At the Rye Festival

15th September 2011 | Books, Daily Life, Musings | 3 comments

signing books at RyeUsually I take part in music festivals, so to be invited to a Literary Festival is an exciting change. Yesterday I was at the Rye Festival talking about music and musicians. In between readings and bits of talk, I played little piano pieces.

I’d been given one of those microphones which consists of a little box to be clipped to the belt (alas, I didn’t have one) with a wire leading to a lapel mike. Because I was going to be sitting down and playing the piano as well as talking, I decided that the box had to be clipped to the back of my waistband. Once it was in place, I was told not to switch on the power until my talk began, otherwise the audience would hear everything I said in the ‘green room’. So I switched it on, with some difficulty, just before I went on stage.

But then, when I sat down at the piano to play, I realised that the mike was picking up extraneous noises and disturbing the audience (possibly the lapel mike was knocking against a button as I played, though I didn’t realise that at the time). A couple of pieces later, someone stood up and asked if I could please switch the microphone off before I played the piano, then back on again when I continued talking. Easier said than done, because the off-on switch was a tiny little device on the box clipped at my back, and I was wearing a long tunic (see photo). I struggled un-elegantly with the switch for a while before deciding to unclip the whole box and just balance it on my lap as I played the piano. Then I held the box in my hand when I went back to the lectern to talk. If I continue with this talking + playing format, I’ll have to find a better solution to this problem.

3 Comments

  1. peter

    How large was the room, Susan? If not too large, your own natural voice, projected but not amplified, would surely have been fine.

    Reply
    • Susan Tomes

      Yes, it would have been easier if my unamplified voice had been enough, but I have a quiet voice and usually people tell me to ‘Speak up!’ I find that if I have to speak loudly, I’m in danger of losing my voice, so a microphone can be helpful.

      Reply
  2. David

    You were very kind in saying nothing about the piano…… I wonder when last it had been throughly updated ( if ever)

    Reply

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