Tag Archives: piano player

How Do Piano Players Learn New Songs w/o Sheet Music?

I don’ know about the other piano player, but we rarely use piano sheet music when we’re playing piano for hire.

I used to use all kinds of Fake Books when I first started out. But not anymore. When I want to learn a new song, I have a bunch of other ways to get the song memorized and into my repertoire. Here are only a few of the methods: 

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Need Sheet Music?

  1. Fake Books are otherwise known as lead sheets. They resemble piano sheet music except that don’t use a full staff. There’s no trebele and bass clefs. There’s only treble clef. Only a melody and lyrics are printed. There will be a chord chart over the treble clef. Those may be in the form of a symbol like a C7 or Cm7 or something like that. Sometimes it will be a chord grid showing the frets and the fingering. That would be more for guitarists not pinao sheet music.
    There used to be fake books when I was learning playing jazz piano gigs. They just had the melody and written out chord symbols.Not so much anymore. We tend to find almost anything we need on a variety of apps or on lyric sites online.
  2. Tabs are used for guitarists mostly. As a piano player I dont have much use for them tabs. Short for tabluture, again it’s like a grid showing which fret and which fingers go where.
  3. Apps are used in force these days. I love ’em. Not only does it allow me to look up songs on the fly when someone requests an obscure hit, I can also leave all my fake books at home. I used to carry a suitcase full of tunes with me to every gig. I would every fake book I thought I might need for that particular gig and inevitably, someone would ask for something I didn’t have in my collection that particular night.Now I use OnSong.com or I go to GuitarTabs.com and download their software. It usually costs $7-10 a year. But well worth it every time.
  4. Play By Ear most times. It’s faster and since most Pop songs are all the same basic 4 chords, the only thing to get is how they phrase their lyrics. The arrangements are all pretty musch the same magic trick. If its in a minor key it will resolve to the relative major. For example, if it’s E minor then the chorus will come around to G Major. Listen to Take Me To Church by Hozier. Listen to Blank Space the new hit by Taylor Swift.If the song is G Major, the turn around or the bridge is going to start on the E minor ….. and so on and so on.That’s pretty much it for how professional piano players learn new songs without using sheet music. Fake books are fading out. Apps are the most popular. But I still rely on my ears and my experience to get a new song ready for performance.

Hope this helped.

How Does A Piano Player Learn So Many New Songs?

Learning new songs is part and parcel of our daily existence as a piano player who plays live music regularly. The challenge is sifting through all the new music and finding what works and what doesn’t work.

In my opinion most of the Pop and Country music these days has become homogenized. For those of you that didn’t grow up in the 60s ‘homogenized’ is not a sexual connotation. It means that everything is made the same. Some might say made to the same standard of quality. But I think what has happened is that most of the popular songs have the same chord changes and a drought of tasty melodies. I know there are some great and talented songwriters out there. But by the time their tune gets to the producer and to the recording process, there are changes that get made to make the song palatable. Axis of Awesome did this comedy music bit that has become a perfect example of what I’m taking about  

That’s okay by me. I don’t mind. I just know, as a writer, there are so many possibilities harmonically and melodically speaking, that there is no excuse for this. Even if a song were to have one ‘mystery chord’ in there somewhere, it would go a long way. It could be laziness. It could be ignorance.

But I think what has happened is when people like something, the creators replicate it because they know it’s a winning formula. This is true in every successful business. The music business is no different.

I think Adele has had some good success with adding tasty chords into her songs. Bruno Mars is copying many of the greats that came before him. They are both quite open about the fact that they are standing the shoulders of the giants who came before them.

My job is a piano player is to interpret what is out there and make it my own. For example, I don’t use massive amounts of music production techniques at our performances. I know some players use backing tracks and drum machines, even at dueling pianos shows. That’s cool. I never found it all that inspiring. As a piano player who works a lot I find I get inspiration from the people who are listening. I like that kind of energy rather than a technical energy.

