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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hello, friends.

I have been playing at wedding receptions and other parties for the past ten years, and I have found it very useful to keep a check-list, to make sure that I do not overlook anything that I need to take to the event, or do in preparation for the event. I have been working as a one-man-band, playing exclusively with pre-recorded accompaniment from an mp3 player (a.k.a. cell phone).

Each event that we perform at, is a learning experience, however, as I discover what I could have done better, what I should have taken, what I could have used instead of what I ended up using. Consequently, I find myself continually revising my check-list, every month, to streamline it for future use; I remove some things that are no longer needed, and add new items as new needs arise. Nowadays, I am happy to say that, as long as I go over my checklist in advance, there is never anything that I really forget to take, but only new discoveries regarding items that I could potentially take, to make set-up even smoother.

I got the idea of looking online for check-lists that other musicians might have shared on other fora, in the hope of gleaning them for a few ideas that I had never thought of myself. I was disappointed, however, to see that hardly anyone else had one to share. Those who did, had only about ten to twenty items listed, mainly geared toward guitarists, and consequently, I decided to share my own, instead, and invite other saxophonists to contribute their own suggestions for improvement; things that could be removed, or things that could be added. As a result, I thought that, not only would I benefit by getting all the suggestions from others, but we would collectively end up with a nice long master checklist that could be shared with all young saxophonists on the forum, who were just getting started playing in public, as a base from which to draw ideas and develop their own personalized checklists.

Consequently, keep in mind that making the list much shorter, in this context, would actually be counterproductive, as the goal is to include anything that could easily be overlooked and forgotten by a young musician who is just getting started. He will probably copy the whole list anyway, paste it into a new document of his own, and immediately delete all of the things that are unrelated to his own needs. Consequently, I think that he should do the condensing, himself, rather than have us do it for him.

While some of the items on my own list below may seem ridiculous at first, and others, rather obvious, most of them have served a purpose for me, in certain situations, so I will probably leave most of them where they are.

For example, I have an old laptop that was given to me, that takes at least seven minutes to get going, and an mp3 player that takes about four minutes, which contains a media player that sometimes insists on checking over the entire song file database, every time I start it up, adding an additional four minutes to the prep time. Consequently, unless I explicitly write out a reminder for myself, to turn on the laptop, the mp3 player, and the app, immediately upon arriving, I will automatically lose about fifteen minutes of set-up time by getting things ready in a more arbitrary order. On the other hand, there was no need for me to remember to assemble the saxophone or connect my microphone, because that part is rather obvious, and not particularly urgent, since I cannot play any sooner until most of the other equipment is up and running anyway. Consequently, in general, I have tried to lay out
the items in chronological order, although I have done so rather imperfectly at this point.

I would also like to group a little better all items that are related, in the long run, even within general categories, but I am afraid that I will have to do so little by little, as I get the time. It does make it easier to skim through the list when related items are together. (Unfortunately, you will notice that
my so-called "toolbox," for the moment, needs lots of revision, as it contains cough syrup and other things unrelated to tools, so I will eventually separate the tools from these other things, and create a separate category on this list.)

eel free to suggest new items to include on my list, even if they might only suit certain situations. In fact, if you don't mind, I may take your suggestions and add them to the master list, to share with everyone, although I would eventually like to give credit on the list, to each contributor by name.

eep in mind that this is not a suggested list for other professional musicians who have been playing for many years, who have already developed their own method for remembering what to take. This is just my own personal list, shared as a suggestion only, for those young musicians who are just beginning to play in public, and may have not yet have a formal checklist of their own. Some of the gratuitous explanations were added later, just to show why certain items are on the list to begin with, and how they could be potentially useful to others, as well.

The nice thing about a checklist like this, is that it can be used, not only by the saxophonist, himself, but also by anyone who routinely helps him load the car and set up at the events, provided that each helper has an updated copy.


