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Hotel gigs where no one listens, what to do.


The Wind

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you piano players probably have done gigs like this. lounge or bars where no one cares. it's all hotel guests and travelers wanting their beers and dinner.

 

I am doing a temp gig on the weekends for a few hours at a time. Easy job, I play basically anything, standards, pop covers. some improvs and medleys.

 

but literally no one listens, the bartender and servers will give me an appreciative nod but they got jobs to do.

 

guess it's good practice for the chops, how do I not bore myself to death!

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I do a lot of these gigs, in between headliner gigs with singers, "concert" settings where people really come to appreciate the music, electric jazz, electric funk, corporate cover band, etc.

 

Every gig has it's own benefits - and drawbacks.

 

FWIW, my 0.02:

 

The adoring dance crowd loves you - or any other band with a solid groove they can dance to. You're not all that. But you play your ass off because anything worth doing is worth doing as best as you possibly can.

 

The audience taking in every note you play on that jazz gig loves you - but has heard someone play it better than you last week. You're not all that. But you play your ass off because anything worth doing is worth doing as best as you possibly can.

 

And the wallpaper gig - where you cynically think you're being paid to practice in public. You're the only one who loves you. So you string together songs with girls' names in the title, or Disney songs, or waltzes or songs in the key of F...just to keep things interesting for yourself.

 

But you play your ass off because anything worth doing is worth doing as best as you possibly can. Challenge yourself to elevate your game. Pick an area you're weak at - projecting the singing melody line, crisp left hand voicing, even legato, solid time - whatever it happens to be for you. Focus on making that better for the entire time you're playing. Play your ass off.

..
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Timwat and dsetto are exactly on the mark.

 

I average 5 of these per month at an old landmark hotel, 3 hours playing a Clavinova Grand for cocktail/dinner hours or Sunday brunch - perfect for filling in band and trio work.

 

If you've got a nice keyboard to use (granted, these can be excruciating on a subpar piano), I think you're all set to have a great experience every time - if you take the crucial first step of recognizing your role: background music that's not the focus, and may only be specifically noticed by anyone in infrequent spurts. Then, you're not disappointed or deflated when no one seems to be paying attention.

 

As timwat and dsetto noted, it is a great opportunity to get immersed in playing (view it as being freed of the usual performance requirement of engaging the audience) and focus on technique, phrasing and overall improvement - while being paid to do it!

 

Another thing: I've got a double-sided laminated list of 90 songs to scan to prevent mind-block, but songs not thought of in years will spring to mind, and playing those makes the time feel very productive. You can come away with more arrows in your quiver.

 

And, there is a "game" I've used that you might enjoy. Pick a table and try to guess a song that might get a response from someone there and play it as a self-challenge. A "Tennessee Waltz" guess recently got an enthusiastic applause response from a table of 70ish year olds; 30-somethings frequently respond to Norah Jones' stuff, folks in 40s/50s often perk up to Beatles (although Beatles/Lennon/McCartney defy pigeonholing of any kind, incredibly broad appeal), a musical or movie soundtrack song will sometimes match your guess of show or movie tastes ("My Heart Will Go On," "Phantom of the Opera," Theme from "Love Story" are particularly easy picks) . . . this "game" certainly doesn't hurt the tip jar either!

 

 

Kawai KG-2D / Yamaha CP33 S90ES MX49 CP4 P515 / Hammond SK1 / NS3 88 / NS3Compact

QSC K8.2s K10.2s KSubs / SoundcraftUi24 / SSv3 / GK MB112 MB115 MB210 Neo410

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A much wiser pianist friend of mine does these a lot.

In addition to standards and older/newer things, he does

a lot of show tunes, broadway, movie. Stuff like Phantom, but makes them interesting by doing great modulations to different keys sometimes 3 to 4 times each tune. Another cool thing is to take the melody and put a different voicing/root under each note

of that melody. Of course there will be certain note that will be passing tones, but it leads to interesting things..Why be bored, challenge, play better.

