Last Thursday night I ran into a problem that comes up occasionally. As with a lot of smaller venues, the stage was not well designed and the poor lighting left me at a disadvantage when it came to following my charts. The quartet I was playing with this particular night has a big repertoire with very specific arrangements, so I definitely needed to see what was on the page. Fortunately I had just enough light to get by, but several avoidable mistakes happened due to the situation and I made a note to look into a new stand light this week.
Every musician knows music stand lights are a pain. The good ones put out a lot of light – enough to cover your whole stand – but are expensive, bulky to pack to gigs, way too heavy for portable stands, and require electricity. The cheaper battery powered ones generally don’t put out enough light to be of much use, can still be bulky (depending on their design), and because they’re usually plastic, they can break easily.
Remembering a light I had a few years back that was being marketed in music stores as a stand light, and in book stores as a reading light, I thought I’d hit the local Wal*Mart and some hometown book shops and see if there was something similar I could use. I’d noticed the trend toward LEDs in electronics in the past few years and hoped I’d find a small LED light that could stand up to being toted around and put out enough light for a least one page of music.
In the book department at Wal*Mart I found a possible solution: The 3 LED Book Light from Great Point Light. Powered by two CR2450 lithium batteries, this thing is light, bright as hell, and folds up into a slim profile not much bigger than an iPod Nano. If you knew your book of charts wasn’t going to get beat around on the way to and from the gig you could almost leave it clipped on there permanently. The only down side is that, while it is quite bright, it’s also fairly directional and will only be enough illumination for one page, so I’ll probably end up going back and buying a second one so I can see the pages on both sides of my book. I’ll also have to do a wait-and-see on the battery life, but the container says I can expect up to 30 hours of use.
The 3 LED light retails for $14.99 but Wal*Mart had it for $11.67. It also comes in lots of pretty colors, but I’d stick to black or sliver for the gig.