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Keyboard Player Is a Piano Player

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by And I, Dec 17, 2018.

  1. And I

    And I Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2009
    Witchtown, MA
    I play in a mostly covers classic rock (with some soul / groove) group. Currently it's 2 guitars, bass (we all sing), and drums. We are all very experienced (thousands of shows played each) and pretty good at what we do individually, and as a band. We don't really have an official band leader, but I'm certainly the low man on the totem pole as I've found out when trying to negotiate our stage setup so I can stand next to the drummer and having been shot down categorically with no good reason given... The other 3 guys have known / played with each other for a long time and I've "only" known the guitarist for 7 years... That having been said it's a good group of guys, we communicate well for the most part, and we're friends.

    So I go away for a few weeks, and I'm told there is a keyboard player coming on board, which we've talked about before. Great! I'm psyched. They jammed with him a couple of times while I was away. We schedule a rehearsal when I'm back. I meet the keyboard player, he's cool, nice guy. He has performance experience, but he's never played in a band before. He's a piano player, not a keyboard player. He's doing block chords with two octaves on the left hand the whole time. We all have pro gear and he's got a cheap yamaha keyboard which has no decent rhodes, wurly, or hammond sounds, he hasn't learned any of the actual keyboard parts for the covers.

    So after the jam, one of the guys asks me what I think, and I more or less tell him--nice guy, has some talent, but is not a "keyboard player" and needs a lot of work before he would be gig ready with us. But at the same time I conceded that there are no experienced players with nord electros knocking on our door. He more or less agreed. I text one of the other guys (who was telling this "keyboard" player how good he sounded after the rehearsal) and let him know my issues, that I don't think he's a good fit. No response.

    The goal for this band is to play a few local / regional gigs a month (for money), and to sound professional. I play in another band already so my "play music" fix is covered... So, what would you do in this situation?
  2. Get some congas and play those instead. "Hey, he's got the bass covered". Then you can fire the drummer.

    Seriously, unless you can become MD you are going to get more and more worked up by PP crapping all over the bottom until either you insist he learns the whole new skillset or he goes, or you go.
    Mr_Moo, SactoBass, Amano and 6 others like this.
  3. jshinal


    May 28, 2013
    Raleigh, NC
    I think you are making a pretty rational assessment of where the piano player is (or isn't).

    As it stands now he isn't acting like an ensemble player, isn't equipped for the gig (not to be a gear snob, but he's not even close), and hasn't demonstrated that he is learning to play ensemble parts. After several jams and a rehearsal he should be farther along than just "winging it."

    I don't think your bandmates want to deal with it yet, thinking anybody is better than nobody. That's kind of surprising at everyone's experience level. I'd give it a short while and see if there are any improvements.
    Mr_Moo, SactoBass, dralionux and 3 others like this.
  4. And I

    And I Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2009
    Witchtown, MA
    Thanks! Also it's just nice to vent. :)
    mikewalker and JRA like this.
  5. mrcbass


    Jan 14, 2016
    Sacramento, CA
    All you can do is advocate your opinion on something like this and then figure out just how important it is to you if your mates don't agree with you.

    How critical is it that you have a KB for your sound? If it's a wish rather than need, than you can afford to be more selective; if it's a need, then you may have to "settle" for now.

    I personally prefer not to force fit a member - if they are not a fit, they're not a fit and will have to be dealt with eventually. That can be a lot of time spent with someone who you know is not going to be a long term member (this had cost one of my bands about 6 months of time, trying to ride out a player who really didn't fit).
    Joebone, dralionux and jshinal like this.
  6. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    I would try writing out the specific parts I want him to play.
    retslock, Bodeanly, jamro217 and 2 others like this.
  7. LBS-bass

    LBS-bass Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2017
    Good keys are really hard to find. The other guys might be thinking they can work with him to get him into shape, but that rarely works. What he’s doing is pretty much every keys player I had out to audition before I gave up on the idea. Not learning parts, not playing patches, stepping on bass lines. You probably need to decide as a group how much you’re willing to compromise to have keys.
  8. Ekulati

    Ekulati Supporting Member

    Jan 2, 2016
    Richmond, VA
    No, that's babysitting. If the guy wants to play in a band he needs to talk with other piano players who've made the transition and learn from them, pronto!

