Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Christmas Wishes!

No tips, advice or post regarding DJ and event planning lessons that Top Notch has learned for this week folks. Considering that it is the week of Christmas, today's post is simply a Season's Greetings! The Holidays are such a special time. They are a time to be with friends and family. For many it's a travel time, for others a vacation time, and for Top Notch it is a "slow down" time. In a way, the Holidays can be quite similar to a wedding or an event, as the planning process for both can be quite comparable. There is the obvious planning stage regarding gifts, meals, guests, etc, followed by the anticipation of the day and even the fun and last memories that occur throughout the day. Whether the Christmas day is spent with family, friends, or even co workers, Top Notch wishes you and yours a very Merry Christmas. Make sure to check out the Top Notch 2015 "Holiday Greeting" for a good laugh (link below)

Merry Christmas guys!


Sunday, December 13, 2015

Ceremony Microphones....To Use or Not to Use. That is the question

After nearly ten years of deejaying weddings, it is very safe to say, that Top Notch DJ Service is still learning. One factor and issue I am always striving to improve on concerns the topic of microphone use for wedding ceremonies. I actually addressed this fact in a prior blog post in May of this year, however, due to a recent situation that I was involved in, I felt compelled to share the various types of mics available for a wedding ceremony. For starters, one must determine if a microphone is even necessary? I address this same question to each bride and groom that Top Notch works with. If it is a small wedding, or in a small venue, a mic may not be required. A good rule of thumb to consider is the following equation, if the number of wedding guests totals 25-30 or more, typically I suggest that a microphone should be used.
The next question then becomes., what type of microphone is needed. Top Notch always will recommend wireless microphones versus wired microphones whenever possible. Wireless microphones may provide less feedback and the obvious issue of hiding a microphone cord is never an issue with wireless mics. For the past few years, I have actually requested and encouraged officiants during a ceremony to use a wireless microphone that I provide. Although, many insist that their voices are loud and that a mic is not necessarily needed, their use of a microphone assist me as his or her specific words are my cues for when to play specific ceremonial song selections. Additionally, I have learned that many professional officiants actually have their own microphones and set ups which they simply plug into my sound system, which can be very helpful as well.
Top Notch has experimented with 2 common styles of wireless microphones for ceremonies which are
  1. The hand held with a stand 

  2. The lavalier (small microphone that clips on the collar, shirt pocket, etc as seen in the below picture

    Many years ago, it was common practice for me to utilize the lavalier microphones, however I discovered that the placement on some customers became an issue. Brides and Grooms (especially brides) desired the microphone to be discreet for the sake of their wedding pictures (no bride wants a microphone, nor transmitter pack that the mic plugs into apparent in her wedding ceremony pictures, I understand that.) Furthermore, when used outside, wind became a large issue when using lavalier mics, as well as grooms accidentally hitting or touching the “mute” button on occasions. Due to these issues, I made the decision to use the handheld mic on a stand for ceremonies. The trick, when using the handheld mic (similar to my issue with the lavalier) was to make the microphone discreet, and unobtrusive meanwhile placing it in a location where the officiant as well as bride and groom can be heard. My solution to these dilemmas, became carefully placing a wireless handheld microphone at the officiant's waist level (not face level, or over the shoulder due to the consideration of the ceremonies wedding photos), just between the officiant and where the groom and bride stand. Furthermore, by facing the microphone directly up at an angle towards the bride and groom the microphone is usually able to capture the sound of all three key characters in the ceremony. I may often still provide a lapel microphone to mic the groom at times, depending on the size of the event as well. By following these actions, wedding guests seemed to be able to hear the officiant as well as bride and groom, and the couple could still hold hands during the ceremony without having to work around a microphone stand between them. Furthermore, because of the microphones height, it often was not as apparent in wedding photos.
For now, this method has appeared to my specific answer concerning the use of wireless microphones for ceremonies. Bride and Grooms should always consider a number of factors when debating if a microphone is needed including
  1. The Venue. How large is the location of the ceremony? Are the acoustics clear? Is it outside?
  2. If outside, consider the outside factors that may interrupt the sound of the officiant such as wind, traffic, birds chirping, etc. Can your officiant speak over outside noises loud enough for guests in your back row to be heard?
  3. Any additional ceremony speeches, poems read, people singing? If so, a mic or even 2-3 may be needed
  4. Guests. How many guests are attending the ceremony? Are a large majority of them older or perhaps hard of hearing?
  5. Voice Projection: Is your officiant fairly loud? What about you and your fiancee? Can the guests hear you without a microphone? The volume of your voice, your partners as well as the officiants should be considered.
In sum, a bride and groom spend an incredible amount of time planning the ceremony and guests attend your event mostly for the ceremony and to HEAR YOU say your vows. Make sure they are heard. Although the topic of which type of microphone as well as it's placement is debatable, the question concerning if a microphone is needed is most likely pretty clear. When possible and if available, most certainly use the microphone for your wedding ceremony.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Fun Christmas Songs to get your Holiday Party Started! (hint..No Silent Night will be found on this list)

     Starbucks has returned with red cups, retail stores are advertising amazing sales and discounts, and a hint of chill is finally in the air. Yep, it's the holiday season once again and fortunately for Top Notch with the holiday season come's holiday parties and events. Naturally, with any “theme” party, it's appropriate to play fitting music for the event. Fortunately, during the Christmas holiday, there is a multitude of holiday music to find and play. It's no secret that many artists have produced holiday albums over the years, however, one of the challenges that I have found is locating specific holiday songs that are fun, happy, upbeat and also holiday oriented. Note: That mean's the numerous Holiday jams about breaking up during Christmas (aka “Blue Christmas” by Elvis, “Please Come Home for Christmas” by Don Henley, “Mittens” by Carly Rae Jepsen, etc) do not count for today's post. Additionally, a large portion of traditional holiday songs lack an upbeat tempo which is necessary at any party to get people dancing (examples include “Silver Bells”, Silent Night, The Christmas Song, the list of slow songs goes on and on). So, below I've shared 15 top holiday songs that I usually play to get party guests heads bobbing and the dance floor moving. Feel free to let me know if there are any songs you think I may have missed ( and Happy Holidays everyone!

Top Notch Holiday Fun Song List (In No Particular Order)

1. Trey Songs and Flo Rida- "Jingle Bells" (The Gap Mix)

2. Cee Lo Green - "What Christmas Means to Me"

3. Glee Cast - "We Need a Little Christmas"

4. Kelly Clarkson - "Underneath the Tree"

5. TLC - "Sleigh Ride"

6. Train- "Shake Up Christmas"

7. Mariah Carey- "All I Want for Christmas Is You"

8. Aly and AJ - "Greatest Time of Year"

9. Elton John - "Step Into Christmas"

10. Ariana Grande - "Santa Tell Me"

11. NSYNC-"Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays"

12. Big Time Rush - "Beautiful Christmas"

13. Mariah Carey - "Oh Santa"

14. Destiny's Child - "8 Days of Christmas"

15. Glee Cast - "Extraordinary Merry Christmas"