Worth of Old Pianos

A friend called me up one time to come fix and tune his 1920’s (perhaps earlier) piano, so I did. In the process of getting it ship-shape he kept hinting that because the piano was older it was worth a lot of money. He, obviously, forgot the fact that he had received the piano “free”. All he had to do is go and pick it up.

I knew I would have to break the news to him gently that unless there has been a major overhaul done to his piano (which there was not) it was not worth very much on the market. It actually was just “old” and all the thousands of parts in it, big and small and even the tiny parts, are all as “old” as the piano itself (when you think about it). Worse than that they are ALL “fatigued”.

Now how do you tell anyone, let alone a friend, that bad news.

A Closer Look

WAS MOZART REALLY A PRODIGY?

WAS MOZART REALLY A PRODIGY?

Creativity is, according to popular perception, a mysterious and magical process.

Creative insight appears suddenly and unpredictably, like a flash of lightning from the heavens. It is impossible, so the common wisdom goes, to know when these creative bolts will strike or how to make them occur more often. Creativity is, as most of us have come to understand it, a random gift from God.

This is the “inspiration theory” of creativity. It is simple, and it is totally wrong.

Let me show you what I mean using one of the most commonly cited examples of this theory: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

VOICING.....your piano. Whatever do you mean?

So, what is voicing?

Voicing is the process of changing the quality of the tone that the piano produces. Voicing is an important step in piano care and maintenance, and one that is often overlooked. Many piano players incorrectly assume how a piano sounds now is just the way it is. This couldn't be farther from the truth. It is not the same thing as tuning, which is adjusting the pitch. Pitch refers only to the frequency with which a string vibrates and is completely empirical. It's essentially a math issue. A note is either in tune or it's not. A440 is a pitch which means that the string is vibrating at 440 Hz or cycles per second. On a piano, A440 is the A directly above middle C. If that note is not vibrating at 440Hz, it is out of tune. A lower number means it is flat, while a higher number means it is sharp.

Voicing, however, is not so cut and dry. It deals with the subjective qualities that are much more difficult to measure and define as right or wrong.

HOW TO TAKE CARE OF YOUR PIANO

Pianos are wonderful instruments and, so, how to take care of your piano is of top priority indeed. Within your piano is truly amazing technology combined with beauty and craftsmanship all working together. This is to provide the pianist with an incredible range of musical expression, like having a full orchestra at your fingertips.

Keep in mind though that the insides of a piano includes thousands of moving parts, all adjusted to extremely close tolerances to provide the piano player with this broad range of tonal expressions, giving him/her control over every note from a whisper to a roar.

PIANO LIFE SAVER SYSTEM

ABOUT THE PIANO LIFE SAVER SYSTEM

The Piano Life Saver System is an internal humidity control system that is engineered to protect what is arguably the world’s most complex musical instrument: the piano.  It is widely held that a grand piano has more individual parts than a car. The vast majority of those parts are made of wood.

It’s a remarkable piece of engineering and a wonder of construction. Many of the world’s most respected piano makers build their instruments today in almost exactly the same manner as they did over 100 years ago. They go to great lengths to assure that the many species of wood used in the construction of their instruments are carefully chosen and dried to the proper moisture content. 

It is extremely important that this moisture content is maintained throughout the life of the piano.  Piano makers deem this so important that they include a clause in their warranties that excludes coverage to instruments that have been subjected to extremes in temperature and humidity.  

HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOUR PIANO BE TUNED

How Often Should Your Piano Be Tuned

That's the age old question isn't it when considering acoustic pianos. I mean, really, "How often "should" your piano be tuned?" I have no problems with this question. The trouble is when all is said and done will you heed the advice given because it is all up to you, the piano owner, in the end. 

I'll tell you right up front that it is a myth to think that your acoustic piano will stayed tuned if you never play it. The strings of your piano will stretch and lengthen because of the tremendous pressure they are under therefore tuning is inevitable.

