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#1137314 - 10/16/08 03:10 PM Re: Being Replaced by a Machine
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5903
Loc: Down Under
 Quote:
Originally posted by Betty Patnude:
Does the union represent any of the pianists who play in public entertainment?
Why is renumeration so cheap at $15 per hour? [/b]
Yes, I wondered that too. The job I mentioned that I had was over 20 years ago and even then I was getting more than three times that. (Different country, I know, but ...)

Of course that's just the point - they don't want to pay, so the machine seems to be a better option.
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#1137315 - 10/16/08 05:32 PM Re: Being Replaced by a Machine
Elssa Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/15/05
Posts: 1541
Loc: NY
"Why is renumeration so cheap at $15 per hour?"

Apparently, from the articles I've been reading, the pianists were also given some benefits, including health insurance...Bet that's the real reason they were let go. It's all about saving money, though their CEO there seems to be doing quite well at a salary of 5 million a year:

http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/metro/20071130-9999-1n30piano.html

"But the Nordstrom in Horton Plaza and the one in Escondido have done away with what has long been a signature of the department store chain.

Yesterday, instead of piano music, the Rolling Stones' “Beast of Burden” drifted through the Horton Plaza store.

Some say the switch from live music to recordings is a shame, regardless. “It takes away the human touch,” said Joan Kurland, who played the piano at local Nordstrom stores in the late 1980s. “I had people come up all the time and tell me how much they enjoyed it.”

Kurland had some memorable experiences as a Nordstrom pianist. A young person once came down the escalator, saw her playing and shouted out: “How about some Led Zeppelin!” She was able to accommodate him, she said with pride. One of the heavy metal group's songs, “Stairway to Heaven,” sounds just fine on the piano.

Most of the time, though, Kurland played show tunes. Customers especially appreciated the “Charlie Brown Theme.”

“I remember seeing people spend an hour just listening,” she said. “Some people came in just to listen.”

Nordstrom is aware that many customers will be disappointed by the change from live music to recorded pop and alternative hits. “We know there are feelings on both sides, White said [Brook White, a national spokeswoman for Nordstrom]. White emphasized that the music that is replacing the piano is of high quality. “It's great,” she said.

But, for some, even the best recording pales in comparison to the sound produced by a grand piano, with a pianist bent over the keys.

Kristin Gibbs, who was visiting Horton Plaza from Porterville, joked that the piano music at Nordstrom helped her husband weather her shopping trips. “It's nice to hear real instruments,” she said. Loyd Brown, another shopper, agreed.

“I always prefer live music,” he said. “If you think about it, who wouldn't?”[/b]

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#1137316 - 10/16/08 09:17 PM Re: Being Replaced by a Machine
Lostinidlewonder Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/06/08
Posts: 31
Loc: West Australia
Hotel or cocktail lounge type gigs are a dying art form. Only because the public no longer really care to listen to it. They are so used to recorded music that hearing music played for real has little effect on them. Also I think that the overall standard of "cocktail performers" has gone downhill.

That the piano gets replaced by a computer playing probably will not effect 95% of people who go there. It will effect those who love piano music, but unfortunately that is not a large part of the population. Musicians who get the boot better find a better musical career. Playing your whole life for an audience who isn't really listening to it, its so depressing in my mind.
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"The biggest risk in life is to take no risk at all"

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#1137317 - 10/17/08 07:05 AM Re: Being Replaced by a Machine
Piano Girl RMG Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 702
Loc: Germany
Dear Lost----
I play for myself, and anyone who cares to listen.

I can't repeat this often enough: A machine is different from a live musician. A machine is the opposite of real.

People notice. Maybe they can't articulate the dismay they feel by having one more beautiful thing stripped away from their lives, but they notice.

I can understand, to some degree, your cynicism. But human beings deserve more credit than what you're giving them. I honestly believe that all of us deserve and desire as much beauty as the world has to offer.

Here is a passage from one of my books. The woman quoted in this passage is pianist Robin Spielberg:

*********************************************************

“There are real people out there,” she reminds me, “individual customers and workers—unique human beings with uncommon desires—each of whom deserves ten minutes of beautiful music.”

