along.
I can't be me without you, don't wanna be without you.
It's like I can't breathe without you, don't wanna be without you.
Time was just time 'til I started makin' plans with you, every little thing you do is like a song.
Life was just like 'til the moment when love was true, suddenly I feel new and I belong.
You are the blood that's in my veins, you are my shelter in the rain, don't wanna be without you.
You are the truth amongst the lies, you love me even when I cry, dont wanna be without you.
Here is the rest of the ceremony playlist:
Parents and Grandparents: Panis Angelicus, piano.
Bridesmaids: Canon in D, piano.
Bride: Love Never Fails - Brandon Heath, piano.
Unity Cord Ceremony: 10,000 Reasons - Matt Redman, piano and voice.
Recessional: Everything - Michael Buble, piano and voice.
Congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Peterson! Thanks so much for letting me share in your special day.
Last Saturday I had the honor of performing for the first time at one of Naples most prestigious wedding venues, The Club at Mediterra. This five star, privately owned community could seriously be a dream come true for brides desiring an extra grand ceremony site that is outdoors. Fountains, staircases and an extra long aisle are some of the perks that surround this outdoor terrace.
The bride, Whitney, chose a string quartet consisting of 2 violins, Viola and Cello for her ceremony music. Her special song requests included Stand by Me for the bridal party processional and Can't Help Falling in Love for when guests were arriving.
For her own walk down the aisle, she chose to have me sing the song Your Song by Elton John with the quartet. Having the piece sung in a pop/contemporary style while being accompanied by a classical ensemble was really a neat effect. Also, instead of choosing a completely different song to exit with her groom, Whitney decided to exit on the chorus section of her processional song. I loved the cohesiveness that this brought to the ceremony as a whole. I will definitely recommend utilizing the chorus section of processionals for bride's and groom's recessionals in the future.
Here is a review that the bride promptly gave us about our music services for her day:
Thank you again to Whitney and Alex for choosing us to perform your wedding music! You make a most beautiful couple and it was so delightful to witness your marriage. Congratulations!
Listen and enjoy some of the live recordings from Megan and Bryan's ceremony playlist performed by Barefoot Saturday at Kensington Country Club in Naples, FL.
When one thinks about a practice tee at a golf course, seldom does the idea of a wedding come to mind, except when that place is at Kensington Golf and Country Club in Naples. The lush green grass of this practice tee serves as a perfect lawn area looking out onto an even more breathtaking view of the large lake that surrounds it. This is the place where Megan and Brian tied the knot this past weekend.
The couple chose to hire acoustic duet Barefoot Saturday for there ceremony music. The duo features male and female vocals and harmonies as well as the option for acoustic guitar and/or piano. Megan and Bryan chose to have a truly authentic acoustic vibe for their music and decided to just have guitar as the accompanying instrument.
The Set list for Megan and Brian:
Prelude Music as Guests Arrive
A Thousand Years, Christina Perri
Can't Help Falling in Love, Elvis
Come Away with Me, Norah Jones
Everything, Michael Buble
Parents and Grandparents
You and Me, Lifehouse
I'll Be, Edwin McCain
It's Your Love, Tim McGraw
Over the Rainbow, Israel Kamakawiwo'ole
The two songs learned for this wedding included I'll Be and It's Your Love. Part of the fun of being a wedding musician is learning new songs. Even if a musician is already familiar with a song, the process of learning a song to be performed for someones wedding is extremely special and rewarding. The musician has the opportunity to make it their own, automatically creating something unique for the couple to hear and never forget.
This wedding was one of the first where we witnessed a drone, yes a drone, flying above us in the sky. It was taking pictures and video of the bride and groom as they exited, and also of the guests as they assembled around the couple in the shape of a heart. What a fantastic idea! I later came to find out that Bryan is the owner of Naples Drone Photography. So if you're a bride who is intrigued by this extremely creative opportunity for your ceremony, check them out.
