Making a Simcha
Hi everyone! Although I normally cover the latest and greatest of Jewish music releases, I’ve decided to switch things up a bit this time around. As a one- man band, DJ, and singer, I find myself getting many questions from those making simchas (especially if it’s their first time making one). Keeping all that in mind, I’ve decided to share the knowledge I’ve gained through years of being in the “simchah-business” with you. For those coming close to making the first simchah, to the veterans out there who have made more than their fair share, you may find some inspiration or even some tips of what NOT to do, the next time around. Let’s get started!
Music – How could we start an article on making a simchah without putting music first? Of course! Music makes the simchah! That being said, what kind of music? A one -man band? A DJ? A string quartet? A marching band? Let’s not get ahead of ourselves over here. For your typical event be it a Wedding, bar/bas mitzvah, or Vort/Sheva Brachos, there are 3 typical go-to options.
- Orchestra – An orchestra typically consists of anywhere between 4-5 musicians and up, and is likely something you’ve seen at the majority of weddings you’ve been a guest at. With skilled musicians on drums, guitar, keyboard, and trumpet and trombone etc. There are a number of skilled artists contributing their specific talents to make the music at your simchah top notch.
- One Man Band – This consists of a musician playing on keyboard loaded up with sounds and beats that will in some cases replicate an orchestra and in other cases go an entirely different route and instead sonically imitate the electronic arrangements we’ve so fondly heard in some of the top hits in Jewish music throughout the last number of years. The advantage of the one -man band is the ability to replicate the sounds from songs such as “Ivri Anochi”, “Mahapecha Shel Simcha” and all others within that style. However, because of the wealth of sounds and styles programmed into today’s one-man band keyboards as well as the ability to customize them, a good one -man band can also play a “first dance” with the best of them using the drums and brass sounds we’ve all come to expect at weddings.
- DJ – The DJ is still gaining popularity throughout the simchah scene. While some may view a DJ as the equivalent of someone pressing “play” on an iPod, for the professional DJ, there is definitely skills needed. Whenever I get a call from someone looking to learn how to “DJ” I always tell them that being a DJ is making sure you’re on top of 2 main things: 1. Making sure you’re up-to-date on the latest music (it’s a good idea to read my review articles!) and 2. To realize that your job is to make sure no guest at the simchah picks their head up suddenly and thinks “What was that?” in regards to the music. The goal is to make sure the there is no break in the dancing music at all (or at least a non-intended break) The DJ’s goal is to make sure the music flows and transitions smoothly from song to song. The advantage to using a DJ is the ability to have songs played which may not be realistic to imitate with even a large orchestra (think: “76 trombones led the big parade” – 10 points to whoever gets the reference) and certainly not with a one-man band. The one downside that I’ve seen is that in my humble opinion, a first dance typically has more energy when performed live. That’s not to say that there aren’t songs from albums that can be used for a first dancer and I have certainly DJ-ed a large amount of “first-dances”, but I do believe that a singer or a one-man band who sings can add a ton of energy through a live performance and interaction with the crowd that the energy of pre-recorded tracks just can’t perfectly imitate.
Well folks, that’s round one of “Making your Simchah”. I hope to bring you some more in this topic which will assist you when it comes your time to Make a Simchah!
Hillel Kapnick is a Producer/Singer/Musician/DJ based in Monsey, NY. He owns and operates Uptop Recording Studios (Monsey, NY) , and sings and plays at Simchas as a One Man Band & DJ regularly. Hillel can be reached for questions, comments, or bookings at firstname.lastname@example.org or through his website @ www.HillelKAPS.com