The idea is that then the piano player turns the song into something of his own. Since we are all standing on the shoulders of the great ones who came before us, the only thing left for us to do is to personalize it.

That’s one of the things I learned early on as I was an aspiring musician learning to become a professional piano player. I used to think “Who is the best piano player?”. But then I realized it’s all one magic trick. Once you learn that one trick everything else after that is about adding the personality you were born with or that you are willing to let shine through.

So when I learn a new One Direction song or something from Jason Aldean, it doesn’t matter to me that all the same chords sequences are being used over and over again. I try to find the essence of the tune and make it my own. Sometimes I get it right, other times I need to keep learning.

Company Event Entertainment Just Got Easier

So I want to talk about all the company event entertainment coming up that we have on tap for everyone, now that I know you all like my new logo,

As you know the Holiday season is upon us. If you’re not sure, then just turn on your TV or your radio> It’s okay. It’s safe to do so now that the elections are over and done with. When you do, you will see a semblance of Christmas ads already in full swing. I guess advertisers are getting a good rate now that the politicians are out of the way.

company event entertainment with live music and comedy

Company Event Entertainment

We have a wide variety of live music acts available for your company Christmas party again this year. Most importantly — it is very affordable when you go with one of the great piano players we have on board. Namely Me. Dan Gillogly. Okay … so it ain’t bragging if you can do it. But as much fun as you guys have, it is more fun for me. I’d love to hear from you so we can get things rolling.

We had another fantastic night of entertainment last Saturday night. People came together singing songs that everyone knew the words to and laughing along with all the improvised comedy and having a great time listening to live music as their entertainment.

Your party planning never got easier. Just pick up the phone and call Amber at +1 773-527-7417. We may still have your date available. It’s hard to say. There’s always one way to find out. If you’re the one in charge of finding great entertainment for company event this year, give her a call. I can GUARANTEE  you will have fun! You guys will be talking about the great laughs for months — possibly years after the superior night of live music and comedy entertainment at your company event.

Great Piano Player Chuck Leavell Honored

I just wanted to pop this up here and say congratulations to one of my favorite piano players Chuck Leavell.

He has been holding the chair in The Rolling Stones for going on 35 years now. I first got hip to him when he played piano on the first Allman Brothers record after Duane died. Chuck’s piano solos, particularly the one on ‘Jessica’ remains and always will be a true classic.

Congratulations to Chuck Leavell on your induction into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame.

http://www.al.com/entertainment/index.ssf/2016/02/chuck_leavell.html

Chuck Leavell: Pianist Extraordinaire

Life As A Cruise Ship Piano Entertainer

The kids on the cruise ship are hilarious. They are very antsy and energetic. Like, constantly. But mostly right after a meal. They can’t understand how grown ups just want sit back and talk and relax after a good bite. Kids got to get up and run around. They got to do things.

This is especially so when the child has been fed a very steady diet of soft serve ice cream. It can’t be beat. They don’t want anything but french fries and ice cream. Who can blame them? If I didn’t have repercussions from eating like that I would do it all the time. It’s hypnotizing to think about. Donuts and ice cream. No veggies. No rice cakes. Just ice cream. Mmmmmmmm … mesmerizing.

I saw one little tyke this AM who didn’t look any older than 2 years old. I don’t even think he had been walking for more than a month or two. He was holding his Mom’s hand as they were walking along the pool deck to go to the buffet.

It was as if he could smell the ice cream 50 meters away because once he realized where they were going, he just looked up at his Mom as if to say, “Can’t you move any faster Lady?” I mean he was pulling on her limb as if he wasn’t going to stand for the delay in the proceedings and if she didn’t get with the program, he was going to have to release of her of her duties so he could get on over to the ice cream! “Let’s get on with it!” 2 years old.