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I agree with most all the advice above, with the possible exception of Hanon... :crazy: I've done and still do many gigs of this type, and be aware of this; People are often listening much more than you think they are. I don't know how many times I've felt like I was playing to the walls, only to have people approach me after I stop and tell me how much they enjoyed the music. Always play your best! :cool:

><>

Steve

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Had this last week, playing a room full of people who aren't listening. What to do? Pick up the cheque, it still beats having a proper job.... but yes it can be boring! In a band we get round it by joking amongst ourselves or slipping in the odd interesting riff

 

Remember - you can make a record without an organ on it, but it won't be as good

 

www.robpoyton.co.uk

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I've done it. It's demeaning, but I approached it with the mindset mentioned above: as a way to improve my acoustic piano chops.

 

It's paid off in many ways ever since.

 

If you've already got technique to burn, gigs like this are "like attaching a race horse to a plow" :D (quoting a friend of mine back then). But I was in my 30s, needed the work, and also knew that I wasn't going to sit down at the piano and practice three hours a day three days a week. Not at that time in my life anyway.

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I've found that in that type of gigs, I am relaxed enough, and with enough of a "I don't care" attitude, that I attempt to do things that I normally wouldn't. Like trying a new group of chord substitutions on the fly, or play a song in a key that I never practiced, etc.

 

Btw I agree about being your own audience. Play the best you can. Practice for your next real concert. At the very least, you will increase the chances that someone would offer you another gig. *And* more often than not, someone comes to me at the end or during an intermission, saying, "I know I was the only one listening, but you play great." And you think, "So I had an audience after all".

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I agree with most all the advice above, with the possible exception of Hanon... :crazy: I've done and still do many gigs of this type, and be aware of this; People are often listening much more than you think they are. I don't know how many times I've felt like I was playing to the walls, only to have people approach me after I stop and tell me how much they enjoyed the music. Always play your best! :cool:

 

This is my experience also

We are all slave's to our brain chemistry!

 

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I agree with most all the advice above, with the possible exception of Hanon... :crazy: I've done and still do many gigs of this type, and be aware of this; People are often listening much more than you think they are. I don't know how many times I've felt like I was playing to the walls, only to have people approach me after I stop and tell me how much they enjoyed the music. Always play your best! :cool:

 

This. Summarizes 20 years of my experience. Never think the crowd does not listen. You cannot bore all people all of the time, as the saying goes...

One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain. - Bob Marley
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Speaking from the listener's side of it, since I'm not a "real" pianist --

 

There might be more room to play in this kind of musical situation than there used to be, even if no one appears to be paying attention. Non-musicians don't really hear harmony, the notes under the melody -- at most they feel the mood of the chords a little bit. I truly believe Bill Evans or Herbie Hancock in their primes would have been totally accepted on a 2015 hotel piano gig, as long as they Bill-ified and Herbie-ized some melodies the consumers recognized.

 

I imagine that most people under 75 would also be open to some familiar tunes with strong grooves, as long as the piano isn't louder than the conversation. At this point even the older customers are Beatles and Motown babies, they didn't come of age listening to "Body and Soul."

 

 

 

 

fwiw.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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guess it's good practice for the chops, how do I not bore myself to death!

 

Practice using one hand for playing the piano, and the other for patting yourself on the back for hauling in the world's easiest money.

Now out! "Mind the Gap," a 24-song album of new material.
www.joshweinstein.com

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I'm going to sound like a total A-hole.

 

If nobody's paying attention there's probably a reason. I probably has nothing to do with how well you play and more to do with "play whatever I want" and "paid practice".

 

I think that's enough said.

Dan

 

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

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I'm going to sound like a total A-hole.

 

If nobody's paying attention there's probably a reason. I probably has nothing to do with how well you play and more to do with "play whatever I want" and "paid practice".

 

I think that's enough said.

I think it's fairly clear from the context of the above comments of players actually playing these bookings that patrons "not seeming to pay attention" = all eyes are not on you every minute you play; people often go to dinner to talk with one another and even, yes, eat.

 

The people talking here about making the most of the time playing are also talking about getting compliments from patrons as they leave, recognizing that people ARE paying attention even when they don't seem to be, and to not be lulled into being lazy or complacent about playing. Nothing wrong with that - and being asked back to play repeatedly must also mean something is being done right.

