Has anyone ever asked you to stop playing?

Has anyone ever asked you to stop playing?

More to the point have you been in a session where someone put a hand on your instrument in an attempt to stop you?
In my mind this is definitely a redline. You simply do not physically try to stop another musican from playing by using your hands. The only time(s) I have experienced this is when a married couple in my session are asked for a song & the singer is not happy with what the guitarist is doing. But they are married, I’m not, so all that is between the two of them.
Cheers,
Ben

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Re: Has anyone ever asked you to stop playing?

I’m my early days someone took the guitar out of my hands and played the rest of the tune.

Re: Has anyone ever asked you to stop playing?

Is that the entire story, Arthur? Did he ask first?

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Re: Has anyone ever asked you to stop playing?

I was asked once to stop playing by a tin whistle player. When he was finished I asked why and he replied I was playing (backup on bouzouki) too "horn-pipey". Fair enough, my backup style hasn’t always been the best and if no one tells you, you lose the opportunity to improve. No problem though, it was a private session and everyone there is friendly.

I did have one individual that after we’d spent much time practicing a set to introduce to a local session, decided that at the session the tunes should be done as individuals. So, I started the first tune just as we had practiced it and he stopped me so he could count it off - at exactly the same tempo we had already been playing. I swore to never play with him again. Arthur Darley’s is too much fun to have it interrupted.

Re: Has anyone ever asked you to stop playing?

We’ve all been scolded by singers or their entourage for providing accompaniment when it hasn’t been wanted. However, we learn.

Musicians are less likely to tell you to stop although there are obviously times when it isn’t always desirable or welcome. However, we learn.

The worst thing that happened to me many years ago was when I was being rather over enthusiastic with my guitar backing. "If you’re going tae "f***ing strum, use a softer pick!"
However, I learned ;-)

However, to answer your original post, physical contact with other musicians while they are playing is out of order particularly if it’s aggressive or intended to convey a negative opinion or intention.

Re: Has anyone ever asked you to stop playing?

Cheers, Johnny!
Why do you keep saying we?

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I think the examples in the first two paragraphs happen to many of us when we are young(er) and over keen. Not everyone, of course.

The third example specifically happened to me. He was a piano accordion player too. So I must have been really loud. :-P

Re: Has anyone ever asked you to stop playing?

I received an impatient look once from an older fiddler I greatly admired. I got the message.

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Re: Has anyone ever asked you to stop playing?

meself, was the message to stop, too loud, out of tune, sloppy, go home, all of the above?

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Re: Has anyone ever asked you to stop playing?

@AB No he did not. I’m also sure I was playing badly.

Re: Has anyone ever asked you to stop playing?

Thanks, Arthur. I see you have no misgivings about his taking your guitar. However, without asking, I see his action as crossing a line. It most likely motivated you to play better. Though for me that’s not an excuse for his grabbing your guitar without addressing you first.

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Re: Has anyone ever asked you to stop playing?

"I’m my early days someone took the guitar out of my hands and played the rest of the tune."

One wonders if he finished the tune on your guitar…

Re: Has anyone ever asked you to stop playing?

AB: I may have told this anecdote before, but anyway: at a house party, I was playing harmonica along with the fiddler in question, and he made the mistake of remarking, in a pleasantly-surprised way, that the two instruments sounded good together - I suppose that went to my head a bit, and I kept playing along on the next tune, probably with more enthusiasm than musicality. Anyway, after a bit he turned my way with, as I say, an impatient look, and a sort of dropping of the shoulders that clearly indicated he was about stop playing, unless I stopped. I did. Besides being an exceptional fiddler, he was a very good-natured guy, so it hurt … ! (Ya can’t keep a good man down, though! And ya can’t keep me down, either ….. )

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Re: Has anyone ever asked you to stop playing?

There is always the option to stop listening :-)

If, at a an obviously tune only session, some **** **** decides to sing some dreary 20 verse song I use the opportunity to go to the bar or the bog, the later being more a statement of my judgement.

