last updated Thursday, 03-Nov-2016 12:22:47 EDT



by Sue Matsuki

October 28, 2010


Some Questions were sent to me this week that I think we should all discuss with our Musical Directors and that we can all learn from so I'm devoting a little more space in the VIEWS section today. (Questions were cut and pasted exactly as sent or twitted.)

Question #1 (Singer):

•" I performed my show and paid the money for all of my charts. My MD insists on keeping my book, which doesn't bother me, however, I only have copies of the charts made for the band and backup vocalists. I don't have a copy of what was actually played piano wise. Of course I have the sheet music (some were played in the original key, some were switched). My MD is VERY talented and frequently improvises and has the ability to change key by sight. I have requested countless times that I get a copy of what was actually played on piano, but have never received it. I believe that this is my MDs way of controlling my "need for them", so no one else but them can play my show. My MD did a fabulous job playing the show, but if I were to ever want to do it outside of NY, I'm not confident that anyone else would be able to do that without extensive work and rehearsal. Is there a protocol that MDs should be following regarding this, or is this my job to stress exactly what I need of them at the onset of hiring them? I have inquired what other artists experiences have been, some stated that they have had multiple issues with this same thing, and some have complete scores of their shows that they can take and perform anywhere with ease."

Yikes. Hot potato here! Let me hear from some MD's on this please. I can only give a singer's perspective but ... formal charts should be passed off to the singer at the time the singer is paying for the chart. End of story. However, as the chart is used, other notes are included and you can get into a cycle of the MD saying, "I'll fix this and that and get it to you." And you never get it. Let me ask the MD's out there ... what if something happened to you? How could your clients get their music? This is a paid transaction and services should be rendered by hard copy of the chart. What I have asked my MD to do is put all my charts on a computer stick because he charts on the computer program "Finale" and, again, Heaven forbid anything happen to him, I can go to anyone who uses Finale to access my charts. I have been working with this man for 15 years and we have well over 200 songs charted so this is thousands of dollars of his arrangements but MY property.

I assume that you are no longer using this person. If you are not, since you've called them a number of times, I'd send a cordial, certified letter so that you have proof that it was received saying something like, "I tired on this date and that date to ask you to provide me with a complete copy of my book from XYZ show and, to date, I have not received these copies. I am getting increasingly upset over that fact that I gave you $X and have no charts (or only X charts) to show for it. If I need to do this show out of town with another pianist, how am I to produce the show without my book?"

Keep it professional and keep it unemotional. If the person does not contact you or get your music to you ASAP (within 2 weeks) I would call them and say that they are forcing you to contact an attorney and then I'd do just that. I'd have the attorney make the next call or send the next letter saying that the book (or copies) must be provided by a certain date.

If you are using them again, my first question to you would be why? But, if so, I would take them for coffee and tell them that you love their work but that you are still upset about not getting a copy of the last show and that if they want to play on this next project, they have to give you a copy of the book from the first show and that every chart you pay for on the new show must be presented to you at the time payment is received.

On the subject of control ... not knowing who you play with, it's hard to say but it's possible. Some people don't put words on a chart or clue lines so that no one else (seemingly) plays as well for you as they do. Jazz Charts are a whole other beast of just chord changes. This is your job to tell them exactly the kind of chart that you want and you will have to pay accordingly for the extra work.

Question #2 (Singer):

• "My MD is so popular and so "in demand" that I felt they were overextended and it was an issue finding time for rehearsals, etc between my job hours and their busy rehearsal/performance schedule. Should there be a limit as to a number of shows they should be doing at a certain time to be fair to all clients?"

Sorry ... a resounding NO on this one. This is their livelihood. This is how they pay their rent. YOU, however, could ask them what kind of schedule they have coming up and make a decision to use them or not on this project. If you feel you will not get the attention and time that you need, you are not "cheating" on your usual pianist by using someone else. You just tell them that you feel that they are not as available for the time you need to put this show up but that you'd use them again when things were less busy for them. I would discuss it with them before you change MDs as a courtesy. You can also ask them to book all your session from your 1st meeting to the show date so that you are 1st in line in their book.

Question #3 (An MD):

• "Hi -- here is my question that maybe you can answer in your "View" column at CABARET HOTLINE ONLINE. I am a excellent pianist/musical director with experience accompanying singers for their cabaret shows. What is the best way for me to get the message out there that I am available to work with singers? The best advertising is "word of mouth" -- I realize that -- but how do I get known in the field. btw --- i have a BM & MA degree -- play all styles & transpose at sight! If you can get a chance to answer my question -- it would be most appreciated."

What I would suggest is to become a part of the community. Join MAC ( and their Google group and the group. You are obviously already a member here at Hotline ... why not take out a banner ad and advertise? If money is short (and it always is in this business for all of us), if you started to attend the MAC seminars you could meet people and chat about what you do and/or volunteer for things. For example, watch the HotLine notices for all the benefits and contact the producers and volunteer to play for one of them. If you aren't needed for the show being advertised, perhaps for a future show. I know it's giving your time for free but there is no better way to get to know a large group of people both personally and professionally by showing them all what you can do. Go to the open mics (see my previous column that lists them all) and get up and play and let those people know you are looking for clients. Sometimes the open mic producers need a sub pianist, let the producers know that they can call you (these usually pay a little something) and leave them with a card. Off the top of my head, this is all that I can think of right now but if I can think of any more or the readers can ... we'll let you know. Good luck! NOTE: See the two items above!

Question #4 (Singer):

* "Can I use a quote if a reviewer tells me after the show that they liked the show?"

