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New piano, better pianist!! #2735950
05/12/18 12:00 PM
05/12/18 12:00 PM
Joined: Oct 2007
Posts: 554
Columbus, GA
S
S. Phillips Offline OP
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S. Phillips  Offline OP
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Joined: Oct 2007
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Columbus, GA
I had an interesting comment from a church member this past month when we delivered a new piano to a church. The pastor and music director were so thrilled that they were getting a new piano as they had been suffering with the old one that was in awful condition.

I spoke to one of the members of the congregation about two weeks later and he said that he didn't know their pianist was "that good" until after hearing him play the new one. Their pianist is a fine musician who did his best but was hampered by the slow action and the untunability of the old piano. This reminded me of so many comments that I get from amateurs about what they expect from a piano for professional use but also for their own private use.

Tuners often hear from owners of a piano in poor condition that amateurs that don't need or deserve a good piano. Every pianist sounds better on a good instrument. They might not know it however until they play a nice piano in new or like new condition. In this case the perceived value of the church pianist's abilities were heightened by being able to do what they are trained to do. But it was interesting to hear the congregation's point of view. Wow, he is really good, "Who knew"?


Sally Phillips
Owner/ Technician
Piano Perfect, LLC
Steinway & Sons Pianos
Columbus, GA
New Steinway, Boston and Essex pianos
www.pianoperfectllc.com
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Re: New piano, better pianist!! [Re: S. Phillips] #2735955
05/12/18 12:26 PM
05/12/18 12:26 PM
Joined: May 2015
Posts: 3,048
Florida
dogperson Offline
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Hi Sally

Thanks so much for your post and I totally agree! I’m just an amateur plunker, but when I bought my ‘new to me’ piano last year I thought ‘wow, I have never sounded better‘. It is highly motivating to practice. If I would have had some preconceived idea that I had to play well to buy it, I would’ve missed the opportunity and the joy.


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
" I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho
Re: New piano, better pianist!! [Re: S. Phillips] #2735957
05/12/18 12:35 PM
05/12/18 12:35 PM
Joined: May 2018
Posts: 28
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John305 Offline
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Good story, thank you for sharing that with us.


It’s never too late to be what you might have been. -George Eliot
Re: New piano, better pianist!! [Re: S. Phillips] #2735964
05/12/18 01:03 PM
05/12/18 01:03 PM
Joined: May 2006
Posts: 4,452
Georgia, USA
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Georgia, USA
I get to judge an area scholarship competition for college-bound high school seniors who will study music. We have to narrow the field to 3-6 finalists via a preliminary, video-recorded screening round. Some of the condition of the pianos I would hear (in homes and churches) was truly shocking, a mix of poor quality instruments and even worse tuning/maintenance. It made the process of evaluating the performances and ranking the field challenging, to say the least. It also made me sad to think this was the best piano they had regular access to.


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Re: New piano, better pianist!! [Re: S. Phillips] #2735991
05/12/18 03:03 PM
05/12/18 03:03 PM
Joined: Jan 2018
Posts: 356
In the Ozarks of Missouri
NobleHouse Offline
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In the Ozarks of Missouri
Originally Posted by S. Phillips
I had an interesting comment from a church member this past month when we delivered a new piano to a church. The pastor and music director were so thrilled that they were getting a new piano as they had been suffering with the old one that was in awful condition.

I spoke to one of the members of the congregation about two weeks later and he said that he didn't know their pianist was "that good" until after hearing him play the new one. Their pianist is a fine musician who did his best but was hampered by the slow action and the untunability of the old piano. This reminded me of so many comments that I get from amateurs about what they expect from a piano for professional use but also for their own private use.

Tuners often hear from owners of a piano in poor condition that amateurs that don't need or deserve a good piano. Every pianist sounds better on a good instrument. They might not know it however until they play a nice piano in new or like new condition. In this case the perceived value of the church pianist's abilities were heightened by being able to do what they are trained to do. But it was interesting to hear the congregation's point of view. Wow, he is really good, "Who knew"?

This totally makes sense and a great post. Thank you Sally!

