benchmarksblog

WHAT I LEARN FROM LIFTING & PLAYING

Month: August, 2015

INSTRUMENTS

Two nights ago, a man asked me the very ambiguous and open-ended question, “What is the best kind of piano to get?”

 

I patiently explained that pianos, as instruments, are a lot like cars. The factors of size, budget and personal preference need to be considered, as well as what kind of mileage needs to be covered during the instrument’s lifetime, where it needs to perform, and how it needs to be function.

 

Upon deaf ears, the question was re-clarified.

 

“I saw a Steinway at an estate sale. They’re the best kind aren’t they? Should I get it?“

 

I didn’t tell him that even Ferraris and Porsches come with problems from time to time and it’s the same for pianos. Especially used ones.

 

I didn’t ask if he knew any other brands of pianos.

 

And I certainly didn’t care to know if he was acquiring this Steinway for his child or as a decorative home feature.

 

I just told him that the best instruments are the ones that you love to hear, that you enjoy playing, that you miss when you are on other keyboards, and that inspire you interpret songs a little more diligently.

 

The best instruments are not like cars, but rather like people who positively influence you to be better and to do better.

 

Advertisements

THE SITUATION

Very nervously, she whispers into my ear, “Who do I speak to about a situation in the ladies?”

 

And because in my many years of service at this restaurant I have already witnessed blowjobs in the coatroom, passed out women with their panties around their ankles in the elevator, coke lines snorted on the marble countertops of the vanities, and, explosive vomit in the great hall, I am certain that this time, someone has had a baby and abandoned it in full bloody afterbirth in the corner of a stall.

 

It’s not really my job as a pianist to handle this, but I do know how to play this request very well.

 

So I grab the most available busboy and after making sure the restroom is clear, I send him in and stand guard at the door.

 

He comes out perplexed.

 

“Dude, they’re out of hand towels and there was a turd in one of the bowls.

 

That’s it.

 

That’s all it was.

 

We stock and we flush.

 

Sometimes, that’s all we can do in any situation.

NAME DROPPING

Paved with good intentions, the road to hell is asking for my business card with the promise of a future engagement at a private party, a wedding or a corporate function, and then not leaving me a tip.

 

As a Christian, I place my faith in the certain payday of eternal heaven.

 

But here’s the difference.

 

As a Christian, I am also tipped in the present.

 

I have a long list of things for which I am grateful, for which I give thanks, for which I humbled to receive.

 

If things are good now, then how much better the promise of what lies ahead?

 

And even if things are bad, I trust that there’s something better looking forward.

 

Jesus tips me all the time.

 

Shouldn’t balling event planners that want music for their “possible next big budget projects” do the same?

 

TIME UNDER TENSION

I was introduced to extreme tempo training this week.

 

For each movement, the lift consisted of a 10-count contraction, a 5-count hold, followed by another 10-count contraction.

 

The intensity of the exercise is increased because more time under tension manipulates the body to respond with more growth.

 

I haven’t felt that kind of pressure in a long time.

 

But I know the next time I do, in or outside the gym, I can expect diamonds in my future.

STANDARDS

A new manger asked me to describe what kind of music I generally play so that he could train the hostesses in taking calls about the restaurant.

 

I told him that I was his standards and showtunes guy on the roster.

 

I didn’t think anymore of it until a guest showed up and asked if I knew any standard Lynyrd Skynyrd songs.

 

As politely as possible, I smiled and said I could play Georgia on my Mind, Stars Fell on Alabama or The Tennessee Waltz, but that I did not know any standard Skynyrd.

 

“Well, I was told you knew the standards,” he mutters with undisguised disgust.

 

Then the sarcastically combative follow-up, “What kind of standards do you know then?”

 

I sincerely hope that all musicians and music enthusiasts will take pride in my answering:

 

“While is no definitive list of jazz standards, the Great American Songbook culls the bulk of its repertoire from Tin Pan Alley popular songs, which in turn were mostly written for Broadway musicals. And what I play mostly comes from the 1920s and 30s.”

 

There is a moment of silence.

 

A middle-aged man with one too many beers in him walks away muttering, “That’s not what I was told.”

 

And I am left alone with my standards.