How to Start an Amateur Pianist Group or Piano Party Group

Posted by: A Rebours

How to Start an Amateur Pianist Group or Piano Party Group - 01/06/10 11:59 AM

I am looking for ideas about how to approach creating a group for amateur adult piano enthusiasts in my town. My piano teacher has queried the other piano teachers about the number of adult students they have. The number is quite high. We are looking for ideas about how to go about soliciting these adults for their interest in the possibility of meeting socially and getting together to play the piano. Along the lines of either the piano party approach or the formation of a group of amateurs who are looking for more opportunities to play for others outside of lessons and studio recitals in a relaxed setting.

I am especially interested in the ideas from people who have successfully created piano parties or piano groups that meet on a somewhat regular basis. But any ideas that may be helpful would be appreciated.
Posted by: gooddog

Re: How to Start an Amateur Pianist Group or Piano Party Group - 01/06/10 12:26 PM

Perhaps you can get email addresses or phone numbers for those piano students. Then I'd set a date, buy some good things to eat and drink, and have a party/meeting. Goals would be to set things such as type of music welcome, whether or not guests are welcome, size of the group, how often you meet, who arranges contacting people for meetings etc.
Posted by: John Citron

Re: How to Start an Amateur Pianist Group or Piano Party Group - 01/06/10 01:13 PM

The piano party approach may work as well as allow guests because that would increase the exposure of the group and act as free advertising. Once the group is established, you can than set plans for recitals, concert attendance, museum trips, etc. This seems to be how the the PW piano parties work up in my area.

John
Posted by: BruceD

Re: How to Start an Amateur Pianist Group or Piano Party Group - 01/06/10 01:44 PM

I have been the "animateur" for three years for an adult performance group here in Victoria. We meet once a month in each others' homes to perform for each other.

The purpose of our group - which may differ from that of the group you hope to form - is to give adult students with limited performance experience the opportunities to perform in a friendly, supportive environment, opportunities that they otherwise rarely have or don't take advantage of because of their fear of performing.

It has always been our policy that outsiders - i.e. non-performers, even spouses and best friends - are not permitted to attend recitals, as many of the more timourous in the group feel intimidated even by friendly faces of non-musicians who can't fully appreciate the stress that an inexperienced performer goes through when performing for a group. As our group has grown, seating for "extras" becomes somewhat problematic, too, given that our recitals are held in members' homes, and when we have more than a dozen people performing it becomes a bit of a squeeze for some hosts to accommodate more than that. We don't all have concert-sized living rooms!

That said, we have recently initiated a year-end recital in which spouses and friends are invited and warmly welcomed to attend. A couple of us have large enough homes that, with a little gentle "encouraged togetherness" we can accommodate up to 20 people.

In my experience, it is a good idea from the outset to establish certain guidelines - they need not be rigid rules - that help set the tone and define the purpose of the group.
Our group has evolved since its original formation about six years ago and now includes members who have some (non-professional) performance experience along with those seeking for more such opportunities. The primary purpose, however, remains the same : to provide regular performance opportunities to those needing them.

The growth of the group has been stable in the time I have belonged to it which, I think, attests to its usefulness; it continues to thrive. New members join, usually having heard about us from other members, and some members - both short-term and long-term members - do sometimes disappear without a trace. That is the nature, I think, of social groups.

A rebours : Given that your area seems to have a goodly number of adult students, starting through their teachers might be a good place to start. If the group gets off the ground then, almost certainly, word of mouth will help it to grow and - it is to be hoped - the dedication of a core membership will keep it alive and thriving.

The Victoria Conservatory of Music has recently established a similar group for adult students at the conservatory. The VCM based its guidelines on those that I have established for our group. If anyone wishes a copy of the guidelines for our private group, please feel free to send me a PM with your email address and I will send you a copy.

Best of luck in establishing a group; it's a great idea that does work!

Regards,
Posted by: dmc092657

Re: How to Start an Amateur Pianist Group or Piano Party Group - 01/06/10 06:10 PM

The local Steinway dealer here hosts an "Evening around the piano" once a month. It targets adults and is very low key. We are encouraged to play anything we are working on (provided one stays within a reasonable time frame) or just listen if you prefer. We get to play a beautiful Steinway D.

You might discuss this possibility with a local piano dealer to see if they'd be agreeable to hosting it and doing some publicizing as well.
Posted by: lilylady

Re: How to Start an Amateur Pianist Group or Piano Party Group - 01/06/10 11:27 PM

Where are you located?

We have many members from everywhere here on PW. And I bet that many would like to get together, if someone just organized it!

Good suggestions from above. In the Boston area we have quite a nice group that gets together once in a while to play for each other. See the other section on PW for parties etc. None are formal but many are planned ahead party parties. Some of us have gotten together with just twosies and threesies.

Added to the above - Nice to experience other pianos both new and old too. Even nicer when they are prepped for visiting players!

Let us know how you make out and make sure you tell the teachers/students/participants about Piano World!

BTW note the posts from TT and John Citron in this thread -
http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthrea...%20years...html



Posted by: Volusiano

Re: How to Start an Amateur Pianist Group or Piano Party Group - 01/07/10 01:15 AM

Meetup.com seems to be an upcoming popular website to help organizing group get togethers of common interests in various locales. You may want to check it out to see if there's already any piano group in your area. Or create a new group through Meetup.
Posted by: gooddog

Re: How to Start an Amateur Pianist Group or Piano Party Group - 01/07/10 09:58 AM

Originally Posted By: lilylady
In the Boston area we have quite a nice group that gets together once in a while to play for each other.


