What's your most fun memory as a pianist?

Posted by: bennevis

What's your most fun memory as a pianist? - 02/08/13 06:06 AM

After some heavyweight threads recently, I thought we should lighten the mood a little wink.

So, what is your most enjoyable/fun/hilarious memory playing the piano?

I've played pianos in all sorts of odd places over the years, but one of my most enjoyable memories was playing on a ferry some years ago. A small team of us went on our first trip to Alaska, hiking and climbing in Denali NP, as well as meeting and eating wildlife (salmon, not grizzlies or caribou or moose....). Returning on the ferry (from Seward, AK to Bellingham, WA via the Inside Passage), we made ourselves at home on board the ship by pitching our tents on the deck grin, then set off to explore our new surroundings for the next three days. There was a bar, with an upright piano, and an electric guitar with amplification equipment.

The ferry was used by regular commuters as well as tourists like ourselves, and apparently passengers were expected to make their own entertainment in the evenings. (In the daytime, there was bird/whale/grizzly watching and talks in the lecture room about same). I availed myself of the piano while there was nobody in the bar....

Then came the evening, and after a few drinks, the regulars soon took it in turn to sing obscure country & western songs, accompanying themselves on the guitar. Then we interlopers took over. I'd never played pop stuff on the piano before (I don't normally listen to pop music), but there's always a first time wink . Our leader played his own (acoustic) guitar, and I vamped the extra accompaniment on the piano - some, like House of Rising Sun, were obvious; for others, I made stuff up if I wasn't too sure of the harmony (or even the melody grin), and the rest of us sang, mostly in tune. There were a couple of volumes of pop songs there, and I found some good ones that used the piano, like Imagine and Bridge over Troubled Water and some Elton John songs - which actually sounded quite good when we performed them purely with piano accompaniment.

The audience seemed to enjoy our performances as much as we did....so when the rest were having a break, I thought I'd 'treat' everyone to some classical music, playing half-remembered waltzes by Chopin and Brahms, joining half of one into half of another with some improvised modulatory passages when I couldn't remember the notes (at that time, unlike now, I didn't bother to memorize any music), continuing along the same lines with Mozart and Beethoven, then Rachmaninoff and Schumann/Liszt's Widmung.

Nobody walked out, so I assumed they didn't mind the music, or my somewhat approximate playing cool grin.
Posted by: JoelW

Re: What's your most fun memory as a pianist? - 02/08/13 06:36 AM

I'm half tempted to make a thread called "Your most exciting memory as a pianist?".