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#1595423 - 01/11/11 03:13 PM Re: Let's Talk Cocktail Piano [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
Teclasgirl Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/06/09
Posts: 15
Loc: Madrid, Spain
Thanks Robin and Elssa

Robin, I've purchased your book in Amazon these christmas. I'm still reading it but I think it's very funny and interesting.

And thanks Elssa I've just downloaded your videos. They are usefull and very pedagogic.

I am a classical pianist, thinking about the Liszt's Year, but now I`m discovering a new and completely different world.

Happy new Year!
_________________________
www.musicainfinita.com


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Piano & Music Accessories
#1595678 - 01/11/11 10:49 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
Good tips from S. Winitsky about memorization. I can't stress enough how important it is to understand the chord structure of the piece you're working on. That's something you can "practice" even when you're not at the piano.

Also, as SW pointed out, memory is like any other part of your body--the more you use it the better it gets.

Cruiser, Somewhere in Time is a lovely piece. I recorded it on my first CD, which is called Somewhere in Time! I still play it on gigs and it's my go-to piece when I'm nervous. I also played it on Marian McPartland's show, because she heard it on the CD and requested it. Hang in there, you'll be happy to have it in your repertoire.
_________________________
Robin Meloy Goldsby
www.goldsby.de
Author of PIANO GIRL: A Memoir
RHYTHM: A Novel
RMG is a Steinway Artist

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#1595733 - 01/12/11 12:55 AM Re: Let's Talk Cocktail Piano [Re: cruiser]
Elssa Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/15/05
Posts: 1541
Loc: NY
Originally Posted By: cruiser
To return to the "nuts and bolts" of playing cocktail piano (The original concept behind this thread that got me so excited grin):

I'm currently learning John Barry's "Somewhere in time" (from the Hal Leonard "Love and Wedding piano solos" collection) but it's taking me what seems like an eternity to memorise it (I've been at it for over two weeks already!). Please tell me it's not my age (almost 60 shocked ) and that I can learn to memorize more effectively - any tips? I'll never get my fledgling 'repertoire' up to take-off speed in a year - my goal - at this rate frown

Yes, this advice to look at the chord structure and chord progressions is great. I love the way this song starts right out with a major seventh chord (Cmaj7), as do songs like "Misty".. Gives it such a dreamy sound.

Lead Sheet: http://www.musicnotes.com/sheetmusic/mtd.asp?ppn=MN0075892

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#1595841 - 01/12/11 07:05 AM Re: Let's Talk Cocktail Piano [Re: Elssa]
cruiser Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/19/07
Posts: 1171
Loc: Cornwall, England
Thanks for your advice re memorization everyone! I'm going to pay a lot more attention in future to the harmonic content of the pieces I learn.

Robin, I will certainly hang in there as you advise. The journey, though at times frustrating, is one I wouldn't give up for the world.

Elssa, I agree with you wholeheartedly about the opening CM7 harmony in Somewhere in Time - hauntingly evocative. John Barry certainly knew what he was about when he composed for the film of the same name starring the late, great Christopher Reeve.

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#1595940 - 01/12/11 10:07 AM Re: Let's Talk Cocktail Piano [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
s_winitsky Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/27/10
Posts: 61

It must have been quite an experience to play on the Marian McPartland radio show. One of my favorite radio shows. I loved listening to your interview on her show. Really an inspiration for many piano players. I heard some really nice/tasteful playing.


Originally Posted By: Piano Girl RMG

I also played it on Marian McPartland's show, because she heard it on the CD and requested it.

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#1596053 - 01/12/11 01:04 PM Re: Let's Talk Cocktail Piano [Re: Teclasgirl]
Elssa Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/15/05
Posts: 1541
Loc: NY
Originally Posted By: Teclasgirl
Thanks Robin and Elssa

And thanks Elssa I've just downloaded your videos. They are usefull and very pedagogic.

I am a classical pianist, thinking about the Liszt's Year, but now I`m discovering a new and completely different world.