I think "the look" works best - been given it many times, all part of the learning.

Re: Has anyone ever asked you to stop playing?

"I think "the look" works best "

Indeed. :-)

Re: Has anyone ever asked you to stop playing?

Yes. Myself and a fiddler playing in the downstairs room of a village hall, and people were (foolishly I might argue given the nature of the event, but nevermind) trying to sleep in the upstairs room. One of the lasses upstairs came down and told us to stop.

Re: Has anyone ever asked you to stop playing?

Some times, musicians themselves will complain about the noise.

At one of the very early fiddle festivals in Edinburgh, I believe there was a late night session going on in the bar of The West End Hotel(Used to be a famous haunt, no more) when the festival’s star turn came downstairs in her dressing gown to complain about the music keeping her awake.

I won’t mention her name as I did so once before here(or on another forum) and was accused of being ungallant.
:-)

Re: Has anyone ever asked you to stop playing?

Yes. Once at a session at the Irish Emigrant in Seattle around 2001. :-)

Re: Has anyone ever asked you to stop playing?

AB. Redline? Crossing a line?

I was playing at a local session where there was a mandolin player (me) and a flute player and 4 (very loud) guitarists. After the first tune I told the massed guitars they were too loud, I couldn’t hear myself or the flute player. Their joint response was that I needed amplification!
Later I ended up putting my hand over the strings of one guitar as he wasn’t even playing loudly in the same key as the others. Some people need to be stopped!

After the session we all had a pint, made up and never played together ever again.

Re: Has anyone ever asked you to stop playing?

"After the session we all had a pint, made up and never played together ever again." ;

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"he made the mistake of remarking, in a pleasantly-surprised way, that the two instruments sounded good together." He definitely sounds good-natured. meself, you are a good man. Don’t let it go to your head though.

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Yes. I was young and clueless and noodling through a tune I thought I almost knew. I was oblivious to the fact that I was ruining the set for the other players. About half-way through the tune, an experienced flute player gently put his hand on my shoulder and gave me a knowing glance which told me all I needed to know. Although my feelings were initially ruffled, later, on the drive home, I came to appreciate the subtle way he let me know I was making a mess of things. It could have gone a lot worse. I’ve seen it go a lot worse for others. It was a very good learning experience for me.

Re: Has anyone ever asked you to stop playing?

I can think of one instance in a session in Milltown Malbay when I was explicitly asked not to play. A seasoned piper was about to play The Blackbird (set dance). As I was poised to join in on my mandolin, he said, "Now, you wouldn’t be able to play this the proper way." Crushing though it was - after all, I’d been playing the tune for years - he was West Clare born and raised, personally acquainted with Willie Clancy and deeply entrenched in the local tradition and I knew he was right. He had been quite happy to have me play with him on the jigs and reels.

There have been many times when I have not felt entirely welcome in a session and should probably have been more circumspect before joining in - but I would instinctively react to such a situation by playing as softly as possible, stopping altogether or quietly slinking away. There may well have also been times when the hints dropped were too subtle for me to notice - but my playing was clearly not sufficiently offensive for anyone to sacrifice their dignity by asking me explicitly to stop playing.

As a busker, I have been asked to stop playing (or play elsewhere) numerous times, most often by market traders (once one even paid me to move) or people living or working in nearby premises, occasionally by law enforcers (sometimes seemingly with no reason other than to pull rank or alleviate boredom) and once by an irascible passer-by. I would like to add, however, that such occasions are greatly outnumbered by those where people have shown their appreciation, either verbally or materially.

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"… was … personally acquainted with Willie Clancy …"

I meant "… *had been* personally acquainted with … ". Willie Clancy died a few years before I was born and about 30 years before I discovered traditional music.

Re: Has anyone ever asked you to stop playing?

