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#2985115 - 04/14/19 05:51 PM OT Gripe: "There's a piano. Play us something!"
MathOfInsects Online   content
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Loc: California
This makes me crazy. Music has to be one of the few professions where people think that just because they like what you do, you owe it to them to do it for them on command.

"Hey, you're an accountant, right? Go do that guy's taxes!"
"Hey, you're a painter, right? There's a wall. Paint it!"
"You're a dentist, right? There's a mouth. Go work on it!"

And then if and when you say you'd rather just enjoy the time off, they go farther and make it personal. "Oh, too good for us, huh?" "Don't be a party pooper!" "Don't you want the kids to get to see some music?"

"Oh, you only work on paying customers' books, huh?" "Don't fail to contribute to the interior refurbishment of this house!" "Don't you want kids to enjoy good dental hygiene?"

This makes me crazy. It's one of the many ways people devalue what we do as some kind of lark. And yet, people don't seem to understand that us declining to play, is us asking for a night off, not taking something away that was somehow theirs already, even though we never offered.

Just me? You too?
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#2985116 - 04/14/19 05:54 PM Re: OT Gripe: "There's a piano. Play us something!" [Re: MathOfInsects]
drawback Offline
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Story of my life from when I was a little kid.
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#2985117 - 04/14/19 06:00 PM Re: OT Gripe: "There's a piano. Play us something!" [Re: drawback]
nursers Offline
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I wish I played well enough that people asked me in the first place grin
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#2985122 - 04/14/19 06:15 PM Re: OT Gripe: "There's a piano. Play us something!" [Re: MathOfInsects]
doughnuts Offline
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Registered: 01/12/11
Posts: 316
If Keith Jarrett, or Herbie Hancock, or Lang Lang or Marta Argerich, etc., were asked by someone they knew who was close to them, in a private setting, ‘play us something’, I doubt they would dole out a lecture comparing themselves to a house painter, or a dentist.

Those players are confident enough in who they are as professionals to separate that role from their identity as good human beings endowed with a special talent that should be shared for the greater good, if only for a couple of minutes...

If someone asks you to play, just play man. A 2 3m improv is not going to undermine your professional credibility, nor is it going to take away a gig from anyone. It’s not the same thing as a root canal, or painting a garage. Consider it a blessing that someone wants to hear real music being played on a real instrument.

And, if you really feel that strongly about it, pound out some atonal clusters and give them the Cecil Taylor treatment...or better yet, play John Cage’s 4’33.


Edited by doughnuts (04/14/19 06:29 PM)

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#2985125 - 04/14/19 06:21 PM Re: OT Gripe: "There's a piano. Play us something!" [Re: drawback]
ElmerJFudd Offline
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Registered: 11/30/14
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Loc: USA, greater NY area
Originally Posted By: drawback
Story of my life from when I was a little kid.


Hey, you know how it goes, Mika and dad want to see a return on their investment!
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#2985126 - 04/14/19 06:37 PM Re: OT Gripe: "There's a piano. Play us something!" [Re: MathOfInsects]
GregC Offline
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Registered: 10/26/03
Posts: 6303
Loc: Discovery Bay, California
Originally Posted By: MathOfInsects
This makes me crazy. Music has to be one of the few professions where people think that just because they like what you do, you owe it to them to do it for them on command.

"

Just me? You too?


not sure because context is important.
Lets paint the picture some more.

If you are in some bar or venue, where folks have paid some money, I think a musician might be a target for a variety of requests. Fair or not.

This is what I call the ' captive audience ' problem. The musician [s] is there, the audience is there- and they expect you or some one to entertain them.

Now if the audience is casual, they can come and go as they please- this makes a difference. If they like what they hear, you get their ears. They are open to the experience. If folks are not interested, they can keep on walking.

I am not of the mindset where " I have to try to please everyone ". Here's an example,,, " hey dude, play and sing like Billy Joel . " Me: ' no sir, there is only 1 Billy Joel ".

Not saying you or anyone should adopt this mindset, especially if the context is you are getting paid and there is an expectation you are required to bang out cover songs on the fly.


