Monday, May 01, 2006

Wedding Season is On the Way...

Since organizing a string quartet again last year, I've been more aware of the seasonal trends in terms of weddings. Also, it's been interesting to observe the different kinds of brides. For the most part, couples that are hiring a quartet have already placed a premium on live music. And they are interested in having a classy event, thereby choosing string music. But from there, I've noticed differences in planning styles and approaches to organizing the weddings.

For one thing, some brides are very aware of exactly what music they want for their ceremony and even the reception. They have already done an extensive search for music, listened to CDs and online examples, and consulted with their curch about their choices. Other couples are more easy going about the music and just want the traditional tunes, and for it to be "nice". We of course accommodate either style. In fact it's fun to help the couple choose their music.

Also, of course there is a vast difference between the couples that plan really far in advance and those that wait until the last minute. Again, we try to accommodate both types, but I think the planners have the advantage because they will be able to book the right venues, the right musical groups, and everything else. Due to the seasonal nature of the business, May, June and July get very busy! I have a feeling that any open dates we have left will be booked within a few more weeks.

To help with the process, we've added a tip sheet for hiring musicians. So far, this page has seen a little bit of traffic, but I thought it would generate more visitation. Perhaps it's a matter of time until people find this material.

Overall, it's actually very enjoyable to works with brides and grooms to help provide the music for their special event. They are always in such a good mood because of the wedding!

Ode to James G. Winkler

Sunday morning, April 29, 2006 I learned that my father's oldest brother, Jim Winkler, died. He underwent triple-bypass surgery the week before and seemed to be recovering well. Then early Sunday morning, the hospital staff woke him up to give him a bath. He suffered a stroke and died on the spot.

Jim was always a very warm and giving person, mostly of his time. He lived near Chicago and so every so often I would see him if I was in town, or if there was a major family event. He came to my wedding, and to my parents 40th wedding anniversary, and to my brother's wedding last summer. I remember a couple of times when I visited Chicago on business, and he always was a great host. One of those times, when I was still in the Air Force, he asked me what I wanted to do. So I said that I hadn't seen the Chicago Institute of Art. So he offered to meet me there (this was a major commute for him) and I walked a few blocks to meet him. We spent a good deal of time in the museum, and I remember admiring one particular painting for the use of light. When we left the museum, he gave me a gift and it was a print of that painting he had purchased in the museum shop.

Another time I visited him, he again asked me what I wanted to do. This time, I expressed interest in seeing Oak Park, where all the Frank Lloyd Wright houses were located. So he drove me up there and we spent the afternoon walking around and looking at houses.

Jim was an outstanding photographer, and went on many safaris in Africa, and traveled throughout the world. I remember seeing photos on his walls at home that, in my opinion, were National Geographic quality. He always had a camera and had a really great sense of timing. He got great pictures of people, such as at my parent's anniversary party, and my brother's wedding. And as digital cameras were coming in, he jumped on the bandwagon fairly early. Even though he was in his late 60s, he mastered the newer technology, and learned how to use Photoshop and was very comfortable with computers.

One thing is for sure: Jim lived life to the fullest. I hope to be that kind of person as I grow older: paying attention to younger people and being generous with my time. I'll miss him but I know that the world is a better place because of Jim Winkler.