Well it had to happen, and no doubt this will spark a few tired old jokes: if you play bodhran or any other form of percussion (spoons rear their ugly heads again?) you will almost certainly have been asked not to play or to stop. Sometimes there are just too many people clattering away, sometimes it’s down to defective timing (though having been an orchestral percussionist in the past, I would hope that doesn’t apply to my playing!) and sometimes it’s just that people don’t like any form of percussion, full stop! I would also hope that I have some sensitivity to what us being played and know when NOT to play before anyone has to ask me to stop.
And the unaccompanied singing thing: a friend of mine plays various stringed instruments which she may use to accompany herself singing. Sometimes she prefers to sing unaccompanied, which means she will be surrounded by her 2 or 3 idle instruments: so why does someone not take the hint and decide that he/she must launch into accompanying her?

Re: Has anyone ever asked you to stop playing?

Thanks for the replies! I appreciate reading your stories. I probably should answer?

The Look can be like a thousand words. It’s not X-ray vision but if you do not heed the look it can
burn a hole in your skull. I know the look. The Look matters; listen to the look.

The main story which comes to mind was once when we were out of tune. *I* was out of tune. The fiddler
did not ask me to stop. Instead she said we needed to tune our instruments. I wouldn’t have minded if
she called me out. Fortunately though we had a brief, uneventful interruption. We tuned,
it was good, I appreciated her way of handling things and the tunes sounded much better.

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Re: Has anyone ever asked you to stop playing?

Now, that reminds me of another time - jamming with a few jazz guys, and the percussionist grimacing at my tapping foot, which apparently, to his lawdee-da sensibilities, was not quite all it should have been … ! (Yes, I stopped tapping).

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Re: Has anyone ever asked you to stop playing?

"AB. Redline? Crossing a line?"

It is for me and others *in* my regular session, Allan. I am not extending this to all sessions & I
would not impose it on you nor others playing in your regular session. I’m not "dictating" to other
sessiondotorg members & I do not expect my conventions to be followed in a session I am visiting.

Ben

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Re: Has anyone ever asked you to stop playing?

It happens all the time with the Highland pipes, as one would expect.

Whenever you’re being paid to play there’s a possibility that somebody else will run up and yell at you to stop.

I used to do around 40 weddings a year. Weddings here are often over-priced and over-produced affairs, with a number of "wedding coordinators" wearing headsets running around talking to each other and yelling at caterers and Groomsmen and musicians.

It’s happened many times: one of these coordinators is yelling at me to play at the same moment that another one is yelling at me not to play.

Or the time I was being paid to play at a Golf Course and a group of visiting Japanese golfers were angry that I was piping. I told them to speak to the management. That didn’t go well for the Japanese, and I piped on.

Then there have been times I’m not being paid to play, for example I’m done with my gig and walking back to the car. Twenty different people come up and beg me to play something, but the moment I fire up the pipes somebody else comes running up yelling at me to stop. Oddly, the people who were begging moments before for me to play never say a thing. I’ve learned to politely decline these requests, and if anybody asks why I refuse to play I tell them.

Re: Has anyone ever asked you to stop playing?

I have been asked top stop playing the piano (in Kirkwall, Orkney). I’m a solitary player and was trying to "vamp" along with other players. I was extremely inept.

Re: Has anyone ever asked you to stop playing?

Sadly yes, but not asked, rather, intimidated!
Back in ‘77/’78 I used to go to a Sunday lunchtime session at The Hare and Hounds, Liverpool. In those days I was learning upwards of 2 dozen tunes a week. I didn’t have much then, still don’t, and sometimes walked the 7 miles each way to have a tune but I was, as I am now, mad for the music, as they say.

Anyway, Tony Gibbons, lovely man, great bouzouki player and beautifully gifted singer says
"Come on Brian, give us your best for the week!"
I’d just got, and still love, Mayor Harrison’s Fedora and off I go, full flight
This fiddle player opposite me whipped his bow across the bridge of my nose and said
"You f’n C*#+ You’re always learning new tunes"

Tony and others berated him, but the damage was done

I want to say Thank you Ben for this opportunity and the sensitive way you approach these sometimes awkward discussions

All the best
Brian x

Re: Has anyone ever whipped his bow across the bridge of your nose?

