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#2136700 - 08/21/13 04:35 PM Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3168
Loc: Virginia, USA
A sad day. Years ago I used to make sure I always caught her radio show on NPR. She seemed such a decent, down to earth person, besides the incredible talent of course.

95? Was she still playing?
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#2136720 - 08/21/13 05:11 PM Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17747
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
Very sad. frown You did such a good job describing Marian in "Waltz of the Asparagus People" that I almost felt I knew her.
_________________________
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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#2136927 - 08/22/13 04:00 AM Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
Piano Girl RMG Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 702
Loc: Germany
Thanks, Monica. It was easy to describe such a colorful character. She absolutely sparkled.

Tim, she gave up her hosting duties of the show last year, but stayed on as Artistic Director. Her letters to me indicated that she was still playing at home. I know she had a couple of those tribute concerts recently, where she played with other artists.

"Down to earth" would be a good way to describe her, but she also had an elegance that I truly enjoyed. She loved music; she loved musicians, and pretty much dedicated her life to those two passions.
_________________________
Robin Meloy Goldsby
www.goldsby.de
Author of PIANO GIRL: A Memoir
RHYTHM: A Novel
RMG is a Steinway Artist

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#2137709 - 08/23/13 12:33 PM Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
Jeff Clef Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 4414
Loc: San Jose, CA
I know Marian was a jazz pianist, but I turn to Bach for these occasions. He seems to have a way of fully registering the feeling of such a life, which no one paragraph or profile is going to do.

It happened that I was driving to San Francisco to spend the day with my dentist, when I heard the news on NPR (so I already had plenty to cry about). They had a wonderful profile on Morning Edition, and some further mention on All Things Considered--- especially nice, because they closed the segment with a clip of Marian playing "There Will Never Be Another You."

If it should be my fate to live to be 95 (it appears unlikely), her example is a good target to aim for. I considered for many years that age 31 was so ancient and over-the-hill that it was extremely unlikely that I would ever make it that far; even less that I would ever do so vulgar a thing as to get, actually, old. But, I have had to reconsider--- and, after all, a teenager has many, very silly beliefs, which there is no point in dragging all the way through life.

Even my first piano teacher was mistaken, when she told me that if I didn't learn to play properly by the time I was 16, I probably never would. Well. Life can be longer than we think... and it doesn't pay to give up and quit trying, just because we're over 16, or just because the goal may remain out of reach.

There will never be another Marian McPartland, just as there will never be another Bach--- not exactly. Still, who can say what wonders may be in store, awaiting their time within the bosom of Nature. It is foreseeable, but only in the most general way. Who could have known that the grief of parting could be paired with the delight of creation, and the fullness of complete satisfaction--- before Bach. It feels true, whether it is, or not. Maybe I have been so sunstruck by the noon of the high Baroque that I have been deafened to most music that has come after--- or maybe, the invention of the tube amp is to blame, helped by the transistor.

I sure enjoyed Marian a lot though, and wish her well. I haven't forgotten the time when she sent flowers to Robin, with best wishes for opening night... even though Marian was performing at another venue. That one little gesture has warmed up the whole world.
_________________________
Clef


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#2138091 - 08/24/13 04:14 AM Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
Piano Girl RMG Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 702
Loc: Germany
Thanks for this post, Clef. You warmed up my world with your words. Putting on the Bach, right now, hoping to be "sun-struck by the noon of high Baroque."
_________________________
Robin Meloy Goldsby
www.goldsby.de
Author of PIANO GIRL: A Memoir
RHYTHM: A Novel
RMG is a Steinway Artist

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#2138145 - 08/24/13 08:30 AM Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
Jeff Clef Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 4414
Loc: San Jose, CA
I believe it was Albert Schweitzer who used the phrase, in his two-volume biography of Bach (as well as saying many other very worthwhile things).
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Clef


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#2138328 - 08/24/13 01:59 PM Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: Jeff Clef]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3168
Loc: Virginia, USA
Veering slightly from the topic, Jeff said he was spending the day with his dentist. Hopefully they were on the golf course!

But if not! I recently spent a half day in the dentist's chair, and it was the least unpleasant experience I'd ever had. I opted for something called sedation dentistry, which is a bit more expensive and not covered by insurance. But I'm almost phobic about the dentist, have a highly developed gag reflex, and needed a lot of work. They sprinkled a little powder under the tongue, started to clamp some nose gas thingie on me, and........I was done, with no memory of 4 hours in the chair. And he was able to finish several teeth in one shot rather than multiple appointments. It was totally worth it.

When I heard about Marian passing, I googled for the news stories, and got a rather startling surprise. Apparently I'd never seen her, though I had a memory of watching her on some PBS TV show. She looked so totally different from my mental image - I couldn't believe how badly I'd got it wrong. In hindsight I can see how her voice fit the person, but in my brain that familiar voice was associated with a very different picture.
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#2138592 - 08/25/13 01:13 AM Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21296
Loc: Oakland
I went to see her perform a few years ago, a rare venture out to a show I was not tuning for. She was charming.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#2138628 - 08/25/13 04:28 AM Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
Piano Girl RMG Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 702
Loc: Germany
Here is a link to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette and a little piece I wrote about Marian. They published it in their weekend "First Person" column. This is a mini version of the story in "Waltz of the Asparagus People."

