Double Trouble: Local pianists bring dueling pianos to events

Two pianists look to impress audiences at events and take back the reputation of dueling pianos.

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  • | 12:49 p.m. April 5, 2016
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Building any strong relationship takes time. 

And for Rob Volpe and John Kenney, of Orlando Dueling Pianos, time and practice has helped them learn to communicate well — without words. 

Playing dueling pianos requires a piano play the parts of a full band. One person plays the rhythm, while the other fills in the holes with solos, extra melodies, drums, harmonies, beatbox parts and tambourines. 

It takes practice to get it right. Sometimes, they hire a live drummer to play alongside of them.

“It’s like any relationship,” Volpe said. “You go up there and you do it, and you read the crowd and you read each other. You just kind of know what works in what situations. I think the best moments in every night are the completely unplanned ones.”

But when they are in front of an audience, much of the show relies on good, silent communication. 

“It’s the most organic thing, because anytime we step on to the stage, whether it’s at a bar or a wedding, we do not know where the night is going to go,” Volpe said. “We have no idea. ... It’s like speaking a different language that we both understand. So depending on what one of us is doing, the other knows the holes they have to fill, whether it be musically on the piano or vocally.”


John Kenney, a Horizon West resident, calls the start of Orlando Dueling Pianos an “accident.”

Volpe and Kenney had an extensive background in playing the piano. They met while working at Disney, and Kenney wanted to start his own business. When Volpe and Kenney began receiving calls about playing shows, Kenney decided he should start a business doing something he knew. It was also the best way to make a living in the piano industry. 

The element of live music increases the energy at weddings and events and allows guests to interact with music. Kenney and Volpe often will continue to play a song if many people are dancing and enjoying the music. The pianists know a wide range of music, so guests can choose the songs.

“People really respond to the live interaction,” Kenney said. “They love the fact that we’re doing everything live; they love the fact that we know so many songs. Especially when they try to stump us.”

The pianists aren’t easily stumped, playing everything from rock to heavy metal on the piano. 

“There is a trend to have more live music (at weddings and events),” said Kenney. “It’s special. Our wedding clients in particular know that this is their one day to make everything special, to make it magical. So they want to not just impress their guests, but they want to create lasting memories for themselves.” 

They use keyboards, which unlike pianos stay in tune during transportation, and the keyboards are cased in a piano shell that looks appealing in wedding photos. 

Contact Jennifer Nesslar at [email protected].

To learn more about Orlando Dueling Pianos or to book the group, visit


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