In this article I intend to set some facts straight and get everyone on the right path as to piano tuning in terms of the How Often Should You Tune Your Piano question to the Why Does It Go Out Of Tune question.

So, if you are ready come along for the journey and learn some things about your piano....that you perhaps didn't know before.

HOW TO BUY A GOOD USED PIANO

FREE IS NOT ALWAYS FREE

Are you in the market for purchasing an acoustic piano? If you are then you need to read this article because in it I intend to enlighten you on how to buy a good piano as the title says.

I tell people all the time that the very first thing they need to do before the purchase is to educate themselves on what to look for. One very important tip I will give you right off the bat is this .....FREE IS NOT ALWAYS FREE. By this I mean that very often it's the cheap things we get in life that end up costing us the most. 

For instance, Grammy wants me to have her 105 year old full upright piano. You think, wow, this is great. But is it?

LOCATING AND REMOVING UNWANTED PIANO SOUNDS

WANTED DEAD OR ALIVE

Did you ever sit down to a piano to play, all inspired and just vigorous to do your best. Maybe you have a beautiful melody in your head and heart and you want to pour it out on the keys.

So, you strike the first few ivory's and press the damper pedal for resonance like normal only to hear a "screech, clunk and wiz" with every push of the pedal it's "screech, clunk and wiz". The sound is so annoying that you just can't stand to play on that piano.

Yes, these odd sounds that sometimes come from our piano are maddening but even more maddening is "locating piano noises". I want to give you an article that deals with "Locating and Removing Unwanted Piano Sounds".

HOW I WOULD TUNE YOUR PIANO

I think it may be helpful to give you the rundown as to the platform I use in tuning your piano. If I were the customer I'm sure I would be curious and think "I wonder how Duane would approach tuning or fixing my piano."

I mean wouldn't you like to know the procedure that I take when you call to enquire as to piano repairs and tuning. This is the purpose of this article of interest appropriately titled "How I Would Tune Your Piano."

LEARNING TO PLAY THE PIANO -- as an adult

YOU ARE NEVER TOO OLD…here’s why…

One of the first things I hear acquaintances and friends and strangers alike say to me when I ask if they play the piano is “….I’m too old to learn now.”

I can tell you with a growl if you like, so…ROAR…I do not buy this statement. I am convinced that if you have a desire to play the piano, no matter how old you are, then the time is now. Move on with your dream.

In this blog we will concentrate on the various negative reasons that are running freely in your mind that are preventing you from following through and achieving your dream.

HOW TO TEACH PIANO TO KIDS

TEACHING THE VERY YOUNG

Winston Churchill once said: “Personally, I’m always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught.” I think this statement holds true and strong as it seems to sum up the matter of teaching kids to play the piano. Don’t you think?

So, that said, how do you teach young kids how to play the piano? Where do you even begin. Starting well is so important as you know.

HOW TO TUNE A PIANO BY EAR

PERHAPS PERHAPS PERHAPS

Hi, there. So, you want to tune a piano.

Perhaps it’s a family members piano or a friends piano or an acquaintances piano.

Perhaps it’s your own piano.

Perhaps someone challenged you to do it or even perhaps you challenged yourself. That is not out-of-the-question.

Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps….the reason is that you are sick to death of paying for your regular Piano Tuner to come every six months or every year to tune.

I can see these things as being a nuisance. I really can because I’ll let you in on a little secret….”I was there myself one time and it bugged me, too.”

HONESTY IS THE BEST POLICY

A SHORT HISTORY OF THE PIANO

A BRIEF HISTORY LESSON

What do you know about the origin of the piano? Probably very little so sit back now and let me teach you something about your chosen instrument. You will be surprised at the story that brought about this landmark musical instrument.

From it’s humble beginnings to it’s illustrious presence in today’s world. If a piano could talk it would have so many stories that eventually you would get tired of listening to them.

Let us begin with Bartolomeo Cristofori. Anyone with a name as prestigious as that demands our attention I think. He was born on May 4th, 1655 and he died Jan 27, 1731 at the age of 76. Now, in that time frame, around the year 1700, he invented the piano by fitting a harpsichord with a mechanism that utilized small hammers instead of the usual plectra.

