“Play Gangnam Style!”
-A five-year-old music fan, to me at the piano
As a pianist at the Magnolia Hotel & Spa since 2009, I’ve watched many people travel through the lobby where I perform. Most are friendly, some are indifferent. Some take their time, and some are in a mad rush to get to their next downtown shopping binge. My interaction with listeners in the lobby can usually fit into one of these categories:
1) The ignore. Lost in their world, on a mission, and maybe wearing earbuds.
2) The glance and nod. These folks acknowledge my existence, maybe because they appreciate what I’m doing, but maybe not. They might be good at poker. They are on the move.
3) The smile with eye contact. Now we’re getting interesting. This person is enjoying the music, or maybe the song I’m playing, enough to let me know they appreciate it.
4) The walk up and comment. This is getting tricky now, because I want to respond. But the part of the brain that controls my performance evidently also controls my ability to hold a conversation. (Another reason I don’t believe in multi-tasking.) In this scenario, either the music or the conversation is about to suffer, and no one likes to talk to a socially inept musician who doesn’t sound good either… So I normally stop playing at this point.
5) The request. Occasionally someone will request a song! I encourage this, and can sometimes even pull it off to a level I’m satisfied with… it really depends.
And then there’s the younger crowd. (the ones born after 2006 or so…)
There’s really only one type here, that is, curious. Kids aren’t afraid to come up and watch my hands, or feet, or even play a few notes on their own. The younger they are, the more eager. (I tend to know more of their requests, too. There’s an advantage to having lived much, much longer than they have.)
All this to say, be curious! Laugh out loud! Just don’t ask me to play Gangnam Style…
…but I would play you Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.