Wednesday, 28 March 2007

Flunking my first public performance

The journey was not always smooth and I messed up the first time I played on a lobby piano in front of people other than family and's what I wrote back then

Well I finally did it !!

Last night we were at a party and in the bar area there was a Yamaha (not a baby...but, not a 6' grand either...kind of half way size?)

As the night rolled on there was a bunch of blokes (aka guys in their 30 - 50's) having a sing song round the piano. One of their mates was playing so I joined them he could play very well but, he was struggling to remember more than a verse or so of songs he could play (I figured he was probably a sheet music man)...but, never the less his friends were up for a sing song!!

The guy at the piano was getting a little frustrated with himself as his mates were egging him on to play more, more, more and he just couldn't think of what else to play...he had a few classical pieces impressive but, not what the guys wanted. His best song was Bryan Adams "Everything I Do"...and the guys were belting it out at every opportunity fuelled by copious amounts of beer but he couldn't remember more than a couple of verses ...however, when he played the bits he did know he was quite brilliant.

Up came the question "can any one else play a tune?" it felt like the moment in films where the camera just zooms in to the petrified actor ..but, inspite of my stomach dropping to the floor I said "yes I could play a little".My heart was racing ...I felt almost sick ..I sat down ..then I played a grand arpeggio and guess what?...the piano was so out of tune is was unbelievable...My brain just fingers locked up mind was blank.

"What a wonderful world!" ...I tried it, it was very timing was wrong...I couldn't get my syncopated thingy going and the boys couldn't sing a long with me ...drat. The more I thought about songs I could play the more I couldn't think of things to play ...except for "edelweiss"...I played it I played it well but, the singalong was over. The chap who could play didn't want to get back on as he couldn't think of any other songs and the guys did not want to sing a long to "edelweiss"...and everyone left and went back to the bar.

I just sat there on my own and started playing 1625 stuff and playing pretty chords and strange as it may seem I started getting used to this "out of tune piano" and I started to play a few songs...I played for an hour and half or so to no-one really but, myself.

However, during this one and a half hours I did get some comments. A bit of a mixed bag really...worst was a party of miserable people sat within about 20 metres of the piano who eventually sent a man over to tell me to stop playing as the ladies had had enough...(seriously !...I just ignored him and played very softly until they eventually left)

One of the bar staff who when passing the piano ...said "hey, someone who can finally play that thing" And then a group of girls who arrived after the miseries had left who insisted I kept on playing and made me play another half an hour or so ...and although sat a little distance away applauded everything I did.

One lesson I learned from this is I have got to learn some sing a long type songs and learn to be able to play them well enough to sing along to. And that not everyone appreciates out of tune pianos or my playing just yet. Next time will be better...but, that's the first one out of the way

Just thought I would share this story with you all

This is the way I could play "What A Wonderful World" back then (this was recorded on 1st July 2004 10 months into my first year) and this isn't how I played it on that out of tune piano



Anonymous said...

Seaside Lee,

I LOVED this story and OH! I can so relate to it! I have a Love/Hate feel for Christmas parties. I love to go to them but I hate it when people expect me to sit at their 'old, out of tune up-right pianos' and play (without music) Christmas songs for everyone to sing, just because I play at church with the music they think I can just sit down 'any old time' and play for people to sing. Well, before Piano Magic, I could NOT! I would get that 'deer in the headlights' look and totally panic! I finally made up my own 'fake book' of Christmas songs that I would carry around with me every where I went! :-D I applaud your resolve to continue playing even after every body left. Thank you for sharing this experience! YoungAtHeart from PianoMagic.

Seaside_Lee said...

Hello YoungAtHeart

Thanks for the comment...this Christmas is really going to be "like Christmas" for you!

I cannot wait to hear how you get on this Christmas, I am sure everyone is going to be blown away with your new found ability to play without the sheets! You and your family and friends are in for a whole heap of fun!

Make sure you tell us all about it



Van said...

Hey Lee, I felt your pain mate, I tried public playing on a horrendously out of tune spinet and it just stopped me in my tracks, tone was off and keys too time I'll persevere a bit longer :)

I'm ever so sorry to hear about your breakup Lee, have only recently returned to the ABF as had to sort out my career etc.