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About dueling piano Players...
by Adam Blue

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Today there are less than 200 noteworthy dueling piano players in the United States.  That number is rapidly growing, however, as the popularity of the dueling piano concept rises.

Why are dueling piano players so rare?  Because a dueling piano player has to have some serious qualifications:

First, you must have NATURAL musical ability.  Natural musical ability is something that you have to be born with.  You cannot learn it, you either have it or you don't.  There are two types of musicians out there, those who have natural ability and usually learn by "playing by ear" and then there's the more geeky musicians who have little or no natural ability but insist on being musicians.  The latter type of musicians usually go to "music school" and get their degrees and so forth and rely mostly on music theory to compensate for their lack of natural talent.  Dueling piano players are ALL natural born musicians.  There is no sheet music in the world of dueling pianos.  So, first and foremost a dueling piano player must be a natural.

Second, and this is where most piano players fall off, you must be FUNNY.  Humor is essential in the dueling piano world as most of the show is based around shtick and spur of the moment jokes.  So, as you can see, finding someone who is both musically talented AND humorous is a far fetch.

Third, a dueling piano player must know EVERY song ever written.  Well, maybe not all of them - but you'd better know most of them.  Dueling pianos is based upon random requests from the audience and you have no script to get you through your performance.  This is where the "playing by ear" concept comes in handy BIG TIME.  Sometimes a dueling pianist will play a song that he has never even played before - but if he has HEARD it before - he can usually pick it out quickly and at least make an attempt at playing it for you.  You cannot learn this ability, you have to be born with it.  This is also why you will sometimes see dueling piano players using big songbooks - these songbooks do not have sheet music in them - but lyrics.  Even though a dueling piano player may have the talent to pick out the melody to a strange song, he may not know the correct lyrics - thus the lyrics book comes in handy.

Fourth, a dueling piano player must be able to READ an audience.  It's true what they say, no dueling piano show is alike, you never know what you're going to get.  A good dueling piano player can look out at his audience and decide what genre and era of songs to play, as well as what comedy rating they will use.  Dueling piano players usually rate their comedy just like movies, G, PG, PG13, R, and unfortunately sometimes rated X.  Personally I don't like the rated X pianists as I think it's tacky and I think that you should find ways of "suggesting" something dirty creatively without being just plain gross - but that's just me.

Fifth and finally, a dueling piano player must be able to generate tips.  For more tricks of the tip trade see "Tipping" in my article "How to set up a Dueling Pianos Environment".

So, as you can see - a dueling piano player is almost super human, and this is why there are so few of them.

 

ABOUT DUELING PIANOS
A little history on how we discovered
dueling pianos and the dueling piano bar.  Check out an article called "About Dueling Pianos".

HOW TO SET UP A DUELING PIANOS ENVIRONMENT
Kansas City, notorious for being slow to catch on, is just now beginning to discover dueling pianos and the dueling piano bar.  Over 20 years behind, but at least they finally got dueling pianos!  Many local Kansas City nightclub owners have had delusions of grandeur and have tried to install a dueling pianos act in their venue but have failed miserably for several key reasons, which are explained in an article called "How to Set Up a Dueling Pianos Environment".
THE REAL STORY OF THE DUELING PIANO BAR
Most of the dueling piano bars that are out there are chains.  Like most chains they are flavorless and odorless and are run by a handful of owners who are probably sitting on a beach somewhere and never even visit their own venues.  They pay the absolute minimum to their local employees and absorb all of the profits.  Chain dueling piano bars are no exception in that they take away from the small local business owner who doesn't stand a chance of overcoming the large bankroll that a chain dueling piano bar owner walks in with.   Basically, any large chain type business is successful before they even open the doors of a new location.  This has an adverse effect on it's local employees in that it takes away any incentive for local management to please the customer as they are on a fixed income and are easily replaced.  How does this affect us as customers?  The up and downside of a chain dueling piano bar is explained in an article called "What is a Dueling Piano Bar?".
MEET "THE PLAYERS" - ABOUT DUELING PIANO PLAYERS
Dueling Piano players come in all shapes and sizes, from sexy to dorky from highest paid to chain piano bar slaves - learn about the men and women behind the keys in this article about dueling piano players called "About Dueling Piano Players".


About Dueling Pianos | How to Set Up a Dueling Piano Environment | What is a Dueling Piano Bar? | About Dueling Piano Players


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