Sunday, February 24, 2013


Friday night I had a bodas de plata misa (silver wedding mass) in Barranco. I played with a man named Raul who played guitar. He was very nice and very helpful with giving me the keys for each piece. There was also a singer who cracked me up. He was somewhat of a robust man and he wore all white. He sang a number of songs accompanied by karaoke-style music on his ipod. Every time he went to change to a different song the ipod clicked over the loudspeaker. Eek! How embarrassing! He sang well and made sure he was singing the correct lyrics with help from his iPad. Anyone who things that Apple hasn't infiltrated the "third world" needs to me this Peruvian. (I put third world in quotes because I don't really consider Peru to be third world) We finished up strong and I had the pleasure of having Marco take me to the mass and stay to take me home afterward. What a guy!

Yesterday (Saturday), I played in three weddings. I traveled from Chorrillos to Pueblo Libre, to Santa Anita and back to Barranco to finish. If you know anything about the geography of Lima you'll know that I spent a lot of time in transit. I was fortunate enough to have Marco accompany me to the first gig. We had lunch afterward and he dropped me off with the guys who I played with at the wedding in Santa Anita. I had to leave early from the Santa Anita wedding because I had to be in Barranco at a quarter to 7pm. Fortunately, there were many musicians to cover my departure. The wedding started 40 minutes after the indicated hour but whose fault is that? (The novia was late.) I picked up a combi and took an hour long ride to the metropolitano where I took another 20 minute ride to Barranco. I had just enough time to eat an ice cream outside of the church before heading in.

The first gig was with a "pianist" and two singers. I put pianist in quotations because all of the ones that I have played with don't actually play the piano most of the time or they have just started. (The guy who "played" the piano for the last wedding in Barranco told me that he started playing piano 3 years ago.) They all play electronic pianos. They record the songs and save them in the piano and then play them for the wedding. The "pianist" fakes that he is playing the music and the public doesn't know any better...or at least that is what they think. Unfortunately, most won't take any notice. It is somewhat embarrassing, as a musician, to play with a track. I understand now when Ernesto told me that many people don't play in weddings because they don't like playing with tracks. I am not going to complain too much though because while the pianist might be faking it, I am playing for real and that is what matter most to me.

The second gig in Santa Anita had 6 musicians; a singer, a "pianist", a violist, a flutist, and two violinists. We played Pachabell Canon and the wedding march but the majority of what we did was try and improvise to songs that the singer had on his ipod. No keys were given and we were left to figure out what key to play in. It was awful! I let the coordinator know that if she wants us to play in a group like that again, we should have practice because it is so embarrassing to play a wedding and not know what we are doing.

Another thing that I have realized is that no one does rehearsals for their weddings! At least it is not common. It is all set up ahead of time with the songs that are to be played but many time the priest will decide what songs will be played. It is super bizarre to me that there is no rehearsal. It doesn't surprise me though. I imagine that part of the cost that musicians charge in the States to do a wedding covers the rehearsal the night before.

I made my way to Barranco and set up to play along with the tracks. Fortunately, I was close to the piano so I was able to see in what key the song was going to be played in. The "pianist" obviously was no help. The mass lasted a really long time and after 10 minutes of debating whether or not to leave to their next gig, the group made the decision to pack up and go. The mother of the bride was desperate. I told her that I could play Ave Maria and Wagner's Wedding March to finish the ceremony with music. She was super grateful and wouldn't let me refuse her offer to give me 20 soles more. I made a mistake thinking that I needed to play the wedding march sooner than was called for but I saved it by going back in Ave Maria while the couple took pictures with the family. It felt good to play solo even though I was definitely nervous. I was even more nervous because I was playing in front of the military community which I will soon be more a part of when we move to the villa militar. I wanted to make a good impression. When the mother of the bride found out that I am married to an officer she was beyond happy. There was also another woman who came over and asked for my contact information for her daughter's wedding. Not a bad way to end the night!

I have to say that I am learning little things here and there as I have more gigs chiveando as they say here. I am a chivista in Lima now. I think that with more time and comfort in Lima I could start a quartet that plays weddings and events. I think that would be great. I have to get my foot in the door though and that is exactly what I am doing right now. I am happy to let others do the coordinating and show up where I need to be for a wedding or a funeral. They money's not bad and the exposure is great.

I really wish I had my camera with me during these gigs because some of the places are so pretty. The hacienda we played at in Santa Anita was gorgeous! Oh well, better to have one less thing to worry about losing while traveling all over Lima.


  1. That was very interesting. With the cavalier attitude of the "pianists" for weddings, if you put a good quartet together that has high musical standards, you might find yourself becoming famous and sought after in the Chiveando field. By the way, what is a novia? Also, what does Chiveando mean? And, lastly, I thought Peruvian weddings were mostly held on Fridays, no?

  2. Chiveando means gigging. A novia is a bride and a novio is a groom. Weddings are held on Fridays and Saturdays. There tend to be more on Saturdays because you can have a wedding starting at noon. On Fridays you can only have an evening wedding.

  3. I second what Ms. Chamberlin says - if you get together a group that really plays decently you will have no competition and you can command a better price than you do now. You make me gig-gle.