Thanks again, Carmen! You probably noticed many of the techniques I teach are borrowed from the classical world (e.g. the Ballad Style was inspired by a Chopin etude). BTW, there are lots of free PDFs, sheet music, etc of the runs & fills and other stuff to download in my forum.

Happy New Year to you and everyone, too! smile

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#1596126 - 01/12/11 02:51 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
SW: Marian's show was one of the highlights of my career. I've written about it for the next book, and it's one of the stories I plan to excerpt here as the publication date draws nearer.

BTW: Marian related to my book because back in the day, she played a jazz cocktail gig of sorts at New York's Hickory House—I believe she had a seven year run there. Marian has (like everyone else in this business) a million crazy stories. For now, just let me say that she is every bit as witty and gracious as she sounds!

Carmen, good for you. That classical training will come in handy as you dive into this new world.

Cruiser, you might also check out John Barry's Music of Goodbye (from Out of Africa). It's drop-dead gorgeous.
_________________________
Robin Meloy Goldsby
www.goldsby.de
Author of PIANO GIRL: A Memoir
RHYTHM: A Novel
RMG is a Steinway Artist

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#1596169 - 01/12/11 04:15 PM Re: Let's Talk Cocktail Piano [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
cruiser Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/19/07
Posts: 1171
Loc: Cornwall, England
Thanks Robin, I certainly will check out John Barry's "Music of Goodbye" - I'm a great fan of his music anyway, which so enriches the films he writes for.

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#1596321 - 01/12/11 08:15 PM Re: Let's Talk Cocktail Piano [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
jotur Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5448
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
(Happy birthday, cruiser)

Cathy
_________________________

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#1596371 - 01/12/11 10:02 PM Re: Let's Talk Cocktail Piano [Re: cruiser]
Elssa Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/15/05
Posts: 1541
Loc: NY
Originally Posted By: cruiser
Elssa, I agree with you wholeheartedly about the opening CM7 harmony in Somewhere in Time - hauntingly evocative. John Barry certainly knew what he was about when he composed for the film of the same name starring the late, great Christopher Reeve.

One of my all-time favorite movies, with that beautiful song (and the Rachmaninoff in there as well).

Happy Birthday! smile

Somewhere in Time

Movie: http://www.last.fm/music/Sergei+Rachmaninoff/_/Somewhere+in+time



Edited by Elssa (01/12/11 10:22 PM)

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#1596598 - 01/13/11 08:49 AM Re: Let's Talk Cocktail Piano [Re: Elssa]
cruiser Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/19/07
Posts: 1171
Loc: Cornwall, England
Cathy and Elssa, thanks for your birthday wishes which mean so much to me, especially since it was my 60th smile

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#1596655 - 01/13/11 10:55 AM Re: Let's Talk Cocktail Piano [Re: cruiser]
Piano Girl RMG Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 702
Loc: Germany
Happy Birthday, Cruiser! Hey, this means you can learn 60 tunes this year.
_________________________
Robin Meloy Goldsby
www.goldsby.de
Author of PIANO GIRL: A Memoir
RHYTHM: A Novel
RMG is a Steinway Artist

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#1596843 - 01/13/11 04:46 PM Re: Let's Talk Cocktail Piano [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
cruiser Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/19/07
Posts: 1171
Loc: Cornwall, England
Originally Posted By: Piano Girl RMG
Happy Birthday, Cruiser! Hey, this means you can learn 60 tunes this year.

....at least! thumb

Thanks for the greeting, Robin!

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#1596950 - 01/13/11 07:34 PM Re: Let's Talk Cocktail Piano [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
josuff247 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 169
I took my first step toward cocktail piano playing. I had my teacher switch the style of my lessons from Classical to fakebook playing.