Happy reading.

http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/opinion/perspectives/first-person-the-lady-could-play-700554/
_________________________
Robin Meloy Goldsby
www.goldsby.de
Author of PIANO GIRL: A Memoir
RHYTHM: A Novel
RMG is a Steinway Artist

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#2140126 - 08/28/13 09:16 AM Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
Jeff Clef Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 4414
Loc: San Jose, CA
And Today In Wedding History:

"...The first production of Lohengrin was in Weimar, Germany on 28 August 1850 at the Staatskapelle Weimar under the direction of Franz Liszt, a close friend and early supporter of Wagner. Liszt chose the date in honour of Weimar's most famous citizen, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who was born on 28 August 1749.[1] Despite the inadequacies of the lead tenor Karl Beck,[2] it was an immediate popular success.

"Wagner himself was unable to attend the first performance, having been exiled because of his part in the 1849 May Uprising in Dresden. Although he conducted various extracts in concert... it was not until 1861 in Vienna that he was able to attend a full performance."


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lohengrin (opera)

"...The "Bridal Chorus"... is a march played for the bride's entrance at many formal weddings throughout the Western world, ... generally known as "Here Comes the Bride" or "Wedding March" (though actually "wedding march" refers to any piece in march tempo accompanying the entrance or exit of the bride, notably Felix Mendelssohn's "Wedding March").

"...The chorus is sung in Lohengrin by the women of the wedding party after the ceremony, as they accompany the heroine Elsa to the bridal chamber. Furthermore, the marriage between Elsa and Lohengrin is an almost immediate failure...

"The "Bridal Chorus" is opposed by many pastors of the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod because of pre-First World War Lutheran opposition to the theater and to the pagan elements of Wagner's operas. The Roman Catholic Church generally does not use the "Bridal Chorus"; one diocese's guidelines regarding the piece states that the chorus is a secular piece of music, that it is not a processional to the altar in the opera, and especially that its frequent use in film and television associate it with sentimentality rather than worship..."


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bridal_Chorus
_________________________
Clef


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#2140197 - 08/28/13 11:35 AM Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
Piano Girl RMG Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 702
Loc: Germany
Which is why, of course, the theme from Forrest Gump has become a standard processional in ceremonies worldwide. Stupid is as stupid does.
_________________________
Robin Meloy Goldsby
www.goldsby.de
Author of PIANO GIRL: A Memoir
RHYTHM: A Novel
RMG is a Steinway Artist

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#2140290 - 08/28/13 02:34 PM Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
Sir Lurksalot Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/19/04
Posts: 1241
As someone who hasn't played in public since high school (over 30 years ago), I hardly feel worthy to post in this thread. Heck, it's been about a year since I even bothered to read any of the interesting and amusing posts here. But I've been meaning to share this for a while, from the "Yes, That's Really What the Bride Wanted" department.

When my son was 16, he started landing the occasional wedding ceremony and/or reception gig, from people who wanted a pianist but didn't have a big budget. The following year, he played acoustic piano for a ceremony in a church that had previously been a large wooden barn. A week or two before the ceremony, the bride emailed a list of songs to play. My son forwarded it to me. He was familiar with most of the songs, but he'd never actually played any of them.

For gathering music, the first song was Steve Winwood's "Back in the High Life Again." A bit non-traditional for a wedding, I thought, but maybe it's "their song" or something. Next came Billy Idol's "White Wedding." Check out the lyrics if you don't know it. Yes, this really happened. Then came a couple other pop/rock songs I've since forgotten. The processional was a recent new-agey type thing by a European guy whose name escapes me (not Vangelis).

For the actual ceremony, a friend of the bride sang and played guitar. But it was the solo piano recessional that made this the wedding I'll never forget - even though I wasn't there: Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love." The driving bass line, the screaming melody, the flowers, the lovely bridesmaids, I wish I could have seen it. In this case, if you don't know the lyrics (which were NOT sung at the wedding), it's probably for the best.

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#2140342 - 08/28/13 05:00 PM Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17747
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
That is one wedding I would've died to be at. laugh

I'm old enough that I was watching MTV when all it showed was music videos, and that video for "White Wedding" is even more disturbing than the lyrics. I'm not laying good money down on the longevity of this marriage...
_________________________
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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#2140630 - 08/29/13 10:17 AM Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
Jeff Clef Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 4414
Loc: San Jose, CA
Lurksalot, if you have more sugarplums like that... please get busy at the keyboard and keep 'em coming. Your topic, "Yes, That's Really What the Bride Wanted," has received an instant field brevet to a Category in "Wedding Jeopardy." Pretty much like Monica said--- though unlike Monica, I would have paid money to stay away, and would have taken her word for it.

I think there's a chance the bride thought she was ordering tracks for her wedding DJ, not realizing that a pianist is different.

I find myself trying to picture what was served as refreshments at the reception--- and with that, I'll stop. Gone far enough.


