Thursday, May 28, 2015

You Have to Let Go, In order to Grow

      Oh, “big boys and their toys”, “guys and their gear”. It's an interesting concept that I imagine goes hand in hand with girls and their shoes. We can become somewhat sentimental of our so called “toys” at times, as each item serves a memory. Our toys may remind us of where we've been, our accomplishments or uses with that piece of gear and even the state of mind or life situation we were in while we were using that piece of equipment. The memories make us grow fond of the material items. Just a forewarning to all....“Big boys and their toys” is the focus of todays topic. Although I strive for the majority of the post on this blog to provide DJ and event planning tips, advice, and thoughts, I found myself feeling a bit sentimental today and felt compelled to share.

      Today Top Notch actually sold the original speakers, amplifier and basic gear that got this company started. Yes, I realize some of you may be thinking “Oh, it's just a pair of speakers”, HOWEVER, this gear has been amazingly reliable, meanwhile delivering exceptional quality for over the last 11 years. As the DJ business has grown I have found myself moving more towards powered, more light weighted speakers as well as gear that provides more power and sound. Considering the fact 2 of the last 4 events that Top Notch has deejayed has been for crowds of 700 +, I found it necessary to simply let go of this gear so more room and space could be provided for bigger, larger equipment. As I sold the JBL speakers and Mackie Mixer I couldn't help but to reflect on the many years of performing, of deejaying, of various towns and venues me and this specific equipment have been through. Very few people know this, but the gear was actually acquired, after I held a music, local band showcase for the band Parmalee in Raleigh. A member of the band, sent me a list of the equipment they used for the show and I immediately went out and purchased the set up weeks later (thank you Visa). 

      However, I realized that as a business and in life, sometimes you have to let go in order to grow. In life, we should be consistently growing, consistently learning and changing for the better. We should always be moving forward. In order for this to occur, we must let go of old ideas, past experiences, and for me, old things, that are no longer needed. Top Notch looks forward to the future, to newer and larger events, and (yes) newer equipment to fulfill all of my customers and their guests sound, volume and clarity expectations. So long JBL's, it has been quite a journey together. Thank you to my loyal readers and customers for your continued business and support, especially those repeat clients who have used my services continuously for many years aka since the days I was using this gear. I am so very grateful! 


PS: For those interested, the speakers have been purchased by the owner of Chevy's at Watergreen in Apex and will be serving as the bars main sound equipment for live bands, house music and karaoke. I understand the bar will be open by next Friday (June 5th) so make sure to check them out here!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

When You Say "I DO" Let Your Guests Hear it Too

(picture above taken from Kayelily Middleton's "Raleigh Wedding Blog")

     The title of today's post may sound like an obvious statement, but is necessary to mention as 35% of weddings that I see recently neglect to “mic” the bride and groom, and therefore their vows and words during the ceremony are unfortunately not heard. Top Notch is in fact guilty of deejaying numerous wedding ceremonies in the past that have contained this scenario and this past weekend's wedding of Sean and Nina was no exception. During the consultation, the bride and groom had mentioned that a wireless microphone for the officiant to use as well as themselves, may or may not be needed depending on the size of the ceremony room, the depth and volume of the officiants voice as well as the number of guests attending the event. Providing a microphone for the ceremony was a topic that we opted to “play by ear”, agreeing that it would be available if needed. Top Notch has found myself in this situation a number of times, and when the “Big Day” arrives, the officiant make's the decision to not use the available microphones. I hear statements repeatedly such as “I think my voice is pretty loud”, “this is a small space so my voice should carry” and “I just don't think that a mic is necessary, It should be a brief ceremony and I'll talk loud”, etc. This past weekend's wedding of Sean and Nina was a mirrored image of the above scenario, and an ultimate learning lesson for Top Notch which I have felt compelled to share with all. A microphone was not used for the ceremony. The officiant did great and his voice carried excellent so that all guests including me (at the back to the room) could hear him, BUT (and this is a big BUT) because no microphones were set up, the exchanging of vows between the bride and groom could not be heard. Now, I'm somewhat of a perfectionists, and I do feel that many guests (most likely 85%) could hear the words “I Do”, however, chances are if the DJ cannot hear the bride and groom speak from the back of the venue, than other guests may have a hard time hearing the exchanging of vows as well. Allowing the option for a microphone to be used during the ceremony was
the WRONG DECISION on Top Notch's part and has been a lesson learned for future weddings! The whole wedding is about 2 critical words, “I DO”. Not insuring that all guests can hear these words serves only a disservice to attendees. The decision should not boil down to the opinion of the officiant, but be determined by the Dj or sound guy. As the saying goes, you live, you learn and in regards to this subject, the lesson has been learned and duly noted.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Graduation Party Planning Games and Activities To Do

