This may not necessarily be a story, but it would be great to see what your readers think. My circle of friends and family include quite a few musicians. Some enjoy playing for the family, some don’t. There are a couple of issues that always seem to come up during my parties. We always have a sing-along where everyone participates, and we learn new songs. But during the course of the day or evening, one of the guests invariably picks up a guitar or sits at the piano and begins to play. I prefer to think of this as very nice background music and usually carry on with my conversations. Other guests have shushed those people who are talking so they can sit quietly and listen. The musicians themselves are split as to whether they prefer a silent audience versus a talkative one. I never know how to handle this argument when it arises.
The other issue always comes up when the guests ask an unwilling musician to play a piece. I say leave the poor musician alone if he or she doesn’t want to play, but the other guests disagree. One teenage girl who plays oboe now refuses to come to the parties because she felt so compelled to play, and she felt that the pressure made her play badly.
How do I handle so many differing points of view at my gatherings? 1204-11
The solution to the teenaged girl’s dilemma is simple. Don’t bring your oboe to these parties. When asked to play, she merely responds with regrets, “Oh, I’m sorry. I did not bring my instrument. Maybe another time.”
Some of your guests are hijacking your parties with impromptu recitals during which they expect your guests to cease their mingling and give sole attention to them. Since music plays a central part of your parties, you, as the host, must conduct the schedule of events during these functions. For a future party, include on the invitation the times various activities are set to occur. A sing-along learning new songs will happen at 3 pm, impromptu performances and recitals between 4 and 5 pm and mingling over light hors d’ouevres with background music at 6pm. It’s your party so take control over the arguments and make a decision as to whether this is the appropriate time for guests to quietly appreciate another guest’s musical contributions.
And you may want to consider hosting several parties that have no musical theme whatsoever in order to wipe the slate clean and literally retrain your guests to expect something else. If the pattern of your parties has been the same for years, your guests have come to expect the same routine when they attend and so the tension between background musicians and performance musicians and their audiences continues from party to party. Have some parties that are recitals of specific individuals, for example. Shake it up at bit!