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Worth the Hassle?

Riki Goldstein

Travel can be challenging for musicians and bands

Wednesday, October 17, 2018


here’s nothing as flattering for a wedding musician or band leader as being summoned to another city to perform. But it entails a lot more than buying a ticket and boarding. What happens when orchestra leaders and their musicians have to pack up their instruments and take to the skies or pile into a van or train, crossing borders to reach an event?

Are the challenges of logistics, security, and customs worth the hassle?




Yisroel Lamm (Aaron Teitelbaum Productions)
Traveling on planes with musical instruments is a challenge. Airlines are not always happy to see musicians carry instruments into the cabin, and checking them with luggage is almost a guarantee they will break. Large instruments and electronics are often rented at the destination, but brass and woodwind players generally prefer their own instrument. So we bring them on board and hope for the best.


Yitzi Schwartz (A Team)
Flying musicians and singers to a different country requires having all the paperwork done by an immigration lawyer several months prior to the wedding. In addition, trucks of equipment crossing the border will require customs brokers. Flying 30 musicians, plus choirs, singers, and crew can amount to 50 or more people. There are many logistical challenges with productions of that size even in New York, so being out of town makes it an even bigger challenge, requiring many months of planning just on the travel side. But our partnerships in cities like LA, Chicago, Toronto, and Montreal make everything that much smoother. For example, our collaboration with the Shira Orchestra of Los Angeles ensures we have the exact same sound system setup in LA as we do in New York, which helps provide the out-of-town clients with the same quality that they’ve become accustomed to when attending one of our New York weddings.



Avrumi Berko

Lately, I don’t transport my instrument. I just take along my USB with my programs and sounds, and make sure that the place I’m playing at provides a compatible keyboard.


Menachem Herman
If you’re flying with instruments, make sure you have good flight cases. If you’re driving, it’s important that the instruments are not in a hot trunk for too long. If possible, keep them in air-conditioned spaces.



 Mendy Hershkowitz (Sababa)
I don’t have to deal with transporting instruments much, since we usually rent the equipment on our travels. I’ve had times where I showed up and got totally the wrong keyboard and had to make it work, but we’ve learned to make sure that doesn’t happen. I do feel very much for guitarists when they travel, because the guitar is a much more personal instrument. It’s always a hassle when it comes to luggage placement, and it’s usually an expensive piece of equipment that he doesn’t want to see damaged.


Shloime Dachs
Being stopped by security or customs is no picnic. Once, we drove to Canada in a van with all our equipment. We had so much stuff that the border police didn’t believe we were coming just for a wedding—they thought we were coming in to sell it illegally. I guess they were familiar with weddings with just a one-man band or DJ. Why would ten guys and five speakers all be needed at the same event? We were stuck at the border for four hours until the baal simchah and the hall intervened to confirm our story and prove the booking.

(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 731)


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