My One-Man-Band Gig Check-List


Home Preparations, weeks before the event:

  • Sign a contract with the host of the event
  • Collect a non-refundable deposit from the host
  • Get the host's e-mail address, telephone number, home number, etc.
  • Clarify the official start and finish time, so that you know for sure how long you will be staying, and how long you are expected to play.
  • Discuss any issues you had with previous customers that you foresee during this event, to prevent misunderstandings (e.g. if the host suddenly needs you to hang around, even after the cut-off time, to continue playing, how much should he have to pay and when)
  • After talking with the host in person or by telephone, to see what his overall plan is for the event, point out to him whichever pieces of equipment he may have overlooked, that he may need to furnish on his own (e.g., if he intends to have a duo playing the guitar and singing a special number, your own spare microphone will not be enough: he will need to furnish one microphone for each voice, and one microphone for each guitar, not to mention two microphone stands designed for holding two microphones each; he will also need a microphone cable for each, and a sound system to plug it into)
  • Transfer all accomp CDs to PC, and from the PC to mp3 player
  • Transfer All Songs to SPARE mp3 player, just in case
  • Load media players onto both mp3 players (e.g. load apps onto cell phone) especially if you've bought a new cell phone recently, and never got around to installing these apps.
  • Pick out appropriate clothing and make sure it is all washed, ironed or dry-cleaned. Otherwise buy what is still needed
  • Ask the host what the color schemes are for the party.
  • Prepare demo CDs to share with potential customers at the event.
  • Prepare updated business cards to share with potential customers.
  • Acquire clothes and tablecloths that follow the same color scheme as the event?
  • Write in the chord symbols on any scores that do not yet have them.
  • Highlight all key changes, meter changes, repeats, codas, endings, etc., especially on songs that you do not play often.
  • Mark a clear distinction between songs that you play well, and those that you can barely play, and those that are still a "work in progress." Don't get ambitious in public.
  • Make arrangements with your roadie regarding date and time, and how much you will pay him.
  • Tell your roadie / sound-man what type of clothing he should wear for the event (e.g., a suit vs. a T-shirt, a tuxedo vs. a suit); being underdressed will make you look unprofessional.
  • Confirm with the host or M.C. by telephone, what styles of music you intend to play, to make sure it suits his needs and does not conflict with his plan. Send him samples, just to be safe.
  • Ask the host whether it would be in good taste for you to have a discreet box for tips, at your table, for passers-by who feel moved to give a little extra.
  • Prepare separate channels on the console for each sax (tenor, alto, soprano) and fine-tune EQ settings for each.
  • Charge video camera batteries and camera batteries, if you'll be having yourself filmed.
  • Tape together any pages of songs that must be turned together.
  • Visit the place in person, to see how much space you will have, but don't be surprised if you get stuck in a different corner.
  • Find out how early you will be allowed in, to set up, on the day of the event.
  • Photograph all settings on speakers, mixing console, monitor, before loading, in case the knobs get bumped somewhere along the way. Also photograph which cables are plugged into which jacks.
  • Mark your cables at home, to make sure you use the same ones on the same jacks and the same equipment, at the event.
  • Label the jacks on your mixing console, to show exactly which cable goes where.
  • Write out a set list, or prepare a playlist on your mp3 player, and have songs loaded for quick access. You can always skip songs on that list, if time becomes limited.
  • If preferred, group notebook binders by genre, for faster access.
  • Get Directions and Phone numbers of all contacts involved, in case of emergencies, in case the building is not open when you arrive, etc.
  • Load Background Music onto mp3 player, for use during your break time.
  • Remove excess pages from your gig book, such as unfamiliar songs, or versions in keys that you have never practiced; don't be ambitious.
  • Transfer All Songs To Individual folders, if necessary to prevent automatic playback of “next song” (or use an app like Maple Player to stop playback automatically at the end of each, regardless)
  • Get a copy of the event agenda from the host. If it is a rough draft only, be sure to get the latest version on the day of the event.
  • Copy SD card from mp3 player onto the SD card for your back-up mp3 player.
  • Spend two weeks practicing with both mp3 players, to make sure there are no glitches.
  • Set up laptop for for recording live, and spend two weeks recording yourself at home, to work out the levels and effects; otherwise you may discover on the day of the vent that the default setting was way too high or way too low (this is common when recording through USB connections on your console).
  • Install a back-up app for playing mp3 files, in case the main one gets corrupted during performance, and use it intermittently during rehearsals, to become familiar with how it works.

