Tag Archives: background piano

2.11.2014 – Mike Neumeyer plays piano? Listen…

Lately I have been playing more piano in a performance setting.  This is kinda new and very fun!  Read more below about my adventures in piano and give a few listens!

My first technical piano experience was right before college in preparation for studies as a music major.  I took piano lessons from Susan Champa in Port Washington, WI.  Before this, I mostly just joked around with Chopsticks or Heart and Soul, not appreciating how cool it was!  I soon studied four levels of piano in college (and was able to read simple accompaniments and read off of lead sheets to make up accompaniment patterns.  In graduate school I “got” to take a score reading class; reading all of the instruments in an orchestra at once and playing it on the piano.  That one was a mind workout, and totally added to my technique!

I really enjoyed the part where I was able to use the theory knowledge I had studied so hard to make up patterns on the piano.  This studying of accompaniment from chord structures while fitting in a melody really created a baseline of piano playing that always stayed with me.  From then on, I would always be jamming on piano and making up things or playing familiar tunes.  Soon I had developed an ability to take a lead sheet and create something from it that was my own relaxed version of the tune!

I played a few background piano gigs around the holidays over the years, but never really took it to another level.  Recently, I am playing a few more venues in a background setting, which I really enjoy!  I like to present the room with popular tunes from the past and the present, but in a soft improvisatory (some have called it “jazzy”) way.  This lets the music exist behind conversation, but when a familiar melody is heard; it could be a conversation starter!

“Whoa, do you guys hear that?  He is playing Boots are Made for Walkin’… but it’s jazzy!”

I have had people say that “it is like a trivia game,” having fun all night guessing the tunes.  Remember, the lyrics are gone and I tend to play them at a more relaxed tempo with a few more jazz chords at times.  Curious?  Keep a radar out for more appearances!

Next one: Twisted Willow Restaurant in Port Washington, WI – Feb. 22nd 6-9pm.  Make reservations for the piano area!

(this is me having a great time with multi-tracking!) :>