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Joined: Nov 2006
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J. Mark Offline OP
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I was just kind of wondering what you guys have experienced in this regard.

I can play a half-dozen or so classical pieces well enough to get through them ok, sounding half-decent now and then. Mind you, we're talking small pieces -- a few Bach preludes, a couple of Chopin preludes, a Satie piece, etc. I'm not a great player, but I'm improving I think.

We have a grand in the living room (let's not get into that, please smile ). It's an obvious focal point. Sometimes, when we have dinner guests or whatever, people tend to quickly move to the piano and want me to "play something." I'll generally accomodate. But I'm never sure how seriously to take the request. I mean, even a fairly simple piece like WTC1/1 takes a few minutes to get through, and although I think I'm playing pretty well, I wonder if people lose interest too fast.

Maybe they just don't want classical. Maybe if I was playing pop music or something, they would warm right up to it. Hm. What do you guys experience in this regard? Do (non-musician) guests express real interest in hearing you play? Play what?

Then, I'm always amazed at people who come to visit us, and the piano is obviously a huge (literally) part of our "decor"...yet they never even look at the thing. Never mind suggest any music should come from it.

I was even at a dinner with some new friends recently, and they had a Steinway grand in their living room (beautiful house). I several times wandered over and commented on the piano, but no one ever suggested anyone should play anything on it. I gather the husband inherited it, and once played. But I was surprised at how irrelevant it was to their lives.

Comments?

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It can be very tricky imposing one's musical preferences on to a captive audience. Aside from the novelty of the first few pieces, it may start wear thin for folks who really aren't into it.

Aside from that, they may feel obliged to compliment everything, or they may feel awkward if they are not knowledgeable enough to comment intelligently.

The answer: Why not make some new friends? There are lots of people who do like classical music - the trick is just to find them.

Before long you might be hosting a piano soirée.

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We hosted a preschool easter party recently. The teacher played a little on our piano, afterwards I played some tunes. Made for good background music. Nobody really commented, it wasn't bad. I really did it for practice, it helps to play with other people there. I think as far as the piano goes and people over, it is best to think of it as great back ground music , and not a recital. Only piano people are really passionate about the piano, every one else thinks it's "nice". They have no clue on the cost, the commitment and practice it takes to play, and I don't expect them to. We had to kick a few brats off the bench though. :p


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I was held hostage at a party by a host who played the organ. She played pretty well, but I don't care for the organ unless I'm wearing roller skates. She was encouraged by the fact that each time she finished a piece people would say something complimentary, so she'd play another. Lather, rinse, repeat for a looooong time.

So unless there's a lot of liquor involved and people join in singing, or I have friends over who are comfortable telling me what they really want to hear, I don't play.


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I wouldn't feel too bad about your guests that don't ask you to play. Its possible they'd prefer to simply have an engaging conversation with you. smile

As for what to play, its tough to determine if they're asking you to play out of politeless to the host (I think having a grand makes a statement that music is important to you) or if they're genuinely interested in hearing. One thing you might consider for these situations is having a variety of music you can play, other than classical (if that is not their preference). Maybe some pop, blues, jazz, or broadway tunes that everyone would recognize would be nice. Playing only classical, I think, is like only having water or beer to offer your guests. Being able to play different genres (even if its only one or two pieces), I think, will also put your mind at ease that they may be bored to tears (although they will alway smile graciously and say it was fantastic) with your classical selection.

I think its the thoughtful host who will say, "So what would you like to hear? Pop, classical, jazz or blues..."

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I think the key to a real fun time is to learn to play by ear...Then you can ask your guests "What would you really like to hear?", and then just play it. smile Doesn't have to be fancy, just a nice little arrangement of whatever is requested. You can even play classical themes/chords by ear. smile

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I think it's important to get as much experience playing for others as you can, so I try to do so at every opportunity. But I am mindful of J. Mark's concern about possibly wearing out one's welcome, so I adopt the following guidelines:

1.) If I am playing FOR somebody, i.e., they're just sitting there listening to me with a polite smile fixed on their faces, I only play one, at most two, pieces.

