I’ve heard about you from others but I’m still not entirely clear on what you offer. Can you share more detail?
Virtual Piano Party is offered through Zoom and lasts around 60-75 minutes. It is a hybrid of interactive name-that-tune (which includes all types of songs, as well as TV and movie themes), real-time audience requests (i.e., “Can you play ______?”), karaoke/group sing-a-longs (or foot-tap-a-longs for those who do not like to sing) with lyrics on the screen, and high-energy songs with piano accompaniment that result in people clapping to the beat, waving their hands, and/or dancing in their living rooms. Prizes can be incorporated depending on the nature of the event, etc.
It’s wonderful to see people (who were very reserved in the beginning) waving their arms with big smiles at the end. Music has enormous power to lift and connect people, and these events aspire to use carefully chosen songs (from many different genres) to lift people up and a provide a temporary escape from the day-to-day stress we all feel. It’s also a way to create a shared experience for friends, family, and/or colleagues who are unable to see each other in person.
This can give you an initial idea: https://www.fox5dc.com/video/894590
How do you make this work technologically? What is your set-up behind the scenes?
When I started, I had a vision of how to do this “the right way,” which has been an adventure in technology and creating this one-of-a-kind show. Here’s the team I use, and my set up:
- Sound engineer based in Los Angeles (who makes sure what you hear sounds great)
- Broadcasting software engineer based in St. Louis (who makes sure what you see looks great)
- Keyboard programmer (who helped select and customize the best sounds)
- Video editor (who helps with the videos and karaoke wording)
- 1 MacMini (8GB) for the consistent GalleryView on Zoom
- 1 MacMini (16GB) as the main computer
- 4 computer monitors
- 6 lights (2 studio rings, 2 smaller rings, and 2 floor floods)
- 2 green screens
- 8 different software programs running simultaneously
- Logic Pro X
- Yamaha CP88 stage keyboard
- Scarlet Focusrite 6i6 interface
- Behringer XENYX X1222USB USB Mixer
- 2 mouses (mice?) to control both computers
- 1 computer keyboard
- 1 notebook for keeping track of the contests
- Shure microphone
- Sennheiser headphones
- 2 video cameras (1 for front view; 1 for side/hands view)
- 1 me, who loves to play piano and control everything so it appears seamless
Photo of behind the scenes
What is the cost/length of time?
Regarding cost, please email Dan at dan (at) virtualpianoparty.com for a quote, and please include the proposed date of your event, the nature of the event, and how many people (roughly) you estimate will attend. Please note that a portion of the fees are donated to charity.
In terms of the length of time, it’s 60-75 minutes. Why 60-75 minutes? It takes around that time to go through all the different stages of the event. 75 minutes is the maximum time – unless the group is very high-energy – because I prefer to leave your guests on high note wanting more.
Do you have a video to show me what this is like?
Not yet, but this can give you an initial idea: https://www.fox5dc.com/video/894590.
How do we plan this?
Once we have a date confirmed, we arrange a call (or, sometimes, multiple calls) to go over all the details. I can help with advice on picking the best day/time, how to best structure things, and other ideas on how to make the event special and personalized.
What if we don’t have singers or people who are confident in their singing voices?
You’re in good company. My singing voice sort of stinks. This is not about “performing.” While I lead the sing-alongs (and can sing on key), my talents in the piano department did not extend to my natural singing voice. I’ve learned to just get over it and sing anyways, have fun, and celebrate those who do the same. People will not feel that they need to be a Broadway performer in order to sing along. Just the opposite, in fact. It’s the effort that’s celebrated.
What is the ideal size of the audience?
I hosted events for groups as small as 10 to over 125 people. Over 100 is still workable, but the level of interaction needs to be modified and tailored for a larger crowd. However, it’s still interactive but in a slightly different way.
Are there specific age groups?
These parties apply to all age groups and I modify the music and approach accordingly.
What types of events do you handle?
Any Zoom gathering where people want to have fun with music. As examples, I host corporate/conference events, fundraising events, online reunions (alumni, etc.), affinity groups within corporations (e.g., Women’s Groups within law firms), birthday celebrations with friends and/or family, cross-country family get-togethers, etc.
What types of music do you focus on?
The music covers many different genres/categories is tailored to the crowd. Here’s a list of song categories and ideas, which shows the range.
What type(s) of music is not ideal?
Rap/hip hop is really not ideal for these types of parties since it’s very beat- and lyrics-driven and hard to incorporate into piano. Also, while I do some popular country music, it’s not a strength. If your crowd is focused on rap/hip hop or country music, I would not be an ideal choice.
What types of music do you like the most?
Personally, I love 80s and 70s music the most, as well as artists like Billy Joel, Elton John, etc. The melodies are catchy, uplifting, easy to sing along to, and generally feel good. I also went to summer camp growing up, so I’m a big fan of James Taylor and camp-related songs (I have a guitar sound on my keyboard that can reproduce the feel of a campfire singalong). That said, I’m just as comfortable with artists like the Commodores, Frank Sinatra, Eric Clapton, Steve Miller Band, The Beatles, Led Zepplin, Lady Gaga, Adele, Harry Styles, One Direction, The Weeknd, and many others that are older or very new. I focus on songs that, when you listen to them, it’s easy to sing along and almost impossible to not sway or tap your feet (or wave your arms/get up and dance).
If you are interested in having this experience, please click here to learn more about booking a Virtual Piano Party.