“That’s why we’re musicians,” she says. “You never know who is listening. It might be someone who really needs the music you play. Maybe the person who needs it most is you. But that counts, right?” I can’t listen to her and stay cynical. Her enthusiasm gets under my skin, and, before I know it, I adopt her philosophy and claim it as my own. I don’t know where she stops and I start.

She gives me a reason to keep playing.

*****************************
_________________________
Robin Meloy Goldsby
www.goldsby.de
Author of PIANO GIRL: A Memoir
RHYTHM: A Novel
RMG is a Steinway Artist

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#1137318 - 10/17/08 09:06 AM Re: Being Replaced by a Machine
Arabesque Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/16/05
Posts: 548
Loc: Japan
May I take the soapbox?
_________________________
It don't mean a ting if it don't have dat swing

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#1137319 - 10/17/08 11:54 AM Re: Being Replaced by a Machine
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
And we didn't know we were an endangered species!

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#1137320 - 10/17/08 03:07 PM Re: Being Replaced by a Machine
Elssa Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/15/05
Posts: 1541
Loc: NY
I remember the days when organs (with pedals) were popular, and I used to perform on that.. The malls always had a keyboardist/organist playing at the music store. That was the most popular store in the mall! Everybody loved to just sit there and listen and then some would try out the organs. It gave the mall such a nice warm feeling, unlike the feeling of the cold canned music today.

I got a reply to my e-mail letter of complaint to Nordstrom's, and they stated that money was not the issue for cutting out the pianists. I don't believe it.. I think the health insurance and other benefits given to the pianists was a main reason (even though they obviously could afford that, since they're paying their CEO, Blake Nordstrom, over 5 million a year).

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#1137321 - 10/17/08 03:34 PM Re: Being Replaced by a Machine
Piano Girl RMG Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 702
Loc: Germany
Elssa—

Good for you for following though with that letter.

Artists have always been endangered. We need to protect each other and hope that people understand how much we contribute. I choose to believe they do.
_________________________
Robin Meloy Goldsby
www.goldsby.de
Author of PIANO GIRL: A Memoir
RHYTHM: A Novel
RMG is a Steinway Artist

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#1137322 - 10/17/08 03:52 PM Re: Being Replaced by a Machine
bitWrangler Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/07
Posts: 1785
Loc: Central TX
 Quote:
Originally posted by Elssa:
I got a reply to my e-mail letter of complaint to Nordstrom's, and they stated that money was not the issue for cutting out the pianists. I don't believe it.. I think the health insurance and other benefits given to the pianists was a main reason (even though they obviously could afford that, since they're paying their CEO, Blake Nordstrom, over 5 million a year). [/b]
I would have thought the performers were contracted, not actively employed? I'll hold my tongue on the CEO comment \:\)

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#1137323 - 10/17/08 04:14 PM Re: Being Replaced by a Machine
Elssa Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/15/05
Posts: 1541
Loc: NY
Here's another article:

"Nordstrom's three newest stores, in the Detroit area, Denver and Natick, Mass., opened this year without pianists. And by next year, three of five Nordstrom stores in Oregon will go without live piano performances. White noted that most Nordstrom pianists in Washington state play for no more than five hours daily.

Still, doing away with live piano music is a store-by-store decision and not part of some directive by Seattle headquarters, she said...

That's some consolation to Joel Baker, who played the piano at the Tukwila store from 1988 to 2003. He described it as one of the few daytime jobs for pianists that paid well — $15 an hour in his last year — and offered such benefits as a 401(k) and health insurance.

"Once in a while, a shopper would sit by the piano, or say they really liked a tune when I didn't think anyone was listening," said Baker, 40, who now performs at restaurants in Palm Springs, Calif. "I don't think the shoppers were going in just to hear the music, but I do think the piano was one of the things that made Nordstrom unique."