2.) If they're otherwise engaged (e.g., in an adjoining room in conversation or playing cards or something), I'll sit and play to my heart's content in the background. I much prefer this situation to the former.

As for genre, since all I know how to play is new age music, my guests don't get the luxury of making requests. wink

It probably isn't a bad idea to learn one or two crowd favorites (Beatles, show tunes like some Andrew Lloyd Webber, etc.) that you can play on demand. [Resolves to dig out Webber sheet music.]

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Maybe your guests don't want to impose? I suppose as someone who is just beginning I am sort of relieved when they don't ask me to play. :rolleyes: When they do I will usually play one short piece so I don't bore them to tears.


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The crux of this matter is one close to my heart: Is music for entertainment or reflection? A few hundred years ago music was something any educated person would and, more to the point, could discuss. A piano would be the obvious focal point for this. The activity of silently sitting there while you play is embarrassing for your guests (whether they know it or not) because it's pretty much an inauthentic experience (Nietzsche) appealing only to the sensual side of music. If guests only have the option of withdrawing into this; that's awkward for them.

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well, i have had people over that have asked me to play and i said here is what i can play, here is what i am working on which will be very rough playing, it has happend that it has been chosen to actually play what i am working on, and i said ignore the mistakes, and so on. it always ends up being a very fun experience. i have had people talk to me while i am playing asking questions about the music, and i answer them while i play. some that have been to my house have asked me to give them lessons, i laugh and say oh no, but i can give you the number of my teacher... i usually show them the basics finger numbers posture etc. and show them how to play something simple, they get a kick out of it. its alot of fun.

otoh, my son has friends over often, and i usually just practice when they are here, they range from 8-10 years and they all goto the piano. kids are just drawn to the darn thing. one day i was just having one of my goofing sessions, and my sons friend came out and was staring at me speachless, i finished the goofing session as i felt weird. he said i thought that was the radio, how did you learn to play like that. i said oh, well lessons and theory i guess. then he sat down and of course the other kids come out, and i showed him the mini lesson of posture finger position etc. even got out my sons first book. my son ended up taking over and giving his friend a lesson:)

bottom line, piano is always fun in our house:)

sooo, thats how things go round the piano in our house:)


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The great thing about me performing at home is that i play for people that are very interested in Piano/Classical music so i can play whatever i want
and they are always hugely enthousiastic wink

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I go along with Monica. If they ask me to play and then they watch, I do one or two. If people in general are in the house doing other things, I tell them I have to practice, and just go play in the other room. (I do try to limit the repetitious true practice of a difficult measure when other people are in the house.) And, like Monica, I am trying to play in front of others as much as possible in my home, to learn how to play while controlling nerves. (In hopes of playing other places in the future, like nursing homes or maybe even a recital.)

I recently had a piano party where we each played a couple of prepared selections. The "funnist" part of the party, tho, was when I just got out a lot of my music and spread it around. People looked through the books and then would ask to hear or play those songs. Most were jazz and old pop standards. We also had a great time sight-reading duets.

Of course, this was a piano group. But I find that others enjoy listening, too, especially if you play something that is familiar to them.

Pianos are to be played!!


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My family is very open towards music - they are not playing any instruments, but tolerate and even like my playing. When it bothers them, they just close the door to my room. I, however, still have problems playing for them. Even if I have a piece well under my fingers, something MUST go wrong when my father is watching - he is the ultimate test for my nerves, not only in piano playing. When I can perform anything with him nearby, I could easily do that on stage too.

I am, however, rarely asked to play by our guests - I just casually practice when the meeting is not overly formal and I'm not expected to sit with them all the time. If someone asks, I do one piece, something in between classical and popular, unless I know they like classical, but hopefully it's rarely expected.

Things are different when friends who also play piano come - we then play in rounds and have fun together.

M.


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