I miss Boston. I used to live there. What a great city!
Posted by: A Rebours

Re: How to Start an Amateur Pianist Group or Piano Party Group - 01/08/10 04:11 PM

Hi, gooddog,

Originally Posted By: gooddog
Perhaps you can get email addresses or phone numbers for those piano students.


This is what I/we am/we are going to do. We will be writing up a short invitation that will be distributed to the piano teachers at their next music teachers' association meeting. It is include "if interested, contact _____________ or email @ _____________.

My teacher polled the other teachers to find out how many adults they were teaching and there were 35 of them.

Thanks for your suggestions.
Posted by: A Rebours

Re: How to Start an Amateur Pianist Group or Piano Party Group - 01/08/10 04:23 PM

Hi, Bruce D -

Originally Posted By: BruceD
I have been the "animateur" for three years for an adult performance group here in Victoria. We meet once a month in each others' homes to perform for each other.

The purpose of our group - which may differ from that of the group you hope to form - is to give adult students with limited performance experience the opportunities to perform in a friendly, supportive environment, opportunities that they otherwise rarely have or don't take advantage of because of their fear of performing..........

We don't all have concert-sized living rooms!



The purpose of the group that I would like to get started is exactly as you have stated above.

As far as I know there aren't that many informal performing opportunities for adult piano students unless they are related to whatever a teacher does within their own studios. My intention is to have other adults get to have more opportunities as well as for the adults to find other adults with the same interest in the piano.

I also would need to limit the size of the group to no more than 10 to begin with. Like you say, our living rooms aren't concert halls. LOL. I can comfortably fit 7 people, but could squeeze in no more than 10.

If a groups forms and we find we have other piano interests besides the opportunity to play, then I envision that the activities could evolve over time.

I appreciate your detailed reply to my OP, it was very helpful.
Posted by: A Rebours

Re: How to Start an Amateur Pianist Group or Piano Party Group - 01/08/10 04:33 PM

Thanks for the suggestion.

Originally Posted By: dmc092657
The local Steinway dealer here hosts an "Evening around the piano" once a month......You might discuss this possibility with a local piano dealer to see if they'd be agreeable to hosting it and doing some publicizing as well.


However, we do not have ANY piano dealers in my area! I am located between Spokane and Seattle; 2 3/4 hrs and 2 1/2 hrs. drive respectively. The Seattle area has the most dealers and Spokane less.

The local purveyors of musical instruments sell band and orchestra instruments for beginners and kids in school programs; guitars, acoustic and electric; drum sets; electronic keyboards, mainly entry level and the most affordable ones; sheet music.

So no there is no public location with an acoustic piano to host a group.

We are very limited where I live. That is the reason I am looking to form a group.
Posted by: A Rebours

Re: How to Start an Amateur Pianist Group or Piano Party Group - 01/08/10 04:59 PM

Hi, lilylady,

Originally Posted By: lilylady
Where are you located?

We have many members from everywhere here on PW. And I bet that many would like to get together, if someone just organized it!

Good suggestions from above. In the Boston area we have quite a nice group that gets together once in a while to play for each other. See the other section on PW for parties etc. None are formal but many are planned ahead party parties. Some of us have gotten together with just twosies and threesies.

Added to the above - Nice to experience other pianos both new and old too. Even nicer when they are prepped for visiting players!

Let us know how you make out and make sure you tell the teachers/students/participants about Piano World!



I'm in Wenatchee, WA.

After reading on Piano World about all of the different piano groups in the various towns and cities, I thought that if our town didn't have such a group already, I'd try to get one started thinking that maybe there are others hiding in the woodwork who might be interested. By circulating an invitation through the teachers I may also end up finding out that a group already exists and all I would have to do is contact them to see if I could join it.

Twosies and threesies would be fine with me. Just having more than myself would be fantastic.

Having the opportunity to play other pianos would be a nice bonus. In addition, having the ability to listen to my own piano as an audience member would be nice for a change. I loved listening to my piano teacher play it when we did a lesson at my home. Sitting away from the piano allows me to get a different perspective of the sound and nuance.

I'll keep you posted as I progress in getting a group off of the ground. And of, course, I'll mention Piano World to anyone who is unaware of the forum.
Posted by: A Rebours

Re: How to Start an Amateur Pianist Group or Piano Party Group - 01/08/10 05:02 PM

Hi,

Originally Posted By: Volusiano
Meetup.com seems to be an upcoming popular website to help organizing group get togethers of common interests in various locales. You may want to check it out to see if there's already any piano group in your area. Or create a new group through Meetup.


I did check Meetup. Nothing for my area. I didn't feel like starting a group through Meetup, though. I prefer to do things face to face.

But good suggestion.
Posted by: Entheo

Re: How to Start an Amateur Pianist Group or Piano Party Group - 01/08/10 05:12 PM

here on chicago's north shore, one of the board members of the music institute of chicago hosts a piano soiree once a quarter, sundays at 3 pm. word of mouth mainly, from the adult students. hors d'oeuvres afterwards. it's a lot of fun. 10, maybe 15 show up -- mistakes are welcome :-)

maybe start small and it will grow, or craig's list to find others.
Posted by: BruceD

Re: How to Start an Amateur Pianist Group or Piano Party Group - 01/08/10 05:27 PM

A Rebours :

It sounds as though you have a good potential source (35 adult students) from which to start a group.

