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Discussion Starter #1
So I'm the first to admit there are many things I don't know/can't do and I don't always take criticism well.

But our piano player (who is quite accomplished) really only knows one feel or groove. So most songs we play take on a stride or dixielandish feel. Furthermore he plays left and right hand simultaneously with large quantities of notes most of the time with not much understanding of comping. It's like he grew up as a solo player rather than functioning in a group setting. Ok for some songs but variety being the spice of blah blah, how can I steer him to new paths without hurt feelings?
 

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If for some reason you think this person can't take constructive criticism (and you have no other choice than to work with them), then an indirect approach where you could be talking about "someone else" or even yourself. Play the way he plays and criticize yourself about it to him. Maybe it will sink in.

Really, though, adults should be able to take constructive criticism. There is an art to delivering it, of course...
 

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Not knowing what you play or your instrumentation, if I were in your situation, if the pianist did not fit into what I was playing, did not accompany me as needed, didn't have the feel I wanted, etc., I'd fire him and find someone that worked to my benefit. Sorry business is business.

JR
 

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Find a recording (mp3, whatever) of some music that you want the band to play or that you already play, with the kind of piano part in it that you want him to play. Give him the recording. Ask him to learn the piano part just like it is in the recording because you want to play the tune with that arrangement. If he learns it, problem solved. Give him another to learn. If he can't or won't learn it, get another piano player.

Alternatively, when you rehearse, describe to him the type of part you want him to play, the different groove or feel. (Have the drummer demonstrate the groove.) Ask him to lay out more or play less when he's not soloing. If he can modify his playing in response to descriptive feedback, keep giving it in rehearsal. If he can't or won't, get another piano player.
 

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You didn't mention the piano player's age. If he has played only this style his whole life, it is going to be difficult to get him to learn other styles. It will be more difficult to get him to want to learn new styles. :)

If you have a recording of a piano player whose comping and fills you like, you might ask him to give it a listen and tell you what he thinks. That may be a way to open the door a bit to have the conversation.
 

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I used to play with a drummer who doesn't understand dynamics. Played with the same level of intensity and density the whole time; it's very annoying and hard to deal with but we put up with it for some time because he was also a nice guy. In the end you either tell him the problem and he'll change his approach, or you simply get another drummer (piano in your case)
 

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Unless he asks for help you're not going to change him. In his mind he may not see a problem. It's really unfair to him also.

Either learn to adjust to his style or get someone else. However I've played with guys with agendas and learned quite a bit by toughing it out.

Charlie Parker could make any rhythm section better.
 

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I second MartinMM -- get a pro recording from what you're playing or a tune in similar style (that you'd like to achieve) and have everyone in the group listen to it... it should be like the standard you'd like to achieve and if everyone is serious about it, a good motivator too.
 

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lexbro,

How about "You're good but way too busy for combo work; or, why not give us a chance"?
 

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do you record the group and critique the recording together? would he be able to hear that the texture he's providing doesn't work that well with what the group is trying to do?
 

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Get a new piano player who listens.
 

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But our piano player (who is quite accomplished) really only knows one feel or groove. So most songs we play take on a stride or dixielandish feel. Furthermore he plays left and right hand simultaneously with large quantities of notes most of the time with not much understanding of comping.
It's not uncommon for old-timers that play this style to be what's more nicely referred to as... busy. Unfortunately, it can be ingrained and hard for them to understand otherwise. If they're younger though, it's best to shake them up if you can. Make a recording of them playing over someone else's solo and ask them how it sounds. Then point out your interpretation if they don't realize what they're doing. If they get offended, they'll never change, and it's time to find another player.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
It's not uncommon for old-timers that play this style to be what's more nicely referred to as... busy. Unfortunately, it can be ingrained and hard for them to understand otherwise. If they're younger though, it's best to shake them up if you can. Make a recording of them playing over someone else's solo and ask them how it sounds. Then point out your interpretation if they don't realize what they're doing. If they get offended, they'll never change, and it's time to find another player.
Grumps, you pretty much hit it. My friend is an old timer who plays "busily" and pretty much in one style. It would be easier if he were younger and less set in his ways. I'm going to try giving him some mp3's and encourage him to play along with them. As EZ said there is an art to delivering constructive criticism and I don't want to hurt any feelings. Some folks are just not ever going to learn to listen. We'll see.
And thanks everyone for the perceptive comments. We're getting together tomorrow and I will update. :)
 

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There are some players that are great solo, but just cannot hang with section work. Your piano player might be one of these. I try to screen out these people beforehand, if I know that a strong section/comp ethic is needed to make things work.

That said, in my area keys players are quite scarce and always in demand, in any genre. Good luck.
 

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...Furthermore he plays left and right hand simultaneously with large quantities of notes most of the time with not much understanding of comping.
This is just about the worst thing (other than playing the wrong chords) that a piano player in a band can do. It would be the first thing I'd watch out for if I was auditioning a key board player for a band. My guess is you'll have to find another pianist.

However, I'd totally agree with what MMM said in post #4. Refer him to some recordings of the tunes you are doing (assuming it's not all original material) and ask him to learn the piano parts. If he is unwilling or unable to do so, at least you've given him the opportunity to do so.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
This is just about the worst thing (other than playing the wrong chords) that a piano player in a band can do. It would be the first thing I'd watch out for if I was auditioning a key board player for a band. My guess is you'll have to find another pianist.

However, I'd totally agree with what MMM said in post #4. Refer him to some recordings of the tunes you are doing (assuming it's not all original material) and ask him to learn the piano parts. If he is unwilling or unable to do so, at least you've given him the opportunity to do so.
I have to agree that is the cardinal sin of a piano player, not leaving space. I'm getting together with him tomorrow to listen to some tracks and try a different approach. If he can't or won't understand then I have some grounds for making a change. I just need to be diplomatic and curb my impatience.
 
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