Preparations to do at home, the day of the event

  • Practice challenging scales, altissimo notes, etc.
  • Practice only the newest or most challenging songs
  • Prepare two mouthpieces with fresh KG tooth protectors
  • Charge all mp3 players, mp3 players, camera batteries
  • Unclog your octave pipes
  • Unstick your Pads even if they are not sticking (e.g. G#)
  • Wrap cork in teflon tape if large-bore mouthpiece requires it
  • Prepare back-up mouthpiece with reed and ligature in place for instant access; don't assume that a spare ligature will fit, if you have not tested it at home, as many have slight differences.
  • Mark or engrave all equipment with identification or use I.D. tags
  • Set GPS destination, check ETA

Site Preparation, the day of the event

  • Be careful not to set up under an air conditioner that drips or blows directly onto your music stand, etc.
  • Set up so that the audience can see your face and the instrument, rather than your music stand or the back of your head.
  • Set up so that people have to pass in front of you but cannot pass behind you while you are playing.
  • Rope off your own space, if feasible, so that dancers, children, or other curious folk, will not come too close, while you are playing. If it is a wedding reception, and there are white ropes along the tables and other areas, try to match the decor.
  • Turn on the slow laptop immediately, so that it can be warming up while you connect the equipment.
  • Turn on the slow mp3 player, and get the media player going.
  • Turn down all volume on all sound equipment before turning anything on.

  • Make arrangements with your roadie / sound-man / wife, regarding how to adjust your equipment when you are in the middle of a song, or else develop hand signals that could be used in these cases:
    • to point out when the volume is too loud, too soft, or
    • when there is an undesirable imbalance between the solo and the accompaniment, and which of the two needs less volume.
    • when certain pieces of equipment need adjustment while you are in the middle of a song, and which pieces,
    • when you need help turning pages
    • when you need help adjusting the height of your microphone, music stand, etc.
  • Ensure that all valuables, and easily-stolen items, are out of reach of passers-by.
  • Set the MP3 player to play only one song at a time and to stop after each song. (e.g. Maple Player)
  • Open the media player on your laptop, and have all your songs ready to go, in case either of your mp3 player malfunctions or dies and will not charge.
  • Disable or remove completely anything on the laptop that could possibly interfere with a smooth playback of songs (e.g. anti-virus programs, internet connections, WiFi connections, apps with advertising screens, background updates, etc.) Do the same with your cell phones, especially if you have one designated only for gigs.
  • Put all mp3 players into airplane mode, not just the one you use to receive calls.
  • Chain down your laptop and other valuables for security, in case someone tries to make off with it during your break time.
  • Turn on the laptop and get the recording software ready to record.
  • Have pens, highlighters, pencils, on music stand, ready to go.
  • Photograph your set up, so that you can show your roadie how well it worked with that arrangement, or what problems you had.
  • Take any medicines necessary to prevent problems during performance (e.g., gas pills, antacid tablets, cough syrup, nasal spray, pain medicine (even if you don't have a cough, taking the cough syrup can counteract any build-up of phlegm, that could provoke you to cough during performance; likewise, the nasal spray can prevent your nose from getting stopped up, long before it happens, from all the heavy breathing.)
  • Tape down cords to prevent tripping, or use rubber cord-management floor strips, to enclose and protect all cords from guests' trampling them underfoot.
  • Take all excess equipment and furniture back to the car, if you discover that similar items are furnished by the host or building; otherwise someone may accidentally knock over your unused items and damage them; this will also reduce the clutter and the number of things that could be borrowed by the host.
  • Have a prep talk with the host and MC (see below)

The Prep-talk with the Host / M.C., the day of the event

  • Ask him for permission to set up in one spot versus another, if necessary.
  • Point out to the host any conflicts that you foresee with his other workers, such as people from his sound crew that might be tempted to borrow your microphones without permission, or children that might want to play in the vicinity of your instruments and equipment, or who might "hurt themselves" if they trip over your cables on the floor.
  • Tell the host your vision for the event, how you intended to play, when, etc., and then ask him if any of that does not suit his needs and should be adapted to his own plan.
  • Ask him for any changes to the agenda since your last conversation.
  • Ask him for a last-minute edition of the agenda, if possible.
  • Suggest certain long-distance hand-signals that could be used, in case the sound gets too loud or too soft for the event, or needs to stop altogether; also, which signals could be used to signify that he has a special impromptu activity in mind, to begin just as soon as your current song ends.
  • Show him whichever spare microphone you have made available to him, and how to turn it on and off.
  • Show him how to adjust the volume on your mixer, when using your spare microphone for announcements, etc.
  • Show him how to adjust your own volume, if he things you are playing too loudly or too softly.
  • Politely and respectfully point out any previous issues you had at other events, to make sure it does not become an issue at this one, also.
  • Make any necessary recommendations to improve the event:
    • For example, if you enjoy playing anyway, you could suggest that the host allow you to play whenever feasible, throughout the event, rather than only during the two or three spots specifically mentioned on the agenda.
    • Or that you be allowed to play, not only when the party begins, but even while guests are arriving, and for a few minutes after the party, while guests are leaving or workers are cleaning up.

