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#1966564 - 09/29/12 10:29 PM What to play at restorants, bars, etc...???
magic_fingers Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/29/12
Posts: 4
What to play at this events, for 3, 4 hours at lunch or diners?

Solo piano.

Is there any experienced pianist on this topic?

Im a classical trained pianist. On master studies.

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#1966573 - 09/29/12 10:56 PM Re: What to play at restorants, bars, etc...??? [Re: magic_fingers]
jotur Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 6330
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
I don't play classical, I play stuff from the turn of the last century thru about 1946. I don't play 3 or 4 hours gigs - an hour usually. But I figure 18 - 20 of those tunes an hour. Memorized. And I'm background, not center stage, so even tho one could dance to many of my tunes I try not to make them intrusively so - people aren't going to get up and dance at most restaurants, and they often want to talk to each other while the music's going on.

The "weddings" thread at the top of this forum has some good discussion of playing these kinds of gigs. Robin Goldsby is a professional pianist that plays exactly the gigs you're asking about.

You could search for Red Head's threads (there's a search button in the upper right of your screen) - she plays in a department store - a similar kind of experience.

And there's several jazz pianists who post here who will have other perspectives on tunes, numbers of tunes, length of sets, what's appropriate for what venues, etc.

But, as far as I can tell, it takes a lot of tunes laugh


Practice like you are the worst; play like you are the best - anonymous

#1967045 - 09/30/12 07:45 PM Re: What to play at restorants, bars, etc...??? [Re: magic_fingers]
LadyChen Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/25/12
Posts: 521
Loc: Canada
I play for brunches occasionally -- it's a 4 hour gig, and I take a 15 min break every 45 min.

Like you, I'm classically trained, but i play a bit of jazz as well. I try to provide a variety of genres -- some classical, pop, movie themes, big band favorites, etc. You need a pretty good collection of music to fill up 3-4 set lists.

Some examples of repertoire I use are:

popular stuff: Billy Joel songs like And so it goes and Just the way you are, John Lennon's Imagine, Simon and Garfunkel's Bridge over troubled water

Movie themes: theme from love story, Moon River, The Shadow of your smile, theme from godfather

big band favorites: Stardust, Tangerine, Moonglow, Stella by starlight, girl from ipanema, all the things you are

classical: 1st mvt of Moonlight sonata, slow mvt of pathetique, any preludes from WTC, Mendelssohn Song without words, some Chopin nocturnes or preludes

..basically anything that won't give a person indigestion LOL.

Also, be ready for people to request songs that you don't know. You can always say,"I'm not familiar with that one, but how about.. " and offer up something from your list.

#1967144 - 10/01/12 12:37 AM Re: What to play at restorants, bars, etc...??? [Re: LadyChen]
Victorius Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/25/11
Posts: 4
LadyChen, "The Shadow of your smile" is one of my favorites. I could add some of my other favorites: "Our love is here to stay", "Hallelujah I Love Her So", "Georgia on my mind", "In the mood", "Summertime", "Somewhere Over The Rainbow", "Fly Me To The Moon", "Autumn leaves".

#1967151 - 10/01/12 01:12 AM Re: What to play at restorants, bars, etc...??? [Re: magic_fingers]
rintincop Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/11/04
Posts: 1729
Magic Fingers, you really can play whatever you want when playing background piano. People don't listen closely at all. They just want a pleasant piano sound. You will see what works for you and what doesn't, that's the best way. Trust in yourself and your own intuition.

#1967254 - 10/01/12 10:52 AM Re: What to play at restorants, bars, etc...??? [Re: magic_fingers]
TromboneAl Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/12/04
Posts: 797
Loc: Northern, Northern California
Do some googling for things lie "the 100 most-requested jazz tunes," and choose your favorites from that list.
- Al

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

#1967949 - 10/02/12 08:56 PM Re: What to play at restorants, bars, etc...??? [Re: jotur]
Redhead1 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/07/10
Posts: 146
Originally Posted By: jotur

You could search for Red Head's threads (there's a search button in the upper right of your screen) - she plays in a department store - a similar kind of experience.

Oh, I'm so flattered! wow

I learned here from Robin Meloy Goldsby that the best thing is to play music that you yourself enjoy. So I've played everything from "Playboy Mommy" by Tori Amos to "I Don't Like Mondays" by The Boomtown Rats to Lady Gaga to Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon album to "Sweet Transvestite" and "Time Warp" from Rocky Horror.

I have a Hal Leonard Fake Book with 1,000 songs that I almost always bring. But honestly, I play all kinds of stuff. This past weekend I dug out some old music and brought books of Fleetwood Mac, Joni Mitchell, and arrangements from Fiddler on the Roof!

I rarely play classical, but when I do, it's easy stuff like minuets and sonatinas.

Good luck! Do you have a new gig??
Jennifer McCoy Blaske
Pianist and Author


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