We musicians categorize our audiences based on age group and demographics. At one glance, you can usually tell which group they belong to. Is it possible to get to know them individually?
Over the years, I’ve tried different methods to learn my students’ names. I use icebreakers to get them to introduce themselves to each other. Re-enforcement comes from regular class meetings and repetition of their names. Even with this generation of exotic names and not-so-obvious spelling, it’s possible to remember.
With audiences, there’s no re-enforcement unless the concerts are paced at a regular frequency. Still, it’s possible to get to know them by preparing a namesake concert.
I obtain everyone’s first names in advance. I search for songs with their names in it. Surprisingly, there is a song for just about every name.
People like to hear their names spoken. Imagine hearing all about you in a song that lasts three minutes. By the end, the performer and everyone else in the room knows your name.
For my own name, I included variations of the name, like John Denver’s Annie’s Song and the instrumental theme of Anna’s Theme from the movie the “Red Violin.” Of course, there’s the theme from the television series “Anne of Green Gables” and the song Tomorrow from the musical “Annie.” Don’t forget catchy songs like There’s No Business Like Show Business from the musical “Annie Get Your Gun.”
This manner of finding songs of variants of your name helps to broaden the possibilities. You could also find music made famous by an artist or a work of a composer by the same first name.
From my research, I have a hunch that there are more songs about ladies than men. These tend to be slower and more flowing than songs about men.
There are some songs that are fun to do together. I get everyone to snap their fingers to Hit the Road, Jack. While most people may not know the verse, the chorus (refrain) is usually well-known.
Of course, we can start the concert with Getting to Know You from the musical “The King and I.”