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#1627117 - 02/24/11 12:14 AM Re: Let's Talk Cocktail Piano [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
Piano Girl RMG Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 702
Loc: Germany
Jotur is right about all of this.

In Germany, GEMA is very strong. GEMA is the German version of ASCAP or BMI, but run by the government and much more effective. Every place I play pays GEMA fees, usually an all inclusive monthly fee that covers all of their music. Those fees go into a big GEMA pot. I fill out forms, then receive a payment that is based on some formula I will never understand.

I receive regular payments for live perfomances of my music (mostly by me)—whether it's in a formal concert setting or just as background cocktail piano. There are loads of forms to fill out, but the money does indeed trickle down to the composer. Usually takes about a year.

I spent fifteen years playing original music in NYC hotels (who paid fees to ASCAP) and never received a penny. That may have been my fault—I was pretty naive about such things back then.

As a composer I am listed with GEMA. But my publishing company is with BMI. Complicated. I just keep filling out forms and hoping for the best. Seems to be working out.

Cathy, there is also a lot of outrage over here about GEMA patrolling school, community, and charity events. I think there's a much lower rate for these types of events, but still, it's too much for many of these organizations to pay. Don't know what the answer is---the fee sometimes causes event planners to drop the music, which is never a good thing.

On the other hand, the promoters pay for food, beverages, lights, a stage, everything! Why is it so often the case that musicians (and composers) are expected to work for free when just about everyone else is getting paid? I'll bet at that Folkdance venue there were many other expenses that no one argued about. I'm betting the beer was not donated, nor were the services of the local electrician.

It has become increasingly difficult to make a living as a songwriter or composer. We do what we can.
_________________________
Robin Meloy Goldsby
www.goldsby.de
Author of PIANO GIRL: A Memoir
RHYTHM: A Novel
RMG is a Steinway Artist

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Piano & Music Accessories
#1627146 - 02/24/11 01:34 AM Re: Let's Talk Cocktail Piano [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
jotur Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5449
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
I think it was BMI that decided to collect the folk dance fees. It's just that I don't think very many of the recordings are registered with BMI, so I don't, in fact, think the performers are getting anything from it. I don't think we've ever filled out a form for which Swedish cd from 20 years ago we've danced to that night :\ . Or casette, as the case may be. And I think most of us own our very own copies of every cd we used laugh It's a folkdance thing.

The live music at dances is often traditional tunes. There are, of course, new tunes composed in a traditional style, and when they're recorded they're recorded with permission. My brother got mechanical licenses when he made his cd - he actually hired someone to do all that for him. But I've never heard of a traditional tune composer getting a royalty for having their tunes used at a contra dance. Maybe I should ask Peter Barnes, or Bob McQuillen. The number of times McQuillen's "Amelia's Waltz" has been played at a contra must be in the kazillions. They *are* copyrighted, and one should buy the book they were published in - I have a lot of tune books.

But I've just never heard of it working very well in the folkdance world. Which is not to say it shouldn't. Hm. We often buy the cds right from the band. I'm pretty sure they expect us to use them to dance to. It's a conundrum.

But playing a Robin Goldsby piece, or a David Nevue piece, or whatever, for a "performance" - like on the Santa Fe Plaza or something - yeah, I think the producer has an ASCAP and/or BMI license. And should.

Is there a "one time" license for things like charity events, rather than a full year's license? That might help with costs. But the big charity events put on by the non-profits I've worked for have paid the actual musicians, tho I don't think we ever got a performance license for the music. On the other hand, maybe the hotel or ball room had one. Again, tho, I don't remember any paperwork on which pieces were played.

So I think it's far from a perfect system. I have a brother who's a professional musician, and for sure think he should get paid when his pieces are played. But it seems like kind of an honor system to me.

For some events I don't mind if the music is donated by amateur musicians. I'm kind of big on volunteers. Goodness knows there are church treasurers everywhere that do what I do for a living, but as volunteers. There are events where the food is donated, too. But yeah, if it's catered, then pay the musicians, too. And more than just a meal in the kitchen laugh

I do think it's confusing for the non-pros, tho, to know what they need to do. It's a pretty complex field. I was dismayed when I first started learning about it. Whew! I began to think we could never play music.

But it's cool that you get royalties for playing your compositions smile I just hadn't thought about the paperwork you yourself would have to go through.

