After the people next-door recently shouted, “more!” whilst I was practising the piano with the door open, I decided to play a little piano out on the driveway for the neighbours. Meaning to play outside on Friday, the weather proved rather incompatible so, with the threat of rain removed I finally managed to get outside last night.
After raiding the loft for the keyboard stand, and utterly failing to locate my stool or music stand (hope they are at a friend’s house), converting some youTube bass and drum backing tracks to .wav files so that my stage piano can play them, and testing my very old little speaker amps, I was ready to go outside.
It was certainly strange having people sit down across the street, and to the sides in their gardens but, once I got going it was pretty enjoyable. Being used to playing at an event or in a pub where people, otherwise occupied, tend not to just sit and stare at you so this was rather different. The lack of a music stand meant I had to try and play from memory or look down sideways onto a small table for my musical reminders. The trouble was it was very windy so that was pretty impossible, and was rather awkward in the first place.
A lot of the street came out and stood or sat, socially distancing of course, and many passers-by stopped passing by and listened. Some of the playing was, even if I say so myself, at times quite good especially at the beginning when I was playing some of the old memorised tunes (C-Jam Blues, Foggy Day in London Town, Take the A-Train, etc). However, I know some of the later tunes weren’t, especially those where I was trying to read music from my side, with sheets of music flailing in the wind and partially covered up with a water bottle to try and weigh them down.
A neighbour recorded a snippet on their phone and actually, the sound was quite good, all things considered. I do realise though that performing to “practice” backing tracks is not that ideal…they go on…and on…and on. I think I need to get Audacity fired up and chop out two or three choruses (or more in some cases). I played a solo version of Over The Rainbow as a nod to the NHS and finished with a nice little arrangement of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star that I did for a friend’s little girl.
The response was really nice and I have been asked to do it again. It certainly brought people out of their houses and gave a shared experience and something a little different for a bit. I hope someone else will play along next time as that would really help knot the community together.