A couple of possible reasons that there are fewer opportunities for adults to perform : (these observations may belabour the obvious!)

1) Many piano teachers have few adult students. When those teachers have recitals, often some of the adults with commitments many not be able to attend and the remaining one or two don't necessarily want to perform in a recital of 10 or 12 pre-teenagers.
2) Many piano teachers schedule only one or two recitals per year; that doesn't provide a lot of performance opportunities.

The big advantages of the adults-only performance group - particularly if you are able to establish one on a regular basis - is that
1) more opportunities arise for performing over a given period of time, even if an adult has to miss one or two during a year, and
2) Even if only a few are available for any given recital, there is the added comfort and encouragement of performing among other adults.

To try to add to the "comfort level" of our group, each of our recitals is divided into two sessions, separated by a refreshment break. The first session is intended for those more elementary players or for anyone wishing to try out a "work in progress"; the second session is (usually) for those more advanced or with more polish to their works. This has at times been particularly helpful to the adult student who is prepared to play his/her first Grade 2 piece ("The Swing," or "Falling Waters," or "My Dolly's Lament") but who would feel considerably intimidated if s/he is scheduled to follow someone playing a Rachmaninoff Prelude or a Chopin Etude.

Those not intimidated by others more advanced have the choice of performing in whichever session more conveniently fits the individual's schedule. Most of our members, in whatever session the play, are always pleased to attend the entire recital of both sessions - and two refreshment periods, one in between the two sessions and one after the last session.

Our particular group, by the way, as it has evolved, is not limited to adult piano students; we have the odd voice student (odd as in number, not as in personal character!) a couple of violinists, a violist, a classical guitarist, a cellist, a clarinetist, two flautists and two recorder players along with our pianists. This has led to some accompaniment opportunities within the group.

Our group's mailing list numbers slightly over 30 now; at any given monthly recital we have from as few as eight to as many as 16 in attendance. So, a large resource pool doesn't necessarily mean that you will have a houseful every time, given that adults often have more serious commitments that may limit their attendance at recital programs.

I apologize for the long post about "our group" but some of these thoughts may help give you some ideas as you organize yours.

Regards,
Posted by: gmf001

Re: How to Start an Amateur Pianist Group or Piano Party Group - 01/13/10 11:43 AM

You might also check this out. This is a well established group in the DC area. You may get some ideas from their site and publications.
http://www.amsfperform.org/about.html
Posted by: A Rebours

Re: How to Start an Amateur Pianist Group or Piano Party Group - 01/14/10 01:40 PM

Hi, Bruce D

Originally Posted By: BruceD
A Rebours :

I apologize for the long post about "our group" but some of these thoughts may help give you some ideas as you organize yours.


Thank you for the specifics on how you organized the performances and all of the other information you provided. Your "long post" is very helpful. Actually, I like the thoroughness of your posts! Excellent things to consider.
Posted by: A Rebours

Re: How to Start an Amateur Pianist Group or Piano Party Group - 01/14/10 01:48 PM

Originally Posted By: gmf001
You might also check this out. This is a well established group in the DC area. You may get some ideas from their site and publications.
http://www.amsfperform.org/about.html


Thank you for the link. I have seen this site before (many months ago) and it is one of the reasons I was feeling sorry for myself for not living in a area with an active group of adult piano students! Ha Ha!

But I forgot about it and re-reading the information about how and why the group got started and the precision in their stated goals is a good model to guide me.

They are a wonderful group indeed.
Posted by: Lorraine SE22

Re: How to Start an Amateur Pianist Group or Piano Party Group - 07/09/12 11:56 AM

I recently set up an amateur piano group in London, you can have a look around our web site here:

http://londonpianosalon.wordpress.com

We have around 20 performers plus 10 observers at the event. We hold it at Steinway Hall.
Posted by: musica71

Re: How to Start an Amateur Pianist Group or Piano Party Group - 07/09/12 01:17 PM

I am in Bend, Oregon, a good 3 hours South of Portland. I started a group 4 years ago after moving from the Seattle area. We meet about 3-4 times a year in homes with good pianos. There are presently about 5 people that play and sometimes 15 or so listening. There is no Piano Store here and I do not know of a public venue that we would not have to pay to use. We call it a Soiree' and have nice munchies and wine, the Christmas Soiree' is especially great!
Posted by: RonaldSteinway

Re: How to Start an Amateur Pianist Group or Piano Party Group - 07/09/12 05:25 PM

Originally Posted By: Entheo
here on chicago's north shore, one of the board members of the music institute of chicago hosts a piano soiree once a quarter, sundays at 3 pm. word of mouth mainly, from the adult students. hors d'oeuvres afterwards. it's a lot of fun. 10, maybe 15 show up -- mistakes are welcome :-)

maybe start small and it will grow, or craig's list to find others.


I contacted them. Unfortunately, one needs to be a student of Music Institute of Chicago, otherwise, one cannot participate.
Posted by: A Rebours

Re: How to Start an Amateur Pianist Group or Piano Party Group - 07/09/12 05:42 PM

Update on my attempt to start an adult piano group in my area:

Dismal! I personally talked to several piano teachers who had adult students, wrote an invitation to their adult students, set up a time and place for an informational meeting etc.