Saxophonist's Break Time, during the event

  • Put on some recorded background music, but preferably something different from what you have been playing or intend to play.
  • Take your bathroom break immediately, in case it takes much longer than expected.
  • Drink water
  • Swab your saxophones
  • Unstick your sensitive pads (e.g., G# key)
  • Change instruments for variety, if necessary (e.g, from tenor to soprano)
  • Adjust microphone or music stand height and angle, to accommodate any instrument changes (e.g., tenor to soprano); also be sure to switch to any more appropriate channel on your mixing console, if required for better EQ settings or effects, or else adjust the EQ as necessary.
  • Eat the food provided for you, if time allows, but preferably out of sight, since you are not a guest per se, but only a member of the background crew.
  • Rinse your mouth with water, to keep your teeth clean for playing.
  • Resolve any misunderstandings with your own crew that may have popped up, so far.
  • Take pictures of your set-up, now that you have things where you want them, so that you can discuss at a later date, the good and the bad of that layout.
  • Tell your wife, roadie, et al, how much you appreciate their help.


Two main powered speakers

  • XLR to console cables for speakers
  • Power cords for speakers

Floor Monitor

  • Monitor to console XLR cord
  • Monitor power cord
  • Stereo to Monoaural Y-adapter (for stereo console to mono monitor)

Soprano sax

Tenor sax

Saxophone case (for each)

  • Mouthpiece
  • Spare Mouthpiece
  • Tooth Protector
  • Spare KG tooth protector
  • Current Reeds
  • Spare Reeds
  • Neck strap
  • Spare neck strap
  • Swab for instrument
  • Smaller swab for sax neck
  • Teflon Tape
  • Ligatures
  • Spare Ligature, but for the same-size mouthpiece that you are using
  • Mouthpiece cap, to protect the reed from bumps while not in use

Microphone case (3 mics)

  • SM 57 Microphone for sax
  • XLR cable for SM57 microphone
  • Spare microphones for duets, M.C. announcements, etc. (Otherwise an innocent M.C. may suddenly ask to borrow your sax microphone, requiring that you adjust the settings, move the stand, and lose time setting it back up later. If you refuse to lend it, the M.C. might get offended, so you should take along one especially for lending)

Sax-microphone stand

Spare-microphone stands

A stand for mounting a free-standing mixing console, or else a folding table for the mixing console.

Spare microphones for additional singers, speeches, guitarist, if feasible to carry extras.

Music stand

  • Bulldog clips, to keep sheets from blowing in the wind or in the air conditioning
  • Music Stand Lamps (you never know when they are going to dim the lights, and expect you to continue playing; it certainly will not be on the agenda in any case)

Mp3 player (e.g., cell phone, for accompaniment playback)

  • Protective pouches for mp3 players
  • RCA cables for connecting the mp3 player to the mixing console, or
  • XLR to 1/8” mp3 cable, for connecting the mp3 player to the mixing console.
  • mp3 player charger
  • Extension cord for the mp3 player charger
  • Dashboard holders for clamping your mp3 player to your music stand

iPad for digital sheet music

Bluetooth pedal for iPad page turns

Carrying case for all instrument stands

  • Soprano sax stand
  • Tenor sax stand

Speaker stand tripods for mounting speakers

Cord management floor strips or duct tape, to prevent cord damage or tripping.

Empty storage box for throwing miscellaneous things into, at the end
of the party, when there is little time for finding the right place for everything.

Black or white tablecloths to cover up any folding tables that you might want to take along, to make them a more subtle or elegant part of the background. If possible, use the same colors as the decorations. Toolboxes can be stored under the table, hidden from sight.

