Thursday, December 17, 2009
Carolling at the Hockey Game
'Tis the season for Christmas music and concerts and in addition to that.... 'tis the season for carolling gigs!
As a child, I often sang in choirs without any monetary benefit, however, things have changed now since I actually get paid to sing sometimes. It's shocking, I know! I used to feel a lot of pressure to perform well, since somebody was actually paying me not to screw up... and in many instances I still feel that pressure... but not with carolling gigs anymore. I am not yet a seasoned carolling veteran, as some of my fellow choristers are, but I'm coming pretty close since I've started to go on automatic singing pilot during my recent carolling gigs. The interesting about gigs is that most times you don't really know what you're signing up for.
My first gig of the year was at Rexall Place (which is the large hockey arena in my city). You can probably just imagine the setting... there we were... a strong and mighty group of 6 women tucked away into the corner between a table with silent auction hockey art and a large concrete pillar. Beside us was a young man using his belt-friendly hockey voice to advertise free Oilers blankets if they signed up for a credit card as we sang "Away in a Manger", while in front of us was a huge influx of traffic as we stood in front of the doors from the LRT and busstop. It was a gong-show! Nobody could hear us and I could sense that, as a group, our voices were becoming strained as we attempted to sing over the bustling hockey environment. However, at the same time I couldn't help but smile to myself in regards to how ridiculous our situation was. Out of all the environments where carolling should occur, before a hockey game isn't one of them! People are pre-occupied with buying beer, popcorn, and foamy fingers and aren't really in the mood to hear about how "Mary had a Baby". In addition, I had quite an adventure seeking out the gig entrance since I had to look for the ice-level entry point coming off of the LRT. I had to walk around the arena and go down a sketchy-looking ramp. If it wasn't for all the Mercedes and BMW SUVs parked outside (the car of choice for professional hockey players it seems) I would have thought I was in the wrong spot.
However, it was neat to stand next to the ice as we waited for our guide. Beside us where lots of VIP looking people with special passes strung around their necks and multiple media crews with their cameras and anchormen ready for the broadcast. We waited patiently for the girl who would lead us around. She soon emerged and professionally, but unenthusiastically, greeted and informed us that she would be taking care of us that evening. Once we were all together she walked us over to the scoreboard room to store our things. The scoreboard room was a very neat dark room filled with glittering television sets with multiple hockey channel broadcasts from different locations. Also, since I hadn't changed into my uniform beforehand... and it didn't seem like the men in the scoreboard room were leaving anytime soon, I was able to discretely change as a fellow chorister held up her arms with her carolling cape and it was a very nice makeshift dressing room. If there is one thing choir has taught me... it's how to change discretely and efficiently in public. A big part of it is not being self-conscious and to just go for it! The longer you take and the more tentative you look-the more people will pay attention. As well, it's all about changing with layers ex. putting a skirt on before taking off your pants etc.
Anyway, we gigged for a good hour and a half where it felt like we were shouting the words of carols into hockey patron faces while our guide tapped away at her iphone to kill time. Once the start of the hockey game was approaching, she told us we could wrap it up and she took us back down to gather our things in the scoreboard room before ushering us to the back doors that opened out again on the sketchy ramp parking lot. We had to exit before the hockey players came out. They had already laid out a rubber walking path for the players and a custodian was mopping the walkway so that the players would have a clean walkway on their way to the rink. I do have to admit, it was interesting to see all the behind-the-scenes activities behind a hockey game!
I'm not sure if I would do that gig again... but it definitely was a first and I'm all for experiencing new things :)
Until next time, take care and stay warm! (On Sunday, Edmonton was the coldest city in North America!)