Edited by GregC (04/14/19 06:38 PM)
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#2985128 - 04/14/19 06:58 PM Re: OT Gripe: "There's a piano. Play us something!" [Re: GregC]
Outkaster Offline
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I have the people in the department not ask me to play all the time at the holiday parties.
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#2985133 - 04/14/19 07:44 PM Re: OT Gripe: "There's a piano. Play us something!" [Re: Outkaster]
Moonglow Offline
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Registered: 03/15/03
Posts: 4739
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One evening last week I was at a recption for our new Department Chair. It was held at a rather upscale 1920’s gangster/speakeasy-themed establishment that had a well-kept Yamaha Grand over in the corner, and of course, a couple of our secretaries asked for me to play. Tensions have been running high in our department, so I started with some light semi-classical/new age improv, and after a few songs, one of my colleagues came up to me and said, “this is great, you are changing the entire mood here.” I eventually broke into some more uptempo selections, and folks started to gather around the piano, eating, drinking, laughing, etc. Probably felt better about that easy 30-minute set than many recent paid gigs. We have all been blessed with a gift, and what we do with it is our gift back to the world.
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#2985138 - 04/14/19 08:11 PM Re: OT Gripe: "There's a piano. Play us something!" [Re: Moonglow]
Marzzz Offline
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Registered: 11/24/00
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I am a physician...enough said. When people ask me what I do, I usually say "bicycle messenger," or if they really probe, I "manage medical properties."

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#2985140 - 04/14/19 08:20 PM Re: OT Gripe: "There's a piano. Play us something!" [Re: Marzzz]
WesG Offline
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Registered: 02/16/13
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I figured out how handle this. When folks ask me to play something, I play Something. By George Harrison.
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#2985143 - 04/14/19 08:35 PM Re: OT Gripe: "There's a piano. Play us something!" [Re: WesG]
waygetter Offline
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Loc: San Francisco, CA
Takes all kinds. Some folks I know will jam anywhere anytime at the drop of a feather. Others when they put it down, they put it completely out of sight and want nothing to do with it. Lots of shades in between, depends on the moment, who's asking, where they are, what time of day or night it is.
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#2985146 - 04/14/19 08:52 PM Re: OT Gripe: "There's a piano. Play us something!" [Re: waygetter]
Jazz+ Offline
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A pro will sit down and tear up the piano, dazzle them for one song.
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#2985148 - 04/14/19 09:01 PM Re: OT Gripe: "There's a piano. Play us something!" [Re: WesG]
Dr88s Offline
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Registered: 05/12/13
Posts: 1351
Loc: Montreal, Canada
I think there are multiple facets to this issue:

1. People enjoy the result of your occupation. No one enjoys the accountant's, painter's or doctor's output in any comparable visceral way as they enjoy your music. You are seeing it as them asking you to work when you're not in the mood, they just love music.

2. People generally don't do accounting or practice medicine as a hobby, and those practices are considered somewhat esoteric. On the other hand most people know a handful of people who are amateur musicians; asking you to play is probably not from the mindset that you are a professional being asked to perform gratis on demand, but merely because music is accessible to and from those who don't do it for a living and they don't see it as work.
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#2985154 - 04/14/19 10:38 PM Re: OT Gripe: "There's a piano. Play us something!" [Re: drawback]
MAJUSCULE Online   happy
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Registered: 06/10/09
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Loc: Edmonton, Alberta
Originally Posted By: drawback
Story of my life from when I was a little kid.


Mhm. Anyone who disagrees is getting the staredown.
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#2985158 - 04/15/19 02:47 AM Re: OT Gripe: "There's a piano. Play us something!" [Re: MAJUSCULE]
Spider76 Offline
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Registered: 08/01/13
Posts: 488
Well, usually I AM the one who sees a piano in the room and starts annoying everybody with clueless improvisations (because for the life of me I can't remember a song note-for-note)...until people are like "Ehm, wow, great, ok, so... will you stop now so we can get back talking/eating/drinking?"

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#2985172 - 04/15/19 05:31 AM Re: OT Gripe: "There's a piano. Play us something!" [Re: Spider76]
Sun&Rain Offline
Member

Registered: 12/17/13
Posts: 10
On those occasions, I feel like I'm obliged to just do it - it's not that many occasions where there's a piano anyway.

