Before the wedding begins..what wedding professionals do...!

Lots of things happen before a wedding ceremony starts - before the excited guests arrive , before the, aunts, uncles, grandparents and  emotion parents walk into the ceremony space. Florists arrive with fragrant arrangements, photographers set up and adjust lighting, wedding officiants organize documents and the their wording, wedding planners put finishing touches of the space. Musicians set up instruments, sound check, warm up voices and fingers, ... all to ensure that those precious moments that make up a wedding ceremony are as perfect as possible. A beautiful wedding ceremony means paying  attention to every detail.  Being part of a team is always the best way to communicate, collaborate, and thoroughly enjoy the business of creating a perfect wedding day.  Event Core, Calgary 's newest event company is at this very moment, making wedding planning stress-free for brides and grooms by connecting them to dedicated caring industry professionals who ensure that every details is in place. Knowing that we can connect a couple to a magnificent florist,  videographer, photographer, decor consultant, cake designer, venue, ...(the list goes on) and know that that professional will completely take care of every detail  for a couple is another service that we can offer. How much does Occasional Notes  team of musicians love being apart of Event Core? We LOVE it! and .. you will too!   

Vocalist the beautiful Shaye Zadravec   Event Core  Website here!            

http://www.event-core.ca

Out of Our Comfort Zone! "If the Shoe Fits" in YYC

Occasional Notes started  as two girls playing two pianos. That's twice the number of keys to choose from ( 88 + 88 ) for a pretty cool sound . We were unique and still are.  We have discovered, through a few Internet searchs , that we are the only two- piano /two girl wedding music company in North America. This search field was fairly small, I admit , but still kinda cool. Our vision was to change the perception of wedding music and perform a completely customized playlist of songs for each Bride and Groom, ensuring that each song was important to them. We have been arranging and performing these custom songs for couples, their families and friends for seven years and sincerely loving every note and chord played. We have welcomed two talented songstresses, and more pianists to our team, who bring their own talent and expertise to our couples.

So ... why not step out of our comfort zone? Why not spread our wings and challenge ourselves? Why not use all those harmony rules and delve into the unknown world of musical theater? Why? Because we didn't know any better. That 's why. 

Occasional Notes believes in promoting women in the arts . Through a chain of interesting events and fascinating people we find ourselves in the Calgary Music scene, by writing and producing the Musical -   " If The Shoe Fits". This production will help raise funds for Gli Azzzurri ,Calgary Italian Dance Group, to represent Calgary in "Dance the World" -Florida.  The shoe theme for our story seemed  a natural "fit" to represent these talented young dancers, as they do what they love in their shoes. Dance.  

After hours of writing story lines, musical phrasing, and  vocal scores, this modern - day musical comedy features thirty of Calgary's most gifted singers, dancers, actors and  musicians . It is a feel -good production aimed at the importance of being yourself , at being  the best you can be in "your shoes" . Let's face it, all little girls grow up believing the Cinderella myth that shoes can magically transform their lives. Every woman has a connection with her shoes on some level. Shoes are a force for change , a means of shedding the past and buying into the future. So whether it is a new pair of Jimmie Choos, Ruby Slippers, or Crocs , why not try to be our very best? Why not slip on our very best shoes and sing about it? So - we have. 

This musical project has been the most challenging, exhilarating, thrilling, exhausting, labour of love that we have ever  done. Ever. With a cast of award winning performers ranging in age from 10 to 63  (with shoe sizes from girl's size 4 to men's size 12) we have been surrounded by more talent, more patience, more professionalism and more creativity than we could ever have dreamed possible, all for their love of making music. 

The show premiers Sunday February 28, 3:30. We know that you will leave this performance feeling a little happier in "your shoes". Mine are red. And sparkly. What colour are your's?