Only problem is I have to play "Oh when the saints"
Seems like a step backwards, but I guess you need to start somewhere.
_________________________
http://frostykeys.wordpress.com/

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#1597091 - 01/14/11 12:39 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
I'm not a teacher, but it seems to me that since you can already play, even the very first piece you work on in this style should be something you actually want to play. Go through the fake book, find something you like that's relatively easy (just a few chords).Tell your teacher this is what you would like to work on.
_________________________
Robin Meloy Goldsby
www.goldsby.de
Author of PIANO GIRL: A Memoir
RHYTHM: A Novel
RMG is a Steinway Artist

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#1597484 - 01/14/11 04:11 PM Re: Let's Talk Cocktail Piano [Re: bluespianofan]
TromboneAl Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/12/04
Posts: 794
Loc: Northern, Northern California
Originally Posted By: bluespianofan
At least you're good enough to do gigs!


Where did you hear that? smile What I say is this: I'm trying to get better before people realize how bad I am.

Here's a photo you might enjoy (post bike-ride napping -- check lower left).

_________________________
- Al

My Book: Becoming a Great Sight-Reader -- or Not!
My Blog: The Year of Piano Sight-Reading

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#1597488 - 01/14/11 04:20 PM Re: Let's Talk Cocktail Piano [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
bluespianofan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/06/09
Posts: 102
Loc: Calgary, Alberta
I like it! Looks like me after my long bike rides. Cool that it was a piano book that put you to sleep...
_________________________
Hailun 178

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#1597498 - 01/14/11 04:35 PM Re: Let's Talk Cocktail Piano [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
DF12 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/13/11
Posts: 4
Greeting! My first post here.
I don't know if this guy has been discussed before, his name is Antonio Castillo de la Gala. He was the pianist at the hotel belair for years. Here is a great article about him in the LA times. A great read.

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-hotel-belair29-2009sep29,0,3745983.story

He does have an arrangement of "Somewhere in Time" on you tube. He makes it his own. Check this link
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9UJKxiDW7U&feature=related


Edited by DF12 (01/14/11 04:41 PM)

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#1597635 - 01/14/11 08:59 PM Re: Let's Talk Cocktail Piano [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
josuff247 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 169
Originally Posted By: Piano Girl RMG
I'm not a teacher, but it seems to me that since you can already play, even the very first piece you work on in this style should be something you actually want to play. Go through the fake book, find something you like that's relatively easy (just a few chords).Tell your teacher this is what you would like to work on.


Yeah, I agree. At the time I brought it up, I had nothing in front of me but a book "How to play from a fake book" and thats the tune it started with. I have a Beatles fakebook and am considering either "Rain" or "Yellow Submarine".

By the way, I am most of the way through your book. excellent and inspiring read!
_________________________
http://frostykeys.wordpress.com/

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#1598392 - 01/16/11 01:54 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
Al, you made my day (maybe even my month) with that photo. THANK YOU! To be someone's pre-nap reading is the ultimate compliment.

Josuff, glad you're reading my book and getting something out of it. Hope you move on to a tune you like, although maybe your "How To Play from a Fake Book" techniques book has some tips that merit your attention. Absorb the tips, then start on one of those songs that attract you and apply them there.

Al, I love your quote---"Trying to get better before some realizes how bad I am . . " I think I mentioned before that the trick to sounding good is to know when you sound bad. If you stay within your limitations you'll be okay. That's not to say you shouldn't stretch and try new things---you should! But you'll know when you're ready to go public with those new tricks. That's exactly what I'm doing right now in my down time. My jazz guy husband has given me some lovely new things to work on, so I'm practicing and trying to get them in my fingers before I return to the trenches next week. Fun!
_________________________
Robin Meloy Goldsby
www.goldsby.de
Author of PIANO GIRL: A Memoir
RHYTHM: A Novel
RMG is a Steinway Artist

