When I travel, and missing my cute piano from home, I like to search music shops having digital or acoustic pianos and go there, and ask to play one of them.

I didn't meet yet one seller saying no, don't play!, but I'm just wondering how okay is this practice?

In fact, I made friends by this method and I met friendly people in these shops, who even played with me (in one of them, we ended up with having a one hour long jam session–with guitars, drums and piano–and they closed the shop one half of hour later).

Usually, if I can buy something small from these shops, I do it (so, along with the videos, I have some physical memories).

What is the ethical part of this? What are the things I should be careful about? Is what I do good at all?

I did this in Europe and India, so far, however I'm looking for a generic answer.

I saw a similar question regarding the pianos housed in the lobbies of hotels. However, I guess my case is a bit different.

  • 6
    You always ask permission, you play at a good enough level that the people in the shop accept it to go on for quite a while, I bet you have nothing to worry about. If I would do it, they would ask me to stop within a few minutes, if that many.
    – Willeke
    Commented Oct 1, 2017 at 10:52
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is about music store etiquette, not travel.
    – fkraiem
    Commented Oct 1, 2017 at 11:30
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    @fkraiem I do it only when I travel and I tell the shop owners that I'm a traveller and kinda missing my piano—because that's the truth. :) The linked question is about hotels—is that more acceptable just because it's a hotel where you may be hosted for few days? Commented Oct 1, 2017 at 11:36
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    @fkraiem That's what I'm saying: recently, I started to realize that music shops are (at least for me) travel-related too! Anyways, probably asking for permission and not playing too much is good enough. Commented Oct 1, 2017 at 11:52
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    I agree this question is as much travel related as the 'paying in hotel' question. I think people should not bother to close vote, we only have to re-open again.
    – Willeke
    Commented Oct 1, 2017 at 12:35

1 Answer 1


If you don't play "Stairway to Heaven", and you're good, you should be fine...

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Image from Wayne's World

More seriously, if you play well (don't use it as a practice room!), and are friendly and sensitive to what's going on around you, this is usually fine in independent music shops staffed by actual musicians who know it's in their long term interest to have musicians from all over thinking well of them and possibly in future recommending them to others touring or visiting their town. This sort of networking is part of the business.

Of course, there will always be some who for whatever reason don't welcome it (maybe too many people locally do this, maybe they're having a bad day, maybe you're not playing nearly as well as you think...!) - if it feels like you're overstaying your welcome at all, or if it's busy, or you might be getting in the way of actual customers, move on. And if they do treat you well don't forget to give something back by leaving a positive online review somewhere like Yelp or Google Maps or any musician forums or communities you frequent, as well as buying something small - and remember them if a musician you know plans to go to that town.

It's likely to be less welcome in corporate/chain music shops, but they're also unlikely to bother kicking you out unless it's busy or you really push it too far, and some staff may be friendly networking musicians themselves. But there's no reason not to play for a few minutes on the different instruments they have on display. Even if you know you won't buy today you genuinely are finding out how good their stock is, and you might meet someone looking to buy a keyboard or piano here and you can tell them knowledgeably whether this shop is one they should visit.

  • Indeed, some good points were highlighted. Promoting their services and leaving good reviews are good ideas. Thanks! Commented Oct 1, 2017 at 19:12

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