Laptop case

  • Laptop for recording yourself during the event, or else as an emergency back-up source for your accompaniment music, in case your mp3 player malfunctions.
  • USB Hubs for any necessary accessories (e.g., ext.keyboard)
  • External keyboard
  • Mouse
  • Chill mat
  • SD memory cards
  • Micro-SD card adapters
  • SD memory card reader
  • RCA cable for recording yourself live or USB cable
  • Flash drives for quick transfer of song files from laptop to mp3 player

Sax Repair-Kit Toolbox

General Toolbox

  • Wire cutters
  • Needle-nosed pliers
  • Tiny flat-head Screwdrivers
  • Tiny Phillips Screwdrivers
  • Chain and padlocks for laptop security
  • Hole-punch for last-minute sheet music additions to notebook binder
  • Teflon tape for mouthpieces with wide bore
  • Head-lamp for repairs made in a dimly-lit room
  • Magnifying glass
  • Flashlight
  • Colored electrical tape for identifying calbes
  • Back-scratcher for that terrible itch between songs
  • First-aid kit for paper cuts, etc.
  • Pain-killers
  • Antacid Tablets
  • Cough Syrup or honey
  • Nasal Spray
  • Eye wash or eye drops
  • Spare toilet paper or facial tissues
  • Sleeping pills to take on the way home
  • Grounded-outlet adapters
  • Gender changers for Mic Cables
  • Compressed-air spray can For Octave Clogs
  • Bottled Water for drinking
  • Rags for wiping up drinks that might spill over on your table
  • Large bulldog Clips for keeping the sheet music steady when outdoors in the wind or indoors with air conditioning blowing directly at you.
  • Pencil case containing: highlighter, pens of different colors, mechanical pencils, eraser, correction fluid, sharpie markers.
  • Personal I.D. labels for marking equipment.
  • Scissors
  • Pen knife.
  • mp3 player Chargers
  • Eyeglass pouch
  • Eyeglasses
  • Spare Eyeglasses
  • Comb for good looks
  • Mirror for harsh reality
  • Goo-Gone and rubbing alcohol, for removing old KG mouthpiece protectors and replacing them with new ones, and getting them to adhere well the first time around.
  • 3-in-1 household oil for oiling instrument hinges
  • Contact cement for quick cork repairs
  • Peanuts, crackers, cereal bars, for unexpected appetites, to keep the mind alert. Otherwise, put it all in a blender, and take it along as a milkshake in a thermos (with soy or almond milk, to prevent excess build-up of phlegm)
  • Spare batteries for Music Stand Lamps
  • Toilet Paper and hand soap (you may be surprised during the break)
  • Celophane Tape for taping pages together
  • Duct tape for cord management on the floor

Cable case (plastic storage crate or suitcase)

  • Drop-cloth for covering the sax when not in use, to diminish the attraction to curious children who might otherwise approach it when you take your bathroom break.
  • 1/8” Extension Cord For mp3 player
  • 1/8” to RCA Y Cable
  • Stereo to mono Y adapter for console to monitor
  • Extension audio cables of all sorts, especially when your speakers are far from your mixing console.
  • Adapters For Emergency Output To any furnished amp
  • Subtily-colored heavy-duty electric extension cords for connecting your sound system to wall outlets. (Not industrial orange)
  • Extra extension cords, in case the others fail or do not reach.
  • RCA To 1/4” cord
  • Spare RCA to 1/8" Y cable
  • XLR Sax Microphone Cord
  • Spare XLR Microphone Cord for microphone to be lent
  • Stereo Male To Male Cord 1/8"
  • Surge protectors (power bars)
  • Voltage regulators


  • Harmonizer AC cord
  • Cable for connecting harmonizer
  • Foot switch


  • 1/4” adapter

Folding Stool for sitting between sets

Folding table for the laptop

Folding tables for keeping sheet music at waist level, for faster access or to prevent stress on your back

A spare amplifier to lend to the M.C. together with your spare microphone, in the event that the host has no sound system of his own and had previously agreed to borrow and use yours, throughout the event, for all announcements, speeches, games, etc. A guitar amp might work.

Mixing console case

  • Mixing console
  • Power cord for mixing console
  • USB cord for mixing console to laptop
  • Other types of cable for recording from console to laptop, in case the USB does not work.

