Playing dinner music

Posted In: Performing

  • Participant
    Sylvia on #195800

    I sometimes record while I play to check up on myself because I have bad habits of speeding up, rushing the end of a phrase, etc.  I notice that I usually just sigue from one song to the next with glisses or arpeggios.  My rep is memorized, so there is no page turning, and my song list is on the floor where I can see it.

    To me, listening to the blanket of sound gets oppressive, and I feel relieved when the music makes a complete stop because it gives my ears a rest.  I don’t know if the audience feels the same way, or if they are busy eating and don’t notice.  I’m wondering if I should make more frequent stops.

    Then I started wondering what other harpists do.  Do you stop after each song or just connect to the next one?



    Gretchen Cover on #195801

    I think it depends on the group you are playing for.  If this is background music for an event with a lot of talking and noise, I don’t think it matters. The harp is ambient noise. But, if you are playing in a quiet setting where people are actually listening, I think some silence is helpful. I like to group my pieces/songs in 3 that sound good together.  Then I take a pause and play another group of 3.

    Sylvia on #195802

    That’s a good idea.  I’ll try that next time.  Thanks.

    balfour-knight on #195842

    Sylvia and Gretchen, I have played “dinner music” for pay since I was eight years old, and have made a great deal of my living doing it, plus paying for my college education through a Master’s degree.  I enjoy playing it, in the background, and usually connect everything so that there is a constant stream of music flowing.  Occasionally I will bring a piece to a conclusion, and once in a while, people applaud.  One just has to “feel” the audience, and know when to play and when to have a bit of silence.  I also know that when Carol Lynn and I are out dining,  I hate to hear long pauses in background music while musicians are dealing with getting music in place or discussing what to play next–that drives me crazy!  I always play from memory or “by ear” too, with no hassle over finding printed music or worse, playing from an electronic gadget, ha, ha!

    Have a great weekend!


    Sylvia on #195843

    Oh, good.  Glad to hear that.  I thought maybe I was doing an overkill, but Muzak just keeps going, and that’s pretty much what we are in background music.  I don’t really feel the audience.  I have to get into the zone and just listen for the music come out…not be distracted by what’s around me.

    Jerusha Amado on #195989

    Hi Sylvia and all,

    I play a regular two hour Sunday brunch (lever harp, a variety of genres).  I tend to group songs together by key/mood created, so there’s quite a bit of flow, but I do have to stop if I’m playing a difficult jazz piece in order to set levers beforehand.  I’ve noticed that when I do this, folks in the audience start to applaud.  They may be seeing this as an opportunity to express their appreciation of the music they’ve heard up to that point.  I agree with Balfour and you that a pretty constant stream of music is desired, but a few very short breaks can be a good thing as well!

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