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#1288926 - 10/17/09 06:26 PM Pianos in prison?  
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Tweedpipe Offline
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Tweedpipe  Offline
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Who was it that recently posted that Gyro's advice is usually not merely wrong, but practically criminal? Now that got me thinking.
I was wondering if there are any prisons with a recreation room and an acoustic piano or keyboard for the use of inmates. If nobody is aware of one, has this idea perhaps ever been considered? Or are there any tuners here who have ever a done a spot of ‘porridge’ - in terms of hours that is – not years?

Perhaps the idea is not so strange, particularly now I recall reading of one prison in Surrey UK, who have launched a cordon bleu restaurant where inmates prepare and serve the food.
Inmates eventually giving concerts - why not indeed? Jailhouse Rock would be an obvious favourite.


Currently working on:-
C Major scale (r/h only - starting with the pinkie finger)......

Dear Noah,
We could have sworn you said the ark wasn't leaving till 5.
Yours sincerely,
The Unicorns



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#1288931 - 10/17/09 06:33 PM Re: Pianos in prison? [Re: Tweedpipe]  
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RealPlayer Offline
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NYC
I accompanied an inmate who was taking voice lessons last year in a prison setting. I was given an electronic keyboard to play. I was told that acoustic pianos have too many parts that can be turned into...dangerous things.

They did have a music room with guitars and a drum set, though...

#1288933 - 10/17/09 06:35 PM Re: Pianos in prison? [Re: Tweedpipe]  
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sotto voce Offline
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Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
Originally Posted by Tweedpipe
[...] I recall reading of one prison in Surrey UK, who have launched a cordon bleu restaurant where inmates prepare and serve the food.

I've watched so much Oz that I already associate Prison Cuisine with secret ingredients and special sauces, but that's really kicking it up a notch. How deluxe! smile

Steven

#1288934 - 10/17/09 06:36 PM Re: Pianos in prison? [Re: RealPlayer]  
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Marty Flinn Offline
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See the final scene in the Blues Brothers.


Co-Author of The Complete Idiot's Guide To Buying A Piano. A "must read" before you shop.
Work for west coast dealer for Yamaha, Schimmel, Bosendorfer, Wm. Knabe.
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#1288936 - 10/17/09 06:39 PM Re: Pianos in prison? [Re: RealPlayer]  
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charleslang Offline
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I can just imagine a prison riot with 88 felt hammer-wielding convicts. . .

Seems like you could lock up an acoustic very well if you added locks. Digitals are cheaper of course so that's probably a factor.


charlessamuellang.com
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Tuesdays 5-8:30 at Vince's West Sacramento, California
#1288939 - 10/17/09 06:43 PM Re: Pianos in prison? [Re: charleslang]  
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sotto voce Offline
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Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
Originally Posted by charleslang
I can just imagine a prison riot with 88 felt hammer-wielding convicts. . .

That may not seem so menacing, but some very creative things could be done with piano wire.

Steven

#1288946 - 10/17/09 06:59 PM Re: Pianos in prison? [Re: sotto voce]  
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Little_Blue_Engine Offline
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Ohio, US
Originally Posted by sotto voce
Originally Posted by charleslang
I can just imagine a prison riot with 88 felt hammer-wielding convicts. . .

That may not seem so menacing, but some very creative things could be done with piano wire.

Steven

It's what's left after someone breaks the butt off the other end of the shaft that would be a problem. The hammer would make a comfy handle for the would be attacker. help


I'll figure it out eventually.
Until then you may want to keep a safe distance.
[Linked Image]
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#1288949 - 10/17/09 07:09 PM Re: Pianos in prison? [Re: Little_Blue_Engine]  
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Mark... Offline
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Jersey Shore
Piano wire in prison is not a wise idea...

#1288992 - 10/17/09 08:34 PM Re: Pianos in prison? [Re: Mark...]  
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sophial Offline
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Go back and watch the Godfather. See how Lucca Brazzi gets to "sleep with the fishes"!

#1289036 - 10/17/09 10:47 PM Re: Pianos in prison? [Re: Tweedpipe]  
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slowlearner Offline
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The prison I volunteer at uses Yamaha Clavinovas, mainly used in religious services I believe.