Other instruments, if doubling

Video camera for filming yourself perform for publicity purposes

Sheet-music case

  • Sheet Music In Notebook Binders

  • Fake Books
  • Play-along books

  • All music grouped by genre

  • Printed warm-up scales lists
  • Altissimo fingering charts


  • Any notes and outlines needed, if you were previously asked to prepare a speech for this event, between sets, for example.
  • Business cards to hand out or leave on the table
  • A discreet box for tips from passers-by?
  • Address stamps or labels, for marking luggage quickly, etc.
  • A sharpie marker or two, for marking cables, etc.
  • Demo CD or DVD of your music
  • Lots of cash in small bills for paying your driver, tipping your taxi driver, paying your roadie, buying a drink, etc.
  • Coins for parking meters
  • Small notebook for writing addresses, taking notes on what you did wrong, special requests that you need to learn, etc.

Post-event precautions

  • Return borrowed extension cords, equipment.
  • Collect payment from the host.
  • Ask the host how you did, thank him, make sure he has your card.
  • Load the most valuable equipment last, for security reasons, and keep someone at the car at all times, to watch over it.
  • Help with the clean-up, after your own car is packed, and you may be seen as an angel worthy of a little tip, or else you may be highly rated for your good attitude, on the customer's final review.


    Incidentally, the point is not whether to have a list in checklist format with little check-boxes per se, although I like the idea myself, but if you want to make a literal "check llist," to literally check off each litem on your list individually, I have discovered a great little Android app for laying things out in checklist format, that allows you to indent subpoints, and check off items without having them disappear, so that you can then uncheck them after the party is over, and use the same list again. It's called Nimbus Note. It takes some experimentation to get it working just right, but basically you can import an entire list like mine by copying and pasting, then select all, then click the checklist icon on the lower toolbar, to convert every item to a separate checklist item. (If you paste my own list above, you will also have to deactivate the bulleting). Then you can go through and select any item to be indented as a subpoint, then click on the indentation-right icon, to indent the point to the right. Please note: Nimbus Note has a module for ordinary notes as well as a module for checklists, but the latter can only be used for starting checklists from scratch, I believe, but not for mporting. When you go to import (paste), just use the ordinary text-note module, paste the text, then select all, then convert that text using the checklist icon. It will work fine in the text module, but not within the checklist module, curiously, since you are not starting from scratch. Here is a screenshot attached below, using the dark theme included...


Just a guy who plays saxophone.
4,248 Posts
You should print this out and show it to anyone that asks why they should pay you as much as you ask for a gig...

646 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Ha ha ha. That's a good point.

I was just thinking today, that even to get $100 an hour is really chicken feed, because it does not take into account the hundreds of hours spent accumulating sheet music, accompaniment soundtracks, MIDI files to re-touch and convert into audio accompaniment soundtracks, the homemade sheet music that we make, the hours of searching online that we do, just to find sheet music or MIDI files, so that we can save $10 from buying it already made online, the countless trips to the music store, the long drives, the time spent acquiring audio equipment, the time spent practicing at home, the work loading equipment, unloading equipment, loading it back up again, taking it home again, etc. Unless you charge a fortune, this is not really a very lucrative line of work to be in.

1,741 Posts
My checklist consists of:

Dress down before 6, dress up after 6
load gear kit stationed near front door
leave early
play like you mean it
return early
replace gear kit near front door

Extra effort might include running thru new material the night before, or day of. Everything else is more on the venue or BL.

646 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Funny, guys. Good points, too.

In fact, I like the "play like you mean it" suggestion. Last gig, somebody took a video of me playing a couple of the songs, and I found it to be rather lifeless, compared to what I was feeling at the moment. It made me realize that the audience needed a little more of a visual "show" than just the music, but also that I needed to put more feeling and less fear into what I was playing.

What do you mean by "leave early?" Surely not earlier than you promised to play. You must mean "as soon as my time is officially over." I have a bad habit of hanging around long after the party is over, and continuing to play while folks are saying goodbye or cleaning up. I enjoy the playing, and they all enjoy the listening. Last week I got a $300 tip from the host, just for being so agreeable like that, and not too concerned about sticking to the contract.

As for the checklist, keep in mind that this checklist concept is not for the expert musicians who have been playing for thirty years and already have a system of their own for making sure that they do not overlook anything on the day of the event; this list is mainly for saxophonists who are just getting started playing in public, and are beginning to realize that there are a lot of things to keep up with, that could easily get overlooked.

