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How do you play over the noise???


cashews

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Was asked to play at a church type fundraiser; there was so much chatting/talking background noise that no one heard anything i was playing, could have played an old hymn or the beatles and no one would have known. couple of times i turned up the volume and they just talked louder.

 

been playing for a lot of years and have experienced this many times before; but still don't know how to handle the situation. they might as well played a cd.

 

any thoughts on how to be heard??

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I've done this a lot as well.

 

You handle the situation by going in with appropriate expectations. The gig is to provide the sonic equivalent of wallpaper for the event. It's not about you. It's not about being heard. It's not about being the center of attention.

 

So go in with one of several other great reasons for playing your very best - which don't have anything to do with hoping for a great audience response.

 

 

..
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Right, always play your best, stay at the appropriate volume, and don't worry about it. Besides, you'll often be surprised when people tell you afterward that they are listening after all.

"I'm so crazy, I don't know this is impossible! Hoo hoo!" - Daffy Duck

 

"The good news is that once you start piano you never have to worry about getting laid again. More time to practice!" - MOI

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+ 1 to the above replies.

 

Although it can be frustrating feeling as though you're not being appreciated,

 

if you try too hard (too loud) to 'impose' your music on the audience, that can have a negative effect.

 

 

John.

 

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You said "turn up" so obviously you're playing a DP.

 

Solution for that is good quality, discreet earbuds and a small mixer.

 

It'll sound better to you than your live rig anyway, and in my experience, sound better = play better.

 

Read peoples' body language. If you see fingers moving, toes tapping or someone paying attention at all, try and make eye contact. One small nod of approval can boost your ego tremendously.

 

 

 

 

____________________________________
Rod

victoria bc

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Just played a gig last night with over 600 rich people dressed in their finest tuxes and evening gowns, none of whom could care less that there was an organ/guitar/drums trio playing there.

 

We had fun, played some good music for ourselves, got paid & fed, and I was home by 10pm. What's wrong with that?

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Just played a gig last night with over 600 rich people dressed in their finest tuxes and evening gowns, none of whom could care less that there was an organ/guitar/drums trio playing there.

 

 

I've had that same experience with a signed artist. 7500 rich folks, all there to see and be seen, didn't matter that there was a famous guy on stage.

 

Play, be polite, collect your pay, go home.

9 Moog things, 3 Roland things, 2 Hammond things and a computer with stuff on it

 

 

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Just played a gig last night with over 600 rich people dressed in their finest tuxes and evening gowns, none of whom could care less that there was an organ/guitar/drums trio playing there.

 

We had fun, played some good music for ourselves, got paid & fed, and I was home by 10pm. What's wrong with that?

 

That's the norm and a large part of the story of my gigging life in LA the last 31 years. You tend to grow a very thick skin.

 

You see why some of my posts reflect a less then high regard for the audience.

I play for myself first, my rhythm section comrades second, if the audience is into it and actually listening--great, it's icing on the cake. I've learned not to expect it though.

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....

I've had that same experience with a signed artist. 7500 rich folks, all there to see and be seen, didn't matter that there was a famous guy on stage.

 

Play, be polite, collect your pay, go home.

 

+1

 

Well stated, Ken. Virtually all of the super rich private events, corporate gigs, etc. have followed the same pattern in my experience. You do your job well, enjoy playing, get paid, and that's that.

On solo, background piano gigs I'm just that: background. No big deal: I play a variety of material, get perhaps a positive comment, or two (sometimes none). I'm not there to put on a show. Funny, but it's usually the gigs on which I've truly been the 'wallpaper' that the host will compliment me at the end of the evening - saying how much his/her guests enjoyed the music.

 

Other than two, high energy rock bands that I worked with for a few years each (mostly bars/clubs), getting much more than a polite response from the audience has been rare - especially country bands playing for line dancers. Yet those country folks are often like those at the private parties: discreetly appreciative.

 

Unless you're putting on a show, don't expect a huge response. Even then, you don't always get one - as Ken pointed out above.

'Someday, we'll look back on these days and laugh; likely a maniacal laugh from our padded cells, but a laugh nonetheless' - Mr. Boffo.

 

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I recently took my better half to a shopping mall, and while we (we? she!) were browsing the clothes I've heard some kind of good music coming from somwhere. Apparently, one of the bigger shops had hired a pianist to play while the people were shopping. So I went to take a look. The guy had a nice Kawai grand and played extremely tasteful jazz arrangements of popular songs. He had dozens of songs covered, none were boring, and he had them all arranged in a way one doesn't usually play them, including some of the songs your regular keyboard player would say are unplayable on the piano. The guy could really play!

The rest of the people just marched right past him, there were way more interested in shoes/clothes than to what this guy had to offer. I was mesmerized and stayed for 45min to listen what the guy had to offer. If he had a CD I would've bought it. If he had a gig I would've payed the ticket. I got it for free at a friggin' shopping mall! :D

 

My point is: always play your best - you never know who is listening.

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Virtually all of the super rich private events, corporate gigs, etc. have followed the same pattern in my experience. You do your job well, enjoy playing, get paid, and that's that.

 

To me, that's why corporate gigs HAVE to pay well. They're brutal 'cause you are wallpaper. But... I can be bought- I'll be someone's wallpaper for the right price, & will enjoy every minute of it. :)

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Gotta understand why you were hired. For the past six years I've played one weekend a month at a local restaurant. Easy gig, they have a baby grand, I bring a mic and a powered speaker. 8-11pm. But I'm not 'entertainment' and I'm not wallpaper. I'm placed right at the entrance and I'm the door guard. When 'the right' people walk in and hear me playing Gershwin they keep coming in. When 'the wrong' ones walk in, they immediately turn around. I know my place. YOU... stay out!