Re: New piano, better pianist!! [Re: S. Phillips] #2736003
05/12/18 05:02 PM
05/12/18 05:02 PM
Joined: Mar 2006
Posts: 11,779
Georgia, USA
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Georgia, USA
Very true, Sally! smile

I've learned to appreciate a nice piano. And, I've always known that a well tuned piano can make an amateur piano player/hobbyist sound better (to an extent). smile

All the best,

Rick


Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel
Re: New piano, better pianist!! [Re: S. Phillips] #2736008
05/12/18 05:25 PM
05/12/18 05:25 PM
Joined: Jun 2009
Posts: 64
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spk Offline
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A summer teacher from Eastman told me that my playing had a characteristic “upright sound” and that practice on a grand would help a lot.

I basically only had ever practiced on a not very good upright until that time.

Re: New piano, better pianist!! [Re: S. Phillips] #2736061
05/13/18 12:46 AM
05/13/18 12:46 AM
Joined: Dec 2012
Posts: 4,632
Seattle, WA USA
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Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
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Seattle, WA USA
Great anecdote Sally,
When I procured a BB M&H for our church, the music activities "exploded" at our church.


In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible.
According to NASA, 93% of the earth like planets possible in the known universe have yet to be formed.
Contact: Ed@LightHammerpiano.com
Re: New piano, better pianist!! [Re: S. Phillips] #2736323
05/14/18 09:16 AM
05/14/18 09:16 AM
Joined: Jan 2017
Posts: 342
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Thanks for sharing Sally! I know many pianists that seem to be able to make great music on any piano they touch, but I'm just not one of those types. When I set down at a piano badly out of tune, voiced poorly, or in need of major regulation, I simply start locking up, b/c I can't get the piano to respond in the way I want it to. I don't think that makes me less of a musician. My music-personality is just geared that way.

Your post made me think of a story of my own. As an adult, I had the opportunity to take some classes at a local major university in Tennessee. The instructor, as "artist-in-residence," was one of my music heros, a man named Lari Goss, who has since passed on. Lari was a fabulous, self-taught, pianist, arranger, orchestrator, and producer based in Nashville. He worked in film and television as well. He and his brothers were key in bringing more complex arrangements and orchestrations into the world of gospel music. Previously, most of that music was recorded on a very small budget with a basic rhythm section. I idolized him as a child, and later in life I met him and had the privilege to work with him on several projects. I took full advantage of every opportunity to just be near him.

Now the story. One of the classes I took was in Commercial Orchestration. As a part of the course's final project, each of us wrote a full orchestration to a song's rhythm and vocal track that had already been recorded. Then as part of the final, we took it to a studio in Nashville to listen to an orchestra record our work, usually made up of members of the "Nashville String Machine." When he presented the project to us, it made some of the students a bit nervous. Lari explained that we could not see for ourselves how good or bad our ideas were if we only heard the performed by amateurs musicians on sub-par instruments.

Re: New piano, better pianist!! [Re: S. Phillips] #2736325
05/14/18 09:37 AM
05/14/18 09:37 AM
Joined: Oct 2007
Posts: 554
Columbus, GA
S
S. Phillips Offline OP
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S. Phillips  Offline OP
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Joined: Oct 2007
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Columbus, GA
Here's another one:

Years ago I was living in a small town that was extremely proud of being one the smallest towns in the US with their own orchestra. They had the usual town committee of sweet folks who gave generously to their effort. Sadly many of the players were locals who had at one time participated in band in high school or had dabbled in music as a child. They of course had professional players that they brought in for their four performances a year who were completely adequate but who could not overcome the low level efforts of the locals who were not up to the repertoire they were trying to perform.

As a result the performances were abysmal. So for all their money and time trying to bring good music to the community, I continually heard the audience grumbling that they knew this was important but they just didn't "like classical music."

They just never heard a great orchestra with a great conductor. It was really frustrating.