Edited by Jeff Clef (08/29/13 10:21 AM)
_________________________
Clef


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#2141778 - 08/31/13 11:32 AM Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: Sir Lurksalot]
gdguarino Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/20/07
Posts: 317
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Sir Lurksalot
As someone who hasn't played in public since high school (over 30 years ago), I hardly feel worthy to post in this thread.

All of good cheer are worthy. I haven't been around as much lately, but there has never been an entry exam for participation in this thread.
Originally Posted By: Sir Lurksalot
For gathering music, the first song was Steve Winwood's "Back in the High Life Again." A bit non-traditional for a wedding, I thought, but maybe it's "their song" or something. Next came Billy Idol's "White Wedding."

I never listened to the lyrics. That song was nearly unavoidable in its heyday, but with sufficient diligence and quick reflexes, one could turn the dial fast enough to limit one's exposure.

It's hard to imagine a piano solo version of Whole Lotta Love; I commend your son for the effort. I'd have been tempted to put a guitar slide on the piano strings near the end.

I may have mentioned this before, but we played "A Good Hearted Woman (in Love With a Good-Timin' Man)" as a first dance song a few years ago. "Beauty and the Beast" is romantic in a Disney sort of way, but always seemed less than completely complimentary to the groom. Our old wedding band played that back when it was popular, although never as a first dance.

"Every Breath You Take" was rumored to be a frequently requested song also, presumably among people who don't pay close attention to lyrics. That includes a good chunk of the population, including political operatives who have famously asked to use songs like "Born in the U.S.A." and "Little Pink Houses" ("Ain't That America") in ads for their candidates.

There was even a story, likely apocryphal, that a local politician thought that Randy Newman's "Burn On, Big River" was a paean to Cleveland. And indeed, with the soaring arrangement and clever lyrics "Cleveland, city of light, city of magic", you might miss that the "light" and "magic" in the lyric refer to a time when the polluted Cuyahoga river caught fire.


Edited by gdguarino (08/31/13 12:21 PM)
_________________________
Greg Guarino

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#2142637 - 09/02/13 02:45 AM Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
Piano Girl RMG Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 702
Loc: Germany
"All of good cheer are worthy. I haven't been around as much lately, but there has never been an entry exam for participation in this thread."

Well said, Greg.

I am headed to the studio today to begin recording my Christmas album. After two months of torturing my neighbors with the likes of "We Three Kings" and "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" I think I am ready.

The thing is, I have a kick-butt wedding story from this weekend, but (because of the sessions) I don't have time to write it up properly. I'll get it to you later in the week. It involves 100 Russians, about 500 gallons of WODKA, and a soul singer. Oh, there's an indecent exposure incident and a rapping father-of -the-bride as well.

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

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#2155371 - 09/22/13 05:05 AM Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
Piano Girl RMG Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 702
Loc: Germany
Sorry for the delay. The Three Kings are in the can and the Night is officially Silent. Hark the Hairy—oh never mind. But I have finished my Xmas recording and I think it will be quite nice.

Now for the promised story:

PART 1: Na Zdorovie!

Two weeks ago ye olde castle hosted a Russian wedding. I was not booked to play for the Russian wedding, but I dutifully showed up at the appointed time to play my regularly scheduled Saturday night gig—a two hour musical romp in the castle lobby, performing for the fine dining crowd. I love this gig. It's peaceful, calm, acoustically perfect.

Imagine my shock and horror when I stepped out of my car in the parking lot—some distance from the lobby—and heard (boomba boomba boomba, boom) the throb of techno music shaking the castle walls. I could almost feel the gravel vibrating under my feet. It was that loud.

If there's anything worse than techno music it's Russian techno music. Hoopa shoopa shoy yoy yoy—that's what it sounded like to me, although I'm sure the lyrics, had I understood them, would have been poignant and wedding-appropriate. The nuptial celebration was taking place in the back parlor— a beautiful salon that holds about 100 people for dinner. The techno band, imported from St.Petersburg, was stuffed in a corner of the salon. I was actually surprised to see a live band; from the sound of the music I was sure there was a DJ back there. Credit where credit is due— I think there must be a certain amount of skill involved in getting a live band to sound exactly like really bad electronic music. Silently, I tipped my hat to all of them. The lead singer, Svetlana, with a killer body and a steely voice, wore a sapphire-blue catsuit. A wonder in lycra.

The song ended. I stood next to the GM, peeking into the salon, and applauded, because, what else could I do? I couldn't play. I know a losing battle when I hear one, and no way was I entering into a Battle of the Bands with the techno branch of Pussy Riot. That's when the chanting started.

WODKA, WODKA, WODKA!!!!!

I noticed that the wine glasses had been replaced by shot glasses. There were hundreds of them set up in the lobby—towering pyramids of crystal reflected the candlelight, the strobe light, and the glare of the videographer's spotlight as he recorded the celebration for future generations to enjoy.

WODKA, WODKA, WODKA!!!!!