His poor mother knew exactly what was going on and was not going to release him until he got something nutritious in him first. But she looked utterly defeated. She knew she should not have brought this kid with them on this trip. She thought she was going to catch up on her sleep. She thought she was going to relax. But Nooooo. This 2 year old needed ice cream and immediately after he was going to run around. Probably where danger existed in the form of swimming pools and slippery floors.

I can’t say I miss those days. I’m only working on this cruise ship as an entertainer because our kids are grown up and out of high school now. This is my time to sit back and watch all those parents deal with saying no to ice cream.

If You Ever Drove A Lamborghini Would You Tell Anybody?

I was pulling up to the restaurant gig today and I went to park with the valet. They were very busy because it was the dinner hour. I pulled up in my minivan to own unload my gear. I told the guy I was the piano player for the night and he quickly said, “Okay. Fine.” Then he ran to the car behind me.I was kind of insulted at first. I figured he was thinking, “Oh great! Here’s another musician. I don’t have to pay attention to him.”But I wasn’t insulted when I looked in my rearview mirror to see the car that he ran to.  It was a jet black Lamborghini. The valet was grinning ear to ear.
lamborghini, luxury cars, piano music, live music,

Nice Ride!

I don’t often have car lust. I have lusted after the BMW 700 series. Especially if it still comes with the hydrogen fuel-cell. That would be a cool car to drive. I’ve never driven one. But I definitely plan on driving one sometime in my life.

I have driven the Corvette. Now that’s a nice machine. I would definitely look into getting a Corvette. But most of the other high-end luxury cars don’t really interest me all that much. I’m sure they’re nice. I’m sure they’d be wonderful to drive and to own. But I don’t give them all that much thought.

But as I looked at this Lamborghini I thought,
“Now that’s a car I should definitely look into someday.”

I looked at the valet with a smile on his face as he drove off in the Lamborghini and I wondered “I’ll bet he has a short list of really nice cars he would like to own someday.” I’m sure he does and I’m sure that if he did not have a Lamborghini on his list he does now.

The valet has probably driven more luxury cars than I’ve even thought of in my life.

One more thing — if had ever worked as a valet and I had a chance to park a Lamborghini, I would definitely tell my friends. “Yeah, I’ve driven a Lamborghini.”  Even if I only just parked one.

The Power of Live Music Entertainment Will Astound You!

The Power of Live Music Entertainment
will literally astound you!

Edison said …

“If we all did the things we are capable of doing we would literally astound ourselves.”

The power of music is astounding! I get to see it every night I am playing piano music live in a corporate event or at a club date. I can see it whether I am entertaining in a country club or at a fund raiser.

Yes I can play piano and yes I can sing. But the music isn’t mine. It belongs to all of us and my job is to provide the vehicle for you to climb in and take a ride;

A Magic Carpet Ride.

Ride Sally Ride.

Baby You Can Drive My Car.

The tricky part is letting you know you need it before you know you want it.

So I am here to tell you want it. You need it. You crave live music entertainment and you’re going to be talking about what an astounding time you had last night tomorrow morning and for the rest of your life.

You will remember your event for years to come and maybe even beyond. It won’t because of the bean dip. It won’t be that really funny story Uncle Funky tells every party ever year every time you get guys get together.

It’s going to be the live music you shared. It’s going to be the dancing and the singing and the great memories you’ve created together with me behind the piano or with my band.

I’m not making this up. The music is telling you this is true.
You know how I know?
Let me ask you a question:

Do you remember where you were when you got your first kiss?

Of course you do.

Now what was your favorite song from that time period?

See? You knew instantly.

That’s the power of music.

That song (or songs) that was playing on the radio or on the 8 track player in the car you were in at the time, ingrained your emotional happiness. It became the soundtrack to your life.

That’s the power of music.

It transcends everything that was going on at the time. You don’t remember what you ate for breakfast the morning of your first kiss. But you remember the song that was your favorite.

So call me and let’s create some more great memories with live music entertainment.