    Good comments above. Stand your ground. And get RID of those block lh chords. And basically anything below middle C. Ridiculous...
  9. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Depends on the band. Some bands use written arrangements. There is no stigma in my opinion. If the pianist doesn't have a good ear and is having trouble learning the parts from the recordings, then written parts might be the best way to communicate with him. Most pianists are good readers.
    Goatts, DiabolusInMusic and Hambone70 like this.
  10. Ekulati

    Ekulati Supporting Member

    Jan 2, 2016
    Richmond, VA
    Ok, but who, realistically, is gonna have the time to write out parts for ANOTHER person? How many tunes? How long should they continue to do it? C'mon here...
  11. I went through this many years ago, too. Started a tribute band as a four piece, but knew we'd eventually need a keyboard player to do it right. Drummer brought in an old friend ... who is a piano player. Only live gigs he'd ever played were solo and duet lounge gigs. He semi-learned the tunes, and we did one show with him. At the next rehearsal, everyone else in the band pulled the drummer aside before PP got there and said, "Nope, this guy's not going to work." Fortunately, we were able to find another player in short order.

    If the other guys in your band are true professionals, they will already recognize that your piano player isn't the guy you're looking for and will deal with it. If he is the guy they're looking for, then you will probably need to reassess your role in that band.
    Mr_Moo, dralionux and EddiePlaysBass like this.
  12. MG Wolf

    MG Wolf

    Nov 29, 2014
    Due East
    How many bass players does it take to change a lightbulb? :cigar:

    NONE, the keyboard player does it with his left hand. :help:
  13. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Depends on expectations, I guess. Some bands learn songs by ear; other bands have written charts. It sounds like the pianist in this case doesn't have the skill set to learn the songs on his own, by ear. And he's not a mind reader. So unless you show him what you want him to play, it's unlikely he will ever play what you want.
  14. RustyAxe


    Jul 8, 2008
    You're too kind! I'd just tell him to bone up on the songs, learn his parts, or take the door. You can only play ONE instrument in the band, and it isn't keys. Yes, it's VERY hard to find a really good keys player, as the OP now well knows. But mediocre players are around everywhere, some can really play. I suppose I'm one of those ... or not ... depending on who you ask. :D
    dralionux and jamro217 like this.
  15. REV


    Jun 18, 2006
    What exactly does this piano player bring to the band? Never been in a band before. Doesn't know the tunes. Cheap keyboard (your words). I don't see the benefit (especially with two guitars). Good singer? Lots of gig connections?
    Mr_Moo, Bodeanly, oldrocker and 4 others like this.
  16. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    What you write suggests the members of the band don't place much value on your opinion or needs. A bass player requesting to stand next to the drummer is a pretty normal and defendable if you are focused on locking in the groove. You indicate the idea was pretty much summarily dismissed without consideration.

    Your concerns about the keyboards stepping on the bass lines, may not bother anyone else. But most bass players find it very frustrating when keyboardist bang away randomly with their left hand. Playing parallel lines bass is totally appropriate with some tunes of course, but that not what I am talking about. In my experience, the easiest and most direct solution is for the keyboardist to stop using his left hand if he is not skilled or disciplined enough to avoid clashing with the bass. Course if you are the only one who complains, the keyboardist may not be motivated to change, so you may experience ongoing frustration or conflict.

    If you don't feel you are respected and valued, why stay? Consider looking for greener pastures.
    Mr_Moo, Joebone, IamGroot and 4 others like this.
  17. I was a keyboard player at a church for 5 years. Not a piano player but a keyboard player. A keyboard player in a group basically plays a rhythm keyboard opposed to a lot of leads. Solo is okay but not all the time. Piano players want to play the melody the whole time not just chords, synth, or organ sounds.
    TheBear and Alik like this.
  18. Ekulati

    Ekulati Supporting Member

    Jan 2, 2016
    Richmond, VA
    Yup. Finally, some sense in this thread!
  19. bwildt


    Mar 21, 2017
    Wichita, Kansas
    The difference between a piano player and a keyboard player is that the keyboardist is willing to change patches to match the song and is willing to play just the simple parts that are needed. The most telling difference is that a keyboardist will will play horn and string parts. A pianist won't stoop to that level.
    Mr_Moo, Aqualung60, dralionux and 5 others like this.
  20. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    Most of the best keyboardist I have worked with were phenomenal pianists.
    Holdsg, Wisebass, Goatts and 6 others like this.

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