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I'm trying to find a consensus and establish a limit for my big band. Do you or does your group have a set minimum temperature below which you will not do an outdoor gig?
 

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Zero? As In freezing. Wind makes it much
Worse. So like 50F with some wind.
High wind calcels entirely.
 

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I do an outdoor jazz quartet gig 2-3 times/month in the spring/summer, and for me it's about 65 degrees and sunny. But with just 4 of us, it's easy to come to a quick consensus
 

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TENOR, soprano, alto, baritone
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Many of my gigs are outdoors - festivals, all kinds of events. I learned many years ago that the low temperature at which it becomes difficult to play a brass instrument like a sax depends on other factors, but generally the threshold is 50F. Now if its 50 on a calm, sunny day and you're in the sun, the temp becomes less of a factor - you can probably do that gig. However, the same gig at night at 50 (at starting time) becomes a problem as the temp usually drops with time. Even the humidity comes into play as the higher it is, in hot or cold weather, the more miserable you will be.
Heat is bad but at least you can physically play. Cold sucks the life out of your horn and makes intonation go crazy.
 

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I have a difficult time getting my hands warm enough to play with sufficient dexterity if temperatures are much below 70F - especially if it is humid. Coincidentally, 70F is the threshold temperature suggested for bicyclists to don knee warmers, if warming up.
 

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A couple of years ago I was disappointed not to get this outdoor NYE gig in my little town. They have a ceremony at midnight by this giant Christmas tree downtown. Well, that night I was so relieved- pics of the band literally looked like they were in Siberia!. Winter in Maine can be brutal, not a time to sign up for outdoor gigs- even for a really fun band and really good pay- not worth it! I ended up getting an earlier evening gig at a fancy restaurant that night. Not as much $$ but much more pleasant, and out of there by 10 p.m., plus free prime rib and wine.
 

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The more active gigs (parade, second line) aren't so bad since you get to move around to keep warm, and I rarely have a break of more than a minute in the playing, so the horn doesn't cool down. That is, if it's dry. Add in some rain and it gets alot less fun. When it actually snows here, the whole town shuts down and any gigs would be cancelled anyway.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks for the responses so far. I plan on making this a part on our contract. I've done some research and it seems stringed instrument players have the most issue with temperature. The American Harp Society suggests 55 deg. F as the minimum, while I can't find anything, including at the AF of M, specifically mentioning this issue regarding wind instruments. Those who have responded with a temperature here are leaning to the 50's. Wind is also an issue but that's a little harder to quantify. I have a venue coming up where this may be an issue. It's a lot easier to back out if you address this sort of thing up front rather than later, since most of the people booking these things don't have a clue what issues the players have.
 

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I did an outdoor solo gig for two hours a couple of weeks ago. It was 45 degrees and uncomfortable. The next day it was 55 and didn’t feel nearly as bad. 55 is probably my cut off point for a daytime gig.
I’ve played in the extreme heat a few times. The worst was years ago in Maracaibo Venezuela. I sweat through my clothes and when we finished I had stopped sweating, that’s when the heatstroke was starting to set in. It took me a few hours to drink enough water to feel right again.
I’ll still take the heat over the cold.
 

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Played an outdoor night time gig with my covers band on the beach here (on a stage made out of a curtain-sider truck trailer) facing into a south-easterly wind late last month (October, in the UK). It was a bonfire, fireworks and funfair event with three bands. We were second on, after the sun had set, after which the temperature dropped rapidly to about 40 as a squall with freezing rain came through then barely climbed back to 45 afterwards. The guitar and bass players' hands were seizing up with cold. I tried preheating the saxes by breathing through them before each number, and it more or less worked on the tenor and alto, but the sop just dropped a half tone or more and couldn't be used - played the parts on the tenor instead. I was shaking with cold when we finished the set, fingers gone rigid, and like the OP I will now always specify a minimum temperature (taking into account the windchill factor) of 50 degrees before playing outdoors again - it ain't fun!
 

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Even the humidity comes into play as the higher it is, in hot or cold weather, the more miserable you will be.
Heat is bad but at least you can physically play. Cold sucks the life out of your horn and makes intonation go crazy.
^^^
What he said.

I love the winter. I go for long walks. The colder, the better. No one is there. I think of my favorite poem, Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening, by Robert Frost. I typically shovel snow in a T shirt and shorts.
But I had a sax teacher show up at a winter "j*m session" one night where I was outside "warming up" and he said "Man you going to wreck your pad job!" and I believe he was right. That, along with the impossible intonation and dexterity issues...

Don't take outdoor gigs below 15C.
 

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I did an outdoor solo gig for two hours a couple of weeks ago. It was 45 degrees and uncomfortable. The next day it was 55 and didn’t feel nearly as bad. 55 is probably my cut off point for a daytime gig.
I’ve played in the extreme heat a few times. The worst was years ago in Maracaibo Venezuela. I sweat through my clothes and when we finished I had stopped sweating, that’s when the heatstroke was starting to set in. It took me a few hours to drink enough water to feel right again.
I’ll still take the heat over the cold.
You're so right about playing in high temps. In high school I passed out during a marching band parade in Kansas- over 100 degrees and I was wearing a full polyester uniform with a "Q-tip" hat, plastic chest overlay and gloves, playing saxophone for several blocks. They said the formation came to a stop and I just spinned around twice and tumbled to the ground.
 

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I pity the folks playing and singing during the Macy's Thanksgiving day parade! Brrrrrrr! That was a chilly day!!
 

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I pity the folks playing and singing during the Macy's Thanksgiving day parade! Brrrrrrr! That was a chilly day!!
It should be noted that the only musicians with the balls to play the Macy's parade were marching bands it appears...
 

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They're high schoolers, they dont feel cold :)


edited to add: I guess your threshold increases as you get old. I only do outdoor stuff when its summer, even on guitar.
 
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