Result - only 1 person showed up. The teachers I spoke with said their adults don't like to play for others. Even though I emphasized that the main point was for adult pianists to meet and that playing wasn't required, I don't think the message got through.

So, in my area there doesn't seem to be an interest.

A R
Posted by: BruceD

Re: How to Start an Amateur Pianist Group or Piano Party Group - 07/09/12 05:59 PM

Originally Posted By: A Rebours
Update on my attempt to start an adult piano group in my area:

Dismal! I personally talked to several piano teachers who had adult students, wrote an invitation to their adult students, set up a time and place for an informational meeting etc.

Result - only 1 person showed up. The teachers I spoke with said their adults don't like to play for others. Even though I emphasized that the main point was for adult pianists to meet and that playing wasn't required, I don't think the message got through.

So, in my area there doesn't seem to be an interest.

A R


The statement "...their adults don't like to play for others..." is really rather sad, don't you think? Practicing piano is a solitary pursuit, and I feel that it only reaches some kind of fulfilment and fruition when one is able to share what one has accomplished and what one feels about the music one plays.

Perhaps you should keep pursuing this.

Regards,
Posted by: Piano Again

Re: How to Start an Amateur Pianist Group or Piano Party Group - 07/09/12 06:19 PM

It is very hard to start something like this and takes a lot of organization. I tried to get a small group together just to meet casually and play for each other, and there was not enough interest to keep it going. I did finally join the DC area group mentioned earlier in this thread (AMSF), which is great, but it's a notch more formal than what I was envisioning. And the problem there is that the recitals and other events fill up quickly, so you have to reserve a spot early. This shows how popular it is, though!

Bruce, I agree. I do think that most piano teachers don't really want to promote or encourage their adult students. So the students get the message that they aren't good enough to play for anyone, and it's a vicious cycle.
Posted by: BruceD

Re: How to Start an Amateur Pianist Group or Piano Party Group - 07/09/12 06:29 PM

The group that I have been organizing and running for almost six years now, remains alive, well and active. While we occasionally only have seven or eight members at our monthly performances, we usually have from ten to twelve and sometimes as many as eighteen.

It doesn't require much on-going effort on my part except for
- arranging the venue (whose house this month?),
- sending out email reminders (everyone is on an email mailing list) which become more frequent as the date approaches, and
- printing out copies of the program.

The hardest part is most likely getting the group started, and that had already been done when I took it over.

Regards,
Posted by: ec

Re: How to Start an Amateur Pianist Group or Piano Party Group - 07/09/12 09:48 PM

The adult amateur adult piano group I started over two years ago is still going strong: http://www.meetup.com/Long-Beach-Piano-Meetup-Group/
We've met monthly (usually Sunday @ 3PM) since February, 2010, and recently convened for the 28th time wow. As you can see from the website, the AMSF was my inspiration, but our structure is far simpler--at a typical meeting, each of us performs for the assembled group (up to 10 minutes, unless a longer time is arranged in advance). We wind up with a buffet supper, and encourage everyone to stay awhile to eat and play some more (this is when some of the most inspired musicmaking can occur!) The overall performing level is advanced intermediate and upwards (our "Read more about us" statement is quite clear about this). Collaborations of all kinds occur spontaneously; we've have many four-hand performances as well as various combinations of piano with cello, violin, flute and voice.

We do discourage non-performing guests, although the occasional supportive spouse or SO is certainly welcome. We have had several teachers attend as one-time-only guests (including my own teacher, who holds regular performance classes for her adult students and heartily supports our group).

We use Meetup software to reach out to potential members(they often find us through Google), keep everyone informed about upcoming events and publish photos. Meetup also helps with planning: I can cap monthly attendance at 20-25, periodically weed the group of non-contributing members and ban the occasional bad apple frown

Like BruceD, I've observed that the group behaves like any social group--although we have over 100 members, the "core group" has remained under 30, and it's rare, given peoples' commitments and foibles, for more than 20 members to attend at one time. Some join and never show up, a few attend once and never return; some join, attend regularly for awhile and drift away; evn the core group has morphed significantly over the life of the group. And, yes, like most groups, we've had a few hissy fits and meltdowns and even a few internecine squabbles...

Most events have taken place in my home (with a cathedral ceiling that helps my Yamaha G-2 sound way better than it should), but we've held several special recital events in a nearby church with a mellow old Steinway, and a fellow member has hosted several times; we've also held a successful master class and plan to make that an annual event.

Good luck with your ongoing plans--I'd be happy to share anything else that's helpful smile
Posted by: RonaldSteinway

Re: How to Start an Amateur Pianist Group or Piano Party Group - 07/10/12 12:30 PM

Here in Chicago, we have our quarterly recital at the Piano Forte recital hall. Great place and excellent piano (Fazioli). In general, only 10 people performed. It is very hard to organize, requires numerous phone calls and e-mails. Adults are just not into this kind of thing. To me, it is a great opportunity to practice playing in front of people. But most adults do not see this way. I always look forward to attending this event. The next one will be this coming Sat. July 14 between 2 pm and 5 pm. If you are interested just go there and join the recital (8th floor). You need to contribute $10 , the money will be donated to Piano Forte Foundation.
Posted by: bennevis

Re: How to Start an Amateur Pianist Group or Piano Party Group - 07/10/12 01:09 PM

Originally Posted By: RonaldSteinway
Adults are just not into this kind of thing. To me, it is a great opportunity to practice playing in front of people. But most adults do not see this way.


