Thanks for your patience if you had to wait a day for this sequel;
Piano Music Fan: The Story of Ralph.
If you’re reading this for the first time, you might want to go check out yesterday’s blog post. Either way … we continue …
Ralph was watching me perform on stage in front of 400+ people at a company event. He knew what I charged the company for this entertainment for their event. Ralph was in finance. He thought it was way too much for one guy to make in 3 hours onstage what he made in a week. He was like, seriously? What’s the point?
But there was something in the way the piano music was so … uplifting. It became the center of the room and all the activity within. He couldn’t not tap his foot because of the infectious groove. How could all that music come from one instrument? There were no drums. There was just this guy on the piano with a microphone. Okay the stage looked really good. And it was perfectly placed in the room so that everyone had access to him and could talk to him. But, seriously. One piano and one microphone?
But the way he invited people to make requests and to sing along was smooth and inviting. Ralph didn’t remember the words to the songs but he knew the songs he was playing. Ralph found it really easy to sing along and even tho he had a very good memory, he couldn’t remember all the words.
Almost without noticing Ralph found himself getting closer to the stage. He was singing for the first time in years. Not since his days in high school choir had he felt this good. He was singing even though he wasn’t much of a singer. It was an enjoyable part of his life he had let slip away when he started working in accounting right after graduation form high school.
His happiness spread to his face. He was laughing for the first time in what seemed like an eternity. He started remembering songs he hadn’t thought of in years. And when he asked the piano player about them, he was surprised to learn he knew most of them. When the piano entertainer started playing his favorite songs, he noticed other people knew them and liked them too. Especially this one woman who was across from Ralph on the other side of the piano.
When I play piano at a company event or a fund raiser people ask me all the time, “Don’t you get tired of playing the same old songs all the time?”
I tell them, “No. Not as long as everyone is getting into them.”
If I have the chance, I usually go on to say, “I look in everyone’s eyes to see that sparkle of joy and contentment.”
Privately, I look for that moment when you have forgotten the weight of your world and you let go of the mundane and let the music take over.”
I saw that look in Ralph’s eyes on that frosty cold night in February. It took hold before he started moving away from the edge of the convention center wall. I saw music soar through his soul as he came closer to the piano. I saw him relax and forget his old, shy, social habits as he stood shoulder to shoulder with everyone else singing along at the piano.
I saw that timeless sparkle in his eyes when he saw her across the room. So I looked for her. There she was to my left, a simply beautiful brunette in the dazzling necklace. Wow!
She was also looking at Ralph but in a whole new way. He was barely recognizable from his daily personae. ‘Janet’ wasn’t even sure it was Ralph from down the hall from her cubicle in marketing. His tie was loosened. His hair was messy (as usual) but it looked a whole lot cooler when he was dancing. Was this really Ralph?
Without thinking Ralph crossed to the other side of the piano and said something to her that made her laugh. There was that twinkle in their eyes again. Only this time it had grown roots.
They never left each others’ side the rest of the night.
By the end of the night he was standing next to ‘Janet in Marketing’, arm in arm with her and his other co-workers whom he had never talked to very much before.
His cheeks hurt from something he didn’t normally do at a company event or from anything he did much at work – smile that is.
I was asked back to perform the next year. This time we brought a dueling pianos show into the festivities. ‘Twice the Fun’ as we like to say.
Janet and Ralph were still together. They didn’t get married. They were dating tho. He wasn’t sure he wanted to get married or have kids. He was in his 30s now and, honestly, he wasn’t sure how to be a Dad having never received much parenting when he was a kid.
But Janet has two kids from another marriage whom he loves dearly. And they love seeing their Mom be so happy with Ralph. He was a really nice guy. Not loud like most men. Just really quiet – and happy.
Would you like to create memories that last a lifetime with live music entertainment at your next event? Then give me a call at 1 773-527-7417 and I will supply piano music fun that brings everyone together with interactive music and comedy. Seriously!
P.S. Ralph was now the head of the accounting department. This year he eagerly approved the expenditure.
You Call It Piano Music Entertainment
Your Soul Calls It Thirst Quencher
It was one of those gigs where I was so happy I took piano lessons as a kid, I had stuck with it as an adult and, most importantly, remained a professional so that I could witness what I am about to tell you.
No one thinks they really need live music. Most importantly the ‘Bean Counters’ who sit around in their office and don’t realize that music truly is the universal language that we all understand.
That’s okay. We all have a job to do.
My job today is to let you know how important
live music and comedy can be for your soul.
It’s like Gatorade after a 60-minute workout. It’s like scratching an itch in a hard to reach place. It’s like a hug and a kiss from a loved one who has returned from a long trip.