Cathy
_________________________

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#1633973 - 03/05/11 07:12 AM Re: Let's Talk Cocktail Piano [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
bobcat79 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/02/11
Posts: 7
Loc: Oklahoma
Hello. I would just like to say that I really like this thread. I am new to Piano World. I've been teaching piano part time for many years and have played for many weddings and funerals. I am really hoping in a a couple of years that I can retire from my day job and be able to get enough work as a pianist to keep me going. Some wonderful tips on this thread.

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#1634766 - 03/06/11 10:39 AM Re: Let's Talk Cocktail Piano [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
Piano Girl RMG Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 702
Loc: Germany
Welcome bobcat! If you've been out there playing weddings and funerals then I'll bet you have tips to share with us, too.

Here is my latest tip: Learn the music from "The Wonderful World of Amelie." Maybe it's a European thing, but people just flip out over these tunes, and they are fun to play.
_________________________
Robin Meloy Goldsby
www.goldsby.de
Author of PIANO GIRL: A Memoir
RHYTHM: A Novel
RMG is a Steinway Artist

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#1634815 - 03/06/11 11:43 AM Re: Let's Talk Cocktail Piano [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
bobcat79 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/02/11
Posts: 7
Loc: Oklahoma
Thanks for the Welcome Robin. I'll be sure to check out your suggestions. I'm always looking for new music and styles that can help me grow.

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#1634882 - 03/06/11 01:40 PM Re: Let's Talk Cocktail Piano [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
ivorycanary Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/15/10
Posts: 81
Originally Posted By: Piano Girl RMG

Here is my latest tip: Learn the music from "The Wonderful World of Amelie." Maybe it's a European thing, but people just flip out over these tunes, and they are fun to play.

I wonder if anybody would recognize that here. I've found that tourist Americans walking through 'my' grand hotel flip over "What a Wondeful World" lol!

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#1634895 - 03/06/11 02:00 PM Re: Let's Talk Cocktail Piano [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
Bob Newbie Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/02/06
Posts: 1549
Robin: Something about this still ends up
"smelling"..you open up a store..say a pizza parlor...and after awhile "the boys" stop in to see how business is..and they want you to make a monthy contribution to their fund..and they will protect you from any bad thing that might unexpectantly happen to your place..I know writers have been unpaid..
but still having people going around sniffing out business still has that "old smell"..only now the "the law" is doing it..

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#1635198 - 03/06/11 08:41 PM Re: Let's Talk Cocktail Piano [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
Piano Girl RMG Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 702
Loc: Germany
Yes, Tea Girl! "What a Wonderful World" is always popular. And rightfully so. Do you know Louis Armstrong almost didn't record it? Lots of resistance from record company officials.

This is a good idea to help budding cocktail pianists: Let's post song titles that seem to be popular with listeners. I still maintain that a player should really love a piece of music to go to the trouble of adding it to his/her repertoire, but with all the great music waiting to be learned it's not difficult to find a piece to love.

Here's one of my favorites: John Barry's "Music of Goodbye" from Out of Africa. You'd be surprised how many people either recognize this song or come to the piano and ask, "What was that piece of music?"
_________________________
Robin Meloy Goldsby
www.goldsby.de
Author of PIANO GIRL: A Memoir
RHYTHM: A Novel
RMG is a Steinway Artist

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#1648668 - 03/26/11 11:47 PM Re: Let's Talk Cocktail Piano [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
Elssa Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/15/05
Posts: 1541
Loc: NY
Hi Robin,

Just curious, do you take requests when playing out and, if so, how often do you get requests to play classical pieces or themes? With me, it's "Clair de Lune", which I love but usually flub if trying to play by memory. confused


Edited by Elssa (03/27/11 12:01 AM)

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#1651403 - 03/31/11 03:41 AM Re: Let's Talk Cocktail Piano [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
Piano Girl RMG Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 702
Loc: Germany
I just love it when I'm playing "Fly Me to the Moon" and someone comes up and asks for a Rachmaninoff piano concerto. "Is this a test?" I ask. "I fail."

In the USA I used to fake my way through classical repertoire, but over here, where people actually know how the pieces are supposed to sound, I just say no. I also never play with music in front of me, so I often will tell the customer: "I'm sorry but I don't have the music with me and I can't improvise my way through Bach (or Ravel or Chopin). People seem to respect this.