LEARN TO PLAY THE PIANO >>>--->> FAST

In 1906 an Italian economist, Vilfredo Pareto, observed that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population.

Taking the observation further he noticed that 80% of the peas in his garden were produced from 20% of the pods.

Years later, economist Joseph M. Juran called this 80/20 rule the Pareto principle.

Productivity experts like NYT bestselling author Tim Ferriss have popularised this approach as a means to learning quickly. For instance, when it comes to learning a language a good question to begin with is: what are the 20% of the words that are used 80% of the time?

Find the 80/20 rule in the subject of your studies. What are the main ideas? What are the most important elements that yield the biggest return on investment? Start with these questions.

WE HEAR IT ALL THE TIME.

You know, the fast pace of the world.

Well, it is no different when trying to learn a musical instrument.

LEARNING THE PIANO -- BY EAR

ARE YOU A GOOD LISTENER?

Let me tell you about the little game I play with my mind. For many years now when I am listening to an orchestra or band with many instruments in it I will try to pick out in my mind what instrument is playing at any given time.

If I am not sure what that instrument is or if I find I am guessing I will turn my attention to single instruments to see what exactly they sound like played alone. U-tube is filled with instrumental solos. Then return to the orchestra with that sound-knowledge buzzing in my head and pick out the instruments.

This little game I play keeps me interested in not only the arrangement of the piece being played but also gets me into the “idea” the composer had in mind when arranging it. Mostly though the songs that I have memorized are a variety of songs from artistes and bands that I have enjoyed and loved over the years.

PIANO BENCHES -- A PILLOW ON A CHAIR WILL NOT DO

A Pillow on a Piano Bench just won’t…..CUT-THE-CAKE

You might be thinking how in the world can anyone make a blog about Piano Benches interesting enough to read through to the end. Well, I thought of that and to tell you the truth I must say “I don’t know really”.

I do know this that although the Piano itself gets all the attention and rightly so, it is the center of universe, of course, it would not be so much fun if not for a good bench to sit on.

So with that in mind I will proceed with information you hopefully in most cases have not thought of before. As a fish without water cannot survive long so a piano player without a good satisfying bench under them cannot survive long either.

Glen Gould’s Piano Chair designed by his father…..

HOW TO MOVE A PIANO

How to Move a Piano

This is very important. How "do" you move a piano? It weighs as much as a horse and is not nearly as cooperative. I think the short answer is you move it ".....very carefully". So, in this article I want to inform the reader to consider several points when moving a piano. 

 

It seems to me, speaking as one who owns and plays a piano, that at some point your piano has to be moved. Now that could be a far away move to another town or even another country or just up four steps to another room in your house. Whatever the case that piano has to be dealt with and it's not going to be easy.

So if something is difficult in life and it will not go away on its own then the only thing to do is proceed with the task. Now, the best way to approach this is to have a plan of procedure. Don't you think? As with any difficult project the procedure is much smoother when we have a well thought through plan. 

Let's prepare one now that includes various aspects and try to make this plan as complete and thorough as we can beginning with:

PIANO AND SELF-ESTEEM

One group in Norway concluded after intense research that students who participated vigorously in a music program found themselves to have a growing self-perception and their sense of competence increased dramatically. They achieved a more positive self-image.

Self-image and self-awareness creates a positive attitude and is felt to be a motivating factor in terms of academic learning.

Not only that but, on a social level, students who incorporated music into their studies tended to support one another, to maintain a commitment and bonded better. The ability to play piano and music in general research showed these students had a greater sense of cooperation with authority figures and their peers also were interested and indeed did show the ability to set goals.

John Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) is quoted as saying “It is the special province of music to move the heart.” Very nicely put and perhaps it could be additionally said that the province of music not only moves the heart (emotions) but, as indicated above, has the ability to change the brain of any musical person in many and various ways.