For upcoming guitar and vocal samples from this live wedding music performance - visit our Facebook page.
Congrats to Megan and Bryan!
Nautical Music for a Beachside Wedding at Lovers Key|
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The festivities began at 2pm outside under a pretty arbor that was framed with beautiful swooping trees, green foliage and blooms from nature's prettiest of flowers. The bride requested a duet to be sung after the recitation of the vows. The song, made popular by Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli was ....yep you guessed right, "The Prayer."
Myself and my husband sang the piece, and with the Italian parts I might add. Later, we were delighted to hear from a guest fluent in Italian, that our pronunciation was spot on. Looks like "Diction I" in music school really paid off! So if any brides reading this would like something sung in a different language, please know that I have gained extensive training in the pronunciation of the following languages during my collegiate music studies: Italian, German, Spanish, French.
The bride made a lot of use of our music consulting services. I assisted her in choosing what songs she would have played for each part of her ceremony. The entire bridal party walked down to a recorded string ensemble's version of Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring. The flower girl and the bride then processed to a recording of a string orchestra performance of Pachelbel's Canon in D Major. Donna and Neil's first dance was the song When God Made You by Natalie Grant. Since, the bride's son walked Donna down the aisle, he was the one she danced with during what would normally be the father/daughter dance. The bride and groom chose to have their dances with son and mother simultaneously. I recommended the song, Have I Told You Lately and it worked out perfectly.
This gorgeous, vintage wedding incorporated lots of lace, pearls and deep plum colors accented with nudes, creams and blush pinks. Such a romantic color scheme. The bridesmaids even wore official Downton Abbey Jewelry, earrings with a plum colored gem to match.
The Butterfly Estates proved to be a lovely venue for a wedding, and the staff was wonderful to work with. They have a nice private loft area for the bride and bridesmaids to get ready, fully equipped with couches, mini bar and a spacious bathroom. The venue also has a restaurant on site "Flutterbys" which can provide the catering for receptions of all types.
For example, the bride and groom decided to have a cake reception immediately following the ceremony which not only included the cutting of the cake, but also a thank you speech to their guests, first dances and a spread of h'orderves for guests to eat while they mingled about. Later on, a dinner reception was held at the Langford Kingston House for close family and friends.Note: Utilizing a "cake reception" is a great way to have many people attend your ceremony without having to invite everyone to the formal dinner reception.
Many congratulations to Donna and Neil as they start their brand new life together! Thanks for letting us be a part of serenading your wedding ceremony! Many blessings.
This past weekend I had the opportunity to once again perform at a wedding on Marco Island. Like other past weddings at this location, the ceremony took place at the beautiful San Marco Catholic Church, a most popular ceremony venue for traditional church weddings on the island.
The ceremony was a 12 o' clock mass that included pieces both sung and accompanied on the piano. The bride requested Hail Mary, Gentle Woman to be played as the mothers and grandmothers walked down to their seats. Then, I played a piano instrumental of Ode to Joy for the duration of the bridal party's entrances and exits. The Bride chose the ever elegant and popular Canon in D by Pachelbel which was also played on the keys. During the offertory I sang and played an excerpt from The Prayer and also sang Ave Maria at a later point in the ceremony when the bride and groom offer flowers to the statue of Mary.
San Marco Catholic Church
-A side note that I wanted to touch on: There are two versions of Ave Maria. Most people do not realize this until I hum out for them both melodies of the song. Most everyone has heard both, but they don't realize that they share the same lyrics and title. The version this bride chose was the one by Schubert.-
Marco Beach Ocean Resort
Four hours later, I had the privilege of performing the cocktail reception at the exquisite Marco Beach Ocean Resort. Having an early ceremony and then taking a break to relax for a few hours before the reception is definitely becoming the norm for Marco Island brides. I find it so refreshing and such an interesting, unique idea. Maybe something for my brides reading this to consider?