 

Kawai KG-2D / Yamaha CP33 S90ES MX49 CP4 P515 / Hammond SK1 / NS3 88 / NS3Compact

QSC K8.2s K10.2s KSubs / SoundcraftUi24 / SSv3 / GK MB112 MB115 MB210 Neo410

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I've done and still do many gigs of this type, and be aware of this; People are often listening much more than you think they are. I don't know how many times I've felt like I was playing to the walls, only to have people approach me after I stop and tell me how much they enjoyed the music. Always play your best! :cool:

 

Absolutely +1. I play a lot for wedding breakfasts and drink receptions. The gigs where you think you are being totally ignored are the ones where someone will come up to you straight after you finish and assure you they were listening and enjoying. Never give less than 100% if you can help it.

Studio: Yamaha P515 | Yamaha Tyros 5 | Yamaha HX1 | Moog Sub 37

Road: Yamaha YC88 | Nord Electro 5D

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I went to a dinner event for a local college tonight. Jamey Aebersold was playing.

 

I have the deepest respect for him, his talent and contribution to music education, but all I could think was I was unable to converse with the other guests at my table.

 

Sometimes it's not about the music.

Kurzweil Forte, Yamaha Motif ES7, Muse Receptor 2 Pro Max, Neo Ventilator
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Good input and advice....of course I do put my best effort into my playing, just hard when barely anyone acknowledges the music... yeah, I get 1 or 2 folks saying "nice music".

 

Had a 2 or 3 year old girl dancing to the groove today, jumping up and down the table so I know someone was listening!

 

and really, can't complain. Getting a good rate plus all food & drinks comped including alcohol. the steak,prawns, caesar salad and Bud i had was over $50... ain't no jazz club giving those freebies.

 

wow, Jamey Aebersold doing dinner gigs? now I don't feel so bad.

 

 

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There will always be at least one audience member who can be touched by the music. Play your best for them.

 

For the others, I dunno: Star Spangled Banner at ten minutes after the hour accompanied by rockets and sparklers? Or as Timwat suggested in another thread, COSTUME CHANGE!

Kawai KG-2C, Nord Stage 3 73, Electro 4D, 5D and Lead 2x, Moog Voyager and Little Phatty Stage II, Slim Phatty, Roland Lucina AX-09, Hohner Piano Melodica, Spacestation V3, pair of QSC 8.2s.

 

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My String Quartet does tons of gigs like this- wedding cocktail hours, corporate receptions, private parties, even parlors at some of the mansions that open for wedding reception here in Savannah. Basically we're the music that people can ignore: light Classical, lots of Mozart Divertimenti, all the top 40 Classical stuff. We're pretty much aware that no one's listening to us, we're there to show how much "class" the people have because they hired a String Quartet. But that's cool. We're getting paid well, The girls love dressing up and playing out, (they're all very young next to the old fart they're sitting with) and we really enjoy the gigs. Most times, when we're done and they realize there's a vacuum in the sound, the father of the bride or the Wedding Planner will come over and ask us to stay another hour, some times pay us above our regular rate to do so, and feed us. If not, we all go out to dinner (the girls insist it's on the old fart) and we talk about the gig, music and have fun.

 

 

It's a good gig. We got paid, we played, and yes, we did "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" for the 467th time (not counting rehearsals) but the it's better than sitting at home watching Netflix.

 

 

..Joe

Setup: Korg Kronos 61, Roland XV-88, Korg Triton-Rack, Motif-Rack, Korg N1r, Alesis QSR, Roland M-GS64 Yamaha KX-88, KX76, Roland Super-JX, E-Mu Longboard 61, Kawai K1II, Kawai K4.
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What is the sound of one hand clapping? Is there music in the forest if no one hears?

 

I've been doing this kind of gig 12 to 24 times a year for the past ten years. I'm always a professional. I show up clean, sober, appropriately dressed. I select appropriate music to play and sing, and whatever I play I get into it and do my best. The audience always gets a good performance.

 

But, what about me? How do "I" feel about it?

 

This is your moment of Zen. Aside from money, you're going to get back what you bring to the gig. This is an artistic - spiritual venture. Go in as a hack, come out a proven hack. Go in as an artist battling the storms of indifference, come out as a stronger artist, with perhaps just one person who was touched.

 

You have to make this choice every time you sit down to play. Can't say I always make the right one either.

 

Good playing to you!

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