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#1960887 - 09/18/12 10:08 PM Advice on Piano Parties
TromboneAl Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/12/04
Posts: 794
Loc: Northern, Northern California
I got the idea of regular piano parties from this forum, mentioned it to a pianist friend, and it looks like we already have about seven enthusiastic people interested. It also looks like I'll be leading them, at least at the start.

So, any advice on how to run these?
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My Book: Becoming a Great Sight-Reader -- or Not!
My Blog: The Year of Piano Sight-Reading

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#1960927 - 09/18/12 11:28 PM Re: Advice on Piano Parties [Re: TromboneAl]
Sand Tiger Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/25/12
Posts: 1015
Loc: Southern California
I've never been to a piano party. I do regularly attend Songmakers hoots in Southern California. The Songmakers format is a song circle with each person taking a turn. No alcohol at official events. Event is four hours with a break after two hours. Light refreshments are served and there is a donation basket to help defray the cost. One or two others bring food, but it is not a potluck format.

For piano it is not so easy as guitar oriented groups. If you want to get a lot more people, Meetup.com is one way (cost $12 a month to be an event organizer). From the forum, I've heard of Meetup piano groups in Long Beach, CA and Montreal, QC.

If I were doing it, I would contact everyone and see if they wanted to perform. Depending on the level of the participants, I might have everyone take at least one turn and suggest they each prepare a short piece of 1 to 5 minutes. Maybe have two of the more advanced people be featured performers with longer pieces (10 to 15 minutes). With eight people that makes for about a 90 minute event. There are often transitions, story, questions, introductions, jokes, so schedule 50% to 100% more time than the timed pieces might run on a CD.

I'd do it every other month or every three months to start. That will let others that attend host the other months if they want a different format.

One problem is those that want to play but not listen, or want to always be featured performer, or feel the need to criticize or correct the others. It can make for awkward situations.

At Songmakers it is informal, the songs tend to be two minutes long, with only a few going longer. Plenty of people show up late, and/or leave early.

Too many rules can make for a sterile environment. Too few, and it can be chaos, with those with the biggest egos hogging the spotlight and the agenda. Some folks can be opinionated, and controlling, so be prepared for some flak. It is another reason for the no alcohol rule at Songmakers, because drinking can make an unpleasant situation turn ugly or even violent. Unpleasantness is unlikely at the first meeting, but as groups go on, and people get different ideas, petty feuds and grudges are common in small groups.
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#1960946 - 09/19/12 01:19 AM Re: Advice on Piano Parties [Re: TromboneAl]
jotur Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5504
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
I've only been to two - in Denver (there's been more parties than that, but I could make two.)

There's usually 5 or 6 piano players, + spouses and friends, and it's really informal. So much so that sometimes most of us are in the kitchen eating while someone is playing laugh That does not, however, mean you can get away with anything while you play laugh

People just sit down and play any time they feel like it, and for however long they want to play. And there's often some discussion when someone's done about what they've played, or how they do something cool, or what technical kinds of things they're working on, and ideas about how to approach it. It's a great cooperation feel.

At one I went to we had a guest artiste who played a short concert for us, and I think that was true at one I didn't make, too. But at the last one it was just us Piano World Forumers playing.

We had every kind of genre - classical, jazz, pop, a couple of wonderful improvers (hi, Inlanding!), my 1940's stuff, whatever.

Some friends of mine are in one in Los Alamos and I think it's similar, tho they may not all be in the kitchen while someone plays laugh . But they meet fairly regularly - once a month? - and not everyone has something ready to play. But still an informal let's-get-together-and-play-piano rather than a concert/performance kind of thing.

I suspect they are anything the participants want them to be. I just met another PWer who has been to a couple bigger ones that are pot lucks after the playing. We may have one here in Santa Fe.

So there's another approach, any way.

Cathy



Edited by jotur (09/19/12 01:23 AM)
Edit Reason: spelling. sigh.
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#1962364 - 09/22/12 12:53 AM Re: Advice on Piano Parties [Re: TromboneAl]
yamahaha Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/03/07
Posts: 29
Loc: Monterey Bay area
I belong to a group that meets once a month. There are seven of us, we've been meeting for about six years. We meet in the afternoon, take turns at each others homes. Whoever hosts fixes tea or coffee and a light snack. We have become dear friends to each other over the years, so we usually talk about whatever is happening in our lives for a while. Then we play. We are always quiet while someone is playing, we then talk about the music and the issues we have playing it. Then the next person plays. We usually spend about 2 1/2 hrs. Its fun, its inspiring, we learn stuff from each other. And it keeps us engaged in playing. Its become very special to us all.

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#1963233 - 09/23/12 03:45 PM Re: Advice on Piano Parties [Re: TromboneAl]
TromboneAl Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/12/04
Posts: 794
Loc: Northern, Northern California
Thanks guys! Our first meeting is this Thursday. I'm the only male so far.
_________________________
- Al

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

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#1965700 - 09/28/12 10:18 AM Re: Advice on Piano Parties [Re: TromboneAl]
TromboneAl Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/12/04
Posts: 794
Loc: Northern, Northern California
The first party was quite a success. Six women and me. There are more piano addicts out there than I realized. We had many different backgrounds and levels. We've scheduled the next one for next month.
_________________________
- Al

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

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#1965706 - 09/28/12 10:31 AM Re: Advice on Piano Parties [Re: TromboneAl]
jotur Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5504
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
Great to hear. Did you actually play some two piano duets, like you were asking about in the other thread? I get such a kick out of stuff like this. Thanks for reporting back.

Cathy
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#1965720 - 09/28/12 11:06 AM Re: Advice on Piano Parties [Re: jotur]
TromboneAl Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/12/04
Posts: 794
Loc: Northern, Northern California
Originally Posted By: jotur
Great to hear. Did you actually play some two piano duets, like you were asking about in the other thread? I get such a kick out of stuff like this. Thanks for reporting back.

Cathy


Yes, I did. The host had a Yamaha upright and a Casio Privia. The tune that worked best was a simple blues. She played a boogie-woogie bassline while I improvised, then I played a walking bassline while she played around.

Also, there was another player who had worked out a very nice chord progression, all in C, and she played that while I showed her how one could add an improvised line.

That woman was just starting with jazz, but had a great ear, and had been working out "Summer Samba" from a recording (including the chords).
_________________________
- Al

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

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#1965739 - 09/28/12 11:40 AM Re: Advice on Piano Parties [Re: TromboneAl]
jotur Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5504
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
I love it. And I love it that you guys "talked piano" and not just performed. That's one of the things I like about the Denver piano parties, too - that chance to delve into some of techniques and share ideas.

Hope the next one goes well, too.

Cathy
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