One of my pet peeves as a musician is being asked to sing or play the piano on demand. Family gatherings are the worst. There’s nothing like a sitting at the dinner table with twenty people pleading for an impromptu concert while you attempt to enjoy your lasagna.
Although I smiled sweetly and said, “Maybe some other time,” here’s a sampling of what I was actually thinking.
- I’ve stuffed myself so full of food that I couldn’t possibly breathe.
- Would you ask Aunt M. the nurse to take a look at your rash during dinner?
- In the past nine years you haven’t come to a single performance of mine.
- I’d rather eat dessert.
- Your tinny-sounding piano is out of tune.
- I’ve been coughing for four weeks, and my voice sounds like crap.
- You’re going to compare me to Sarah Brightman or the 10-year-old on America’s Got Talent.
- I’m completely unimpressive because I can’t play Für Elise from memory.
I don’t mind giving a free performance for an appreciative, attentive audience. Simply ask me politely in advance and treat me as a professional musician, not a puppy who’s learned a new trick.