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

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#1651804 - 03/31/11 03:15 PM Re: Let's Talk Cocktail Piano [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
mikf Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/06/11
Posts: 66
Loc: Texas
I dont play much any more, but I always found that people who came up invariably asked for very simple rather than very complicated stuff - usually the kind of tune that we hate playing because there is nothing to it and have played ad nauseum in the past eg Amazing Grace, Danny Boy, a host of 3 chord forgettable country songs and of course starting about October, White Christmas. Interestingly I dont think that anyone ever asked me to play Easter Parade at Easter, although I think it is a 10 times better tune than White Christmas. Good old Irving Berlin really cornered the big christian holidays!
Mike

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#1651877 - 03/31/11 04:46 PM Re: Let's Talk Cocktail Piano [Re: mikf]
Exalted Wombat Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 1194
Loc: London UK
Originally Posted By: mikf
I always found that people who came up invariably asked for very simple rather than very complicated stuff - usually the kind of tune that we hate playing because there is nothing to it and have played ad nauseum in the past


Depends whether you see yourself as a pianist or an entertainer.

Whenever irritated by something you have to play, reflect on your good fortune in actually getting PAID for this, instead of working in a laundry, coalmine or office full of ambitious, back-biting twits! Then play that tune with thanks! (And play the TUNE, don't wrap it up in some obscure arrangement just to please yourself:-)

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#1652380 - 04/01/11 10:08 AM Re: Let's Talk Cocktail Piano [Re: Exalted Wombat]
mikf Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/06/11
Posts: 66
Loc: Texas
I never said that it irritated me or that I wouldnt play it - just stating a fact that I much more often got asked for the mundane than the sophisticated.
Having said that I disagree with you a bit, the person making the request does not usually represent everyone, and we have a responsibility as entertainers not to please one person at the risk of boring the pants of everyone else. Nor is that individual the one actually paying you, and the person actually paying may have very definite ideas about the kind of music he expects you to play. I for one would not expect to go into the lounge at the Ritz Carlton or Four Seasons and find a piano player churning out 'Blanket on the ground ' and the like any more than expect it to have fluorescent lighting and formica tables.
And whether you consider yourself pianist or entertainer, there is always the ultimate right to decide what material to use. You just have to live with the consequences.

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#1652452 - 04/01/11 11:12 AM Re: Let's Talk Cocktail Piano [Re: mikf]
Exalted Wombat Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 1194
Loc: London UK
Originally Posted By: mikf
I never said that it irritated me or that I wouldnt play it -


You said "...the kind of tune that we hate playing because there is nothing to it and have played ad nauseum in the past". Yeah, I guess "irritated" isn't strong enough. You actually said "hated". Sorry. :-)

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#1652514 - 04/01/11 12:33 PM Re: Let's Talk Cocktail Piano [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
mikf Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/06/11
Posts: 66
Loc: Texas
I guess we just are coming at this from different viewpoints. I played because I love to entertain by playing the music I like. The alternative was never some god awful job. If I had to play too much of what I did not like, it was not fun, so I just didnt do it. It was never a problem.

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#1652737 - 04/01/11 07:06 PM Re: Let's Talk Cocktail Piano [Re: mikf]
Exalted Wombat Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 1194
Loc: London UK
Yeah. Not that long ago I was sitting in an under-heated theatre at 10.00 in the morning bickering over which numbers should go in a new show. We were getting pretty negative about the whole job. Then someone said "but think what you MIGHT be doing!"

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#1652815 - 04/01/11 10:09 PM Re: Let's Talk Cocktail Piano [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
Elssa Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/15/05
Posts: 1541
Loc: NY
Originally Posted By: Piano Girl RMG
I just love it when I'm playing "Fly Me to the Moon" and someone comes up and asks for a Rachmaninoff piano concerto. "Is this a test?" I ask. "I fail."

In the USA I used to fake my way through classical repertoire, but over here, where people actually know how the pieces are supposed to sound, I just say no. I also never play with music in front of me, so I often will tell the customer: "I'm sorry but I don't have the music with me and I can't improvise my way through Bach (or Ravel or Chopin). People seem to respect this.

Hope that helps!