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#1137324 - 10/17/08 08:51 PM Re: Being Replaced by a Machine
Lostinidlewonder Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/06/08
Posts: 31
Loc: West Australia
I agree a machine cannot replace a real performer. I find when I play cocktail lounge music it is always different. We choose different fill ins every time, you can be very creative.

http://www.pianostreet.com/smf/index.php/topic,19860.0.html

Just for fun here is a recording of some cocktail lounge music that I like to play ;\) I just don't think that machines can emulate this, they play much more measured and exact.
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"The biggest risk in life is to take no risk at all"

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#1137325 - 10/17/08 10:50 PM Re: Being Replaced by a Machine
Late Beginner Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/06/08
Posts: 588
Loc: West Australia
Hi,

I am a 100% enthusiast for, and a daily practitioner of live music.

However, I don't believe that there's much to be gained from moaning about technology. After all, there is a certain irony in the fact that I'm sitting here typing this on a computer rather than discussing it downstairs with my wife... \:\) I think there's room for both.

When it comes to music I thank technology for many things. We have something like 1000 Cds of wonderful music, most of which I couldn't afford to hear any other way. I simply don't have either the time or the money to get to more than a handful of live concerts, and many of the performers no longer play that repertoire anyway - either through boredom or onset of deadness.... Undoubtedly, it would be pleasant to have a live pianist playing while I type this, but a CD is more affordable and more practical.

I also use technology for my own music - to provide backing tracks (either recorded from an instrument or played artificially using midi). If I'm writing a song, I don't have the skills to play every instrument in the line up, or the money to pay for a room full of studio musicians. So I construct it with software while I slowly learn to play each track myself. And so on...

When it comes to listening to live music in public then I think that it's up to us to try and promote whatever we believe in. But it pays to do it in a positive way by trying to attract people to share our enthusiasm. If we have to resort to complaining, that often seems to mean that the battle is already mostly lost and bitching about something can reinforce that and make it easier for the naysayers to dismiss our case.

There's no shortage of music where I live. But it just isn't live cocktail piano. Much of it's canned (supermarkets, lifts, DJs at clubs etc) but a lot is live too. But it's mostly bands or other forms of guitar based music. Keyboards usually means some kind of digital synth. That's fine by me, and it's also fine by most of the other punters it seems. Pubs used to have pianos, now they have bands. I liked the pianos a lot, but both the interest in that kind of music, and the number of people willing and able to play it in that setting both dwindled to almost nil. The publicans got rid of the pianos, not out of fiscal bastardry, but because nobody had played them for so long.

(EDIT: STOP PRESS - Short live discussion interlude did just take place, involving real world wife and actual cups of tea..... we're now taking you back to the computer.... )

I'd like to be able to hear more live piano, but the bottom line is that the only way that will translate into an actual local job is if somebody performs in an appealing enough way to attract enough paying customers to cover their wages. So in the meantime I either play it myself, or enjoy the playing of more competent friends.

If enough people see us enjoying ourselves and want to be part of the experience, then audiences will grow and the economics become viable. If not then the jobs disappear and we can only continue to enjoy our preferences as amateurs. There's nothing special about music in this regard, the same applies to numerous other trades, professions, arts and crafts.

Maybe cocktail piano has largely had it's day as a viable format? I certainly hope not, but in most aspects of life there's really only three basic choices - move with the times, be energetic enough to help shape them, or else resign yourself to being sidelined and accepting whatever crumbs come your way.

I've never had much luck with simply telling other people that they 'ought' to like this or that, or convincing them to be prepared to pay for it just because I think it's worthwhile. One way or another they have to discover what's in it for them.

Good luck with your efforts to promote your particular craft. I agree 100% that it's a wonderful addition to the landscape and should be encouraged and supported. But if it has to be 'preserved' like a museum exhibit, then unfortunately support may continue to dwindle.

Cheers,

Chris
_________________________
Who needs feet of clay? I can get into enough trouble with feet made of regular foot stuff...

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#1137326 - 10/17/08 11:21 PM Re: Being Replaced by a Machine
Piano World Offline



Registered: 05/24/01
Posts: 5571
Loc: Parsonsfield, ME (orig. Nahant...
I have nothing against player pianos ... as entertainment in someones home while everyone is talking, or even in a restaurant or hotel, while the REAL piano player is on break.

Beyond that, I like to be able to request songs/pieces, and interact with a real person

If you're only going to play canned music, you might as well have a juke box or CD player.