Cheers, Brian! Appreciate hearing about Tony Gibbons, your walks to the session & ; yes, being mad about the tunes. Keep up that sort of mad behaviour. Just wish I could have been there to berate the bow wielding maniac w/Tony & the others. Good story.

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Re: Has anyone ever asked you to stop playing?

Yeah - a fella could seriously damage his bow that way … !

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Thanks for contributing Trish (Santer). At least I’m not the only female to join in this discussion! In Kirkwall it was the amiable Jenny Wrigley who told me to stop on the piano. Her sister Hazel’s a really good pianist and her style is unusual (vamping can be very pedestrian sounding at times). You do need to be aware that you are ACCOMPANYING rather than doing your own thing.

Re: Has anyone ever asked you to stop playing?

Good point about accompaniment, Susan: it shouldn’t get in the way of the main tune, but it’s good to stop playing the same way all the way through. e.g. a bit of arpeggioid stuff (piano) or fingerpicking (guitar) first time through, switching to a more chordal arrangement (be it vamp or block chords or bass/chord combinations) on subsequent times. Hopefully subtle enough that it’s not seen as "doing your own thing", but also enhancing the music without being glaringly obvious. And yes, Hazel W is brilliant!

Re: Has anyone ever asked you to stop playing?

Do children and wife count…? If yes, well yes, quite often :D

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Re: Has anyone ever asked you to stop playing?

I was thinking in sessions. Though it’s a discussion for the sake of hearing everyone’s stories & experiences.
Are they complaining about your playing or just trying to watch Netflix?

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Yes I understood but your original post made me think about my domestic issues when I play (not a really serious matter, it was for fun). I like to think that it happens because they can’t get my attention and because I play quite loud in the living room… rather than because of my playing. Fortunately we have a garden and the neighbours are far enough not to complain :D

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Re: Has anyone ever asked you to stop playing?

Susan and Trish aren’t the ‘only’ females in this discussion. Nevermind.

During my first master’s degree in Durham, I lived in postgrad student accomodation. I was immediately told not to play the pipes in my room at any time of the day. I started playing a whistle, with bluetac over the fipple to mute the sound. The posh public schoolboys, who didn’t get into Oxbridge and probably think of Boris Johnson as a hero and who shared said student accomodation, b*tched to the uni administrator in charge, and he sent me a tersely-worded email telling me playing musical instruments was banned in student halls. Apparently it disrupts people’s studying. Obviously playing loud music on a speaker system and/or loud parties are totally kosher.

What a bunch of douchebags.

Re: Has anyone ever asked you to stop playing?

Nope. Never had anyone try to stop my playing in a session, neither verbally nor physically.
But I have (verbally) tried to stop disruptive players a number of times. Mostly backers (percussion or guitar/bouzouki).

Re: Has anyone ever asked you to stop playing?

@DrSilverSpear: That reminds me of a time during my first week in student accommodation when one of my neighbours came knocking, bleary eyed, at my door, requesting (politely) that I desist from playing the whistle. He had a point - it was 7.45am. I’d lived a sheltered life up to that point ;-) .

Re: Has anyone ever asked you to stop playing?

That’s fair enough. But being told to stop playing at 2pm is ridiculous.

Re: Has anyone ever asked you to stop playing?

2 pm is maybe very early morning in student time :-)

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Oh, I just remembered when I went on a British Isles Cruise in 2010 and was confined to my cabin with chicken pox.

I did some practising then OK but, one afternoon, about 5pm the woman from the next door cabin complained about the noise. She had obviously been out all day on excursions or whatever and just returned.

Unfortunately, I was quite grumpy and called her a "daft bat" or something like that as she was leaving. Half an hour later her 6’ 4" husband who was built like a brick shit house also gave me a call to ensure that the music ban was well and truly enforced.
:-)

Re: Has anyone ever asked you to stop playing?