Mary Beth and Graham

image.jpg

One of the reasons that we love creating and performing wedding day music is when we meet clients like Mary Beth and Graham. This lovely couple connected with us via skype from Prince Edward Island, as they were getting married in Calgary at the beautiful Lake House.  All we had to hear from Mary Beth was that she loved the sound of the cello, she loved , romantic reminiscent music  and we instantly were able to choose the perfect songs for their amazing day . The bridesmaids dresses were a most sumptuous grey/green, and the wedding proceeded down the aisle to Ennio Moricone's Gabriel's Oboe, followed by Mary Beth and her father. Her song? Cinema Paradise, so perfectly elegant for this lovely bride. Occasional Notes so stress Emma Rose performed "Make You Feel My Love" during the ceremony -so perfectly. 

After the ceremony we changed the mood to party! Cocktail hour music choices were everything from  Ed Sheeran to  Broadway. My favourite moment of this day, was watching  ( from the corner of my eye) as Mary Beth's Grandpa tapped his toes to the tunes, and then sharing a quiet little dance with his Grandaughter, who is clearly the apple of his eye.

Our job as musicians is to create a soundtrack to a very special day, and make it unique to each couple, their families and friends. Music is the one key ingredient on a wedding day, that keeps everyone entertained, connecting and smiling.

We wish Mary Beth and Graham such happiness and love!  

Making Music in #YYC

If you are visiting our site you will already know who we are - but just in case you kinda stumbled upon us - Occasional Notes is a two - piano duo specializing in designing  and performing custom wedding and cocktail music. Laurie and I are also music teachers and believe in promoting and encouraging young musicians. Music festivals, recitals and examinations are important components in the study of music - but quite frankly they can suck the life out of the enjoyment factor in music. "Magic on Black and Whites" came about from our yearning to get out of the studio and perform. Our troupe of pianists, (students of our's past and present) guitarists and singers  perform for Calgary schools, charities and events - and we are  growing. We have met and worked with most incredibly talented musicians along our way. Two of these musicians took top prizes at this year's Calgary Stampede Talent Show. 

The winner and first runner up for Stampede Talent Search 2015. Our team members Christian Hudson and Emma Rose.

The winner and first runner up for Stampede Talent Search 2015. Our team members Christian Hudson and Emma Rose.

 Christian Hudson is this sweet guy. He arrived one evening on his motorcycle, guitar (nicknamed Little Martin) strapped on his back , looper in hand to meet and perform for us, and blew us away. He improvises these great unique songs, harmonizes on the spot, and then gives you this great big smile! He is the real deal, with a huge heart - and giving spirit which was evident with the donation of his prize winnings to the Calgary Drop- In Centre. We are more than proud of him, and just can't wait to watch him soar! Thank you Grace Buchanan for introducing Christian to us, for believing in him and  his music. Boy, do you have great taste! (and come home soon - if you are reading this! - we miss you)

Emma Rose graduated this year from St. Francis and after several scholarship offers  has decided to attend McGill University this fall.  Emma has been 1st runner up for the last two Calgary Stampede Talent Shows. This talented songstress with her golden soulful voice, is genuine, professional, and poised. She can take a song line, manipulate it - add some beautiful runs and make it her's. Whether it is Motown, R&B, Broadway, or Ballades - she has a way of surprising us with each rendition. Playing for her is our thrill. 

Emma and Christian both volunteered their time and shared their voices at Occasional Notes, JDRF Benefit June 28/2015 at The National Music Centre. Audience request? "A Whole New World" !  A big "Wow" from the toughest critics  - the kids! Checkout the next blog entry for some fun photos and inspiring stories.

Calgary is filled with talent. As teachers and fellow performers it is such a pleasure to  promote, inspire, mentor, and believe in these musicians. We are constantly learning from one another and although there is a broad range in age in our troupe, we are all just playing music.