I tend to ignore canned music, but I automatically gravitate to live musicians.
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#1137327 - 10/18/08 12:43 AM Re: Being Replaced by a Machine
Elssa Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/15/05
Posts: 1541
Loc: NY
I used to play (and perform on) the electric organ (with pedals), but at least we were playing these instruments... electric or acoustic, you still need a human being playing it, at any level or style. \:\) Just my 2 cents. :p

Ethel Smith: (amazing videos from way back)
Tico-Tico:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TA9qlWyk-7Q

The Breeze and I:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dd1fn0qwHvY&feature=related

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#1137328 - 10/18/08 03:21 AM Re: Being Replaced by a Machine
Boira Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/09/07
Posts: 472
Loc: Barcelona
Some years ago, Hotel Hilton-Barcelona used to have a grand in the lobby. There were live music every evening/night, every day of the week. Even during the summer season (quite long here) they used to roll out the piano to the terrace, right on the street and play it there while guests had dinner or a cocktail in the outdoor restaurant.

A friend of mine who works at the Hotel told me that now the piano is stored in a room close to the lobby and nobody plays it anymore. It doesn't even get tuned or serviced.

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#1137329 - 10/18/08 04:42 AM Re: Being Replaced by a Machine
Arabesque Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/16/05
Posts: 548
Loc: Japan
Soapbox:

What a great pity that technology is replacing fine pianists in the world's cultural hub. However, the concept of someone sitting and playing for five hour stretches at $15 an hour is also somewhat unpractical in today's world. Why not encourage those businesses to sponsor artists to perform for given dates and be paid more? About $75 for two hours? The event would attract people and the music would have more quality. If they have a good piano then someone should be using it. Without a doubt, it would fill the seats and keep the waiters busy. It's so dull to have piped music. You can have that any day in a sanatorium. I know that many companies now are into subliminal music to manipulate consumers. It really might explain a lot of the piped music around these stores. They often have it on the shopping streets here coming out of lamposts. I regard it as an ugly environmental pollution.

For live playing, a lot depends on the setting and context. They had an experiment at a Metro Station with Joshua Bell, a violinist who usually sells seats for 100$ a ticket. He played an immaculate recital on a Stradivarius next to a trash basket at the station. People just walked by. There was only one guy, I think, who stopped and recognized him. People just rushed by with a glance in the general direction not even stopping to listen.

I think that a large degree of what we are seeing
in the present day as opposed to the past decades is an isolationism brought by technology.
In turn this leads to a change in society and culture. Social change is also conditioned by economics. This can be seen in the contrast between the 20's which was truly swinging for artists of all genres, and the later 30's when society retreated like a snail with occasional forays into creative innovation. I think what we are seeing now is the technological and economic snail of the early 21st century post September 11th paranoia and suspicion.

I can't remember the details. But a year ago I read that really strict controls were being enforced on live musicians playing in public places in the United Kingdom actually to the point of complete bans. Being of Irish ancestry I grew up with the culture of going to a bar and playing or listening to live music on a casual basis. However, now due to the technological revolution that gives us the CD, MP3 player, the internet music is more easily controlled and marketed. There is also the ubiquitous karaoke industry in Asian countries which nets billions annually. There is a corporate thinking which puts the squeeze on individualism. There is also global standardisation affecting every new business in some way. Think, "Starbucks". This also has the effect of tying large numbers of people to a social behaviourism. An insidious consumer trap.

That social conditioning can also be reversed by a group or individual. The time for a change will come and the artists at the bottom can play a part in revitalising musical traditions more than the staid contracted artists at the top. This should not be like a theme park or folk museum ethos based on nostalgia but a thriving creative impetus that stands up to and defeats the apathy.

Late Beginner is right. We need a new music direction and players to pitch the music to a new public. When Ragtime, Blues, Boogie, Bebop came out it was all new. Now we continue to play the same recycled music but we also need to take it to a new direction. But we need to build on the tradition also so that the movement doesn't wither like a dead branch. This is the way as I see it: creating a sound which stands out from the crowd. Letting this grow out of the disaffection, being elemental and vital, pushing for human values. Nothing wrong with reworking old songs but what is needed is new energy and a certain ‘in your faceness’ that characterizes the successful live music. Then the establishments will swing right back and the real people will answer by coming and hear us play.