AB’s story about tuning and the diplomatic fiddler reminds me of the great Dick Cavett (American talk show host from yester-year). He was interviewing some big shot, a U.S. senator, I think it was, and suddenly Cavett stands up and says, "Senator, do what I’m doing." So the senator stands up, Cavett turns his back to the audience so the senator turns his back to the audience, and Cavett says over his shoulder, "One of us needs to zip up his fly."

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Back in the sixties in London when I was learning a new tune on the box, Tony my Polish landlord who lived downstairs, often came banging on my door . When I opened it he’d say " The accordion I like but the foot, bang bang bang…I don’t like the f…ing foot. From then on I used a cushion under my foot and eventually stopped tapping with it altogether. Now I can tap lightly or not at all. When I see today’s young musicians actually lifting their foot and banging it down during the tunes I shudder to think how poor old Tony would react….

Re: Has anyone ever asked you to stop playing?

Ah yes!!!

free Reed I know that feeling well!
Back in ‘76 I had a little flat in a terraced house overlooking The Irish Sea.
My neighbours were really nice, downstairs Alan and Róisín, next door Christine Byrne, upstairs, Joe McEvoy. Even the landlord, Matt Rooney was Irish. A little bit of Heaven

One Sunday morning, like (big red blush appropriate here!) there’s this knock on my door

Hi Joe!
Brian! Will you £√¢€!π¶ stop playing!
Sorry Joe, I thought you liked the music
Brian I DO, but not at a quarter to three in the f’n morning!

Lesson learned. Free reed’s story reminded me of those long ago days

A slight diversion…
My landlord was brilliant. I phoned him from Dublin one day

Hi Mr Rooney, Brian here
Hi Brian, what’s up?
Er… I was wondering if I could pay you this week’s rent next week?
Why, is something wrong?
Oh no, it’s just that if that’s OK I can stay here in Dublin and carry on playing
Sure, that’s fine, see you next week!

And so it was in those days :-)

All the best
Brian x

Re: Has anyone ever asked you to stop playing?

Nobody has ever asked me to stop playing, but at times I’ve heard some grumbles or sighs, I have seen people wince, my friend will often mutter an insult at me or someone next to me will throw up their hands and stop and then I’ll realize oh no, I’ve gotten off somehow. But nobody has ever outright asked me to stop playing or to leave and never come back.

The thing is, I think a lot of the time these grumbles and whatever are just people being afraid to outright say something so they do this passive-aggressive stuff instead hoping maybe if you’re not oblivious you’ll figure it out. They don’t want to hurt your feelings.

Nobody has ever asked me to stop but maybe they should have. I’ve always tried to do my best to stay aware, fix whatever I’m doing wrong and people seem to sincerely welcome me and ask me to come back. So again, maybe everybody just needs to get over getting hurt feelings so easily so everybody else can just speak honestly.

~Diane

Re: Has anyone ever asked you to stop playing?

Though there have been times that I should have stopped myself when I might not have remembered a tune as well as I thought I should have, nobody has ever asked me to stop playing or tried to take my instrument away from me to force me to stop.

The players at my local session though are really encouraging to learners, and often actually encourage us to quietly! try and pick things up a little by ear. Which unless there is a tune that I’ve heard a gazillion times and at least have a good sense of the melody, I usually try not to do unless its a busy session with a lot of players to hide behind.

With that said, sometimes I get adventurous. Which either turns out excellently or disastrously, there really is no middle ground.

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Re: Has anyone ever asked you to stop playing?

I’ve never been asked or told to stop, but I have been asked to back off on the accompanying side of things. Being a finger stylist guitarist, my accompaniment was distracting the singer too much, and they were losing their concentration. Too much embellishment on my part I suppose.

Re: Has anyone ever asked you to stop playing?