Christian Hudson

"Between long walks on the beach and struggling to write an original biography, Christian plays at open mics throughout Calgary on a nightly basis with his portable pal, a baby sized acoustic guitar affectionately known as 'Little Martin" - Christian Hudson

On behalf of the  Occasional Notes team, we would like to welcome Christian to the wedding music world. He sings with the sensitivity of Ed Sheeran,  strums a few John Mayer chords  and with a sheepish grin reminds us that music is his passion. 

Listen to a little rehearsal clip from today, as Emma Rose harmonized an on-the-spot, one take  "Thinking Out Loud" excerpt. 

Canadian Wedding Awards

Okay - it has been a while. Blogging sometimes reminds of how bad a student I was at writing essays. Love the project - but just making sure the words fit was always a little taxing. So - why don't I just pretend we are talking and I am telling you how "much fun this Canadian Wedding Awards Gala was"! Laurie and I took the Red Eye ( don't do it ) to Toronto. Drank a lot of coffee, got to our hotel early morning, crashed for a few hours - then we were off on our three day and three night adventure in beautiful Toronto. Visited the coveted Royal Conservatory of Music ( of which we are both teachers and past students),  

Toronto Eaton Centre, The Christmas Market, ate a HUGE sandwich at Dunn's, took Uber cars everywhere - which is an experience - meeting incredible wedding professionals from all over Canada was the cherry on top of the incredible cake of a weekend. - (Holy run- on sentence! )Special Hello to Tamara from Rustique Pie Kitchen in Montreal who is a dream of a girl who creates incredible deserts for weddings and special events! Pina Colada Cotton Candy, Ammeretto Martinis were divine but  to hear Tracy Moore from Cityline announce "Occasional Notes from Alberta" was the biggest  thrill of all! It was a quiet flight home.  

Sean Parker's Dream Wedding

 How cool is it that the billionaire internet wizard, Sean Parker serenaded his songwriter bride Alexandra Lenas with a song from "The Little Mermaid". He new the lyrics by heart.."Look at this trove, treasures untold/How many wonders can one cavern hold?"  

This enchanted Big Sur California wedding,took place in a cavern, under 500-year-old redwoods. Parker says the wedding was meant to be a "Performance-art project" set in a modern day enchanted forest. With renowned designer Preston Bailey creating this 10 million dollar event,it is said to have been the event of the year.

Sting erupted a cappella in an impromtu version of his song "I Was Brought to My Senses". Celtic musicians played on. Celtic performer, Loreena Mckennitt performed The Mummers Dance. 

To bad he was fined 2.5 million dollars, by California Coastal Commission for conservation by law offences. What's an extra 2.5 million to Sean Parker? Nadda 

Oh... the Company Holiday Party

If you are planning or attending a company Christmas Party you may be aware of the following:

  1. Comrades sharing the best of the season!
  2. The warmth of friendship during this most special time of the year.
  3. Fitting into tight Christmas Cocktail attire on a frosty Calgary evening.
  4. Polite conversing with other obliged spouses.
  5. A minefield of interpersonal conflict, that can result in the only solution:

Alcohol and MUSIC!

Occasional Notes specializes in "Rocking You Around the Christmas Tree", " The Most Wonderful Time of the Yea"r"Santa Claus WILL Come to Town  " Peace on Earth" and finally a "Silent Night"! 

CHEERS!!  



Thanks Alicia

Miss Alicia Keys. Not only is she a great singer, but she is a great piano player. She soulful and sincere. We love when couples come to us with a song that we don't know - It opens up a new opportunity to play a song we may not have come across and broadens our repertoire. So, thank you Kristy and Nathan for suggesting Alicia Keys "If I Ain't Got You" for your upcoming wedding. This song is soulful, melancholy and tugs at the heart. It makes perfect sense to choose a song for your wedding ceremony that speaks to you, that holds a special place from a moment in your life as a couple. When you hear this tune played on the most amazing day of your lives, the emotion will run high. We will do our best to honour Miss Alicia's song.  