The father of the bride, sporting a white John Travolta suit, got up and performed a rap song for his daughter. The techno band accompanied him. There was not a dry eye in the house. Russian Rap, it gets you every time. Then, out of nowhere, a black singer from Berlin (a transplanted New Yorker), got up and sang "Georgia on My Mind." It occurred to me that maybe he was singing about the "other" Georgia, but I wasn't about to start a political discussion on such a sentimental occasion. Mainly, I was bewildered by the singer, whose name was Phil, and how he ended up with Svetlana & Co. at a Russian wedding in Germany. He may well have been thinking the same about me.

WODKA, WODKA, WODKA!!!!!

A word now about the outfits. If you want to see the most beautiful women in the world, go hang out at an event hosted by wealthy Russians. At this evening's event Eastern European supermodels, making comebacks from careers they never had, clung to the arms of middle aged stout men wearing good suits in questionable colors. The young women (or old girls) wore Prada, Chanel, and Versace. They were all hip bones, chiseled cheeks, and shiny long hair. Golden, glowing, perfect. Trophies, all of them.

To be continued (because I have to get dressed for my Sunday lunch gig).


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

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#2155595 - 09/22/13 03:35 PM Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
Piano Girl RMG Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 702
Loc: Germany
PART 2: Na Zdorovie!

Alas, after witnessing one more Russian rap song from the father of the bride (accompanied by a slide show of the bride in her formative years), my boss pried me away from the salon door and sent me downstairs to play in the comparative peace and quiet of the castle's French Brasserie. I could still hear the clumpy thump of the bass, but I was out of range of the girl singer and the amped-up saxophone player (who had possibly taken steroids before the gig started).

I was a little mad to be sent into castle exile—it had been great fun watching the party. The dancing had just started, the wodka swilling was reaching frenzied proportions, and, well, I didn't want to miss a second of it, mainly because I knew that any shindig that featured European super models and middle aged men with lots of gold teeth was bound include an Incident or Two. But, good employee that I am, I settled into my little corner of elegance next to the wine cellar and played an hour's worth of tinka-tinka music. The guests around me sipped Savignon Blanc and took dainty slurps of their bouillabaisse. Lovely indeed, but I couldn't help thinking I was missing something by not being upstairs with all of the Action. Drat. Who wants champagne when they could be knocking back shots of Grey Goose?

Tune in tomorrow for Part 3, the dramatic climax of the Russian wedding story, which takes place in the Ladies Room.
_________________________
Robin Meloy Goldsby
www.goldsby.de
Author of PIANO GIRL: A Memoir
RHYTHM: A Novel
RMG is a Steinway Artist

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#2155889 - 09/23/13 12:32 AM Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
The Wind Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/28/13
Posts: 468
Playing for FREE for friends?

For the working pianists how do you deal that. I've had a few ask me to play at their wedding and I don't want to be rude and turn them down but also don't feel respected. Should I just say that will be my wedding gift to them? Or say I can do it at a discounted rate?

I value their friendship more than the $ I would make, yet I know many musicians also face this. Everyone just wants their skills for nothing.

I've had people ask me to play for charities or dinners for free and I just tell them I have a standard rate. But some are non-profit or in fundraising mode so don't have a budget. I'll ask for an honorarium then and tell them just give me what they can.

Would like to hear my fellow pianists thoughts and experiences on this.

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#2155926 - 09/23/13 01:58 AM Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
Piano Girl RMG Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 702
Loc: Germany
I have a standard policy for this, because yes, it does come up now and then. It's a good question, Wind.

First, really good friends won't ask you to play for free—they might ask if you if you're available and what you charge, so you should be prepared if you sense this is about to happen. Please note: I am NOT talking about playing for free for the neighbor down the street or someone you know vaguely. My policy applies to good friends only. The rest of them can pay the standard rate, or a discounted rate if you're feeling generous (see below). Here are my rules:

1. Never offer to play free of charge if you are missing a paying gig to do so. For me, this means I am tied up on Friday and Saturday evenings, and during the day on Sunday. If you really want to be at the wedding and play for your friend, then be honest and tell them that you'll be missing a gig on that date, so you'll have to charge them enough to "pay for your sub." Trust me, a good friend will understand this!

2. Set limits and insist on a good piano. I always say, "As my wedding gift to you, I will play for one hour (or two) during your cocktail reception (or ceremony). It's up to you to make sure a tuned piano is there." (This sometimes cancels the whole deal, because most venues don't have pianos and renting a grand is so pricey). Anyway, put a time limit on it and make sure they are providing a tuned instrument.

3. For those "friends" who are not close (but still close enough that you feel obliged to offer them something), offer a "friendship price,". Tell them what you normally charge, then give them a nice discount. I charge a lot to play a wedding (like, really a lot), so even if I give someone a 50 % discount I am still doing really well.

Playing for free for dear friends as they celebrate their marriages? I love it! If I'm going to be at the party anyway, why not make my music a wedding gift to them? It doesn't happen all that often, and when it does, it's an honor. I think if you set limits and enter the situation with a great attitude, you'll be treated as a hero and have fun at the same time.