It was such a treat to finally perform at this venue that I've heard so many great things about. The resort certainly lived up to my expectations and even exceeded them. The reception and dinner took place outside on the terrace. The raised, expansive view of the gulf really did take my breath away, and showcased a most romantic sunset for the couple and their guests.
I sang and played keys, covering a variety of laid back beach"y" tunes and songs about love. Everyone was relaxed and having a great time.
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This past weekend under a glistening blue sky, Jessica married the love of her life under a plethora of majestic palms at 8th Ave. South in Naples. This venue is known as a pristine place for wedding ceremonies, even called the "wedding beach" or "wedding park." The pretty lawn area has perfectly manicured grass and pretty walkways - one that acts as a sort of aisle with a long line of palms on each side. The view is simply stellar as this raised plateau type area gives visitors an eye appealing view of the gulf of Mexico.
Musically, the wedding consisted of piano and voice and a specific song requested by the bride that served as a processional for the entire bridal party. The song is Oceans, Where Feet May Fail by Hillsong United. I absolutely love this song and have never performed it in a wedding ceremony setting. I was so pleasantly surprised at how well it worked as a processional song and am now sold on the fact that it is a beautiful option for any bride to consider for her own walk down to the altar.
The parents, groomsmen and bridesmaids all processed as I both sang and played. Then I transitioned to an instrumental version for the bride. I really loved how only one song was the main focus of music for the entire bridal party; another first for me. Most brides have a specific song for each grouping of people whether parents, bridesmaids etc. While we as professional musicians make each song flow into the next, having just one song to play was definitely an example of "less is more." The seamlessness was even more-so than if I had been asked to play multiple pieces within a very short time between them. Once again my client has amazed me and taught me something that I will relay to my future brides.
Many congrats again to Jessica and her new hubby!
Sponsored by The Perfect Match, the event was a three day affair, showcasing various entertainment and chic displays by wedding vendors in a plethora of categories whether linens or florals. On Saturday from 2pm to 5pm I serenaded brides and their family and friends while they swooned over gown after gown. The music selection included contemporary love songs in a variety of genres including those by Michael Buble, Jason Mraz, Colbie Caillat, Bruno Mars, Brandon Heath and more.
Our latest Marco Island wedding featured a new "first" for Melodic Expressions. Our lovely bride Annie had not one, but two ceremonies on her big day.
The first was a traditional catholic mass at the cathedral-like San Marco Catholic Church. I performed a classical piece, Bach/Gounod's Ave Maria while accompanied by the harp and piano. A few hours later, the bride and groom met their guests for a sand ceremony officiated by their close friend. What better place for such an occasion than a gulf coast beach?
The newlyweds chose The Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort for their symbolic display of becoming one. Each member of the bridal party modeled a pair of neon orange sunglasses, the perfect accessory for gathering under a bright Florida sun. Our harpist was set up under a large tropical cabana which acted as a type of arbor for the couple. Who ever said that a harp can't be played on the beach?
Afterwards, guests made there way over to the lawn for a refreshing cocktail hour. I had the privilege of performing contemporary piano and vocals for this reception. Songs included Michael Buble's Everything, a special request by the bride, Norah Jone's Come Away with Me, and other tunes by artists like Colbie Callait, Jason Mraz and John Legend. Congratulations to Annie and Danny! It was a joy being a part of your wedding day.
8th Ave. S. Naples
Boston Red Sox
Catholic Wedding Mass
Crown Colony Country Club
Downtown Fort Myers
Fort Myers Beach
Greek Wedding Mass
Hyatt Regency Coconut Point
Kensington Country Club
La Playa Beach Resort
Marco Beach Ocean Resort
Marco Island Marriott
The Burroughs Home
The Club At The Strand
The Colony Bay Club
The Pavilion At Cape Harbour
The Pink Shell Beach Resort And Marina
The Ritz Carlton Naples
Tween Waters Island Resort