Merry Merigolds

This weekend Melissa and Sanjay will be wed at a small ceremony for family and close friends. As we helped them choose their music, the subject of marigolds came up. What is the significance of these colourful flowers at wedding celebrations in the Indian culture? Marigolds signify creation and regeneration and are believed to bring good luck and happiness. They come in beautiful yellows and vibrant oranges, large and small . As flowers add so much beauty to any event, we will adorn our pianos with lovely traditional marigolds!

Here is their song

Carrie and Derek's Wedding at Rouge - Calgary

Derek-Carrie

T'was a sunny, warm calm August day just two short months ago when Derek and Carrie came together to become husband and wife under the bows of a maple tree in the garden at Rouge Restaurant in Calgary. Pink champagne flowed, fresh blooms hung from Mason Jars around them. The food! Fresh! Sumptuous! Superb! The service was nothing short of impeccable.

Colours: The Bridesmaids wore shades of blush, each syled a little differently to match their personalities

Mr. Derek and his boys were suited up, doning turquoise sneakers. Miss Carrie... Wow!  Romantic, champagne- white gown. "A dress within a dress" said Jane Hooper of Ethos Bridal!

What a pleasure it was to perform for this garden wedding!

Tres Magnifique! We wish them all the very best in their life together!

A "Great Gatsby" Wedding - Canmore Alberta

Location: Beautiful Canmore is known  for it's small town charm and welcoming spirit,  Laurie and I felt it on Saturday for the incredible 30's style, destination(from Ontario) wedding for Alicia and Jim.

Wedding Officiant: Rob White

Lonnie and his staff at The Bear and Bison Inn hosted this stylish and lovely wedding with such professionalism and attention to detail! As the skies decided to rain down three minutes prior to the ceremony, staff and groomsmen put their beer down and with great humour,  grabbed a piece of our equipment to relocate inside. No worries for us! They were hitched without a hitch by the kind and gracious Rob White.  With the help of some Gershwin and Ellington hits, this was hands down, one of our favourite weddings ever! 

Alicia and Jim  truly value and appreciate their friends and loved ones, and it showed in their care and thoughtfulness in the palnning of their day! Truly " The Perfect Circle" .

We will miss you Alicia and Jim! It was so much fun playing for your day.

Vintage Wedding Music

Whether you are referring to the shiny red '66 Ford Mustang, a 1950's stunning black lace, tulle and organza cocktail dress,1960's Dior Baroque Pearl Flapper Necklace, or the Spectator Shoe from the 40's.

These classics signify attention to detail, authentic, and timelessness.

This wave of vintage style proves that newer isn't always necessarily more desirable. There are historicl implications to those who appreciate vintage. It brings us back to a few decades ago. There is also something to be said about nostagia, a sort of escape from contemporary stresses. The 1920's for example was a period of indulgence when women gained new rights and roles in society.In the words of Coco Channel " The most courageous act  is to still think of yourseld. Aloud"

And this is clearly a wedding style trend. 

Music from times gone by has continued to be soundtracks for movies, reinvented and stylized. Some of the standards listed below give new meaning to wedding ceremonies and first dances. Consider adding classic style, and beauty to your day with one of these song choices.

"When I fall in Love" written by Victor Young, music, and Edward Heyman, lyrics, was written in 1952 and  has become a standard that has been recorded by the great Etta James, Nat King Cole and Celine Dion. With poignant, poetic  words, and beautiful and unique chords and harmonies it is no wonder that it is considered "vintage".

  • Body and Soul
  • All the Things You Are
  • Summertime
  • 'Round Midnight
  • I Can't Get Started (With You)
  • My Funny Valentine
  • Lover Man (Oh, Where Can You Be?)
  • What Is This Thing Called Love?
  • Yesterdays
  • Stella By Starlight

- Until next time. Humm a little, please. BM

 

Music to Wine to

Food and wine ... both pleasing, and appeal to the sensation of taste and smell. What about  your connection to wine and music? Good food, good drink and good music should be enjoyed and shared together.