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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#2156710 - 09/24/13 08:57 AM Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3168
Loc: Virginia, USA
For my own wedding (which happened to be 30 years ago today, except it was on a Saturday) the band offered a discount. I would not have dreamed of asking.

The band leader gave up his fee plus the leader fee as a wedding gift, and the rest of the band made their usual rate, so everybody was happy.
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#2156880 - 09/24/13 02:44 PM Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17747
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
Originally Posted By: Piano Girl RMG
Credit where credit is due— I think there must be a certain amount of skill involved in getting a live band to sound exactly like really bad electronic music.


Hilarious! laugh

Last weekend I spent three hours in a car driving four teenagers back from an academic team tournament, 2.9 hours of which was spent in an earnest dissertation by one of the teenagers (accompanied nonstop by musical examples) on the extremely important, if subtle, distinctions among "electronica," "electronic dance music," "techno," "dubstep," and--hard though it may be to believe--"whale dubstep."

Oh well. It was better than listening to rap. wink

_________________________
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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#2157147 - 09/24/13 11:13 PM Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
Jeff Clef Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 4414
Loc: San Jose, CA
Thank the Lord, rap's star has set.

What a lovely atunement you have, Monica, to those adorable teens. As for my own teenage years, I have realized that my first, adored (really; not that other, snide way) piano teacher assigned me a Bach Invention, as a purported recital piece, but actually with an ulterior motive. The noon of the high baroque; gorgeous. Even Bach's little teaching pieces were masterworks. I loved my piece, and tried so hard to take it in. Even over later years. No results.

In truth, I think she realized, as I have since, that there was no way I was going to be able to learn that piece... not before acquiring the support of many hundreds of hours of keyboard technique. Now that I'm getting there (and not wasting my attention on whatever trash the radio stations are pushing these days), I realize that my beloved teacher wanted me gone. I was thankfully blind at the time.

It was effective. Another hint was, that she informed me that if I didn't learn to play by the age of sixteen, I never would learn. Of course, she had no way of knowing in 1966 that a new demographic would emerge: mature and serious learners, with enough bucks for good pianos, and time for lessons and practice. There was no such thing as a computer back then; not even calculators and digital watches.

Because, since I have bored my neighbors to screams with scales, arps, exercises and technical studies, and phrases parsed out, counted out, and repeated over and over and over, RH-LH-BH... well, it's just beginning to dawn on me that Bach had an end game in play. And, maybe my teacher was using reverse psychology.

But, we never did scales. No Hanon, no method books, no concerts, no listening to recordings, no composition, no nothing. No graded repertory. I had never heard of them until I started study as an adult. Do you suppose reading at sight was all she knew about? It couldn't be. Then again. My school was considered good, but I now realize that many of the teachers were not particularly well-educated themselves. The general Bible Belt atmosphere encouraged authoritarianism and football (which was worshiped; a flagrant violation of "Thou shalt have no other gods before Me."), and being intellectually adventurous was frowned down.

I suppose that even music publishing has experienced a revolution; pedagogy certainly has; audio recording technology has. And if you remember the 60's, you'll remember how appalling American piano manufacturing was (with a few wonderful exceptions). It is as if the tired old nag we were riding, those last few miles before the glue factory, has grown under our very stirrups into a spirited and powerful stallion, as if touched by some magic wand.

Can you parse the riddle? I've had this problem persistently over the years. Teachers, I suppose, look at me and think I must be richer and more advanced in technique than I really am, and they consistently assign me studies which are well beyond my capabilities. They're bored, I'm frustrated; maybe it has done me some good... but I have not turned into a stallion worthy of the other tools. Spiteful genie! I just try to gather up some treasures as I may, on the downgrade.


Edited by Jeff Clef (09/24/13 11:19 PM)
_________________________
Clef


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#2157820 - 09/26/13 05:33 AM Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
Piano Girl RMG Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 702
Loc: Germany
Sorry for the delay. I was interrupted by a last minute gig playing cocktail piano for a group of inventors, hosted by a team of venture capitalists. One by one the inventors would go into the parlor and pitch their inventions to the cats with the money. I stayed outside in the main hall and tried to play music to inspire them, but who knows if I was successful. I play for these guys (there are never any women involved) twice a year and I am always tempted to get in line to try and pitch something. But, what? "Hey, guys, here's a song I wrote in F major. You're gonna love it—especially the turn around at the end of the first A section. Can I please have 100,000 $ to orchestrate and record it? Thanks."

Anyway, here is the final installment of the Russian wedding story, not for the faint of heart. If you missed parts 1 & 2, you can scroll back to the previous page to read them.

PART 3: Na Zdorovie!

"Well, what a fine establishment this is," shouted an elderly woman to her young companion as she passed the piano. "There's live music everywhere! Here is this nice lady playing the piano and upstairs there's international music. People are dancing in a line and yelling things in one of those Eastern European languages. I think it was Polish."

"It's Russian," I said from the piano.

"WHAT?" she shouted.

"Russian," I said. "It's Russian."

"Really?" she said. "You don't look Russian."

