10 Ways to Stand Out While Playing an Outdoor Street Piano

By Colin Forrester

You see it.
Standing there on its own begging to be played. Maybe someone is playing it to
a half-decent level and you feel you could do something similar but you talk
yourself out if it. You’re ‘not confident‘/don’t have the time/don’t want to
cause a scene/be seen to be ‘showing off’ etc. Whatever the excuse, you walk on
by as the piano waits to be brought to life…

The outdoor street piano phenomenon has caught on in many countries. The shackles that once contrained people’s talents are off and players are performing
catchy numbers in front of crowds and general onlookers passing by. Below are 10 ways to get the most out of ‘Play me I’m yours’:

1. Play and Sing — Yes really. As obvious as it may sound, the vast majority of people on the street piano are likely to range from those casually tinkling to semi-serious performing, sometimes with their head down or eyes glued to whatever music theyr’e reading. Those with the confidence to sing out in a busy environment will catch people’s attention to the point a crowd will start to form around them. BE one of these people.

2. Wear
the same/similar colour clothing as the piano you play
— Passers by
are likely to associate you as a hired professional, the owner of the
piano – or just an oddball with a penchant for bright colours.

3. Play using your feet
— Liberace and Jerry Lee Lewis livened up their concerts with a spot of foot piano (more banging rather than playing it has to be said). However, this video of an armless Chinese man playing the piano with his feet on China’s got talent’ takes things to another level:

If he can accomplish such feats, you certainly can. Health and safety permitting, you could have the crowd wanting more.  

4. Play
with your nose

This takes practice and will inspire curiosty if what you play is catchy and done well. However, going with a friend, you could draw in a big crowd playing duets – even chopsticks.

5. Play
musical piano chairs with some friends
— The idea
is to play one part of a piece of music while the others wait till the music
stops. Once you vacate the chair, whoever gets there first continues the rest
of the music.

6. Arrange an open mic session — With the relevant permission, you can uncover some fine talents who’ll (knowing crowds) soon be on YouTube.

7. Arrange an open mic session — With the relevant permission, you can uncover some fine talents who’ll (knowing crowds) soon be on YouTube.

8. Perform a medley — Use your imagination to merge one piece with another (only recommended if you have a good ear for modulation, chords and and keys).

9. Start a singalong — With the relevant local authority permission, you can uncover some fine talents who’ll (knowing crowds) soon be on YouTube.

10. Involve the audience — Why not have a four or six (or however many hands will fit – try breaking some records) hands on the piano? Run an X-factor style competition where the crowd vote for who they want to stay on the piano and who to vote off. If you’re of a high level, requests always work well.

Additionally, you can use the street piano to audition yourself for a band or other job as a pianist, be it bar/hotel/restaurant etc.

Regardless of the wackiness of some of the tips above, all have some merit if you dare to try. These ideas are simply designed to tap into the creative and expressive/extrovert side that already exists within you.The basics still matter, mainly, being able to play the piano to a decent level. But by trying out the ideas above (even if it’s just once), you’ll get ideas flowing for how to express yourself musically and get more out of playing the piano (or any other instrument for that matter). Finally, you’ll learn more about yourself by pushing your comfort zone.

So get out there and entertain – your fans are waiting …

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