|Amusing sign from the bathroom of a studio where I rehearsed today|
Today at my gig, I was playing my usual mix of mostly-jazz-standards-and-pop mixed in with a-little-lite-classical-and-the-occasional-rock-song-to-keep-the-security-guards-awake when, in the middle of "Golden Slumbers-Carry That Weight", a couple guys walked past me, and then came back so one of them could interrupt me to say, "Um, do you ever play any more classical stuff? Like Mozart or something? ...I mean, do they tell you what to play, or do you play whatever you want?" I played the exposition of K. 545 for him (Sonata Facile - a philistine deserves no more). He patted the piano and said, "That's what the piano's for." I was aghast. He said, "I mean, I don't know where your tastes run to, but... you gotta elevate this place, right?" I smiled my sweetest f*ck-you smile at him as he backed away.
I had to laugh - I mean, this guy doesn't even know how ignorant he is. Interrupting the Beatles for "Mozart or something"? 20th Century pop music, 18th century pop music, whatever floats your boat, dude.
But clearly it annoyed me, because I still have a lot to say about it, which I will now list in semi-orderly fashion:
1. I play pop and jazz at this gig because that's what gets the most passersby to notice and smile. Play classical, and I might as well be a really hot, oversized ipod.
2. I love taking requests. One of the reasons I'm doing this project is that I hate it when someone asks me to play something and I don't know it. I like to play what makes people happy. This guy wasn't making a request, he was making me feel like what I had been playing before was wrong. He wasn't being an appreciative listener who wanted to hear something in particular, he was being a condescending prick who was telling me how to do my job.
3. Here are the people who are allowed to tell me how to do my job: other musicians (at any level - I have something to learn from anyone else who studies music); composers, directors, actors, choreographers, other arts professionals with whom I am collaborating; people who sign my checks.
4. Philistine-prick-dude, you do not fall into any of the above categories (the "Mozart or something" and other clues point to you not being a musician at any level). I guarantee you I have invested a larger percentage of my life and my income studying and practicing to be better at my job than you have to be better at yours, so don't tell me how to do my job, unless you want me in your office telling you how to fill out your TPS reports.
5. Oh wait, I don't have time to tell you how to fill out your TPS reports, because I have to get to my next gig.
And now I have to get to my next song - "Tears In Heaven", by Eric Clapton, one of the greatest musicians of our time. Not all musicians are men, and not all musicians play classical music, but neither gender nor genre disqualifies one from being a great musician (or at least sucking a little less each day).