The players in my session are wonderfully kind, and I’ve never been told to stop nor has anyone else. On the contrary, if a player is having some difficulty, s/he is normally encouraged to continue. I once tried to signal a small pipes player to play more softly (we were at opposite ends of the (big) room and the sound was still painful) by putting my hands in my ears. He didn’t see me, but when I mentioned to him how loud he was during the break, he said his hearing had been affected so it didn’t bother him! He plays a variety of smallish Scottish and Northumberland pipes, and I don’t remember which one he was playing that was so loud. The others are quieter.

On the other hand I have the distinction of having been PAID not to play. It was when I was in university and among other instruments was playing the Renaissance lute with another lutenist (there are a lot of nice lute duets from that period). Somehow we were hired to do a gig in a local bar. We lasted a set, but at the end of it, the owner gave us our money and asked us (kindly) to leave. He was absolutely right of course. Just not the right kind of music for the environment.

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At a retreat at a buddhist monastery in southern Thailand everyone is given duties to perform. Mine was to guide a young Japanese blind man around the place. He was carrying his violin while travelling solo around Asia. I had one as well, coincidentally.
Minimal talking, music a no-no. Our cells were adjacent to one another’s. Late at night i’d hear him scratching softly on Bach tunes.
He’d been a chemistry student and suffered the loss of his sight by a lab exercise gone wrong.

Re: Has anyone ever asked you to stop playing?

I’ve never been told not to play. I came to ITM as a backup player anyway, and in the harpsichord "continuo" improv-backup world, you either listen carefully to whom you’re accompanying, or else! And know what you’re playing, or else! At the beginning, I brought a dulcimer to ITM sessions (when that instrument was hated, and justly so), but would sit out and listen to the tunes most of the time as I wasn’t familiar with them or with the traditional backup styles. Several times I was asked "are you gonna play with us or not?" and I’d say when something came up that I knew, I’d back it up. And did, after listening to the guitarist or pianist if one was present. To this day, if invited to a session I’ve not been to before, I will sit out the first few rounds and listen to what the group sounds like, rather than impose "my way" of backup or melody playing.

I used the piano for large sessions as I got experience, but have since moved back to the dulcimer. I have a five-octave double-bass, (two octaves above mid-c; three below) and work quite well with the two regular guitarists at one of my sessions, trading lead and backup, as well as with a very good bodhran player. My "volume gauge" is if I hear the instruments on the other side of the circle, then I’m not too loud. I’ll add that with experience, I’ve gotten rather good at anticipating modes and chord progressions in tunes.

As for singers, it’s assumed by those whom I know that I will back them up. Otherwise, I wait for the invitation; if not, then I listen without playing - but several turned to me between stanzas and said "please join me." And I started out backup with one singer but backed away after the first stanza, and when she asked my why I dropped out, I had to say that what she was doing needed no embellishment.

I admit that I have quietly on the side asked players to back off during tunes, keep the beat, and not "noodle" or such.

Re: Has anyone ever asked you to stop playing?

"I once tried to signal a small pipes player to play more softly (we were at opposite ends of the (big) room and the sound was still painful) by putting my hands in my ears. He didn’t see me, but when I mentioned to him how loud he was during the break, he said his hearing had been affected so it didn’t bother him! He plays a variety of smallish Scottish and Northumberland pipes, and I don’t remember which one he was playing that was so loud. The others are quieter."

Just FYI as to terminology, he was no doubt playing Border pipes. Scottish smallpipes, and Northumbrian smallpipes, are parallel bore instruments, and are quiet and sweet. Border pipes are conical bore instruments, and depending upon the set up, can be quite loud. Not all, though.

Re: Has anyone ever asked you to stop playing?

Cac you might as well ask the sun not to shine or the wind not to blow. There is no way of playing a bagpipe of any variety more quietly. In certain circumstance, with access to a pretty endless resource of reeds and chanters, some sets can be set up to play slightly more quietly than others but this is not sustainable by normal means and is often just the preserve of professional players associated very tightly with manufacturers and reed makers. Pipes are pretty near impossible to rebalance on the fly.