Unless one is talented and started performing in front of audiences (or taking part in competitions) when young, my impression is that most adult pianists don't enjoy playing for strangers or even acquaintances/friends in formal or semi-formal settings. Most don't even feel comfortable playing during dinner parties, when there's less scrutiny. You feel exposed and any tiny mistake or unevenness is magnified 100-fold in your mind. It's worse than having to stand up and give a formal speech at a wedding reception (at least, one can lubricate one's vocal cords - and inhibition - with the appropriate fermented drink then grin).

As an amateur pianist in early adulthood who'd never played in front of anyone other than family, teacher or examiner, I wouldn't even have dared to play a piano in a showroom, until circumstances forced me to do so, if I wanted to play the piano at all. It's immensely liberating once one has lost that self-consciousness, and don't give a dam* what others think about your playing, because you're enjoying yourself so much on a fine piano grin.
Posted by: RonaldSteinway

Re: How to Start an Amateur Pianist Group or Piano Party Group - 07/10/12 02:01 PM

Originally Posted By: bennevis
Originally Posted By: RonaldSteinway
Adults are just not into this kind of thing. To me, it is a great opportunity to practice playing in front of people. But most adults do not see this way.


Unless one is talented and started performing in front of audiences (or taking part in competitions) when young, my impression is that most adult pianists don't enjoy playing for strangers or even acquaintances/friends in formal or semi-formal settings. Most don't even feel comfortable playing during dinner parties, when there's less scrutiny. You feel exposed and any tiny mistake or unevenness is magnified 100-fold in your mind. It's worse than having to stand up and give a formal speech at a wedding reception (at least, one can lubricate one's vocal cords - and inhibition - with the appropriate fermented drink then grin).

As an amateur pianist in early adulthood who'd never played in front of anyone other than family, teacher or examiner, I wouldn't even have dared to play a piano in a showroom, until circumstances forced me to do so, if I wanted to play the piano at all. It's immensely liberating once one has lost that self-consciousness, and don't give a dam* what others think about your playing, because you're enjoying yourself so much on a fine piano grin.


You could be right. I played in front of people since I was young. It could be the reason that I do not mind playing in front of people. In addition, I used to play in church.
Posted by: A Rebours

Re: How to Start an Amateur Pianist Group or Piano Party Group - 07/10/12 05:16 PM

Originally Posted By: BruceD



The statement "...their adults don't like to play for others..." is really rather sad, don't you think? Practicing piano is a solitary pursuit, and I feel that it only reaches some kind of fulfilment and fruition when one is able to share what one has accomplished and what one feels about the music one plays.

Perhaps you should keep pursuing this.

Regards,



Hi, Bruce,

Yes, the solitary practice does get old and I believe in sharing one's playing with others. I will keep in touch with the ONE adult who responded by at least going to luch and talking about our piano pursuits.

A R
Posted by: A Rebours

Re: How to Start an Amateur Pianist Group or Piano Party Group - 07/10/12 05:28 PM

Originally Posted By: RonaldSteinway
To me, it is a great opportunity to practice playing in front of people. But most adults do not see this way.


Ronald,

You are so right. I've gotten much better playing at my teacher's recitals after getting more experience with playing in front of adults during the piano retreats I've gone to. Plus, sharing the ups and downs learning the piano with other adult students face to face in my locale would help to break up the solitary practice.

A R
Posted by: A Rebours

Re: How to Start an Amateur Pianist Group or Piano Party Group - 07/10/12 05:44 PM

Originally Posted By: bennevis


Unless one is talented and started performing in front of audiences (or taking part in competitions) when young, my impression is that most adult pianists don't enjoy playing for strangers or even acquaintances/friends in formal or semi-formal settings. Most don't even feel comfortable playing during dinner parties, when there's less scrutiny.


What you say above may be true, but I made it real clear that the group I was trying to organize did NOT require one to perform. I was trying to get together a group of adults who loved piano and wanted to share their experiences in an informal setting, such as meeting for lunch, and just Talking about piano. We could go from there as to what we might do as a group. But only one person responded to the invite and no one came to the second meeting. (The one person who came the first time wasn't available). The community in which I live is very insular and unless you've been raised here, it is difficult to meet people with similar interests. But I thought I'd give it a shot but organizing a group didn't work out.

A R
Posted by: BruceD

Re: How to Start an Amateur Pianist Group or Piano Party Group - 07/10/12 06:25 PM

Originally Posted By: A Rebours
Originally Posted By: bennevis


Unless one is talented and started performing in front of audiences (or taking part in competitions) when young, my impression is that most adult pianists don't enjoy playing for strangers or even acquaintances/friends in formal or semi-formal settings. Most don't even feel comfortable playing during dinner parties, when there's less scrutiny.


What you say above may be true, but I made it real clear that the group I was trying to organize did NOT require one to perform. I was trying to get together a group of adults who loved piano and wanted to share their experiences in an informal setting, such as meeting for lunch, and just Talking about piano. [...]A R


The primary reason that our group was formed was to give adults the experience of playing for others in a supportive, non-critical environment which excludes teachers, friends and even spouses who are not members.