I smiled, bailed while I was ahead, and noodled around in D minor, because that sounds vaguely Russian to me. I remember as a little girl I had once played a piece called "Dark Eyes." My teacher told me it was a Russian theme. I have always been a sucker for a good D minor dirge. Get out the wodka, dim the lights, sit in a corner and shiver. Pure romance.

I meandered through the rest of the set, bid farewell to my colleagues, and headed to the ladies' room to take care of business before driving home. There are thick double doors that lead into the ladies' room (my daughter calls this place The Queen's Potty). I opened one, then the other and stepped into the main part of the room, where three marble sinks were situated—an oasis of granite, fine soap, and cloth towels.

Good grief. Standing there, in a green velvet tuxedo, was one of the Russian wedding guests—a man!—using the third marble sink on the right as a urinal.

"Excuse you me!" he shouted in English. "I make beeeeg mistake."

"Oh," I said. For once in my life, words failed me. "Oh."

"I make beeeg mistake. I so ashamed."

The man, let's call him Vlad, was weaving back and forth as he attempted to tuck things back into place.

"I so so ashamed."

I kind of felt sorry for Vlad. I mean, he was in a foreign country—where, let's face it—public restrooms can sometimes present different challenges than they do at home. Anyone who has made a trip into rural Japan can testify to this. Also, Vlad didn't speak German; he was skunk-faced drunk on wodka; and if that wasn't enough, he was wearing the world's most awful green velvet tuxedo. I mean on the pathetic scale, he was pretty high up there.

I decided to be nice. "It's okay," I said. "I work here. No one will know about this."

"Oh thank you, Mrs. Madame."

"You're welcome. Now let's get you where you need to go before one of our other guests comes in here."

"I so ashamed. I make beeg mistake." He kept mumbling this as we shuffled across the hall, where I held open the men's room door for him. I kind of shoved him inside.

"Good-bye-bye, Mrs. Madame," I heard him shout as the door closed behind him.

Thank goodness this happened to me and not one of our regular guests. The über hoity-toity Frau Schwarzkopf-Höffinghof was dining upstairs in the gourmet restaurant, for instance. She would have had a big fit if she had witnessed Vlad peeing in the marble sink. Actually, I think many of our regular guests would have been miffed by the sight of a drunken man using a sink (with gilded fixtures) as a toilet. And if that didn't get to them, the green tuxedo certainly would have.

But Vlad was ashamed, rightfully so, confused, and drunk. He was out of his element, out of his country, and (with all that wodka) a little out of control. For whatever reason, I felt connected to him.

I returned to the ladies' room, did what I needed to do, and carefully avoided the third sink on the right.

Upstairs, the Russians were in full swing. I hoped to see a Kosack dance or something, but it looked like they were doing an odd-meter version of the Electric Slide. Svetlana techno-wailed away; Phil perched on a barstool and waited for his chance to sing "Route 66;" the bride—a drop dead gorgeous column of white satin—hugged her girlfriend and cried; the father, in his white John Travolta suit, leaned back—all rapped-out—and stared at the ceiling; another man in a velvet tuxedo (was this a uniform?) sat crumpled at the table with his head on his dessert plate.

The dance ended, the guests pounded their feet and demanded more wodka, the room buzzed with hope and despair, and I sashayed out of there, thinking that, really, all weddings are alike.

Na Zdorovie! To Russia, with love.







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

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#2159015 - 09/28/13 10:47 AM Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
gdguarino Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/20/07
Posts: 317
Loc: New York City
I have always held that musicians have the best stories. I guess that this is at least partially due to sampling error; I hear more musician’s stories than say, plumber’s stories. And I imagine that plumbers have a knee-pad-slappin' good time too when they get together in their Plumbers' Bars; discussing what Eddie pulled out of the sewer pipe at the Finkels' house, or the time Manny fell through the bedroom ceiling just as the client's wife was getting changed.

What I find especially interesting is the common threads I find in the yarns I read here, even when the "spinner's" musical experience is much different from mine, and even when the story content is not particularly "musical". Robin’s Russians reminded me of this one.

In my tender years - around the age my daughter is now, which really gives me pause - I played in a band that did a lot of Disco. That was never my cup of tea, but we had fun and occasionally made what resembled real money to a teenager.

We somehow booked a gig on a Tuesday night in a Manhattan nightclub. Start time? Midnight. The pay wasn't bad and we were slated to do only one set. I'd have been in college at the time, but I figured to get to bed by 3:00 or so.

The club was called Othello, if memory serves, and the clientele was heavily African-American, long before that term was in common use.

I arrived a little after 10 pm with just my suit bag. The van full of gear would be along pretty soon. There was nary a patron in the house; just a solitary bartender, who took me for a delivery boy of some sort. Not a promising start. I had visions of no one showing up and not getting paid. I asked where I could put my clothes. He showed me to a long, narrow storage room in the back.

We used to take a long time to set up back then. Our gear was big and heavy and took up every cubic millimeter of the van. Getting it out was like disassembling a Japanese wooden puzzle, and only one guy knew how to pack it so it would fit. I once put a microphone case (actually an old steel army ammunition box about the size of a toaster) in without consulting him. We had to unload and repack the whole truck to rectify the error.