Can hearing a certain kind of music enhance the taste of wine? Does music set up the brain to respond to a certain wine?  According to the studies of Dr. Adrian North, music psychologist, there is a strong connection! Professor North states, his studies could lead retailers to place  music recommendations on their wine bottles....essentially while drinking a certain wine, you should listen to a certain music. North conducted market research in liquor outlets, which suggested people were five times more likely to buy a French wine, than German, if French music was being played in the background. Subliminal suggestion? 

Occasional Notes is about to find out as we take our pianos out into the world of wine tasting in Calgary. A sample of our playlist is:

  • "I Still Call Australia Home" - to be performed while sipping  - Wolf Blass Riesling

Written by legendary song writer, and Aussie - Peter Allen, enjoyed with the taste of the`Australian  heartland.

  • Sittin`on the Dock of the Bay - Otis Redding 

To be performed while relaxing to California Chardonnay - sunny and relaxing.

  • Nessun Dorma`from Puccini`s opera Turandot

Any Valpolicella Full bodied,savory, rich in history.

  • I Dreamed a Dream , Les Miserable 

The taste of France with Chateauneuf du Pape

  • Over the Rainbow ( Eva Cassidy's version)

Any Merlot....don't know why.

Wedding Music from the Movies

In our quest to create unique soundtracks for your I Do's we came across the soundtrack to the timeless movie "The Princess Bride". This 1987 American romantic comedy film combines comedy, adventure, romance and fantasy. It has developed into a cult film since it's release. Mark Knopfler created this memorable soundtrack to enhance the story.

Take a listen to the entire soundtrack on this site. Just gives you a sample of all the songs, but you will get the general idea.  

How would we describe the mood of this soundtrack? Dreamy, shimmery,"any thing is possible if you love enough",simple melody, soothing and harmonious, recognizable ....fairytale.
Your wedding music is basically a playlist that you should be able to recall and relive each time you hear it.
 
So, to quote Miracle Max ( played by Billy Crystal)
 
"True Love is the greatest thing,in the world --- except for a nice MLT - mutton,lettuce and tomato sandwich...where the mutton is nice and lean and the tomato is ripe. They're so perky, I love that"
 
Take a listen!
 

How would we describe the mood of this soundtrack? Dreamy, shimmery,"any thing is possible if you love enough",simple melody, soothing and harmonious, recognizable ....fairytale.
Your wedding music is basically a playlist that you should be able to recall and relive each time you hear it.
 
So, to quote Miracle Max ( played by Billy Crystal)
 
"True Love is the greatest thing,in the world --- except for a nice MLT - mutton,lettuce and tomato sandwich...where the mutton is nice and lean and the tomato is ripe. They're so perky, I love that"
 
Take a listen!
 

Here Comes.....the Groom

Listen to this inspiring piano song (below)  to get you up , off the couch and attacking this list!

Yes! YOU are getting married too! There are things to do!

We so often hear grooms joking about just renting the tux and showing up. There are so many things that the grooms are responsible for. Highlight the following, copy and paste it to your "to DO list"

Select and pay for that engagement ring - with or without your bride. Big or small - just remember - it reflects you too.

  • Choose your wedding party: best man, groomsmen and ushers
  • Choose the attire for the guys - whether it is khakis, tuxes or jeans - make it suit your wedding day style.
  • Choose thanks-you gifts for your wedding party. They put out a lot of cash and time to be a part of your day!
  • Choose the music for you ceremony with your bride. It is important as it also reflects you as a couple.
  • Picking up the marriage license!!!
  • Planning transportation for the wedding party!
  • Paying the wedding officiant and musicians - before the wedding ceremony.
  • Write you thank you speeches and toasts  - not the night before the wedding - don`t "wing it"

Here Comes the Brides!