Sally Phillips
Owner/ Technician
Piano Perfect, LLC
Steinway & Sons Pianos
Columbus, GA
New Steinway, Boston and Essex pianos
www.pianoperfectllc.com
Acoustic Piano Technical Consultant - Acoustic and Digital Piano Buyer
http://www.pianobuyer.com/current-issue/07a-should-i-have-my-piano-rebuilt.html
Re: New piano, better pianist!! [Re: S. Phillips] #2736342
05/14/18 11:05 AM
05/14/18 11:05 AM
Joined: Mar 2003
Posts: 3,883
Gaithersburg, MD (Washington D...
K
Keith D Kerman Offline
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Keith D Kerman  Offline
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Joined: Mar 2003
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Gaithersburg, MD (Washington D...
Originally Posted by S. Phillips
Here's another one:

Years ago I was living in a small town that was extremely proud of being one the smallest towns in the US with their own orchestra. They had the usual town committee of sweet folks who gave generously to their effort. Sadly many of the players were locals who had at one time participated in band in high school or had dabbled in music as a child. They of course had professional players that they brought in for their four performances a year who were completely adequate but who could not overcome the low level efforts of the locals who were not up to the repertoire they were trying to perform.

As a result the performances were abysmal. So for all their money and time trying to bring good music to the community, I continually heard the audience grumbling that they knew this was important but they just didn't "like classical music."

They just never heard a great orchestra with a great conductor. It was really frustrating.


Totally hear what you are saying Sally, but I bet the amateurs in the orchestra had a blast. Maybe they shouldn't have played publicly, or maybe they should have played easier music with more rehearsal time and less concerts but good for the amateurs to participate, we need more of that.


Keith D Kerman
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Re: New piano, better pianist!! [Re: S. Phillips] #2736344
05/14/18 11:19 AM
05/14/18 11:19 AM
Joined: Nov 2009
Posts: 2,776
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joe80 Offline
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This is a subject very close to my heart, since I have had to perform on some real dogs recently and it has actually caused me physical pain. Playing Rachmaninoff 3 on a piano with lots of inertia in the action is pretty much giving your forearms a blunt force trauma, and that's before we start talking about musical nuances.

The most famous pianists in the world, who are paid the most, usually have some say on the instrument they will perform on, be it from a concert bank, or be it that they fly a technician around with them. I know a technician in the UK who is often asked by pianists to prepare instruments for them as far away as Singapore.

I was speaking to someone who isn't the most famous pianist in the world, but she's certainly known by other pianists and teachers and they rank her as one of the greatest pianists living (despite the fact she hardly ever tours, her knowledge is encyclopaedic, and she plays in the old Russian style which is all but lost these days), and she was telling me that during her years in Moscow and Prague, she didn't really care what the piano was like because there was no choice but to play on what was in the venue. However, when she came to the west and she discovered what it was like to play on a properly serviced piano, she found herself becoming very sensitive to the instrument. Now she won't perform unless she knows the instrument is perfect - or at least as perfect as is possible for her preferences.

So many pianists are hampered by bad instruments. I find myself trying to teach on beat up Welmars with lost motion in the action, voicing that's like broken glass, pedals that don't work, and I'm trying to train my students to be sensitive to touch. They've got no chance between that and their piano at home that they bought on free cycle because mum and dad don't see the value in actually forking out for something decent. Yes... in every case, the parents of my pupils can afford a piano. They could actually all afford a Steinway A for the drawing room, but its just not on their radar.

Re: New piano, better pianist!! [Re: Keith D Kerman] #2736347
05/14/18 11:26 AM
05/14/18 11:26 AM
Joined: Feb 2013
Posts: 266
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Originally Posted by Keith D Kerman

Totally hear what you are saying Sally, but I bet the amateurs in the orchestra had a blast. Maybe they shouldn't have played publicly, or maybe they should have played easier music with more rehearsal time and less concerts but good for the amateurs to participate, we need more of that.


Having lived within driving distance of NYC for many years, I've been able to hear the best jazz players in the world pretty regularly. Many years ago, visiting my mother - then living in a nursing home in Indiana - she invited me to hear a performance - in the home - of a band of Shriners, whom she said were really good. OMG. But God bless 'em for coming out. Their audience seemed pretty happy.

