Playing relaxing piano music

Hey everyone,

I remember one night about 10 years ago, when I was playing piano in a restaurant. It was my friend Marc’s steady gig, and he had asked me to fill in for him because he was out of town playing a concert that evening.

The restaurant was packed, and the waiters and waitresses were hustling and bustling back and forth through the dining room trying to keep everything in order. I played a variety of different types of music, ranging from jazz to pop and Latin styles. Incidentally, my approach to playing background music (commonly known as “cocktail piano”) has never been to “water it down.” Instead, I play as I would play at Carnegie Hall, except in a way that’s appropriate to a restaurant setting. Not too loud or intrusive, but with the same attention to musicality that I play in a concert setting.

The moment that is etched indelibly in my mind was when I played the Roberta Flack song “Killing Me Softly.” I love this song, and I enjoy improvising over the chord progression while keeping a gentle “pop/bossa nova” beat going underneath.

As I was playing this wonderful song, one of the young waitresses stopped in front of me for a moment. She smiled and said “Your music is so relaxing.”

This was in the middle of the restaurant’s busiest time!

I was shocked for several reasons. First, I’ve worked as a busboy in restaurants and I couldn’t believe that she could feel relaxed while running around the room with dinner plates up and down her arms. Secondly, I wasn’t even thinking about playing in a relaxed manner at that moment. I was just enjoying the process of playing that great song!

But her comment made me reflect on what exactly I had to offer as a musician. Maybe my music helped people feel relaxed. Hmmm.. that was certainly “food for thought.”


Tomorrow, I’m going to play relaxing piano music on Facebook Live. This will be my first excursion into the world of live broadcasting, and it seems like a good time to start doing it.

On Thursday, March 19, I’ll be going live on Facebook. My plan is to play relaxing piano music in a variety of musical genres. The live broadcast will begin at 11:00am EST and go for about 30 minutes. Then, if I do all the technology correctly, I’ll post the recording on the KeyboardImprov Facebook page.

Here’s the page url:

I hope to see you there!


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