Thanks, Robin. Well, guess I don't feel so bad that I can't play all these classical pieces by memory. I have a few favorite classical pieces/themes that I love and can play with my own arrangements, such as "Warsaw Concerto" and "Liebestraum" (C05). I couldn't play Liebestraum from the score all the way through if it was right under my nose anyway. eek

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#1652930 - 04/02/11 04:13 AM Re: Let's Talk Cocktail Piano [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
Piano Girl RMG Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 702
Loc: Germany
I just recorded the Bach Air of a G String, but it is obviously an interpretation and improvisation. Some of those classical themes are such fun for improvising. Right now I'm messing around with some of the Schumann Scenes from Childhood pieces. They are easy and lovely and perfect for quiet dinner music.
_________________________
Robin Meloy Goldsby
www.goldsby.de
Author of PIANO GIRL: A Memoir
RHYTHM: A Novel
RMG is a Steinway Artist

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#1654193 - 04/04/11 09:51 AM Re: Let's Talk Cocktail Piano [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
mikf Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/06/11
Posts: 66
Loc: Texas
Chopin's Etude in E major, is another one that is very elegant and classy for most occassions. The melody is familiar to most and even still sounds reasonably authentic using the 'faked ' version.

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#1656196 - 04/07/11 09:09 AM Re: Let's Talk Cocktail Piano [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
Redhead1 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/07/10
Posts: 134
Coming into this thread a little late ...

Robin, thank you for posting all this. I, too, have been hoping to get into this kind of playing and was eager for some advice.

When I first read this thread a few months ago, my heart sank. The first step is to memorize four hours of music??

I could never do that!! When I was in college, it took me over half a year of very intensive work to put together a 30-minute recital! I'd be dead before I could ever finish memorizing four hours of music!

Well, I came back to this thread again yesterday, and read the first four pages a few times. What struck me was when you said, "Set goals. Maybe 1-2 songs a week, if that's all the time you have."

And I thought, "Well, okay, I'll try one song out of a fake book." (Which is a challenge in itself, because I do not think of myself as a "fake book/improvising" kind of person. I didn't even know if could do it, but I figured at least it would be a good exercise to try.

And last night I spent ... mmm, maybe a little over an hour memorizing "Yesterday" out of a fake book. And I could do it! And I played it for husband when I was done, and he said it sounded pretty good!

So, as teeny tiny an accomplishment as that is, it got me really excited. And yes, it felt different to play my own arrangement, with no music, than reading out of a book, which is how I always always normally play.

My goal for today is to polish up "Yesterday" some more and to learn and memorize "Let it Be." (Yes, I will get off The Beatles soon, but I did like those two, and they seem fairly easy.)

Thanks for the great advice!
Redhead

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#1684141 - 05/25/11 06:47 AM Re: Let's Talk Cocktail Piano [Re: Redhead1]
cruiser Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/19/07
Posts: 1171
Loc: Cornwall, England
Originally Posted By: Redhead1
When I first read this thread a few months ago, my heart sank. The first step is to memorize four hours of music??

I could never do that!!

Yes Redhead, but you're able to sight-read your pieces when you gig. Now that's a skill I wish I had!

In fact, these days I'm putting more effort into trying to improve my poor sight-reading ability, instead of spending endless hours struggling to memorise one piece. I think this may be the way forward for me if I'm to build any sort of 'cocktail' repertoire.

Thoughts, anyone?

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#1684145 - 05/25/11 06:55 AM Re: Let's Talk Cocktail Piano [Re: Redhead1]
Exalted Wombat Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 1194
Loc: London UK
Originally Posted By: Redhead1
When I first read this thread a few months ago, my heart sank. The first step is to memorize four hours of music??


It's not really about that. Most of cocktail piano is about knowing songs and learning the trick of "just playing" them. One step beyond playing from a fake book and one step further away from memorising full notation.

Though you'll have some "light classical" repertoire that gets played "as is". Don't be afraid to put the music up until you don't need to any more. And have your fake books handy, either printed or on a computer or reader. Requests are a part of this job. And being able to say "I don't know it very well, but I'll look it up and play it after my break" is quite acceptable.

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#1684149 - 05/25/11 07:05 AM Re: Let's Talk Cocktail Piano [Re: Exalted Wombat]
cruiser Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/19/07
Posts: 1171
Loc: Cornwall, England
Originally Posted By: Exalted Wombat
Originally Posted By: Redhead1
When I first read this thread a few months ago, my heart sank. The first step is to memorize four hours of music??