#1289049 - 10/17/09 11:12 PM Re: Pianos in prison? [Re: slowlearner]  
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88Key_PianoPlayer Offline
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El Cajon, CA
I can understand why they wouldn't have an older Yamaha G5 or another grand (lid open or removed and piano on heavy duty casters of course) in there with a high tension scale and rock-hard hammers tuned a half step sharp, but no Baldwin Acrosonics or Hamiltons? frown (not that I plan to spend any nights there even though crossbar hotel is probably one of the cheapest places I know of - you just don't get to be the one deciding when to get out, among other lacks of amenities crazy )


Associate Member - Piano Technicians Guild
1950 (#144211) Baldwin Hamilton
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#1289060 - 10/17/09 11:51 PM Re: Pianos in prison? [Re: 88Key_PianoPlayer]  
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Eric Gloo Offline
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I can't remember if I posted this story or not...

I tuned in a prison last year. I brought my usual tool case, and after being buzzed through several gates/doors, I came to the security area, where the guard was supposed to inventory every item in my tool case. He opened it up and burst out laughing when he saw all the screwdrivers, sharp instruments, etc. He closed up the case and said, "Just make sure you bring EVERYTHING out that you take in there."

The piano was in the chapel, which looked just like a regular chapel...except for the bars on the windows, which overlooked the prison yard filled with inmates, enclosed in razor wire fences. It was a Sohmer studio upright (if I remember correctly), which I don't think had been tuned since it was new.

I was told I wouldn't be disturbed and that the chapel doors were locked. The piano tuned well, and needed a few minor adjustments. I was just about finished when I noticed a man had entered at the far end of the chapel. He just sat, watched and listened. I played a little bit, then packed up ALL my tools.

The man approached me and asked if I was finished. I told him I was, and from the number stamped on his shirt, I then realized he was an inmate. We started chatting a bit, and it turned out he was the person who played the piano for the church services. He sat down and played for a little bit, smiling the entire time.

One of the chaplains escorted me back to the security desk, and told me I had truly made the day a good one for the inmate who plays the piano...something that hardly ever happens in that setting. So, that made me feel good...however, not as good as being buzzed through the final door to my freedom.

If you've never visited a prison...the sounds you hear in a movie about a prison are spot on. The echos of buzzers, slamming doors and gates...gives me the chills again just to write about it.


Eric Gloo
Piano Technician
Certified Dampp-Chaser Installer
Richfield Springs, New York
#1289256 - 10/18/09 12:12 PM Re: Pianos in prison? [Re: Eric Gloo]  
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apple* Offline
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Kansas
neat story Eric.

(don't appreciate the personal attack on Gyro, but oh well).

i know of a couple high end nursing homes with multiple grand pianos. one place has 7! I wish some of those pianos would get to the prisons. if i were a prisoner i would die without a piano.


accompanist/organist.. a non-MTNA teacher to a few

love and peace, Õun (apple in Estonian)
#1289326 - 10/18/09 02:53 PM Re: Pianos in prison? [Re: apple*]  
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Eric Gloo Offline
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Originally Posted by apple*
(don't appreciate the personal attack on Gyro, but oh well).


???


Eric Gloo
Piano Technician
Certified Dampp-Chaser Installer
Richfield Springs, New York
#1289524 - 10/18/09 10:26 PM Re: Pianos in prison? [Re: apple*]  
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slowlearner Offline
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I wish some of those pianos would get to the prisons. if i were a prisoner i would die without a piano.

It is pretty amazing how making music allows prisoners to access positive emotions that they have no other safe outlet for while incarcerated. Healthy humor too, as apposed to dark humor, seems to be loosened by music that can be participated in, it does wonders for inmate moral, which in turn can make things easier for staff.

#1289533 - 10/18/09 11:01 PM Re: Pianos in prison? [Re: slowlearner]  
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Ludwig van Bilge Offline
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Pianos in prison? Why not indeed? But is it practical?