One member who has been with the group since I joined six years ago was so nervous when playing in front of others that she could hardly control her shaking and played as many wrong notes as right ones. She, however, persevered, mostly because she saw how much others with less nervousness enjoyed performing and she wanted to be among those. She now performs regularly with much greater ease and self confidence, she continues to improve, and she gives credit to our group for her liberated status as a "performer."

I do wonder, though, about the goals of those adults who take lessons and who practice diligently but who don't aspire to perform even for close friends or relatives. Would an amateur painter study painting without ever showing the result? Would a budding writer never let anyone read what was written? Yes, there must be some sense of accomplishment for mastering repertoire in private, but those who refuse to perform must surely be missing out on the greatest accomplishment in music: sharing with others.

Regards,
Posted by: Piano Again

Re: How to Start an Amateur Pianist Group or Piano Party Group - 07/10/12 06:42 PM

I think the terror of performing that people experience when they try it the first few times puts them off of it -- they think that it will always be like that. And in a way, it is :), but at the same time, it's a vital part of the musical experience. And it's not just adults -- I've talked with so many people who had these terrible experiences performing when they were kids and never wanted to do it again. I don't know exactly how you persuade people that if they persist, though it's never exactly easy, it will get easier.

Posted by: RonaldSteinway

Re: How to Start an Amateur Pianist Group or Piano Party Group - 07/10/12 09:07 PM

There are several gentlemen in my group who have no courage to perform. To me, it is too bad. What will happen if they mess up? Nothing...a little embarrass may be, but move on, try again next time. I messed up big time too, but I kept trying.

Another problem with adult is that they do not want to perform the same piece twice. They think that people will say something. Like several people in my group, they are starting running out of pieces that they can play so that they do not want to come any more. I agree that it is kind of embarrassing to play the same pieces over and over. But my thought is that I will not give up a piece until I can play well in front of people. They may say that I can play only one piece, but I do not care. At the end of the day, I feel that I am able to conquer the piece if I can play well in front of people.
Posted by: jmcintyre

Re: How to Start an Amateur Pianist Group or Piano Party Group - 07/10/12 10:09 PM

Originally Posted By: RonaldSteinway
There are several gentlemen in my group who have no courage to perform. To me, it is too bad. What will happen if they mess up? Nothing...a little embarrass may be, but move on, try again next time. I messed up big time too, but I kept trying.


Last weekend my wife and I went to a piano night organized through Meetup (our first time). The hostess, a teacher who works mostly with kids, said to some of the more reluctant/nervous performers "Dont worry. Nobody is going to pinch you if you make a mistake!"

To the OP: I hope you won't give up hope. Even if it's just you and the one other person who took the bait, that's a start, and better than nothing.
Posted by: bennevis

Re: How to Start an Amateur Pianist Group or Piano Party Group - 07/11/12 05:16 AM

Originally Posted By: BruceD
I do wonder, though, about the goals of those adults who take lessons and who practice diligently but who don't aspire to perform even for close friends or relatives. Would an amateur painter study painting without ever showing the result? Would a budding writer never let anyone read what was written? Yes, there must be some sense of accomplishment for mastering repertoire in private, but those who refuse to perform must surely be missing out on the greatest accomplishment in music: sharing with others.

Regards,


It may surprise you to learn that there are many, many amateur painters/artists who have a huge stash of paintings, watercolors and drawings which noone has ever seen but themselves: I was reminded of that when the paintings of Sir Winston Churchill went on display for the first time ever last week. Does anyone know that this great Prime Minister was a very accomplished painter? It was a private hobby for him. And the same applies to writing, for many people. (There must be lots of potential 'War & Peace'-like novels lying around in people's attics around the world, whose authors never let anyone else read, let alone contemplate publishing....).

And I'd guess that applies too to playing piano, for many people who took it up as a hobby - it also applied to me: I never thought of playing in public even after I obtained my performance diploma. (I was, and still am, very shy, and would never dream of speaking in public even now, after losing my fear of playing in public long ago grin). Piano playing was just one of my private passions (chess too, though it's usually more satisfying to beat a human opponent than a computer grin, so I did enter some public tournaments).

If you were taught from young that the goal of learning to play a musical instrument was public performance, and your teacher made you play in front of others regularly, you would have a very different mindset to someone who only ever had private teachers who never encouraged their students to perform for others.
Posted by: RonaldSteinway

Re: How to Start an Amateur Pianist Group or Piano Party Group - 07/11/12 11:09 AM

Originally Posted By: bennevis

And I'd guess that applies too to playing piano, for many people who took it up as a hobby - it also applied to me: I never thought of playing in public even after I obtained my performance diploma. (I was, and still am, very shy, and would never dream of speaking in public even now, after losing my fear of playing in public long ago grin). Piano playing was just one of my private passions (chess too, though it's usually more satisfying to beat a human opponent than a computer grin, so I did enter some public tournaments).

If you were taught from young that the goal of learning to play a musical instrument was public performance, and your teacher made you play in front of others regularly, you would have a very different mindset to someone who only ever had private teachers who never encouraged their students to perform for others.


There 3 stages:
1. You get in peace with the piece.
2. You get in peace with the piano.
3. You get in peace with the audience.