It's not really about that. Most of cocktail piano is about knowing songs and learning the trick of "just playing" them. One step beyond playing from a fake book and one step further away from memorising full notation.


*learning the trick of "just playing" them*?

With respect EW, that's fine for an accomplished cocktail player with years of experience, but how does this advice help those of us who aspire to play in this style? I'll never be able to play in the way you describe, not in this lifetime.

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#1684185 - 05/25/11 08:21 AM Re: Let's Talk Cocktail Piano [Re: cruiser]
Exalted Wombat Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 1194
Loc: London UK
Originally Posted By: cruiser
Originally Posted By: Exalted Wombat
Originally Posted By: Redhead1
When I first read this thread a few months ago, my heart sank. The first step is to memorize four hours of music??


It's not really about that. Most of cocktail piano is about knowing songs and learning the trick of "just playing" them. One step beyond playing from a fake book and one step further away from memorising full notation.


*learning the trick of "just playing" them*?

With respect EW, that's fine for an accomplished cocktail player with years of experience, but how does this advice help those of us who aspire to play in this style? I'll never be able to play in the way you describe, not in this lifetime.


Maybe you lack the aptitude to be a cocktail pianist then! Despite today's culture of mindless encouragment, not everyone is suited to doing EVERYTHING that comes into their mind!

But "never" is a long time. And aptitudes can develop, and quickly turn into skills with practice. All you need is a regular opportunity to play, in a relatively non-threatening environment. How do you think we all started? Go out and mildly irritate the inhabitants of a few retirement homes for a start. As long as you take some notice of them and have a pleasant chat in your breaks, they'll tolerate your piano playing!

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#1684189 - 05/25/11 08:33 AM Re: Let's Talk Cocktail Piano [Re: cruiser]
Exalted Wombat Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 1194
Loc: London UK
Quote:

Yes Redhead, but you're able to sight-read your pieces when you gig. Now that's a skill I wish I had!


Now, that is DEFINITELY a skill that develops with practice. Again, the best way is to put yourself in a situation where sight-reading is regularly required. An orchestral or band instrumentalist sight-reads as a matter of course. It's harder for pianists, admittedly - they tend to have a solitary musical life. But we can argue over whether some musical skills tend toward the innate or the learnt. There is no question whatsoever that sightreading is learnable (by anyone capable of reading a book, at least - before some bright spark comes up with a clever riposte concerning people with disabilities, I know you lot :-).

(Oh dear. I said "disabilities". Is that an acceptable concept round here? You've got to be SO careful).

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#1685824 - 05/28/11 12:41 AM Re: Let's Talk Cocktail Piano [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
Piano Girl RMG Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 702
Loc: Germany
Lots of successful cocktail pianists play with music on the stand. To get started, you can certainly drag your fake books with you to the gig. Personally, I think it looks much better to play without music, but you've got to do what you've got to do, right?

There was a pianist playing for a private party at the castle last week. I was playing for lunch downstairs and he was in the back salon on the main floor. Anyway, he had piles of music everywhere! On the floor, on the piano, on the music stand, under his feet. He would have had to play for a year to get through all of that music! What was he thinking? Really, on one of these gigs, you play about ten-fifteen songs per 40 minute set, less if you improvise and can stretch the tunes.

You CAN memorize enough music for two sets, really you can. You could put together a small binder of tunes you think people will request (ones you haven't memorized yet) and take that with you, just in case, as a back up to the tunes you've memorized. But I can assure you, that no matter what you take—all the tunes in the world—someone will ask you for something you don't have. You can't freak out about this, just find a nice and polite way to say "Sorry, it's not in my fingers and I don't have the music with me. How about something in the same style, or by the same artist?" Usually when someone makes a request, he/she doesn't doesn't care so much about the song, he/she just wants to make personal contact with the musician. So just have a little chat with the person, smile, and I promise you (unless the customer is an obnoxious drunk) he/she will walk away happy.

I have a few friends who have loaded fake books onto their iPads. Now we're talking. Light weight, discreet, and it holds about a billion tunes.

Playing for a big wedding this evening. But ahead of time, the bride requested I play songs from my four solo piano CDs. So that's easy! Nothing new to learn.
_________________________
Robin Meloy Goldsby
www.goldsby.de
Author of PIANO GIRL: A Memoir
RHYTHM: A Novel
RMG is a Steinway Artist

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#1685952 - 05/28/11 09:12 AM Re: Let's Talk Cocktail Piano [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
Redhead1 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/07/10
Posts: 134
I'm happy to see this thread got going again.