It was now approaching midnight with no evidence that the show was starting anytime soon. We noticed a large number of people coming in, but hardly any of them were customers. On closer inspection, we deduced that we weren't the only act on the bill. There were something like twenty Karate students there to break things as acrobatically as possible, and another troupe carrying clothes, racks, makeup and accessories for a fashion show.

Can you guess who was to go on last?

The fashion show was first, finally getting under way at about 1 am. I don't remember the specifics too clearly, just a shiny, tight-fitting, multi-hued, wide brimmed, asymmetric, platform-heeled blur. The place was now crowded with well-dressed, well-heeled customers, who had seemed to simply materialize when the show began.

As the fashion show came to a close, I went to retrieve my suit; a salmon-hued three-piece affair with a Qiana (you youngsters can look it up) shirt and a Paisley tie and handkerchief that a couple of the more style-conscious guys in the band had selected. I used to say that we looked like five giant bottles of Pepto-Bismol on stage (plus a female singer).

The storage room was now occupied, my way blocked by the twenty Karate boys. They all crouched stock still, heads bowed, waiting for a command from the demi-god sensei in the middle of the room. In a sea of white robes, he shimmered in red, black and gold.

I asked one of the underlings if I could get by. He crept nervously over to his master, who dismissed him with a flick of the finger. I waited a while and finally got to my clothes, which were now surrounded by karate props. The props consisted of a couple of swords and spears, a watermelon, and dozens and dozens of 1 foot square by 1/2" thick pieces of very flimsy pine. But the wood was evidently not quite flimsy enough for the intended purpose; each piece had an inconspicuous notch sawn into a pair of opposing edges. I imagine they had to be carried very gingerly, to avoid breaking them by accident.

I got changed and went off to find a bathroom. The place was packed at this point - to get from any one place to another required a strategy – but I managed to find my way there. It was empty when I walked in. As I was – as Robin might put it – attending to “business” at one of the urinals, I heard the faucet running in the sink to my left. It’s not customary to peer around at the other men’s room clientele while “business” is in progress, but something seemed odd; perhaps the color, or the contour of the outline in the corner of my peripheral vision.

I glanced to my left. Sure enough, the person at the sink was a good bit more colorfully dressed - not to mention shapelier - than the dark-suited male guests. Unlike Robin’s Russian inebriate, she didn’t seem the least bit embarrassed. She turned briefly to meet my glance, unhurriedly finished washing and drying her hands and left.

The karate exhibition was in progress on the dance floor when I pushed and slithered my way to the stage to have a look. There were somersaults and flips and stage punches …and shards of wood everywhere, splintered by impacts with hands, feet, elbows and heads. This could just be “memory embellishment”, but I recall one piece splitting in two when someone dropped it on the floor.

The watermelon was for the climax of the show. Three of the underlings crouched on the floor to make a “platform” while a fourth lay across them on his back. With great ceremony the watermelon was placed on his bare abdomen. Another young man came out with the sword, making a large number of slashes and swoops in the air before standing over the Watermelon Man.

With an air of great concentration, and a hand-gesture for silence, he made several trial slashes; each coming a little closer to the melon. Suspense was thick in the air, or it may have been for the patrons. But at this point it was close to 3 a.m. and all I cared about was that their show would end so ours could begin. He could have sliced straight through the watermelon, the guy underneath it, the guy crouched below him and a few inches into the flooring, but we’d finally get to go on and go home. Besides, given the state of the wood they brought, I had a feeling these props may have been “special” in some way as well.

In the end it was a good set for us. The dance floor was impenetrably packed at this point; the people pretty much had to bounce in unison. Playing only one set (three was typical, and four not unheard-of), we brought out all of the “A” material. The crowd was loud and enthusiastic.

Our female singer at the time, also African American, was something special. I remind you it was nearly 4 am, on a Tuesday night (now Wednesday morning). People had had a few drinks by then and the party was jumping. I started playing a quiet solo piano intro to Stevie Wonder’s “You and I”, but you could barely hear it over the reveling. This was not unusual, and I wasn’t concerned. I knew what would happen next; what always happened.

She began to sing. By the end of the first line people started turning their heads toward the band. By the end of the second you could hear a pin drop in the place. It was still just Fender Rhodes and vocal, but in a room filled with shouting, stomping and clinking a few moments before, you could hear every note. No one danced, no one moved.

I must have been killin’ it, man. smile

The rest of the band came in for the second verse. For those who are not familiar with the song, it reaches a vocal climax in the bridge. There was a roar as she sang those lines, again, as always. And as many times as we had played it, a shiver went down my spine as she hit the top note. I’d like to think that maybe 1% of the roar was for me, but that is probably an overestimation.

I got home sometime after my Dad had already woken up, which did not go unremarked.

