Music selection can make wedding sing

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The wrong music selections can have couples singing wedding-day blues.

Conversely, the right combination of instrumental and vocal tunes promises to make a special day even more memorable.

"Music is a key part of the wedding," local musician Bill Martin said. It can make or break the ceremony and reception, he said.

Music compliments the theme of the wedding, sets the mood, provides transitions during the ceremony and entertains guests during a reception.

Martin, who sings and plays guitar for weddings, said couples can avoid a matrimonial music disaster by leaving nothing to chance on their wedding days.

Proper planning and communication means the difference between the wedding singer belting out "It's a great day for a white wedding" when couples wanted the soothing strains of "Ave Maria."

"You don't want any surprises," Martin said.

He stressed that couples should appoint a decision maker to establish a wedding theme and choose music that complements the theme.

Some brides and grooms know exactly what songs or instrumental pieces they want.

Local soprano Keri Rusthoi remembers one bride who wanted to walk down the aisle to the same music that Maria in "The Sound of Music" walked down to.

The string quartet the bride hired for her wedding could not find the music, so the string players composed their own arrangement. "She got exactly what she wanted," Rusthoi said.

It's important that musicians have plenty of time to work on their music if the requested pieces are technical or unique.

Martin asks for special requests at the time of a booking.

Rusthoi encourages couples to explore different options when choosing their music. A core list of songs are commonly played or performed at wedding ceremonies, she said, but many other great pieces are sure to delight the wedding party and guests.

"Weddings are a great opportunity for musicians to do their stuff," she said.

Rusthoi has done everything from singing show tunes at a Broadway-themed wedding to canting during a high Catholic mass wedding.

The Steamboat Jazz Quartet provides music before, during and after the ceremony for couples looking for a little something different.

"We're pretty flexible, whether it's electric or acoustic or loud or fast," trumpet player Dan Isbell said.

The quartet, which plays primarily jazz, swing and rock tunes, often takes its cue from the audience during the reception.

"We'll look at the crowd and their reaction, and then we might change to suit (different musical tastes)," Isbell said.

Weddings bring out people of all ages, so it's important the musical entertainment appeal to children and grandparents alike, Martin said.

Couples don't have to look far to find musical talent in the Yampa Valley. Whether they're searching for an organ player, flautist or opera singer, brides and grooms are sure to find the right musician.

A good place to begin searching for the right musician is the Steamboat Springs Arts Council, which coordinates the Steamboat Springs Chamber Orchestra -- a gold mine for musical talent.

Couples should book their wedding musicians as early as possible. Summer weekends are popular and already filling up. Martin recommends that couples that want to hire good musical talent should start looking now. "Don't leave anything to chance," he said.

The newlyweds and musicians will appreciate the end result. "It's such a great opportunity to be a special part of somebody's life," Rusthoi said. "You're really sort of brought into the inner sanctum of what's going on."

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