what do you guys do when someone comes up and talks to you while youre playing? this happened to me so many times tonight, and i really suck at talking and playing at the same time...people must think im comatosed or something. i dont want to be rude and say "please go away, im doing this for your own good so leave me alone..." lol, but...its...so...annoying...! what to you do?
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i agree it sucks especially when you are playing something that you consider to be good that you were hoping the audience was into as well.
but cest la vie.  the sad fact is that the only part of the audience that is absolutely for sure paying  attention to you is this person that is not listening to you but talking to you while you are playing.  if i can not talk while playing what i am playing i ussually try to get to something that i can talk over.  personally i am good at talking over iii  vi  ii   v   vamps   so i try to find a way to segue into one,  talk to the person,  then segue back into the tune i was playing.  this is not always how i handle it... but often...   sometimes i simply stop playing and talk.   sometimes i simply keep playing and just shake my head at the person with a smile at my face.
i try to make it as freindly a smile as i can , but it also says ,... hey i am a musician... dont you know we are all clinically insane?  are you trying to converse with me?   make the smile look a little perverse for a second,  stare at the ceiling for a minute,  look back at the person... stare at them... smile at them...    blurt out  "hi"
you can do that while you are playing anything... smile broadly....
usually they run for it at that point....
hi rick: some people think that pianist is like a disk'jockey....
don't answer anything... do a signal to wait a moment.... and speak him when you finish the song.
that kind of people lives in all corners of earth.
there are a couple ways.  do what albetan says, but in some cases you might want to be more congenial, so like mike said, just drop into a 2-5-1 or blues groove or something, and chit chat with them.

this >is< part of the business. if you make friends out the patrons, they are more liable to come back and hear you next time. but if they sit back down and say to their table, "boy, that piano player was rude. i just wanted to ask a few questions..."  that's no way to create a fan base.

remember- unless it is your concert, you have to do what is best for the people that hired you to play, and sometimes that  means chit-chatting with people who want to talk.  plus, it's a good way to make sure your tip jar gets full :)
If I'm not back in 24 hours, call the president.

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yup yup, good idea's folks, the vamp thingy will be my strategy for attack from now on
i yell "i can't hear you because the music's too loud and i'm deaf in that ear anyway"

then i point to the tip jar. if they put something in, i'll visit their table at break.

another way is come to a dramatic curt ending, then sit back and make chitchat for as long as the punter wants. look as if you're really interested the whole time.

the second s/he leaves, announce loudly that there are 3 cars in the parking lot with their lights on.


but seriously, it's a great showbiz trick to talk to folks while playing. one of my teachers would carry on conversations at his bar all night long while playing. and he had these schticks that he would do too while playing. i was so impressed.

i went home and tried it by talking to myself. little by little it became easier. believe it or not, developing this skill is not as hard as it seems.

you just have to realize that speech is controlled by a different part of the brain than the fingers.

if you can train yourself to sing and play - you can train yourself to talk and play.
that's what i did- singing and playing.  i would imagine it's a really good thing for piano players to do as well. it definitely opens up a different part of your brain while you're playing.

at first i couldn't do it at all. now i can sight read tunes, sing the words, comp behind my singing, everything.  

not on stage :)
If I'm not back in 24 hours, call the president.

Scot is available for skype jazz piano lessons (and google hangouts, phone call, etc...)
Use the contact link at the top of the page.
well..... actually it is a good skill to work on.... being able to talk while playing......   if you get so you can talk while playing you will notice that other areas of your playing have improved.  for example usually your sight reading improves after you learn how to talk while playing.  one of the things that can make it difficult to talk to people while playing is that normally you need to be looking at people while you talk to people (not at your hands). this is also true while sightreading... you need to be looking at the music not at your hands...
sometimes to master the art of talking to people while playing you find out you need a better knowledge of the keyboard (practicing blindfolded is the best drill for this).  also there are inumerable occasions in ensemble play when you need to be able to talk to the other players while playing. your ensembles have probally suffered in the past needlessly if you have not developed this skill.  if your drummer ever ever drops a beat you absoloutly must have the ability to shout at him "you suck!" with out stoping your own playing.  
yes talking while still playing is an important skill that we often do not learn about and take seriously till an advanced stage...  
when a chic singer turns to the band and in front of an audience after forgeting the words to a verse says "come on guys get it together"
you must be able to say "bitch if you ever take a kindygarten music class and learn how to count off a tune maybe we could all start one  at the same time tongight."  ya gotta be able to come back with this stuff while you are playing or it is just no good at all.
i may have bored y'all with this story before, but i remember playing solo for a wedding reception once and right in the middle of an improvised solo, and elderly lady approached me.  of course i thought she was going to compliment me on playing (yeah right).  instead, she said "can you tell me where the ladies room is?"  and without missing a phrase or any musical continuity, i told her where it was.