I don't know how thing are in Europe but in the U.S. prisons are so over-crowded it's hard to find money & space for bunks let alone pianos. New prisons are full beyond capacity the day they open. The so-called three strike laws have long been abandoned and dangerously insane violent criminals are being released because it's too expensive to keep them locked up. In my neighborhood the police have notified us that a level 3 serial child mollester is moving in.

Perhaps you'd like to donate some pianos to the prison system along with space to put them. Unfortunately, they'd likely be trashed by the inmates within 24 hours.

#1289536 - 10/18/09 11:07 PM Re: Pianos in prison? [Re: Eric Gloo]  
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Dale Fox Offline
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Eric,

I had almost the exact same experience a couple years ago at Folsom prison. You could have written my account word for word except that I was escorted into the "Little Gray Chapel" by the chaplain. It took three times longer than a normal service call because of the security and I got to walk through the prison exercise yard with the unarmed chaplain. I thought it best not to mention out loud that my tool cases were full of the type objects that make correctional officers extremely nervous. The poor guard who sent me through security about lost control when he saw the inside of my tool box. They asked when it should be tuned again. I changed the subject in case they were serious.


Dale Fox
Registered Piano Technician
Remanufacturing/Rebuilding
#1291416 - 10/21/09 05:22 PM Re: Pianos in prison? [Re: Dale Fox]  
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Tweedpipe Offline
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Thanks to all for your comments. I especially liked Eric's bitter-sweet Folsom tale!

Incidently my reference to 'Porridge' was with the classic BBC comedy series in mind. For those who may be unfamiliar with this, and enjoy a smile, here's a brief extract - unfortunately there's not a piano in sight.
Link here





Currently working on:-
C Major scale (r/h only - starting with the pinkie finger)......

Dear Noah,
We could have sworn you said the ark wasn't leaving till 5.
Yours sincerely,
The Unicorns



------------------------------

#1291435 - 10/21/09 05:50 PM Re: Pianos in prison? [Re: Tweedpipe]  
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M.O.P. Offline
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Ocala, Florida
Pianos in prisons are not an unusual site. We have serviced pianos in the state prison system for years. It is a chore for our technician to go in and out, as all of his equipment is checked and rechecked, and it is very time consuming. There is a guard with him at all times. Why, he even gets a few "compliments" from the inmates at the ladies prison. smile

And, as strange as this may sound, the very first Kawai vertical piano I sold was to a Federal Penitentary in Coleman, Florida. They have a music program for their inmates that are in the low risk area of the prison, and have several pianos in this successful program.



Nancy Fanzlaw
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"The piano was God's gift to music." Lou Mason

#1291565 - 10/21/09 10:08 PM Re: Pianos in prison? [Re: M.O.P.]  
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I was approached by a politician at a social event and she inquired whether I would be interested in donating a piano to the Juvenile Detention Center. I politely brushed her off and invited her to have her office call me later. They did. I'm a throw-away-the-key type but I listened to her impassioned request, and I complied with a nice used Baldwin.

I read both papers daily and was fully aware of the horrible crimes some of these kids committed. However the girl that convinced me to help, pointed out that most of the kids didn't commit violent crimes. They had crummy parents and had never sung in a choir, played little league baseball/football, joined the Scouts, done ballet, played an instrument, gone to camp and had barely gone to school. Poor role-models on top of this with a non-existent father or incarcerated. Uncles and older brothers in jail also.

The young lady professed that 90% of the kids would go on to be career criminals but they rested all their emotional energy on that 10%. A more vital and energetic sales pitch I've never ever heard.

When the kids are under 18 we still have to educate them. Maybe these ridiculous stimulous packages will have unintended consequences like reforming these kids that their parents forgot about.
Frustration abating
Mike


Owner, Kitt Fine Pianos
Albuquerque,
Hallet Davis & Co., old M&H's of course
#1292081 - 10/22/09 08:22 PM Re: Pianos in prison? [Re: MAKitt]  
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Quote
That may not seem so menacing, but some very creative things could be done with piano wire.


Indeed. Read up a bit on how Hitler & his goons dealt with some people who tried to assassinate him near the end of the war. It involved piano wire was not for the purpose of making music.


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