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Tag: Piano Fondue

A Great Team

How do you develop a great team?

It’s a big weekend for our company (pianofondue.com), but amazingly I have a relaxing Saturday of casual house work ahead of me. I know that our clients are in good hands.

Develop a great team, and you can take a breath every once in a while.

Good team members know that they have support among their peers. They are not afraid to ask for help, and that help is always forthcoming. In short, your people can depend on each other, and you can depend on that system. They are accountable to each other, and therefore to the company as well. Nurture that.

-Josh

On Auditioning New Players

Have you ever been to a Piano Fondue show and thought, “Man, would I love to be doing that!”? Well, here’s what I’m looking for…

When I’m auditioning a potential new player for Piano Fondue training, I have them sit in on the Thursday night dueling show at the Ivory Room. They get to play two 30-minute sets, each done across from a PF veteran.

I’m only looking at three things.

  • How’s the voice? I’m really looking for basics here – mostly just intonation. Other aspects (power, range, tone, endurance) are easier to work on should they need any polishing.
  • How’s the personality? How comfortable are they with the crowd? Are they looking at the audience at all? Are they smiling? Are they bantering with the other player? The veteran player sitting across from them is helping them out. How do they respond? Performing with Piano Fondue is like being the frontman in a rock band. Can they handle it?
  • How are the piano chops? I’m looking for one thing – can they convincingly accompany themselves without looking at their hands? Everything else can be worked on.

To sum it up, sing in tune. Have personality. Don’t look at your hands. Can you do that? If so, you have potential. Send me an email.

-Josh

Happy Holidays

The final six weeks of the year are filled with holidays from Thanksgiving to New Years and everything in between. In our household alone, we spent Thanksgiving, Chanukah, and Christmas with our family, the Solstice with our neighbors, Festivus with our friends, and New Years Eve is always a big night for Piano Fondue. Whew! The point is, this is a season chock-full of gratitude, reflection, joy, love, peace, and giving. It is the time to think about what all of these things mean to you. Take the time to be quiet. Embrace the opportunity to be raucous. Spend time alone, and spend time with friends and family. Find a moment and make it special for you. Find another and make it special for someone else. Celebrate the big and the small.

But why stop there? These aren’t themes unique to this season. Remind yourself to value these ideals throughout the year. I’m going to open my calendar right now and make a note to read this post again later in the year – let’s say four months from today. [note to future self: Hi, buddy – looking good! Re-post this and put it in the calendar another four months out.]

Wishing you the best in 2016. Stay in touch.

-Josh

Learning New Songs on a Deadline

We play a lot of wedding receptions with Piano Fondue, and as a result, I often have to learn some new songs for first dances and the like. I’d like to share some tips and tricks I use for learning new songs quickly. This is for learning by ear – if you have the sheet music in front of you it’s kind of unnecessary. I usually just have a lyric sheet in front of me for this type of performance. [bonus tip – for memorizing lyrics, write them down a couple times]

  • First, don’t cram the day of. It’s very hard to keep a song solidly in your head from only one impression – even if it’s a few times through. Unless you are certain that you’ll have the chance to listen to the song immediately before performing it, this is risky. Any tune you hear between listening and performing will start to contaminate the memory. If some sort of emergency crops up, and you only get one day, then try to take breaks between listenings – an hour is good, making sure to listen to other songs in between to really solidify the song.
  • Ideally, I like taking five days to a week to really get a song solid. I don’t know the brain science behind it, but I find that if I don’t listen to the song every day, but take a day or two off in between, the second listening is much more effective – must be some sort of long-term vs. short-term memory thing.
  • Pay close attention to the bridge and try to learn it first. The bridge is usually the toughest part to get solidly since it typically only happens once in the song. Try to remember how it goes while listening to the first couple verses.
  • If you can play an instrument, play along with the song. It will help solidify any weird changes in the tune.
  • Try to sing the song by yourself between listenings. Singing along with the recording isn’t usually as helpful – you may start relying on cues that won’t be there when you perform it live.

Good luck. If there is one tip that I would recommend above the others, it’s putting space between listenings. It does wonders. Keep singing!

-Josh

Do you have any tips for learning music quickly? Share them below!

Connecting with a Crowd

This is a blog post that I made over on the Piano Fondue site (pianofondue.com). I think it definitely belongs here now that I have this site up and running. Enjoy!

-Josh

Playing a show like Piano Fondue, you find yourself in front of a new crowd every night. You want these folks to sing along and have fun, but before that can happen, you have to connect with them. Once you develop a connection, the audience will pay way more attention to you, and they’ll be open to having some fun.

Here is a great trick that I learned early on. Start small. Focus on two or three audience members sitting close to you. Chat with them, ask how they’re doing, ask if they have any requests, show them other people’s requests, cheers them with your drink – anything you can do to involve them in what’s going on. Make sure these few people are having fun, and the rest of the crowd will follow suit. When the crowd is watching you, they’re watching you through the front few rows. They’ll want to have that experience that you’re having with that front table, and once that happens, you’re set! After a few songs, try opening the circle to some other folks in the room. Odds are, they’ll be ready to play along.

See you at the next show!
-Josh

Hi, everybody!

Hi, everybody!

Welcome to my little side project on these open seas of the internet. I have been wanting to have an outlet for sharing what insight I have in the world of live music, business, and life in general, and the Piano Fondue site just didn’t quite seem the place for it all. Piano Fondue, by the way, is a business I run. It’s a piano-centric entertainment company based in Madison, Wisconsin. The main act is a dueling-pianos type show, and it’s just a riot! I started the company with my friend Christopher Lange back in 2006, and after almost a decade of wearing several different hats in and around the business (co-owner/entertainer, then as an independant contractor) I’ve been running things solo now since October, 2014. I highly recommend checking it out if you have the chance. Just head over to pianofondue.com </shameless_plug>

I hope that as this site develops, we will get to know each other a little better. I really mean it – please feel free to ask questions, comment, insult me, what have you… either here on the site or on twitter, where you can find me at @PianoJoshDupont. I think I’m looking to figure out the same things we all are in this crazy world. Join me, and let’s find stuff out together.

-Josh