Did you say, "May I quote you on this?" If not, I would contact them the next day and say, "You said, Blah, Blah, Blah ... I have a show next week, may I use that in my promo materials this week?" If they say, "No", ask them for a one line quote to use. Also, creative cutting and pasting a review to skew its meaning is kind of pathetic. Use the Review and learn from it or 86 it if you disagree but, to use a quote from a mixed or bad review that you have mangled to read in a way that you like is unethical. Earn your good reviews and be proud enough of your work. Don't use what was intended as a constructive criticism by morphing it into a praise.

If anyone has any questions or wishes me to find out something for them, write to me at: and I'll answer you anonymously in this VIEWS section.


I have been a little under the weather this week so I didn't see many shows between Monday and today but ...

THE SALON - On Sunday, October 24th, I saw the two shows that I reviewed on Monday and then popped over to The Salon - 7:00-10:00 pm at ETCETERA ETCETERA (352 West 44th Street, NYC - 212-399-4141) - $10 Cash Cover / $15 food/drink minimum.

This Open Mic, produced by the lovely and very talented Tanya Moberly and hosted and played by Mark Janas is such a nice way to spend an evening. The food is good. The talent is good. But what sets this Open Mic apart from others is that they feature a Special Guest Host each week and it's usually someone who has a show run coming up. This night it was the beautiful and beautifully voiced Annie Kozuch, a stunning Jazzy/Latin feel easy listening singer. She's performing on October 28th, November 4th & November 11th at 7:00 pm at the THE METROPOLITAN ROOM (34 West 22nd Street, NYC - 212-206-0440). I'm going to see her on the 28th and from what I heard on Sunday, I'm looking forward to it.

What also sets this evening apart is their special Classical Corner. In this spot Mark Janas does something wonderfully fancy with equating Classical music to a current musical theme, or features a spectacular classical piece or performer or it's dueling styles with say Mark doing a classical tune and Barry Levitt interpreting that line into jazz or on Sunday, it became a discussion on recording because it was a special evening where everyone was recorded by Peter Millrose of Millrose Music (212-496-0444) so that those who liked their performance could have a professionally produced demo for a nominal fee.

Oh yes, there were lots and lots of fabulous singers too! What was hysterical was, because we had to leave some lag time at the end of each tune for the recording and could not clap, we all awarded each singer with "Jazz Hands". It was GREAT! 23 singers with 32 spots. Everyone was great but I look at and hear some of the Broadway types that do The Salon on a regular basis and I think, "How much more talented does one have to be to make it on Broadway?" Some of the singers of this caliber. There are singers of all levels and genres which makes the night an eclectic one. They also have a theme every week which adds yet another fun layer.

There are too many folks to "highlight" on nights like this but I do want to mention one gal in particular because every single time she steps on a stage, she blows me away. I am speaking of Miss Sierra Rein who sang a tune I think was called "A Diva's Work is Never Done" in what was a pure, operatic/theatrical voice and performance worthy of a Tony. When I first met Sierra, she was performing with a puppet. Then I heard her do the "Only Make Believe" duet from Oklahoma with another wonderful singer at Salon and THEN, I was shocked to hear her wailing our a Janis Joplin tune in the latest Marquee Five show. This girl can literally sing anything. She is definitely one of the gals I referred to earlier. Please check out The Salon every Sunday night (but not this Sunday as it's Halloween.) The next one is on Sunday, November 7th and guess who the Hosts are? That would be ME and Edd Clark my singing partner in my upcoming Christmas Show. The theme is Pre-Holiday tunes from Halloween to Thanksgiving to Christmas/Holiday of your choice to New Years!

DEB BERMEN in All in Good Time, life, love, and the pursuit of time well spent set to music by John Mayer, George & Ira, Thelonious, Laura Nyro and more at THE METROPOLITAN ROOM (34 West 22nd Street, NYC - 212-206-0440) - LAST CHANCE! Tuesday, November 2nd at 7:00 pm - $20.00 Cover / 2 Drink Minimum.

I have never seen Deb Berman in a full show but I did know that I liked her voice and personality both of which are in full bloom in his show. Because it's a guitar/vocal show only with Deb being accompanied by the fabulous Sean Harkness, it was an intimate, calm, funny and lovely show. Directed by fellow singer and Deb's good friend, Susan Winter in her Cabaret directorial debut, Susan seemed to be the girlfriend that would tell you when you're going too far or not far enough ... a 2nd eye if you will. Deb's placement and the show arc was so fully realized that I suspect this team will work again and they should. Off stage I know Deb to be funny, high energy, enterprising, smart and tenacious. On stage she was all of these things because that's who she is but she was just "in her skin" and it was just an easy show and room to be in.

Sean Harkness is tasty. Now there's a quote for you! Not just his looks ladies (& gents!) but his playing is SO tasty. He creates textures on the guitar that makes it seem as if he has 4 hands and no two songs sound exactly alike. Never did he upstage and even his understated and calm energy on stage added to the overall - AHHHH - effect of the evening. However, speaking of this, Deb delivered this show with a Diana Krall-esque kind of jazzy styling but every now and then she would tap up to her upper register and, for whatever reason (her being too close to the mic on these few notes or for effect perhaps), for me, created a situation where I was pulled out of the overall calm/ease of the vocals for the sake of a few (admittedly cool) notes. I didn't need the extra push on those notes. She was already jazzy and cool enough in her styling.

Deb can tell a story with the best of them so I will let you all hear her tell the story of why this show is called "All in Good Time" but YOU will have a Good Time at this show and you will get to meet a lady on stage that you will want to then get to know off stage as well. LOVED the song list too ... every song is a gem with original treatments on them by both Deb and Sean.


Nothing much this week due to illness but see above!

Sue Matsuki
Dream it, Believe it, DO IT!
e-mail me at

For more information on me or to read my resumes/reviews please visit my personal website at

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