About 20 years ago a friend invited me to her “Piano Salon” – a monthly get together where friends who play piano can share their music with one another in a supportive and non-threatening environment. There would be some wine and appetisers to help people relax. (My friend said the wine doesn’t necessarily help the playing, but it helps the listening!)
It was such a great time! I thought, “I know quite a few piano players, I could start my own piano club! I ran the idea by a couple of other piano playing friends and we coordinated our first meeting. It’s hard to believe that we’ve been meeting monthly for 20 years!
Our group is very relaxed and casual. It has always been a rule that people can talk and visit while the music is playing. This removes a lot of the stress of playing in front of other people. Of course if someone wants quiet the group is happy to accomodate.
We also has a wide variety of playing levels. Some of our members are working some advanced pieces, others are working on beginning repertoire. Our group does not get involved with critiquing, unless specifically asked (which hardly ever happens).
A potluck lunch is always part of the afternoon – members bring a snack or beverage to share. Eating together is a great way to bond and let down our guard. My piano playing friends also happen to be great cooks, so the meal is always fantastic!
Here are some of the benefits
- Getting a chance to play on different pianos (which is always harder than playing your own piano!)
- Getting a chance to hear other people play your piano which is a treat!
- Sharing ideas about pieces to learn
- Sharing ideas about technique and practicing
- Extra motivation to practice
- Support and camaraderie
- Just plain fun!
1. Make a list of all the piano players you know
Actually it doesn’t have to be just piano players. We’ve had guitar players and singers as well. The focus in my group has been on piano, but having other instruments can be fun too.
2. Spread the word
Social media is a very efficient way to spread the word. Ask your FaceBook friends to spread around that you are looking to start a piano club. Let co-workers know: you might be surprised at how many closet piano players there are.
We use Google Groups to communicate with each other via email. Google allows you to create an email for your group like “RapidCityPianoClub@googlegroups.com. Any email sent to that address goes to the entire group. It’s a great way to plan you get-together.
3. Be supportive!
Most people are very nervous about playing in front of other people. When you invite them, be sure to tell them that making mistakes is OK, and that the whole idea is to support each other. Once the group gets going people will start to feel more comfortable.
4. Branch out
Our group has sometimes pooled our resources to have workshops featuring top level teachers in the area. We’ve also sometimes played in public venues, for example a cafe downtown that has a nice piano. Playing in nursing homes can be a great way to spread some cheer.
5. Make it a potluck
Sharing a potluck meal can be a great way to bond as a group, even if it is just snacks and finger food. A glass of wine can help with the nerves, and put people in a more light-hearted mood.
6. Take time to sing
This is particularly easy around the holidays. But anytime can be a great time to sing around the piano! Some of our members had never before played with people singing and it was thrilling for them! It’s another way to bring the group together and build connections and trust.
I hope this post will inspire you to reach out and find kindred piano spirits! Give it a try. It could become a highlight of your month!