But I must admit that sometimes I really don't feel like it, but I manage to get the energy from the audience...

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#2985176 - 04/15/19 05:44 AM Re: OT Gripe: "There's a piano. Play us something!" [Re: Spider76]
EricBarker Offline
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Registered: 07/25/18
Posts: 367
Originally Posted By: Spider76
Well, usually I AM the one who sees a piano in the room and starts annoying everybody with clueless improvisations (because for the life of me I can't remember a song note-for-note).


Yup, that's me. When I'm not practicing on something, I'm working on originals/improvising. And I don't really know a lot of solo piano stuff these days. I'm not really into pop, so I don't spend time learning hits unless it's for a gig. My biggest fear is that the audience will make a request... and there's a good chance I won't even know what it is, let alone be able to play it!

confession: I don't know a single Billy Joel song!
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#2985177 - 04/15/19 05:48 AM Re: OT Gripe: "There's a piano. Play us something!" [Re: Sun&Rain]
Outkaster Offline
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Registered: 02/25/06
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Loc: Rochester, NY
I don't like to do it for management or primary investigators on our grant because it sets a precedent that people can tell you what to do anytime and your supposed to respond....F--- that. A lot of musicians don't like their day jobs, I know tons of them so music is one thing they have control of. My boss plays trumpet and piano really badly and likes to bring it up to other clients at our health care sites. Sometimes we're doing a presentation and he trows it in there. He puts me on the spot and I prefer to keep my music to myself. I think it's a boundary issue also in some cases.

On the other hand on Weds I go to my moms independent living facility and play for her. They have an old Chickering grand piano there. It's not great but it's playable. Some residents stop by and listen. It is good for me because I can practice these standards I am struggling with and the residents like it. There is no pressure in that situation, that's the big difference.
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#2985183 - 04/15/19 05:55 AM Re: OT Gripe: "There's a piano. Play us something!" [Re: Outkaster]
cphollis Offline
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Registered: 10/05/13
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Loc: Massachussets, Florida
I ended up embracing it. Why not?

It got to a point that I always kept 6-8 songs worked up so that I could play them on any (lame) piano that might be around, in tune or not. A few of them flashy, a few of them sing-along.

Sample tunes might include:
- Piano Man
- Lady Madonna
- Feelin Alright
- Morning Has Broken
- Hallelujah
- Great Balls Of Fire
- Iko Iko
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#2985186 - 04/15/19 06:15 AM Re: OT Gripe: "There's a piano. Play us something!" [Re: cphollis]
Outkaster Offline
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Why not? I just explained it above.
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#2985187 - 04/15/19 06:20 AM Re: OT Gripe: "There's a piano. Play us something!" [Re: cphollis]
PianoMan51 Offline
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The sample tunes are great. I have made the mistake of thinking that because I have been asked to play that this means they actually want to hear my best work. Often they’re asking just to be social. That’s to be expected. This situation is an extreme example of needing to read the room. Do it right and you can earn your drinks!

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#2985188 - 04/15/19 06:25 AM Re: OT Gripe: "There's a piano. Play us something!" [Re: PianoMan51]
Outkaster Offline
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Registered: 02/25/06
Posts: 6541
Loc: Rochester, NY
Were not talking about earning drinks. The OP is talking about being put on the spot to play when you don't want to.
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#2985190 - 04/15/19 06:44 AM Re: OT Gripe: "There's a piano. Play us something!" [Re: MathOfInsects]
Adan Offline
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Registered: 01/14/10
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Loc: San Francisco
Originally Posted By: MathOfInsects
Music has to be one of the few professions where people think that just because they like what you do, you owe it to them to do it for them on command.


Context matters. How do these people know what you do? Are they fans -- total strangers who have seen you perform? OK, then, that might be annoying. But if they're your friends, then of course you should play for them. That's what friends do.

Your analogies are weak. No one has ever said "can we watch you do someone's taxes." The day people stop asking you to play is the day you should worry.



