What's Your Backup Plan?

J-MUSIC Pocket Trio - Nick Stoner Inn-5By Ron Rosenberg

We're very fortunate to have an annual music festival that brings an incredible group of classical, jazz, and bluegrass musicians to a small lakeside community in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York.

One of our favorites is Patrick Bartley, and his J-Music Pocket Band. Having grown up playing video games, he decided to take the background music tracks of his favorite video games and arrange them for different configurations of his jazz groups.

The results make for a very energetic and entertaining program.

We saw them play last year, and they were so good, they were invited back again for this year's concert series.

It's Important to Be Prepared

One of my contributions to the music festival is that I photograph the various events. And just as I do when I'm speaking at a conference, I show up at the venue a few hours early, in this case, to check on the lighting and layout of the stage area.

Not surprisingly, Patrick and the band were there also, setting up their equipment and performing various sound checks. This is important because you never know what kind of situation you're walking into, but you can almost always make things right if you have some time before the actual event begins.

I took a minute to say hello to Patrick who remembered the photos I sent him from the previous year's concert and made sure it would be okay to take some shots of the band again this year.

What Happens When Something Goes Wrong?

Patrick and the band did everything right to prepare for the performance, and it was truly amazing. About a half-hour into the program, in the middle of a serious run of 32nd notes, Patrick got a funny look on his face. As he continued playing, I noticed him scanning the floor for something.

A minute later, while the pianist was taking a solo, he announced that a very small part from his alto sax had broken off, went to the side of the stage, and picked up his soprano sax to complete the song.

While this was going on, a friend of ours saw a shiny object under the piano bench that turned out to be the missing part.

Patrick continued to play the soprano for the next few songs, stepping off to the side to make the necessary repairs during the piano and bass solos until the alto was fixed and ready to play.

What's Your "Plan B?"

It doesn't matter what kind of activity you're doing - at some point things aren't going to turn out exactly as you had planned.

You might forget to bring your laptop on a business trip; you might leave for a match without a can of tennis balls; or a part might fall off of your saxophone in the middle of a solo.

In that last case, there several examples of a "Plan B" that kept the show going.

First, Patrick is such a gifted musician that when the piece came off of the horn, he continued playing, simply avoiding the notes that were affected by the missing part.

Next, he had the tools and knowledge to repair the instrument once the missing part had been located.

And finally, he had the soprano sax with him as a backup, even though he hadn't planned on playing it that night - a last-minute decision when he was packing that turned out to be a good one.

In your own activities - at work and at home - the one thing you can count on is that something unexpected will happen - usually at the worst possible moment.

Anticipating potential problems, and having a backup plan can minimize the impact.

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