i remember that striking me as odd that afternoon.  i had done it so many times before, but it kind of made me sick that day.  but y'all or calling it a skill so i feel better:)

okay, here's another one.:

i had just finished the first recital featuring all my students.  it was as wonderful as  witnessing the birth of my children.  i was on cloud nine.  

i went right from the recital to a gig where i was to play keys and key bass.  having a nice sense of self-worth was really affecting my playing in a positive way.  i don't remember what tune we were playing but it was a pretty ballad and once again i was playing a solo.  an elderly lady walked up to me during my solo. i really did think she was going to compliment me. (starting to sound arrogant and pathetic aint i)   she said in a very smart-ass way, "can you play a fox trot or something?  we can't do anything to this!" as if i was trying to ruin her day...

this time i lost it...i stopped playing (bass and keys mind you) and said over the mic - "i quit" and i walked off the bandstand.  the band leader about shit, but i had had enough..the band leader said, "you are a professional" - i said, "i've been one my whole life - i don't want to be one anymore - you can have my money"  

i waited a couple of minutes and told the band i just need a few minutes...i paced a while and took a few deep breaths, jumped back in the saddle and finished the gig...

what's my point?  how much shit should we agree to take? and for how long?  i didn't get into music to do that... am i just a nutcase? not really...there's another story abot a sax player in town who threw is sax in the river on a boat gig - ha!  makes ya wann go - hmmm???
three cheers!
really i wish i had been there.
that is really the proper reaction.
we should all be able to say while playing, and without loosing a beat
"fuck you" "you cant do a fox trot because you are not a fox, in fact its hard to tell if you are a bitch or an old man".  but you know we are all such sally's worried about paying our rent and such we might as well all start kenny g tribute band if we cant even stand up to an old hag like my new hero whacky!
its time to declare war on these old hag's.  in the words of my favorite president of all time:
"just say no"
      pardon my french in this thread in this thread, my sinsere apologies to all... its just that whacky truly inspired me.
i do believe the music in the whole world would be so much better if we could all learn from whacky here how to just say no.  but i do think we should all have the skill to at least have the option of doing it while continuing to play, but this is just a techincal point (more a matter of technique i guess).
one of my favourite qoutes so far from this site mike...

"you cant do a fox trot because you are not a fox, in fact its hard to tell if you are a bitch or an old man"
ha!  love it! :)
i don't know when it started, but i usually play eyes closed anyway, solo or with a group (obviously not in spots where i need to have eye contact with the band or something).

so it's no problem to do solo piano or group and hold eye  contact with someone when they come up to the band/me.

as i once mentioned before, i had some great experiences when beautiful women sat down on the piano bench next to me.  if it takes ten old hags bothering me before i've built up enough points for a supermodel to sit next to me on the piano bench, i'll take that any day of the week.

i stopped being serious about this stuff back in 1995 when i moved to aspen. i wanted to be a ski bum- i was sick of the hassle of hustling gigs,  dealing with the bs you guys are talking about above, and decided to be a ski bum.

got lucky and started playing at aspen's ritz-carlton (called something else now).  then music was really really fun, and it has continued to be so because the only time i take myself really seriously is if i'm doing a really serious gig. if it's a reception, or a bar gig, or a party, well, i'm going to have just as much fun as anyone else in the room regardless if they want to hear the charlie brown theme ten times.

tip for nasty requests: when someone wants the charlie brown theme, or take five, or theme from ice castles, get the person's name and announce that the next tune is a special request by so-and-so.  make sure the rooms knows it- say it again if necessary.

then play a long rendition of the tune, and when you are finally done, make sure the room knows once again that it was a special request from that person.

i bet no one else comes up and asks for my way after that!
If I'm not back in 24 hours, call the president.

Scot is available for skype jazz piano lessons (and google hangouts, phone call, etc...)
Use the contact link at the top of the page.
i've done that!  it's delightful! :)

i don't really mind the requests...it's when they show me  disrespect and as if i'm trying to ruin their day, that really takes a chunk out o me...

here's another one...

i was about 17 years old  playing a wedding reception (imagine that).  we had an elderly drunken legend of a trumpet player playing with us...the literally looked like red skelton...he had comsumed most of a 5th of scotch byt the time this younger couple came up  and requested "proud mary"

this guy screemed at the top of his lungs; "proud mary?  that's the worst fucking tune ever written!  i'm not gonna play that shit!  maybe these guys will, but not me!"

my face hurt from laughing so hard!  we played the tune whilst this guy left the room :)
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