Edited by Adan (04/15/19 06:47 AM)
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#2985191 - 04/15/19 06:48 AM Re: OT Gripe: "There's a piano. Play us something!" [Re: Marzzz]
FJR Offline
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Registered: 07/07/09
Posts: 512
Loc: SF Bay
Originally Posted By: Marzzz
I am a physician...enough said. When people ask me what I do, I usually say "bicycle messenger," or if they really probe, I "manage medical properties."


Haha! I briefly played in a band where the guitarist was a Dr. The singer used to constantly harass him with questions about her kids and herself! smile

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#2985192 - 04/15/19 07:07 AM Re: OT Gripe: "There's a piano. Play us something!" [Re: MathOfInsects]
Wastrel Offline
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Registered: 05/13/09
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Loc: Los Angeles
I usually demur with something like "maybe in a little bit, after I grab something to eat." That usually deflects the issue long enough for them to find a new shiny object to focus on. If they get all whiny and insist, I'll sit down and whip out something that I like to play - typically totally unfamiliar to the requester. As soon as I see her eyes start to glaze over, I'll finish with a flourish and exit to polite applause. Covers the base without a whole lot of blood sweat and tears.
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#2985196 - 04/15/19 07:25 AM Re: OT Gripe: "There's a piano. Play us something!" [Re: Wastrel]
hatricklov Offline
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Registered: 08/20/01
Posts: 312
Loc: CO
Originally Posted By: drawback
Story of my life from when I was a little kid.

This.
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#2985197 - 04/15/19 07:35 AM Re: OT Gripe: "There's a piano. Play us something!" [Re: Marzzz]
The Real MC Offline
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Registered: 05/17/05
Posts: 5516
Loc: Secluded Tranquil NY Wine Coun...
Originally Posted By: Marzzz
When people ask me what I do, I usually say "bicycle messenger," or if they really probe, I "manage medical properties."


When I'm not at work, my usual response is "expert crash test dummy".

Few people at work know that I play the piano. Years ago I showed early for a group lunch. There was a piano in the lobby and I started playing it. One by one the rest of the group showed up and congregated near the piano. The boss was leaning right against the piano and said "anybody seen Mike?" Someone pointed at the piano player and the boss was taken aback.

As I am playing more often with the new band, I am running into people at work who are surprised to see me jamming'. I always bust 'em "I bet you never guessed I am an engineer by day and rock-n-roll rebel by night, did ya?" Not that I was hiding it, it's just that there are very few musicians at work.

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#2985198 - 04/15/19 07:35 AM Re: OT Gripe: "There's a piano. Play us something!" [Re: hatricklov]
Bob L Offline
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Registered: 10/14/11
Posts: 472
I attended a friend's birthday party a few years ago and she asked me to play "Piano Man" at her party. I didn't know the tune but I was happy to invest some time. When I played it at the party to my shock everyone knew the words and sang along. It was a really fun moment for the party. I now have a duet act that includes some solo stuff, so I am better prepared for next time. I don't mind playing some music at a party if asked. Happy to do it and it always seems appreciated. I don't know that comparing it to an accountant doing someone's taxes at a party is the best comparison. Few people enjoy watching someone do taxes.
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#2985201 - 04/15/19 07:51 AM Re: OT Gripe: "There's a piano. Play us something!" [Re: hatricklov]
DaveMcM Offline
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Registered: 06/09/04
Posts: 1499
Loc: Cincy, OH, USA
Well you could always give them the ‘John and Darlene Edwards’ (Paul Weston, pianist, arranger, conductor and Jo Stafford, singer) treatment. So the story goes, Paul Weston decided to purposely screw up songs after continually being asked to play at Hollywood parties he attended in the 1950’s. He asked his wife Jo to join in on vocals and the rest is history. They recorded 5 albums as the duo. Here is a favorite spot example-
I Love Paris
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#2985202 - 04/15/19 08:10 AM Re: OT Gripe: "There's a piano. Play us something!" [Re: DaveMcM]
Toano88 Offline
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When the band is having 'technical difficulties' ie broken string or bad cable. I always pullout Piano Man and by the end of the song the whole place is singing along. It is one of the songs that everyone knows. If my voice is up for it, Desperado is another one that goes over well. I have about a dozen or so piano and voice songs that I can play if asked. It never bothers me, I usually end up doing a few along with Christmas songs for friends at Christmas parties.
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