Donna`s mom...good sensible dancing pumps

Donna`s mom...good sensible dancing pumps

Kim and HER attendants November 2011

Kim and HER attendants November 2011

Donna and her attendants - 1962

Donna and her attendants - 1962

 

These brides had  nothing in comman except they both chose the same music to walk down the aisle. Wonderful music seems to stand the test of time. It is honest, simple, and meaningful.  It represents what marriage should be. Incidently, Donna is still married. ..... just saying.

More FAQ

We have provided a site FAQ here -  but here is an interview we did.

We came across a survey on the Calgary wedding Services Website  and thought it would be a great idea to answer these questions as we get asked them quite often

Oh, Oh.. a little wedding music to get us in the mood:

Venue 

Q : Is our venue suitable for you, your instrument, or group? (If it is outdoors, can we accommodate needs in way of shelter or amplification? What if it rains?) 

Answer from Occasional Notes:

One of the reasons that Occasional Notes was formed, was to perform at wedding venues that presented sound and space challenges for musicians.we have all been guests at weddings where a gifted violinist or harpist is performing, but not heard. Power is required at weddings so your vows can be heard and the music can be enjoyed.  We perform on Yamaha's finest digital pianos whose sleek form and function are cutting edge. Our portable sound system is Yamaha's STAGEPAS 300, and has the power, high quality sound and portability to fill any wedding  performance space. Combining a built-in powered mixer and PA speakers, we also provide a microphone for the wedding officiant which is powered through our system. You will hear all of your music as you walk down the aisle.We are completely set up in 30 minutes with this powerful, reliable and convenient sound system. It is our little "roadie"! Hey, we're girls! 

Outdoor wedding must  have a rain plan. Shelter has always been planned and provided. We cannot play in the rain due to our electrical problem, and we DO not like frizzy hair.We have never been rained out yet!

Cost 

Q: What is the cost? The time? Does that include travel and set-up/pack-up? What are overtime costs?

Answer from Occasional Notes:

Our price packages start at $700.00. This price includes consultation, our sound system and complete ceremony music. (30 minutes prior to the wedding, complete ceremony music, as well as music for departing guests.) There is an  travel fee for out of town weddings. We do have solo pianists available upon request.

Insurance 

Q: Do you carry insurance for your instruments? 

Answer from Occasional Notes: 

Yes we do - it is part of our contract .We also have replacement instruments available to us.

Experience

Q: How much experience do you have at weddings of our size?

Answer from Occasional Notes 

We are accredited, professional musicians with over twenty years of teaching and solo performance experience. (check our website for our accreditation) We have performed at small intimate weddings ( 50 people) and very large weddings (Over 350)

It is most important to prepare music and sound quality to the venue, but the music chosen should always be personal to the couple, however many guests are attending. 

Presence 

Q: What is your dress code? Do you smoke or drink during the evening? How do you motivate the guests of all ages? 

Answer from Occasional Notes:

Every wedding is a formal event for us, therefore we present ourselves in formal black attire. Our professionalism is always reflected in our behaviour.

Music 

Q: What pieces or style of music do you play? Do you take requests? Can we select the songs (for soloist) or play/don't play list (for group)

 Answer from Occasional Notes                     

After years of education, performing and experience our repertoire is extensive and we believe that your wedding should reflect you as a couple. Choosing music with an excited bride and groom is the best part of what we do and the reason we love our business. We can perform any genre of music varying from Handel's Water music to Kenny Chesney's  country hit "Me and You. "

Policies 

Q: What happens if you or one of your group members is sick? What is your cancellation policy?

Answer from Occasional Notes 

If the couple cancels more that 60 days prior to the event or  if we must cancel for any unknown reason, all money is completed refunded. We however, have other teams of professional pianists always prepared to perform.Our contract will outline not only our duties, but responsibilities for our brides and grooms as well.

References 

Q: Do you have references?

  Answer from Occasional Notes

Yes. Check our Page and our ur reviews are also available on www.weddingwire .com