I am Dan and I am the PianoMan and I would be honored if you would let me create those moments with you and your friends and family that will last a lifetime.

Live Music Entertainment is Astounding!

Call 773-527-7417

piano music, entertainment for events, fundraising ideas, live music entertainment, piano entertainer,

Piano Music Will Raise Funds. Really!

live music entertainment for events piano player for hire

Live Music Creates Astounding Memories!

A Wide Awake Nightmare for One of Chicago’s Best Piano Players

Chicago is filled with the best piano players.

Everyone of us are filled with awe for anyone who is talented. With us piano players, it is more than a mutual admiration society. We all know each other and we all look out for each other. So it is with a mixture of shock and horror mixed with a sense of duty that I need to post this to my site.

http://www.gofundme.com/mzkafg

My good friend and fellow comedian Dave Allen recently had brain surgery to remove a lesion that has left him with limited use of his right hand and has seriously hampered his speech.

http://www.gofundme.com/mzkafg

Many of you who also know Dave, know what a tremendously talented man he is. His ability to deliver spot on impersonations in a wide variety of settings is second to no one that I’ve ever worked with. And you know I’ve worked with a lot of very talented people.

Dave has established himself as one of the best piano players in Chicago for years now. He has been working professionally as a piano player in the area since his teens and he has probably forgotten more tunes than I have ever known.

I sat across from him on one particularly slow night in a bar on a dueling pianos gig and watched him fire off the entire White Album from the Beatles.

I don’t know with any certainty what you were doing with your teen aged years. But I now know for sure what Dave Allen was doing with his.

One winter we took a long drive out to some corporate gig out in Iowa. All the way out there Dave was speaking in a new accent he was working on. His boys were totally into some new movie at the time. If I’m not mistaken, (and I’ve known to be from time to time) it was the first version of ‘Cars’ and Dave was working on some slow tawkin’ redneck voice. Every conversation was peppered with a response in that lawng particular drawl. 5 hour trip. There’s Dave munchin’ on pistachio seeds and spittin’ out colloquialisms.

http://www.gofundme.com/mzkafg

On the way back – all 5 hours – he was working on an Indian voice. Some middle eastern guy who owned a quickie mart or something. I don’t even know what he was talking about but it made a long road trip with no radio in the truck disappear like the best dessert you’ve ever tasted. 

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Dave Allen one of Chicago’s Best Piano Players

best piano players

Dave Allen and Jake

He is a loving husband and father to his two boys. When you see them together you know he connects with them the way he does with an audience; deeply and with sincerity.

So please contribute to Dave. He may be out of work for a long time. But with your love and prayers (and knowing Dave) he’ll be back before we know it.

So if you can’t send money, even just $100, then send positive vibes.
He’s a really good guy and the entertainment world needs him back.

We all do. Thanks

6 Reasons Why Piano Music Makes One of The Best Fundraising Ideas Of All Time

piano music, entertainment for events, fundraising ideas, live music entertainment, piano entertainer,

Piano Music Will Raise Funds. Really!

Live sing along piano music goes down in history as one of the all time great fundraising ideas and is a great choice for your next charity fund raiser event.

1. We are affordable with structured rates to fit every budget. We offer discounts for charity event entertainment packages that benefit children such as after school programs, athletic associations and most especially religious groups.

2. We can involve everyone in your audience because it spans every demographic; kids, tweeners, teens, millennials, young families, retirees on up to grandparents.

Even the people who don’t get to joining in with the sing along or the dancing will have a good time watching all their friends and co-workers get up and be all silly.

3. A VERY versatile live music entertainment choice. We can add a band or maybe hust a drummer, we can feature ‘guest’ singers from your group, we can create a karaoke event. Sound versatile to you too?

4. The piano player can take your requests. You get to set the pace of the show. If you don’t like the song one of these wonderful performers are playing, make a request and change the song. It’s fun when you’re in charge.