And it's not like I start reviewing the overwhelming checklist on the day of the gig, but rather, little by little, during the days leading up to the event. With a check-list format, I can check off certain things that are already in the bag, ready to go, and the next day I no longer have to re-read those checked items, but only the unchecked, so the list essentially gets shorter and shorter, as the days go by.

In fact, two weeks before the event, I don't read any of it, except the first part that says "Home Preparations, two weeks or so before the event," since some of those things can take several days to get together in time.

In fact, while some of you have the luxury of living alone, so that you can put your gig stuff down and find it exactly where you put it, three weeks later, I live with three other people, and some of them tend to move things that get in their own way. Otherwise I have to keep my things out of their way, such as my cables, just to make sure they don't inadvertently step on them when they go through the room. Moving them, however, can make them a bit harder to find, when it comes time to pack them, weeks later.

At any rate, I like to USE all of my equipment at home, as much as at a gig, to have my own dress rehearsals, so that I know exactly what to connect where, how to adjust my settings, how high to keep my music stand, how low to keep my microphone, etc. I especially like to evaluate the EQ for each instrument, and the balance between the sax and the accompaniment, day after day, and fine tune it all, rather than simply play without any audio equipment at all, and using mere headphones for my accompaniment. This way I know exactly what my audience is going to hear, and how to layout my equipment and tables.

So, since I do not just keep my equipment in the trunk of my car until the next gig, but use it all daily, things tend to get scattered around the house, and when it gets time to pack up for a gig, if I don't have a checklist, some things get overlooked, such as tools left behind in the garage, a mouthpiece rinsed out in the batroom, left to dry beside the sink, etc. In fact, I intentionally leave my cleaning swabs out to dry, outside the case, rather than put that extra moisture back into the case overnight until the next practice session. The disadvantage is that, since it is no longer where I usually keep it, I have to remember to fetch it, when it comes time to pack.

I used to use the same neck-strap for my alto as for my tenor, for example, and the same swab to wipe out either. I would end up leaving these things in whichever case I had used them in last, at least, after my swab had dried out overnight. Then, one day, I got to the gig where I was using only my alto, and discovered that I had left the neckstrap in the tenor case, as well as the swab, and had no extras with me, either. Although I happened to find another saxophonist nearby who had a spare, the next day, I started using a checklist for myself, and since that time, I have never forgotten or overlooked anything. (Of course, I have also bought extra neckstraps since that day that I left my good one at home, and have bought extra swabs, so now I keep two neckstraps in each case, regardless: one to make sure I always have one handy, and one as a back-up for the dreaded day when my good neckstrap finally gives way at the most inconvenient moment.)

Having said that, I continue to discover new situations, however, where I feel that I could use new items, so I start adding some of those to my newer checklist. It wasn't until people started tripping over my cables that I started packing duct tape or cord-management floor strips, for example, since the situations themselves reveal the need for new items to go on the list.

Likewise, the day that the host came up to me during the event and asked to borrow my microphone, was the day I realized that I should start taking along that cheap microphone that came with my Peavey microphone stand, so that I don't have to refuse to comply with my host, possibly hurting his feelings, but at the same time, I don't have to lend him my SM57, which may have reverb and EQ settings already applied, that would not make it suitable for his speeches and comments to the guests. I've also added that cheap microphone to the checklist.

5,592 Posts
Me thinks your posts doth go on waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy too long.

Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2017
6,198 Posts
The only things you missed were a) The kitchen sink

And “post gig”. Thank the host and / or agent.

Me - I’ve got my ish organized two ways. A) Sax player only; and B) PA required. All is bagged and ready to go. Many years of gigging means everything I could possibly need is either in the gig bags, or in the contract.

Just a guy who plays saxophone.
4,248 Posts
Is this forum a blog host now too? Anything for a buck I guess...seriously though. This is perhaps the most OCD checklist I’ve ever seen for anything and I work with OCD kids.

Grafton alto | Martin Comm III & Naked Lady
29,867 Posts
Some great points in that list, but one glaring omission: the contract and upfront deposit. I didn't actually see any mention of getting paid either.

I think many of those points would be covered by the contract, and it could be made shorter as some things are maybe a bit too obvious (e.g. connect equipment). Otherwise you could add: "remember to take saxophone out of case"

I would amend this: Tell your wife how much you appreciate her help.


Tell your wife how much you appreciate his/her help and how much you love him/her.

Same might apply to roadie/husband.