Re: New piano, better pianist!! [Re: S. Phillips] #2736387
05/14/18 01:44 PM
05/14/18 01:44 PM
Joined: Oct 2007
Posts: 554
Columbus, GA
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S. Phillips Offline OP
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Columbus, GA
I totally agree with you Keith. It is really important that amateurs get the opportunity to perform. In the case I cited though it was during the 1970's without youtube, internet or any other access besides recordings. A good orchestra was not within driving distance for an afternoon and evening performance. I was just lucky that I once I went off to college that I got to hear really great musicians.


Sally Phillips
Owner/ Technician
Piano Perfect, LLC
Steinway & Sons Pianos
Columbus, GA
New Steinway, Boston and Essex pianos
www.pianoperfectllc.com
Acoustic Piano Technical Consultant - Acoustic and Digital Piano Buyer
http://www.pianobuyer.com/current-issue/07a-should-i-have-my-piano-rebuilt.html
Re: New piano, better pianist!! [Re: S. Phillips] #2737201
05/16/18 03:30 PM
05/16/18 03:30 PM
Joined: Mar 2018
Posts: 5
New York
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Good material, true as well!


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Re: New piano, better pianist!! [Re: S. Phillips] #2737231
05/16/18 05:29 PM
05/16/18 05:29 PM
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Posts: 262
South Wales
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I got back into 'serious' playing in 2002 on a Roland HP7e. Good enough to get me going again but I found it difficult to play fast pieces. For a long time I though it was an age thing, but when I went to replace it with an up-to-date model I realised that it was the piano that was limiting my playing ability. Now I have a Roland LX7 and yes, I am now becoming a better pianist, and not just because of the better action, but also because of the superb response and dynamic range.

If they could only improve the modelled sound and add in a bit of complexity, then these types of instruments would become 'serious' competitors to even up-market acoustics.


Roland LX7

South Wales, UK
Re: New piano, better pianist!! [Re: S. Phillips] #2737266
05/16/18 07:56 PM
05/16/18 07:56 PM
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Reseda, California
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It also works the other way around -- my same old piano sounds a lot better when a better pianist plays it.


-- J.S.

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Re: New piano, better pianist!! [Re: JohnSprung] #2737277
05/16/18 08:30 PM
05/16/18 08:30 PM
Joined: Jan 2018
Posts: 356
In the Ozarks of Missouri
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In the Ozarks of Missouri
Originally Posted by JohnSprung

It also works the other way around -- my same old piano sounds a lot better when a better pianist plays it.




Gotta love it. Sadly, mine does too!

Re: New piano, better pianist!! [Re: S. Phillips] #2737279
05/16/18 08:39 PM
05/16/18 08:39 PM
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And it works another way round too grin.

When I first started playing an ancient six-foot C.Bechstein (85 keys, circa 1900, a sort of 'parlour grand'?) in a lecture hall some seven years ago, it hadn't been tuned or regulated for some time. The action was distinctly uneven, but I was used to far worse over the decades when I didn't have access to any decent pianos. I was told that it was only ever played once or twice a year, during an annual charity concert by a nearby school, and occasionally at Christmas.

But soon after I started playing a monthly recital of classical music on it (at the hosts' invitation), I noticed that it was given a more regular tuning, and then, eventually, an overhaul in its regulation. Its action is now smooth and even, and I'm able to play stuff like Ravel's Ondine and Scarlatti's Sonata Kk141 (with fast repeated notes) on it without problems. In fact, because its action is lighter and more shallow than that of modern grands, it's actually easier to execute rapid filigree runs and repeated notes and chords on it thumb.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: New piano, better pianist!! [Re: S. Phillips] #2737288
05/16/18 10:23 PM
05/16/18 10:23 PM
Joined: Jul 2001
Posts: 15,347
Surrey, B.C.
Norbert Offline
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Quote
So many pianists are hampered by bad instruments.


This, to my own great surprise, is often self-inflicted.
Yet when judging others' pianos, its often exactly those folks who are the most critical...

Norbert


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