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#1599236 - 01/17/11 10:31 AM Re: Let's Talk Cocktail Piano [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17746
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
Welcome to the forum, DF12! smile And thanks for the link to that article; it was a wonderful story. 12 years as the hotel pianist probably is some kind of world record; I was sad to hear that they had to let him go when the hotel closed for renovations. And I can't imagine having a 2000-song memorized repertoire! wow
_________________________
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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#1599759 - 01/17/11 11:30 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, DF12, welcome! Thanks for the post---very appropriate for this thread. That's a lovely arrangement of SIT. That piece, though, sounds just as good small as it does big. So don't let all of those arpeggios intimidate any of you who aren't as technically advanced as the musician in the video! This guy can play a lot of notes, and it works beautifully for him, but it might not work for many of us. When I play that way (or try to) I'm always afraid the arpeggio police will swoop down on me and put me under arrest for stealing someone else's style.
_________________________
Robin Meloy Goldsby
www.goldsby.de
Author of PIANO GIRL: A Memoir
RHYTHM: A Novel
RMG is a Steinway Artist

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#1600170 - 01/18/11 03:39 PM Re: Let's Talk Cocktail Piano [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
DF12 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/13/11
Posts: 4
Robin, yes, one has to watch one's arpeggios. It is easy to over do it.
I emailed this guy when the story first broke. I was curious about how he could learn so many songs. He said it was just a natural ability. He also said he had a hard time remembering names. I found that interesting. Anyway, we all have our different strengths. And as a friend of mine reminds me, "play to your strengths".
Below is a link to a radio interview that was done with him by npr. Thanks.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=113316274

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#1601087 - 01/19/11 07:57 PM Re: Let's Talk Cocktail Piano [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
JerryG Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/25/06
Posts: 170
Loc: Long Island, NY
I don't know if this question was asked previously so please forgive me if that is the case.

I was wondering if pieces should be memorized in the key shown in a fake book.

I can play directly from a fake book and do some minor improvisation on the fly. I am having trouble memorizing pieces as I aged. However, I would also like to play for others particularly starting at a Senior Center.

Should I stay in the key written or possibly transpose into the key of C which would simplify things. As I said I can play in any key a piece is written in but it might make memorization a little easier in C.

Any responses from those who play for others will be greatly appreciated to give me the proper direction.
_________________________
IJGpiano

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#1601100 - 01/19/11 08:24 PM Re: Let's Talk Cocktail Piano [Re: JerryG]
jotur Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5448
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
Originally Posted By: JerryG
I don't know if this question was asked previously so please forgive me if that is the case.

I was wondering if pieces should be memorized in the key shown in a fake book.

I can play directly from a fake book and do some minor improvisation on the fly. I am having trouble memorizing pieces as I aged. However, I would also like to play for others particularly starting at a Senior Center.

Should I stay in the key written or possibly transpose into the key of C which would simplify things. As I said I can play in any key a piece is written in but it might make memorization a little easier in C.

Any responses from those who play for others will be greatly appreciated to give me the proper direction.


I can't really answer your question, except my personal experience, and I'm not really a cocktail pianist - oh dear.

But I do play for seniors about 3 x a month, and have for the last year and a half. I memorize many of my tunes - Tuxedo Junction, It had to Be You, and that ilk, and I memorize the printed sheet music pretty much. I have some tunes I've learned from a lead sheet, and I play them in the lead sheet key, because many of those I play with a band.

I'm not sure, if you're not playing with others, or you don't play for singers, that it makes any difference. What *does* make a difference is the performance experience. The more the better. I played a solo paying gig last Sunday, and the year and a half of playing solo for seniors made, literally I think, all the difference in how well it went. I could have played them all in 7 flats and the diners wouldn't have cared, but if I hadn't been able to fake my way thru the mistakes, keep the tune going, nod when they talked to me (I'm not yet able to talk back), and had about 17 tunes - some played more than once - for an hour and a half of actual play time - it would have been a real fail. As far as I can tell I could have used sheet music if I'd wanted to and no one would have cared. But the performance experience itself was mandatory.

FWIW. The cost for the advice was $0, of course laugh

Cathy
_________________________

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#1601209 - 01/20/11 12:31 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
Well said, Cathy! Performance experience is everything.

Jerry G, most good fake books print the songs in their "standard" keys. If you're going to the trouble of learning something, I think it's a good idea to stick to the standard key. Sit down for a moment and analyze the harmonic structure of the piece. Practice some scales and arpeggios in that particular key. Get you fingers used to three flats or four sharps or whatever the case may be. Ultimately this will be a more rewarding musical experience for you than sticking to one key.

