Posted Aug 09, 2010 12:26 PM
I am going to plagiarize myself here and add say pretty much the EXACT same thing I did in my other article: Before I get anyone trying to call bullshit on this, first you need to realize that I have already done articles on how to make your bass player, drummer, and guitarist happy. Don't just read ONLY THIS article and decide I'm all biased or whatever. Read the OTHER articles FIRST if you are going to judge harshly. That way at least I know you will have LISTENED and proven yourself worthy of such harsh comments. All else will be considered ignorant douchbaggery and treated as such. As always, any logical and constructive criticism, negative or not, is welcome.
Also, there is one simple ground rule for this article: I am coming from the standpoint that your KEYBOARDIST IS ALREADY A GOOD MUSICIAN. If he's not, I'm NOT talking about him and this doesn't apply.
**END OF GRATUITOUS SELF-PLAGIARISM**
1) Listen when he explains the music to you: Good keyboardists usually know their theory. Most people who choose to play keyboard seriously have already taken lessons and know how to read music unlike a lot of other types of players. Of course, there can always be exceptions, but it seems that the musical education of good keyboardists is almost always better than that of everyone else. But hey, if all the band is educated enough to carry the same musical weight, more power to them.
2) If it's cool, let him give the band signals: Even in a keyboard-heavy kind of song, the keyboardist usually has an easier time freeing up a hand for communication than anyone else with the exception of a singer. A keyboardist can hold a note with his pedal whereas a guitarist cannot.... usually.
3) If a keyboardist brings or writes a chart for you to learn, learn it: This really goes for any member of the band on either side of this point- writer or reader. If someone takes the time to figure something out and write it down for you without even charging you, at least give them the respect to look at it even if you can't read very well. The worst that can happen is you may end up a better reader!
4) Try to blend as much as possible with the keyboardist: This too is just another common sense thing for the whole band. But you must remember that most of the time keyboardists are playing piano parts with piano sounds. Piano itself has a very thin spectrum. What I mean by that is that piano is predictably mid-ranged, high on the transients, and doesn't have much bass. As far as hearing transients goes, just listen to the piano doubling the bass in Crossfire. Most of what you hear are piano transients. There's hardly any piano bass there. It just SOUNDS like there is. This is why the piano is such a "transparent" sounding instrument. With that, nobody wants to hear a piano banging away trying to get more volume over the other musicians when this increased velocity will actually increase the transients! There could be a whole article in this point itself that has WAY more to do with frequencies and proper mixing than anything else. But basically, understand that the piano needs to lay right in the center of the frequencies and the volume of the mix. Of course, there ARE exceptions like Crossfire. But play as though you understand this.
5) Don't make the keyboardist a "jack-of-all-trades" unless he wants to be: A lot of musicians think that, since a keyboardist's hands can play independently, he should be obligated to play two parts. I'm NOT talking about playing with TWO HANDS. I am talking about thinking he is always going to play the missing violins or whatever even if the piano part happens to be more important. Sure, he COULD play the violins if they were the important part. But the point is that, if the piano part happens to be more important than the violins for that particular song, don't just expect him to switch back and forth at your discretion. If he likes being a keys wizard, great! But don't force it on him. Always ask.
6) Don't expect him to like piano songs: This sounds kind of funny, but a lot of musicians who play a particular instrument either don't like certain songs related to that instrument or are simply tired of hearing them. I mean, some lead guitarists will NEVER EVER play you Eruption. Some drummers will NEVER EVER play you Wipe-out. And some singers will NEVER EVER sing you Brown Eyed Girl - even if you pay them. So don't expect him to be all happy every time someone suggests Piano Man or Great Balls of Fire.
7) Just like in my previous drummer article, don't touch his keyboard unless he's cool with it: Seriously, most people aren't even QUALIFIED to touch it! If on a keyboard you can't name the notes, play a 7,#9 chord in all twelve keys, and read music, you should probably just leave it alone.
8) Don't assume he will be your waiter during non-keyboard songs: Of course, most keyboardists I have met are nice guys and don't mind doing this to appear to the other musicians as though they are "earning their keep" -that was a little joke. But seriously, he's not there to wait on you. He's there to play.
9) Don't expect him to be as animated as you: Yeah, this one's pretty corny. But I've had the *honor* of meeting musicians who were so out of touch with reality that they could have thought the keyboardist wasn't showing enough *enthusiasm* if he wasn't moving around like the guitarist. He's tied to a keyboard for pete's sake!!! Just do us all a favor and don't be that jackass.
10) Don't drop names in introductions: For instance, don't say something like, "And introducing Southern Illinois's next Stevie Wonder!!!" All that does is put instant expectations and pressure on the keyboardist. It also makes the one introducing him sound like a complete jackass. Sure, this is pretty much common sense for ALL musicians, but what the hell.
At least I hope that I've made you think about some things regardless of how "common sense" or trivial they may be. Perhaps it will make you think about some genuinely important things as well.
Thanks for reading.