I guess you have accomplished no. 1 and 2, you should challenge yourself to conquer no. 3. Use it as a goal....it is fun and satisfying. You get better as you do it over and over.
Posted by: musica71

Re: How to Start an Amateur Pianist Group or Piano Party Group - 07/11/12 04:42 PM

Performing in front of ANY kind of an audience is surely good for one's musical growth. You work so much harder when you have a performance coming up. You also learn so much about yourself, controlling nerves, being extremely well prepared, etc. After all of that work don't you want to share with someone else?? I would hope so.
Posted by: RonaldSteinway

Re: How to Start an Amateur Pianist Group or Piano Party Group - 07/11/12 10:20 PM

Originally Posted By: musica71
Performing in front of ANY kind of an audience is surely good for one's musical growth. You work so much harder when you have a performance coming up. You also learn so much about yourself, controlling nerves, being extremely well prepared, etc. After all of that work don't you want to share with someone else?? I would hope so.


+1, I always learned something every time I perform.
Posted by: musica71

Re: How to Start an Amateur Pianist Group or Piano Party Group - 07/11/12 11:15 PM

I do not agree with the reluctance to play apiece again for the group! Have you not noticed that at these Adult Amateur Competitions some people play some of the same repertoire year after year. That is fine, a piece of substance grows and matures. One can constantly find ways to improve and I think that musicians appreciate seeing the improvement in a challenging work. I would much rather play for people that are knowledgable rather than those that don't know what is going on and think everything is wonderful!
Posted by: wr

Re: How to Start an Amateur Pianist Group or Piano Party Group - 07/12/12 04:12 AM

Originally Posted By: BruceD

I do wonder, though, about the goals of those adults who take lessons and who practice diligently but who don't aspire to perform even for close friends or relatives. Would an amateur painter study painting without ever showing the result? Would a budding writer never let anyone read what was written? Yes, there must be some sense of accomplishment for mastering repertoire in private, but those who refuse to perform must surely be missing out on the greatest accomplishment in music: sharing with others.



You have been around here long enough to have read the various threads talking about this kind of thing, and you must know there are those of who simply loathe performing live, for various and sometimes complex reasons.

So I'll throw it back and ask you why you would assume that anyone would want to perform? I think playing classical music is a perfectly self-contained activity myself, something like the way that reading good literature or poetry can be. There is nothing about it that would dictate a need to perform it for others, as far as I can tell.
Posted by: wr

Re: How to Start an Amateur Pianist Group or Piano Party Group - 07/12/12 04:34 AM

Originally Posted By: Piano Again
I don't know exactly how you persuade people that if they persist, though it's never exactly easy, it will get easier.


Unless it doesn't. For some of us, it gets worse. Or gets totally unpredictable, which can be equally awful.

I grew up playing in front of people, so if the "it gets easier" theory were a sound one, as an old geezer, I should about as at ease as one can get. Instead, performing was such a traumatic experience, I eventually stopped playing in front of people entirely. At most, I record myself and take part in e-citals here (and usually berate myself a lot about even that). Who knows, things may still change, but that's where I am now.

It's interesting that even someone as experienced and admired and capable as Argerich still hates being a solo performer, so much so that she almost never appears on stage alone.
Posted by: RonaldSteinway

Re: How to Start an Amateur Pianist Group or Piano Party Group - 07/12/12 11:34 AM

Originally Posted By: musica71
I do not agree with the reluctance to play apiece again for the group! Have you not noticed that at these Adult Amateur Competitions some people play some of the same repertoire year after year. That is fine, a piece of substance grows and matures. One can constantly find ways to improve and I think that musicians appreciate seeing the improvement in a challenging work. I would much rather play for people that are knowledgable rather than those that don't know what is going on and think everything is wonderful!


I agree with you. Even though we play the same pieces over and over again, we most likely improve the quality of the playing. Keep changing the pieces is good for those who are capable of doing so, but not good for many people.
Posted by: Piano Again

Re: How to Start an Amateur Pianist Group or Piano Party Group - 07/12/12 12:49 PM

I do think adults have unreasonably high expectations. They are measuring their performances against professional ones. What really happens is that improvements tend to be incremental, but because the whole thing doesn't measure up to some mental image of perfection they discount those improvements. And then each piece has its own challenges that may be different from those of other pieces, so you might play something that turns out pretty well, but then another piece will not.

The fear is always there, but over time you can learn to trust yourself more and deal with it better. And yeah, maybe it's not worth it to everyone. It is to me, and if I were a teacher I would strongly encourage my students to keep trying. The musical experience is not complete without performing.
Posted by: bennevis

Re: How to Start an Amateur Pianist Group or Piano Party Group - 07/12/12 01:22 PM

Originally Posted By: Piano Again
I do think adults have unreasonably high expectations. They are measuring their performances against professional ones. What really happens is that improvements tend to be incremental, but because the whole thing doesn't measure up to some mental image of perfection they discount those improvements. And then each piece has its own challenges that may be different from those of other pieces, so you might play something that turns out pretty well, but then another piece will not.

The fear is always there, but over time you can learn to trust yourself more and deal with it better. And yeah, maybe it's not worth it to everyone. It is to me, and if I were a teacher I would strongly encourage my students to keep trying. The musical experience is not complete without performing.



Personally, I'd say the musical experience is not complete if you're not enjoying yourself. Music isn't meant to be an ordeal, it's meant to be enjoyed, and for self-fulfilment, to enrich one's soul. If someone is too shy to perform in public, why subject themselves to it? The same applies to public speaking - would anyone who is shy (and in his right mind) offer themselves up to speak at a wedding reception in front of an audience, like a lamb to the slaughter?