Cathy is right. Unless there's a musician in the audience, no one is going to know or care what key you play in.

Regarding singers: You can be pretty much certain that whatever key you've learned the song in will be the wrong key for the singer. Transposing on the spot is challenging to say the least. But most amateur singers (in nursing homes and at most parties) don't know anything about key signatures and will gladly squeak or growl along with anything you play. After identifying the problems you can figure out a better key and transpose for next time. It's a thankless job, but good for your theory and general training.

If you sing yourself---which is always helpful at these singalong events—just put the song in your key. At least you'll sound good!
_________________________
Robin Meloy Goldsby
www.goldsby.de
Author of PIANO GIRL: A Memoir
RHYTHM: A Novel
RMG is a Steinway Artist

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#1601599 - 01/20/11 04:44 PM Re: Let's Talk Cocktail Piano [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
JerryG Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/25/06
Posts: 170
Loc: Long Island, NY
To Cathy and Robin,

Thank you very much for your replies. I thought this was the direction I should be taking; learning from fake book in the key it was written in. Robin, I like your suggestion to map out the piece regarding the chords. I will do that in the future (determining if it is the I IV V chord etc.) which I have on occasion done in my head when I have tried to transpose on the fly.

Are there any suggestions from anyone as to how to go about memorizing a piece.
_________________________
IJGpiano

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#1603416 - 01/23/11 01:52 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
Maps are good things, Jerry. Maybe someone will come up with a GPS system for musicians to help us find our way through a song! Until then, you can do the work in your head. It's helpful to know where you're going before you start to play.

There are some good memorization tips earlier in this thread.

Oh my, at last night's gig I had to do battle with a Dixieland band, complete with tuba. They were in the back parlor, but still, they were quite loud. Luckily they were only engaged for a twenty minute set. I thought of you all, though, because I was right in the middle of my very delicate version of "Somewhere in Time," when "Limehouse Blues" started blasting out of the back room. Usually I'm aware of other musicians in the castle, especially of there's a tuba involved (it's a small place), but these guys were hiding so they could jump out and surprise the birthday boy. Naturally management didn't mention this to me. Scared the wits out of me! An excellent first night back after a peaceful three week break . . .
_________________________
Robin Meloy Goldsby
www.goldsby.de
Author of PIANO GIRL: A Memoir
RHYTHM: A Novel
RMG is a Steinway Artist

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#1603425 - 01/23/11 02:06 AM Re: Let's Talk Cocktail Piano [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
Elssa Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/15/05
Posts: 1541
Loc: NY
My very favorite college music professor played the tuba (classical). I couldn't believe it when I found out what he played.. just the nicest, most quiet gentle guy ever. You never know. Sounds like a very challenging but interesting night, Robin. grin

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#1603539 - 01/23/11 07:57 AM Re: Let's Talk Cocktail Piano [Re: JerryG]
Exalted Wombat Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 1194
Loc: London UK
Originally Posted By: JerryG
I don't know if this question was asked previously so please forgive me if that is the case.

I was wondering if pieces should be memorized in the key shown in a fake book.

I can play directly from a fake book and do some minor improvisation on the fly. I am having trouble memorizing pieces as I aged. However, I would also like to play for others particularly starting at a Senior Center.

Should I stay in the key written or possibly transpose into the key of C which would simplify things. As I said I can play in any key a piece is written in but it might make memorization a little easier in C.

Any responses from those who play for others will be greatly appreciated to give me the proper direction.


C is the HARDEST key to play in - there are so many wrong notes to hit, and no landmarks! Play your instrumental pieces in any key you find comfortable. But have a thought for the vocal range if you're hoping to provoke a sing-along. BTW, the fakebook key is not always the "right" key. Songs are performed and recorded in the key that suits that particular singer's range, and (unlike the majority of fakebook versions) this won't ALWAYS be C or Eb :-)

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