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Sneezing, Spouses and Singers

Sneezing, Spouses and Singers
Mr. P.C. BY

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Dear Mr. P.C.:

I'm playing solo piano at an old folks home. Suddenly I feel an explosive sneeze coming on, and I can tell it's going to be "productive." I don't want to be responsible for infecting the vulnerable elderly. Where am I supposed to point my problematic proboscis? Do my hands get involved?

—Achoo!


Dear Achoo!:

What kind of distance can you get? How accurate are you? Will it hold its mass in flight? These are the questions we normally ask.

Keep in mind that if your hands get involved, so do the keys, and that could lead to a sticky situation. That's why the best solution is to point that proboscis away from the piano and toward the old folks. After all, music has healing powers—even over the sickness you spread while making it.

Dear Mr. P.C.:

I've never seen any questions from jazz spouses on your site. Is this the first? What I'm wondering is, how many times a day do I have to tell him how amazing he is? Should I do it more on nights when I see him play, or is it just obligatory after every gig? Will he ever grow out of needing me to say it?

—Val


Dear Val:

He'll never grow out of it if you keep enabling him! All you have to do is stop and your problem will be solved—he'll find a new wife willing to say it as often as he wants.

Dear Mr. P.C.:

I was playing trumpet on a gig with a singer. At one point she told me to stop playing lines behind her because the pianist had been practicing a lot lately, which made him play louder, so when I played there wasn't room for her. Does that even make sense?

—Bull in a China Shop


Dear Bull:

Practicing builds muscles, and the buffer artists get, the louder they play. A band's good chemistry and group dynamics can be completely undone if one member practices more than the others, becoming stronger and louder. Group dynamics are also upset when one member starts practicing less, becoming weaker and quieter.

That's why the best bands have members who always practice exactly the same amount. Since it's impossible for them to precisely coordinate their practice hours, most just agree to stop practicing altogether, maintaining a perfect ensemble balance.

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