5. The very best reason you’re getting is live music entertainment played by a real musician in real time. Too many acts play with recorded music these days. And why not? The technology is there and it sounds so good. But because we’re actually playing piano and singing live for you, you get to hear us make mistakes and screw up the words and laugh at ourselves for doing it. Not bad huh,? 

Try us. You’ll see why live piano music makes one of the All Time Great Fundraising Ideas to come around since forever. 

773-527-7417

oh wait … did I say 6 Reasons? Yes. I did. Reason #6 … IT’S FUN!!!

Now I’m Going To Entertain You with A Story …

… about how to drive in a snow storm in Chicago. 

snow tires, tire store, entertain, entertainment

Chicago Snow Storm Stories

So we got smacked with another snow storm here in Chicago this week.

Typical. It’s Chicago. It’s February. Go figure.

So why the hell don’t people know how to drive in this stuff? I mean – Seriously! Is it because we don’t have a foot of snow very often anymore? Are we just out of practice? It’s like Heeey C’mon already.

I remember getting a lot of snow when I was younger. Even in my early 20’s I had to be able to navigate city streets with all of the other citizens.

It was Par For The Course. Modus Operandi. Another Day in The Neighborhood.

When I was still a student of music at U of I in Chicago, as it was called back then, I lived in Wicker Park. My rent for a 2 bedroom was $150 a month. For those of you out of town, I can tell you now Wicker Park is one of those great neighborhoods where you now will not be able to find a 2 bedroom for less than $1500 these days – if that.

I had an old Chevy Suburban. Great truck. 8 cylinder. Rear wheel drive. Heavy. Moved everything and everywhere. Awesome truck.

Wicker Park was a barrio back then. Gangs? Yeah no problem. Ghettos? Yeah sure, whatever. Rat hole apartment and scum bag landlords? Heeeey it’s Chicago. Whatever.

I remember getting going after digging out of my parking spot, not daring to stop, zipping through one of those unplowed alleys on questionable snow tires I got from that discount tire shop on Division to get to the unplowed side street to get out to Damen Ave when I encounter another vehicle driving in my direction.

Now I had lived in Wicker Park about a year and a half at the time. I knew my neighbors. All upstanding citizens to be sure and they were kind enough to inform me, in true Chicago tradition, “Heeey, we’re all okay over here. It’s those people across the alley/across the street/ north of Milwaukee Ave/fill in the blank you gotta worry about … “

So in other words, I knew how to fill in the blanks, I knew where the boundaries were drawn and I knew who was on who’s side. I knew I had a guy and I knew the other guy had a guy so it’s all kopesthetic, right?

So like I said, I’m zipping along on my snow tires in my Chevy Suburban and I realize I’m in that ‘other’ neighborhood and I see this guy coming at me in his beater and we both know not to stop in the snow or we’re both getting stuck.

So what do we do?

We keep going.

That’s what we do.

C’mon it’s Chicago.

Sliding along, spinning our wheels but moving forward and as we miraculously pass each other safely we both look out our rolled down windows and we both started laughing. We were passing by so close we could have reached out and High Fived each other but we didn’t dare take our hands off the wheel at that particular moment.

As we finally fish tailed past each other our tail ends decided to dish out that High Five. It was a Love Tap. A Cheek Kiss.

Maybe it was that I didn’t want to stop knowing I wasn’t going to be protected in that neighborhood. Maybe it was him who didn’t want to get out and check it out for possibly very similar reasons. Add to that neither one of us were driving a brand Audi or anything.

So I looked out my side mirror and I saw him wave an “okay” as I was doing the same back to him.

No harm. No foul. No big deal driving in Chicago snowstorms.

Come visit some time and we’ll go for a drive. And maybe we’ll play some great live music together. Or if you’re not a musician and you’d rather just listen, we’re okay with that too. Either we’ll entertain you with tails and songs.

Heeey. Chicago. Go figure.