By the way, Ethel Smith? Thanks for those. A great musician and performer. Machines? How could anyone even think it?
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It don't mean a ting if it don't have dat swing

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#1137330 - 10/18/08 09:29 PM Re: Being Replaced by a Machine
Late Beginner Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/06/08
Posts: 588
Loc: West Australia
 Quote:
Originally posted by Arabesque:


We need a new music direction and players to pitch the music to a new public. When Ragtime, Blues, Boogie, Bebop came out it was all new. Now we continue to play the same recycled music but we also need to take it to a new direction. [/b]
I agree. Unfortunately, we can’t stand still and expect things to stay as they were, there are just too many other entertainments, distractions and attractions, competing for audience attention now. Whether it suits us or not, the world moves relentlessly on, and we have to actively work to retain a share of the action.

I’m fairly old, so I can just remember places such as lobbies and restaurants where it was once fashionable to have a string quartet playing. They were lovely to see and hear too, but they also got replaced by another machine. A mechanical device which could handle the melody and the harmony at the same time, and which needed only one operator instead of four. Much more efficient, not to mention cost effective – you could get rid of three quarters of the musicians' wage bill. And it was also becoming increasingly popular at the time. Who could resist? That machine was, of course, the piano.


Now the piano (which also largely sidelined such things as the harpsichord, clavier, spinet etc as it rose to prominence) is itself being slowly moved aside by other musical machinery, including CD players, synthesizers, guitars, etc. Actually, that's a bit fanciful - in fact in most homes and many public places where piano once ruled the roost it's already been replaced, and for quite some time now. As a fan of pianos, and acoustic instruments in general, I do indeed find this rather sad, but it's perhaps almost inevitable. Possibly the only way to reverse the trend is to somehow refresh people’s interest in this great instrument? As an amateur musician, I don't have an answer except to keep actively trying to encourage others to both play and listen to more live music, and to try and keep things fresh rather than only repeating old repertoire and styles.

As a guitarist I can still get all the opportunities to play live locally, or to listen to other live playing, that I want. However, as an occasional piano player my options are much less now. I don't get to play outside home, and my only regular sighting of a real live pianist in public is the accompanist on choir singing nights. That's still better than no piano though. But the choir also has all its music available as backing tracks on CD. The idea is that non players can practice singing at home, but if we can’t get an accompanist (who we do pay properly) then the CDs get used on choir night instead. It’s simply not the same…. but it works, and it’s clearly cheaper. As a group we are committed to using a live pianist, and as singers we are of course both live musicians and indeed we are our own acoustic instruments. But the only way we can keep that tradition alive seems to be by doing it. I don’t think that we can expect everybody else to share either our musical tastes or our viewpoints unless we keep actively working at convincing them.

Chris
_________________________
Who needs feet of clay? I can get into enough trouble with feet made of regular foot stuff...

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#1137331 - 10/19/08 12:51 PM Re: Being Replaced by a Machine
Michiyo-Fir Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/12/05
Posts: 172
I have a player piano (Bosendorfer Imperial) but I don't think actual players can be replaced because the playing was sampled from actual people in the first place. How good the player piano system sounds depends on how good the actual performance was in the first place.

In addition with a player piano a song will be played exactly the same way every time and that is quite boring. If you want style or flare then you gotta play it yourself =)

I only use mine for when I don't feel like playing or for songs that I like but don't want to learn. It's also useful as background music when I have guests over and we're eating dinner or such.

But I don't think it will ever be able to replace an actual player.
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Bosendorfer Imperial, Yamaha U3, Yamaha P140, Yamaha CP300

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#1137332 - 10/19/08 05:15 PM Re: Being Replaced by a Machine
quiescen Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/24/04
Posts: 215
Loc: San Diego
Great post!

While I never was a big fan of the music played by the pianists at Nordstom's, it still beat the piped up in stuff.

And I agree with what others have said here. Part of the allure of going into a Nordstom's was that you know you may hear some live piano music. Sadly, this isn't the case anymore.