Graduation time is quickly approaching! In last week's blog, Top Notch primarily focused on a number of the fun vendors one can select to have at a graduation party to help make the party a success. Although, I naturally (and highly) recommend a Top Notch DJ for any graduation party, there are various additional activities and games that can be played to help make the event memorable for your graduate. Today's blog will focus on a few of these key items that guests can play. Some of Top Notch's recommendations are the following....

Memory Jar- This simple activity requires only a pen, notary paper and a nicely decorated memory jar. Simply having all guests that at the party write down their favorite memory of the graduate. The jar of memories will make for a great keepsake item and time can even be taken during the party for the graduate to guess who wrote which memories about them. This game can also be titled “Remember When”, as guests can simply record their memory involving the graduate with the phrase “Remember When”

Selfie Message- Kids today have literally grown up understanding the “Selfie”. They not only know how to take a selfie, but most have had tons of practice posing for selfies for various social media sites. This activity however, is not necessarily meant for The Selfie to be posted on social media (like facebook, instagram, etc) but for the graduate to keep. For this activity, a small, dry erase board with a marker is needed along with a classic Polaroid camera. Each guests should write a message to the graduate on the dry erase board and then simply take a self picture of themselves holding the board with the message. By the end of the party, your graduate should have a photo with a kind message from all of their guests wishing them luck on their future endeavors! The hard copy photos after being taken can even be placed on a fun clipboard, in a collage frame or any alternative picture holding device during the party so that all other guests can view each other's messages as well

Yard Twister- This game is a No Brainer, but really can be a blast. It's basically the classic game of Twister, enlarged for many to play outside. The best part of this activity, all that is required is 1. The instructions from the original game (along with the spinner to call the color dots) and spray paint. Before the game, make sure to spray a flat surface (preferably in the grass, not on cement) with circles of the game (red, yellow and green) just as the picture below illustrates.   

Guess Who- This activity is ideal if many of the guests have shared a class, school or extra curricular group activity in common. Each guests is required to select a person or character which they as well as the graduate are familiar with (examples may include a volleyball coach, a teacher disliked by many, a particular student that the guests and graduate shared a class with, etc) Each guests must write down the name of the person for all other guests to see except for the graduate, and then must impersonate the chosen character to the best of their ability. The graduate must guess who the participants are attempting to impersonate. This game usually ends in laughter and tons of fun and stories of reminisce.

Match the Year of the Photo- Photos of the graduate from his or her life span (from a toddler up to graduate pictures) are collected and shown on display for all guests to see. For this game to work, at least 10 photos should be used, and the photos SHOULD NOT be displayed in a time line fashion. Guests will do their best to match the YEAR and or AGE of the graduate with the photos. The first one to match all photos with the graduate's year and age win's a prize.

The activities mentioned above are just a few of the various creative games/activities that can be played to entertain guests at the event. Furthermore, the majority of the listed activities are great as they provide the graduate with an item that they can keep to commemorate the special day. Graduation's are a wonderful achievement for any young adult. I hope this posts as well as last week's were an aid in providing a few tips one can incorporate to ensure that the graduate's celebration is a success! As always, Top Notch is available for questions, thoughts, and concerns anytime and if any one has additional suggestions for games or activities to include in a graduation party, please feel free to share them by contacting Top Notch at Thanks for reading guys and Happy Graduation!