Here’s the story …
This guy was your typical office worker who didn’t have anything else going on his life except to be an office worker. He was kinda grumpy. He had no sense of humor. He had no friends. So he was the guy that made everyone feel a little uncomfortable.
He wore the weird shirt that didn’t appear to coordinate with his tie – or anything else that he wore for that matter. And his hair was always a little bit messy. He didn’t talk much because, well, he liked to be quiet.
Let’s call him ‘Ralph’.
What nobody knew about ‘Ralph’ was he had watched his Mom die of cancer when he was 10 back in 1969. As you can imagine it was horrible.
She was a single Mom. He was an only child. They were not members of a church so there was no support network of any kind. After she died he went to live with an aunt he had never met, in a state he had never been to, with an ‘uncle’ who wasn’t married to his aunt. They had no other kids either. His aunt was nice enough and all. But let’s just say ‘nurturing’ was not a concept she knew much about.
School was also a little rough for Ralph in this small rural town of about 4000 people. They were nice and everything. But having come from a large city school, he felt lost and way behind the other kids.
He wasn’t very coordinated or even remotely interested in sports. He just didn’t get the importance of all that running around and throwing balls and stuff. No one had ever shown him how and he didn’t have any allegiance to one team or another. So, seriously. Like, what’s the point?
The thing about his new school tho was they had a choir as part of their curriculum. He had no idea how it would change his life.
Choir allowed Ralph to be around other people – especially girls. It allowed him to comfortably shift into his changing voice as puberty set in. It allowed him to express his emotions which ran so deep and so pensive at such a vulnerable and tenuous time of his life.
He stayed with choir all through middle school and high school. He didn’t excel at singing. He was never a featured soloist or anything. He just really enjoyed it for reasons that a growing young man could simply not explain.
But that’s where it ended. College was not in the picture for Ralph. He went to work and learned finance. He was actually pretty good at analysis. He eventually learned the accounting business with a small local firm that had hired him right out of high school.
In 89 that small local firm was bought out by a much larger one which then grew into a multi-billion dollar corporation through the 90s. He was a good and consistent employee. He was promoted regularly but never to management. He got transferred back to his hometown city in 98 where he just slipped easily into the anonymity of the hustle and bustle. He lives there to this day.
He never married. He never joined a church or a community choir.
He doesn’t do much of anything in the way of outside activities. He likes going to the movies. But he feels too shy to search for anything. No one ever gave him permission.
Until one night in February, his company event consisted of a large Holiday Party featuring piano music entertainment.
‘Ralph’ was sitting alone, kind of in the background. I don’t think he was eating much off the buffet. I didn’t notice his beverage of choice. But I did notice he was alone.
When I perform I never call anyone out. I never embarrass anyone. What I use is a technique I call “A Saucer of Milk”. It’s like when you want to call a cat over. You don’t yell or command. You just lay out a saucer of milk. If you want what we have to offer, (and your soul knows you do), then you’ll be over in time.
This story is getting a little long. So I am going to finish this tomorrow. Check it out here …
In the meantime, thanks for listening and let me know when you want to have great live music and comedy in the form of piano music entertainment and interactive, sing-along fun that brings people together and creates lifelong memories for everyone in attendance.
It’s always interesting when I get a call to do some fundraising for your church or school from someone who wants me to play piano music at their charity event. But they think the piano can only be relegated to background music.
It’s true we can offer some beautiful ambiance.
But there is so much more to what I bring to the table. What I offer for your fund raiser entertainment is to bring people together. But if I am also going to be the background piano player first, then I need to bring them in differently than if I am your headliner entertainment.
That’s exactly what I was able to do here for this church fund raiser. Check this out …
It’s always a pleasure to help raise funds for churches and schools. I never get tired of it.
We have a wonderful community here in Chicago. A real mixture of people and cultures and needs. St Nicolai has been around for 125 years now. Think about what that means. All the different changes this community has seen over the decades. From working class families to immigrants to 2nd, 3rd and now 4th generations of people living and working ad dying in the City of Chicago.
I’ve been living and working in Chicago as a musician since 1981. I grew up in the suburbs. I came down here to U of I as it was called back then. Now our kids have grown up here and call these neighbors their friends too.
I’ve known Dave Antieau for a long time. He’s been the pastor at St. Nicolai’s for several years now. He started off as one of my piano students back when I was teaching full time.
His wife is a wonderful woman who is just as active in the community as David is. They’ve seen me perform live music at a mutual friend’s wedding. It’s all the same thing for us.
Bring people together with the power of music and
create great memories. Let us do the same for you and your fundraising efforts.
Call now 773-527-7417