Let's not forget what Western 'classical music' was originally intended for (and it wasn't public performance.....).
Posted by: musica71

Re: How to Start an Amateur Pianist Group or Piano Party Group - 07/12/12 02:25 PM

Ronald, Of course you would be doing other pieces as well..but to keep some in the repertoire is good. I taught piano for 42 years and had one girl who locked herself in the bathroom the day of a recital. Good Grief, if one feels that way forget it. (She did play very well too). I guess it just comes down to personalities.

Some people love to be in (or tolerate) the spotlight, others shrivel at the thought. It can be a big achievement to conquer the fear and just do it! Obviously those of us who enter the Competitions are getting some satisfaction from the whole thing. For me the preparation, meeting people, euphoria when it goes reasonably well is worth it.
Posted by: JimF

Re: How to Start an Amateur Pianist Group or Piano Party Group - 07/12/12 03:30 PM

To the OP A. Rebours,

I would encourage you not to give up, but maybe lower your sights a bit. I was able to get a small (5 total) group of adult students together at my house by calling it a "recital practice." We held it two weeks before my teacher's annual recital (all were her students, but no reason that would have to be true). Sending invites out got no response. I got names and phone numbers from the teacher and called them with a personal invitation...very low key, just thought you might be interested, etc.. We met at 3pm on a Sunday afternoon. Five students and three spouse/others. Drinks of choice, munchies, and conversation came first...then whoever wanted to play their piece. No one was more than intermediate level and no one had much recital experience. We had a blast and by the end people were calling out "I'm next" to get another shot at the bench.

If I were you I would....

Start with the idea of meeting just once (not forming a group that someone has to "join") because you thought it would be nice to "know some other people that play the piano"

Starting with one or two others would be fine, maybe keying off your teacher's recital date. Invite the spouses/significant others if they would care to come along.

Keep it fun. Serve alcohol or have it available...it may not be good for the piano playing (not with me, anyway) but it is still the best social lubricant around.


If your group is anything like mine they will be asking you when is the next get-together by the time they are going out the door.

good luck,

Jim
Posted by: Lorraine SE22

Re: How to Start an Amateur Pianist Group or Piano Party Group - 08/29/12 04:42 AM

I started off with a small group of local pianists at my house in London. It quickly grew big enough to be able to hold it at various venues in London including Steinway Hall. We set up a blog and word spread quickly! We meet about 3 - 4 times a year.
Posted by: Thrill Science

Re: How to Start an Amateur Pianist Group or Piano Party Group - 08/29/12 11:56 AM

I would love to be in a group of local adult amateurs at all levels who would play for each other! I tried several times to scrape up interest in my neighborhood and failed.

But I'm willing to try again! If anyone is in the Sunnyvale, CA area, send me a private message on piano world.

I've had small recitals in my home that went well, for example:



(This is NOT me playing!)

Posted by: RonaldSteinway

Re: How to Start an Amateur Pianist Group or Piano Party Group - 08/29/12 12:44 PM

It is like pulling teeth to gather adults.
I have done this for 2 years, do not enjoy at all the process of rounding up the adults.
But once we are together, it is always enjoyable.
Most of the time, only the same people came, and the same people who always made excuses not to come.
I invited them for 3 quarters, if they did not show up, I just dropped them.
Posted by: jdw

Re: How to Start an Amateur Pianist Group or Piano Party Group - 08/29/12 07:16 PM

Thrill Science,

I'm nowhere near Sunnyvale, but happen to notice you're set up not to receive PM's, so you may not hear from neighbors.
Posted by: Thrill Science

Re: How to Start an Amateur Pianist Group or Piano Party Group - 08/29/12 09:32 PM

Originally Posted By: jdw
Thrill Science,

I'm nowhere near Sunnyvale, but happen to notice you're set up not to receive PM's, so you may not hear from neighbors.


Thanks! *That's* why I never hear from anyone!

(Now it's time to turn off the computer and practice.)
Posted by: MaryAnn

Re: How to Start an Amateur Pianist Group or Piano Party Group - 08/30/12 04:17 AM

I held a piano salon in my home for the people I work with who play piano. It was easy to organize since we all work together and have an electronic announcement board. It was a lot of fun. I was by far the least experienced person there (I've only been playing a year), but everyone was very encouraging. One participant went on to win an adult amateur competition with her piece.

I am waiting for someone else to host the next one because I only have a digital piano, so it really wasn't good enough for the more experienced players.
Posted by: FarmGirl

Re: How to Start an Amateur Pianist Group or Piano Party Group - 08/30/12 10:22 AM

Thrill Science, I don't live in Sunny Vale but my girl friend (DMA in Piano Performance) does. Would love to connect with you when I go up there. I am encouraging her to set up annual Piano master class for adults.
Posted by: Thrill Science

Re: How to Start an Amateur Pianist Group or Piano Party Group - 11/13/12 11:29 AM

Who was it who was nearby me in Sunnyvale, CA? We're having a small in-home recital this Sunday and I forgot who it was who messaged me!
Posted by: P I A N O piano

Re: How to Start an Amateur Pianist Group or Piano Party Group - 11/13/12 10:00 PM

I thought that PW had links listed by city for the purposes of forming piano groups...
Posted by: Auntie Lynn

Re: How to Start an Amateur Pianist Group or Piano Party Group - 11/14/12 08:52 AM

I haven't read this whole thread, but it's a lot more fun if you make it poluck and BYO...