An update ... I played at a party two weeks ago and was able to play 30 minutes straight with no music. That probably doesn't sound like a big deal, but to me it was quite an accomplishment. And it was much, MUCH easier than memorizing my 30-minute senior recital in college.

Since then, I've worked on memorizing two new pieces: Ringo Starr's "It Don't Come Easy" and Fleetwood Mac's "Rhiannon." My goal is to have at least 90 minutes memorized by the end of the summer.

Not surprisingly, it was a lot more fun to play without the music. It felt somewhat freeing, and I agree that it looks much better.

Robin, I like what you said about learning music you yourself like, so I'm trying to choose songs I really enjoy instead of things I'm "supposed" to play. And I also like how you keep stressing "develop your own style." A lot of times when I play, I think, "Ugh, that sounds too simple," or "That doesn't sound like other pianists," but then I think to myself, "Well, this is my own style, and it's okay."

So a big thanks to Robin, as well as everyone else who contributed to this thread. I didn't think I could do this -- but I can! smile

Redhead

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#1686371 - 05/29/11 01:44 AM Re: Let's Talk Cocktail Piano [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
Piano Girl RMG Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 702
Loc: Germany
Wow, Redhead! This is such a great post. Good for you. I know your post will encourage others, which is the whole point of the thread.

If you're a competent player, getting a few sets of cocktail music together is just a matter of putting in the time. And yes, it is so much easier than having to memorize the classical college recital pieces and deal with the nerve jangling prospect of playing in front of an audience of listening people. Cocktail music is background music. Every so often someone will listen intently in a quiet room, but most of time, no one pays too much attention. Easy! You still want to please yourself by playing the best you can, so it's not a free pass to screw up left and right, but there is so little pressure compared to concert and recital situations.

RH, I congratulate you for developing your style. This is fantastic. And I love your song choices. As you continue, you will learn to apply your style to frequently requested songs, so that you have fun playing them. If you own your material, you own the audience, that's what I say.

Twice this week I had odd compliments from guests. One was from a castle guest, who said, as passed by the piano on his way into dinner, "Thank you for playing something different, and not the same songs we hear everywhere else."

The other comment was from last night, at a wedding dinner I played. A woman came to the piano and said: "I like this music. It's not typical." Not exactly gushing praise, but I'll take it.

Making a living by trying to please everyone will doom you to disappointment. Do (or play ) what you love and others will respect your artistic choices. Eventually success will follow. And while you're waiting for someone to throw money at you, at least you'll be having a good time—which I genuinely believe, is the whole point of playing the piano.
_________________________
Robin Meloy Goldsby
www.goldsby.de
Author of PIANO GIRL: A Memoir
RHYTHM: A Novel
RMG is a Steinway Artist

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#1708890 - 07/07/11 05:09 AM Re: Let's Talk Cocktail Piano [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
Newman Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/27/11
Posts: 700
Loc: Australia
Originally Posted By: Piano Girl RMG
...To get started, you can certainly drag your fake books with you to the gig .. You could put together a small binder of tunes ...But ... no matter what you take .. someone will ask you for something you don't have. ...just have a little chat with the person, smile, and I promise you ... he/she will walk away happy.


(I've found this thread from a reference to it by Piano Girl elsewhere.)

While only a beginner on piano I performed solo on guitar (and sang) for many years in small venues and can only agree with Piano Girl's comments. I found sharing the repertoire list with customers and asking them to pick a tune always worked wonders in pleasing the crowd.
_________________________
Guitar since 1966. Piano (Kawai DP80) since 2011.

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#1709645 - 07/08/11 12:07 PM Re: Let's Talk Cocktail Piano [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
RayE Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/19/10
Posts: 163
Loc: Rochester, NY, USA
I've played a lot of nursing homes, and senior centers over the years, as well as playing with a couple of local big bands. I play from a three ring binder that contains my favorites, and most often requested pieces, and I also bring a couple of fake books for requests. I can read fairly well, but I've never been great at memorizing and maintaining music. You do what you have to do to get by.
_________________________
Retired Army reserve Bandsman who now plays for the Joy of Music!!

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