---------------
Play New Age Piano
http://www.quiescencemusic.com
_________________________
Edward Weiss
Quiescence Music
http://www.quiescencemusic.com

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#1137333 - 10/19/08 05:32 PM Re: Being Replaced by a Machine
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5903
Loc: Down Under
Just to satisfy the curiosity of someone from far across the Pacific \:\) , what kind of store is Nordstrom's? Is it a big department store chain or something?
_________________________
Du holde Kunst...

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#1137334 - 10/19/08 05:55 PM Re: Being Replaced by a Machine
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
High end, elite shopping, clothing, etc.

Elegant surroundings.

Cough.

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#1137335 - 10/19/08 06:02 PM Re: Being Replaced by a Machine
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5903
Loc: Down Under
 Quote:
Originally posted by Betty Patnude:
High end, elite shopping, clothing, etc.

Elegant surroundings.

Cough. [/b]
:) You don't pop in and buy a dress there every couple of weeks then I take it, Betty? Ah yes, that makes sense. Sounds a bit like the store in Sydney with the Steinway which I mentioned earlier in the thread.
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Du holde Kunst...

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#1137336 - 10/19/08 07:22 PM Re: Being Replaced by a Machine
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Currawong,

Make that cough, cough!

Once a century frequent shopper.

Sneeze!

:rolleyes:

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#1137337 - 10/24/08 07:50 AM Re: Being Replaced by a Machine
Piano Girl RMG Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 702
Loc: Germany
Hi Everyone,

Sorry I've been absent for a few days. Lots of preparation to do for upcoming concerts and readings. (I'm at Amerika Haus in Berlin on Election night!)

I'm very pleased by the response to this thread and intend to make sure it is seen by the right people. Late Beginner, and Arabesque, I found your essays on the subject quite touching and beautifully written. Bravo, or brava, whichever the case may be.

Frank, you made a couple of great points. But I disagree about using the machine on a pianist's breaks. Having been in that position, I can tell you it's humiliating to finish a set and then turn on a machine. And I also believe that the pianist's break time is good for everyone, customers and musicians alike.

As I noted earlier, the machines can be marvelous educational tools, and yes, they can also be wonderful when used on a properly maintained piano in a private home.

Elssa, I love that you wrote to Nordstrom's!
_________________________
Robin Meloy Goldsby
www.goldsby.de
Author of PIANO GIRL: A Memoir
RHYTHM: A Novel
RMG is a Steinway Artist

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#1137338 - 11/10/08 12:39 PM Re: Being Replaced by a Machine
Bachrocks Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/19/06
Posts: 94
Loc: New England
Being the mother of an alternative-rock drummer, I've always felt bad for live bands who are replaced with DJs for financial reasons. But being replaced by a machine and a dummy (!) has got to be the last straw. Robin, I want to read your book.

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#1137339 - 11/12/08 12:51 PM Re: Being Replaced by a Machine
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3169
Loc: Virginia, USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Betty Patnude:
High end, elite shopping, clothing, etc.

Elegant surroundings.

Cough. [/b]
And why, exactly, is it that Nordstrom's owes us jobs?

Some of the anger in the earlier posts makes me uncomfortable, especially those which suggest some kind of retaliation.

I believe in as free a society as possible, and that Nordstrom's or anyplace else has as much right to choose not to hire us as we have to choose to play piano.

Now, I'm in complete agreement with all of you as to the value of live music, and I vote with my wallet. I buy expensive concert tickets even when I already own a CD of the same music, played and recorded more professionally! I like listening live, I like playing live. I regret that the venues to do both have been decreasing.