 

Do you turn up or not? Depends on the gig, but this rarely works unless you're playing in a dance band. But if I'm playing solo AP I do tend to ride the crowd level with my level.

 

Turn the speakers towards you, away from the crowd. Especially if you're singing, at least this lets you hear your intonation and helps you keep focus.

 

In my song list I have a bunch of tunes that I play for MYSELF. Don't give a damn if anybody else knows 'em or likes 'em. After playing a set of well known toe-tappers, if the rich folks won't make eye contact or the bachelorette party right next to the piano won't shut the 'f up, then a good portion of the remainder of the gig is for me. Funny thing, I've gotten my largest single tips when playing the 'for myself' set, but this only happens after the offending party has left.

 

 

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The gig is to provide the sonic equivalent of wallpaper for the event. It's not about you. It's not about being heard. It's not about being the center of attention.

 

When I started playing coffee house gigs I felt like sonic wallpaper. Wasn't much fun at first, but as they say--you never know who's listening.

 

People often came up during my breaks giving me compliments, asking questions, and buying CD's.

 

:laugh:

When an eel hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that's a Moray.
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I know something that's worse than being wallpaper. Back in the eighties I played the "Hotel Circuit" (when there WAS a hotel circuit) I played at some hotels along Interstate highways that early in the week had NO CUSTOMERS in the lounge all night! Worse than being wall paper. I used that time to practice. If I were in the wallpaper situation, I would keep the volume down, keep my speakers close enough so I could hear them above the noise, and play as well as I could. You NEVER KNOW who might be listening! Its certainly better than playing to an empty room.

 

 

Cheers,

 

 

Mike T.

Yamaha Motif ES8, Alesis Ion, Prophet 5 Rev 3.2, 1979 Rhodes Mark 1 Suitcase 73 Piano, Arp Odyssey Md III, Roland R-70 Drum Machine, Digitech Vocalist Live Pro. Roland Boss Chorus Ensemble CE-1.

 

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How is this different than the jazz guys playing at a wedding reception (before the drinking gets heavy and the dancing starts)? Another reason why I hate receptions. Shut up and let me hear the band! Buncha Philistines. But what are you going to do?
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I wear ear plugs when I play piano for receptions and parties, it filters out some of the party noise. I'm background music in those situations, more there to be seen and felt than heard. I take the opportunity to practice in those usually well paid situations.

Harry Likas was the Technical Editor of Mark Levine's "The Jazz Theory Book" and also helped develop "The Jazz Piano Book." 

Harry teaches jazz piano online using Facebook Messenger, FaceTime, or Google Meet.

 

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+1 for most of the comments above, but I would say that it can get very difficult to play when you can't hear yourself properly. I did a wedding up in Scotland last year and there was a vast expanse of dancefloor between me and the people sitting down eating.

 

Needless to say, the small kids presumed it was a knee-slide area for them to run about an squeal in at the top of their voices. I literally couldn't hear myself play sometimes and you lose all sense of subtlety and inflection and, if you're not careful, injure your hands by playing too hard.

 

But usually, above the background buzz, I can at least hear myself. So the mantra then is: "Think of the money and be grateful that you won't be loading out at 1am in a room full of drunks."

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So after all these responses, where did the OP go?

 

Re-reading the original query, the OP never says he can't hear himself - he (or she) seems to imply that he wants to be heard by the audience and get a response - measured by them stopping talking to listen to him. When he didn't get that, he turned up for the sake of those who wanted to hear him but couldn't because of the volume of ambient conversations...which only raised the overall volume of the entire room.

 

At least that's what I got from the first post. Where cashews go?

..
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Well, if you've been around a while, and know that a gig will pay well but not be very fulfilling artistically, or no one will (apparently) pay any attention to you, what are your alternatives?

 

1. Take the gig for the money; you CHOSE to be there, so try and not be too miserable;

2. Turn down the gig for artistic reasons, especially if you have a DAY JOB or are a trust fund kid........

 

 

 

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Biggest possible mistake in prepping for a live show: being underprepared.

 

Second biggest mistake: assuming people will care that you prepared. :D

 

It took me a long time to learn that just because I was on an elevated platform with lights shining on me that people would want to focus their attention on me at all. At this point, I don't get the least bit insulted by that scene. It's just all part of the fun of gigging.

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It makes those moments when you find out someone did pay attention and appreciated you all the more special. :)

"I'm so crazy, I don't know this is impossible! Hoo hoo!" - Daffy Duck

 

"The good news is that once you start piano you never have to worry about getting laid again. More time to practice!" - MOI

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Wow, a lot of posts to the question of being heard over the noise, must have touched a muscians nerve. Thanks for all the responses.

 

my point is more that if we are hired we should try to do our job beyond just being wallpaper; but i know we shouldn't be offensive either by turning up the volume. (i get the impression that we have all played for many years and that this is beyond an ego issue)

so why do promoters/owners/others bother hiring live entertainers when only a small percentage may listen or even hear or appreciate the keyboard playing. Is there a perception that a live performance is more engaging or attractive or appealing or ???. why not just play a cd.

if you ignore the money part; i don't understand the concept of having live entertainment if we are just wall paper.

 

btw i love cashews

 

also i kinda like the name "Sonic Wallpaper" for my next band

 

 

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