I still keep in touch with most of those bandmates from time to time. We became good friends, and of course have a trove of stories to relive when we see each other. Through selective (and creative) memory, some of them have grown funnier over the years.
_________________________
Greg Guarino

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#2159352 - 09/28/13 08:45 PM Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
gdguarino Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/20/07
Posts: 317
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Piano Girl RMG
I decided to be nice. "It's okay," I said. "I work here. No one will know about this."

[sotto voce] ... except people who read Piano World, in a thread with over a million views ...
_________________________
Greg Guarino

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#2159377 - 09/28/13 09:38 PM Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: gdguarino]
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17747
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
Originally Posted By: gdguarino
He could have sliced straight through the watermelon, the guy underneath it, the guy crouched below him and a few inches into the flooring, but we’d finally get to go on and go home.


Ha!!

Great story, Greg. And though I'm sure you were exhausted by the end of the gig, I'm guessing it's infinitely better to play late to a packed and appreciative audience than to play early to an empty house...
_________________________
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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#2159626 - 09/29/13 12:23 PM Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
Piano Girl RMG Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 702
Loc: Germany
There is nothing (and I mean NOTHING) funnier than a team of Karate boys and a watermelon. Great story, Greg. I'm glad my Russians jogged your memory. And I'm glad you survived that night.

Clef, I loved your piece about your early lessons and struggles at the piano. Well done.

Oh, how I adore this thread!
_________________________
Robin Meloy Goldsby
www.goldsby.de
Author of PIANO GIRL: A Memoir
RHYTHM: A Novel
RMG is a Steinway Artist

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#2161671 - 10/04/13 09:58 AM Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
Jeff Clef Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 4414
Loc: San Jose, CA


from Wiki:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Bride_Wore_Red

"...The Bride Wore Red is a 1937 motion picture, directed by Dorothy Arzner, and starring Joan Crawford, Franchot Tone, Robert Young and Billie Burke. It was based on the unproduced play The Bride from Trieste by Ferenc Molnár.[1] In this "rags to riches" tale, Crawford plays a cabaret singer who poses as an aristocrat. This film was the last of seven Crawford and co-star Franchot Tone (her then husband) would make together...

"Howard Barnes of the New York Herald Tribune wrote, "Joan Crawford... plays at being a slattern, a fine lady, and a peasant with all of the well-known Crawford sorcery. It is not entirely her fault that she always remains herself. [The film] has no dramatic conviction and little of the comic flavor that might have made it amusing though slight. Your enjoyment of it will depend on how much of Miss Crawford you can take at one stretch.... The direction of Dorothy Arzner... has not been able to give a vapid Cinderella pipe dream more than a handsome pictorial front..."


Oh, well; I suppose every bride (or almost every bride) has to wear something, at least for the ceremony.

As I was looking up the link to this forgettable screen gem, I found that there were several other similarly-titled not-quite-smash hits:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Bride_Wore_Black
"...a revenge film in which a widowed woman hunts down the five men who killed her husband on her wedding day. She methodically kills each of the men using various methods and dressing only in white, black or both... Inside a prison, a meal cart is making its rounds. We see that Julie is a prisoner in the women's wing, and Delvaux is on the men's side. When Julie works in the kitchen, she hides a knife. When the cart makes its rounds, it turns a corner out of our sight. After a brief pause, a man's scream is heard."

Not laugh-out-loud funny, but maybe roll-your-eyes funny.

We also have http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Bride_Wore_Boots:
"...Sally Warren runs a horse farm, but husband Jeff has a dislike and fear of horses... As a Christmas gift, Jeff tries to please his wife by buying her a horse called Albert, but her horse trainer Lance Gale, an old beau, insults Jeff about the kind of horse he picked. Sally in turn buys Jeff a desk that belonged to Jefferson Davis, but the Dames claim it's a fake and one of them, Mary Lou Medford, makes a pass at Jeff... The next time Sally catches the same woman kissing Jeff, she sues him for divorce. Jeff ends up hiring Mary Lou as his secretary. To spite his wife, Jeff also enters Albert in the big Virginia Cup steeplechase race that Sally's always longed to win..."

Barbara Stanwyck gave up on trying to find the right comedy vehicle after this, complaining, "They just don't write them like they used to." We can almost hear Mr. Goldwyn growling to the screenwriter, "I don't give a ****** what you write, just get something down on the ***-****** page."

The backstory must have been something very like this.

And, believe it or not, we also have another one, titled, "The Bride Wore Blood" (wiki did not bother with this one), starring no one you ever heard of. "A bounty killer is hired to protect a bride-to-be in this contemporary Western. When secrets reveal the past, blood is shed and a deadly mystery unfolds."

And a star is born... on the wrong side of the tracks.

Red, Black, Boots, and Blood sounds more than a little like the big wedding dress sale at Filene's Basement. But the Grand Prize winner in the category will be found by searching http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki for 'nude weddings.' When it asked me to Click Here for the Next Twenty, I quickly closed the window.
_________________________
Clef


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#2162517 - 10/06/13 12:32 PM Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
Rob Mullins Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/10/04
Posts: 309
Loc: LA CA
I agree with RMG...this thread is awesome!
_________________________
Rob Mullins
www.planetmullins.com
Two openings in my private lessons program starting in Nov.

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