But it's arrogant to assume businesses don't have the ability or the right to make business case decisions. If a live piano costs $75 per hour and generates $10 per hour in additional sales, who am I to tell any business they must keep it and subsidize my listening pleasure or my earning potential? If a live piano cost $75 per hour and generated $100 in additional sales, most likely we'd see them everywhere. (and remember part of the reason we got those $75/hr solo pianist gigs in the first place is we underbid the $1000/hr big band and the $10,000/hr orchestra, and they're just as upset as we are)

If the number of live pianist gigs is decreasing, perhaps we should be training fewer live pianists? Perhaps we are? Or if we're going to train as many or more pianists, we need to prove they are worth what they expect to be paid - by earning profit for their employer.
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#1137340 - 11/12/08 01:52 PM Re: Being Replaced by a Machine
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Relieving pianists of their performances in public for which they receive income is really no different than:

1) the grocery clerks replaced by do-it-yourself packing of the bags, or using the check out without a clerk in attendance.
2) the 24/y bank machines we all use, no human.
3) the telephones at offices, especially medical offices, that give us canned options to key to, avoiding the use of a real person to answer our questions.
4) the gas station pump it yourself, wash your own window, air your own tires, everyone using credit cards at the point of origin.

Good bye people, you are being replaced by automation.

TimR says: ".....we need to prove they are worth what they expect to be paid - by earning profit for their employer."

Now that is a real business bottom line, and we all know where the economy is these days. All the brilliance of business operations and it's lack of checks and balances and accountability have made it possible and so. Ye Gads!

Let's talk about such musical endeavors where someone alive is creating an arts or entertainment experience for us, and realize that we are not talking about the same values.

People are central to the success of anything.

People are also central to the undermining of cultures and economies.

What is in line for a world that loses it's arts, culture, community spirits?

To me, this is a huge deprivation to consider.

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#1137341 - 11/12/08 03:02 PM Re: Being Replaced by a Machine
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3169
Loc: Virginia, USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Betty Patnude:

What is in line for a world that loses it's arts, culture, community spirits?

To me, this is a huge deprivation to consider. [/b]
I agree. And I hope you don't think I was pointing at you when I borrowed your quote (you're welcome to it back - grin -).

I hope you would also agree, upon reflection, that forcing Nordstrom or anybody else to pay for the arts is theft, plain and simple. The efforts to shame or intimidate any business into subsidizing the arts against their will I consider evil.

None of us have an inherent right to a job making live music. We're coming very close to feeling entitled to one in this thread.
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#1137342 - 11/12/08 03:18 PM Re: Being Replaced by a Machine
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3169
Loc: Virginia, USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Betty Patnude:
Relieving pianists of their performances in public for which they receive income is really no different than:

[/b]
But this is a gross mischaracterization.

It's not relieving pianists of something they're entitled to. It's simply choosing not to hire them, with private not public funds.

It's not in public. It's within a private business.

And it's not a performance for which they receive income. The pianist is there as part of the advertising campaign, to bring in customers and earn income for the business. If it's not working as well as some other ad, then it will (and should!) be replaced.
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#1137343 - 11/12/08 03:28 PM Re: Being Replaced by a Machine
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
TimR,

I think Nordstrom's was cited because it has been open to having musicians in it's stores for a long time, something that the participants as well as the audience and shopping crowd looked forward to.

I understand that those musicians were most recently paid about $8 per hour for their time and efforts. Far below what union musicians receive, however, so many who played were also piano students and volunteers.

We don't have many places where we can drop in and share any more - paid or unpaid.

It is a loss.

I can agree with you about Nordstrom's rights to run their business as they see fit.

It would be truthful to say that I've been in the store less than 4-5 times in my lifetime, and never purchased a thing. Not that I wouldn't want to, it's that my budget does other things for me to make my life affordable.

That doesn't mean I'm green with envy, I'm content with my lot in life for the most part.

Entitled? Not me! Appreciative, yes! I've volunteered for piano performance in social setting more than I've ever been paid because I feel it's an arts and entertainment encouragement and usually during those times, my students were with me in anything I did like that. Hours and hours of marathons at South Hill Mall in Puyallup in the 1980's up to the mid 1990's.

This is now a by-gone thing of the past when our last playing dates there were in conflict with the overhead music system which they refused to turn off so we could play live for 3 hours.

Have you ever heard cacaphony? It was totally impossible to play our live music. I along with many other teachers had to cease and desist with our entourage of students who had enjoyed bringing their music making to the mall a few times a year.

Tim, please enjoy your practicing for me! What are you practicing for?

Betty

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