1,229 Posts
Don't underestimate (or overestimate) the power of checklists.

They are one of the key reasons flying got safer - for an interesting read see The Checklist Manifesto.

I think the OP checklists looks weird because it mixes the "has it been done" of checklists with the "do this and then that" of procedures.

...And it does doesn't have a bowl of M&Ms with no brown ones.

166 Posts
Everyone has their point of view and their rules, not everyone has a list to check, some of us has only VIRTUAL list in mind / in head, and still others have always ready-to-go magic cases, boxes and clothing.

ErikJon shows his own thoughts and thought-out patterns of action, they are in-depth, and if he uses them in 100% - then only he knows. It's really long list (like a check-list of helicopter pilot I've seen in documentary). It shows how ErikJon takes his duties seriously and thinks about it meticulously. And this is not a flaw, it is a character trait, considered by many to be an advantage. Anyway, this is his private, thoughtful world, whether he shared with us.

Certainly your list is well thought out. And do you implement it and check it out - it's just you only know.
Anyway - THANK YOU ...
... because you share your thoughts and many people can use it (or selected elements) and feel it useful.
Yes, long speeches are for those who are patient or interested in the topic, maybe a shorter list will be created and would be more useful, to be read or used for less patient or non-precisians (check-list focusing on the most important and necessary matters, much shorter).

Interesting reading, from many points of view instructive.

646 Posts
Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thank you, gents.

I have taken the liberty of adding some of your suggestions to the master list, including the deposit, the contract, getting paid, and removing some unnecessary things, such as "connect your equipment." In fact, I will go back and improve the list, now and then, as my own personal list develops.

Funny that someone should mention "toilet paper." I have been playing almost exclusively in Latin America for the past ten years, during which, for about two years in Venezuela, there was no toilet paper or soap to be found in most public restrooms. One got in the habit of taking along his own. Still, facial tissues and toilet paper are versatile tools for lots of things, not just for bathroom use.

Tenor, alto, Bb Clarinet, Flute
2,243 Posts
Don't underestimate (or overestimate) the power of checklists.

They are one of the key reasons flying got safer - for an interesting read see The Checklist Manifesto.

I think the OP checklists looks weird because it mixes the "has it been done" of checklists with the "do this and then that" of procedures.

...And it does doesn't have a bowl of M&Ms with no brown ones.
Agree with that. I used them when I was a restaurant manager and later when I became a land surveying supervisor. Making sure you have all your stuff ready is key. But then the list above is just a bit excessive.

646 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Hey, you guys, can anyone tell me how to edit the original post? Up until now I have edited it to add some of your suggestions and remove some of the things that, on second thought, seemed unnecessary, as some pointed out. But now I don't see an "edit" link anywhere, and don't remember how I edited it last time.

Grafton alto | Martin Comm III & Naked Lady
29,867 Posts
Hey, you guys, can anyone tell me how to edit the original post? Up until now I have edited it to add some of your suggestions and remove some of the things that, on second thought, seemed unnecessary, as some pointed out. But now I don't see an "edit" link anywhere, and don't remember how I edited it last time.
The edit function times out after a dertain time. It is just for fixing btyops not for changing the meaning of posts which gets confusing...

Just add replies for new info.

646 Posts
Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Thank you, Pete. I didn't know that.

Incidentally, you will see that I added your suggestions about contracts, last time, just in time, and removed a couple of those "obvious" issues that you mentioned.

This week I am preparing my first customer contract, so I was going to reorganize part of that issue in the original post, and streamline the rest.

I have also discovered that the Android checklist app that I am using has just come out with a new version that is lousy, and requires all your notes to be uploaded to their own database, in order to continue using the app. It can now be used only when logged in and when online, so I no longer recommend Nimbus Note, but rather Writer Plus or Color Note, instead.

I had a gig last month where the host had arranged for a D.J. to be there, right beside me, so that we could kind of play by turns. Boy was that a dumb idea.

So we had his disco dance music playing for ten minutes, and then I came in with soft romantic background music, and the contrast made it look like I was old-fashioned and out of place. If the host had just had me playing during the whole event, the mood would have been consistent.

So I thought about making a note to talk to the customer about that remote possibility of having a D.J. at the same party.

In fact, my current customer for next month is using me just to warm up the crowd for two hours, and then has a D.J. scheduled to begin after I finished. Much better approach.
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