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Practicing on upright pianos #2744406
06/14/18 01:15 PM
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Vilhelm Moqvist Offline OP
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Unfortunately, since grand pianos are very expensive I only have an upright at home. My question is: Do you think practicing on uprights affect how pianists play? And in that case, in what way? And do you think it is important to have a grand piano?

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Re: Practicing on upright pianos [Re: Vilhelm Moqvist] #2744409
06/14/18 01:22 PM
06/14/18 01:22 PM
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When you think of the number of advanced pianists as well as professionals who have little choice but to practice on an upright because that's all they can afford and/or have room for, I don't think that a grand is essential to developing as a pianist. More important, I think, is that the upright is well-maintained at its optimal potential as much as possible.

Yes, one should have the experience of playing on a grand and some of us are very lucky to have a good grand in our home, but many pianists have advanced without one.

Regards,


BruceD
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Re: Practicing on upright pianos [Re: BruceD] #2744420
06/14/18 01:53 PM
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Vilhelm Moqvist Offline OP
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Originally Posted by BruceD
When you think of the number of advanced pianists as well as professionals who have little choice but to practice on an upright because that's all they can afford and/or have room for, I don't think that a grand is essential to developing as a pianist. More important, I think, is that the upright is well-maintained at its optimal potential as much as possible.

Yes, one should have the experience of playing on a grand and some of us are very lucky to have a good grand in our home, but many pianists have advanced without one.

Regards,

Thank you for your reply! I have got the impression that an upright would slow down the learning progress as a pianist but I might be very wrong. Thanks again!

Re: Practicing on upright pianos [Re: Vilhelm Moqvist] #2744422
06/14/18 02:05 PM
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I never played on a grand for 8 years until after Grade 8 (the highest grade in ABRSM), when my new teacher had two grands in his home, where I went for my lessons while at university, after finishing high school.

But I was still practicing on uprights in the university's Music Department, and succeeded in obtaining my performance diploma two years later.


"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."
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Re: Practicing on upright pianos [Re: BruceD] #2744441
06/14/18 03:26 PM
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With very few exceptions, pianists (including most professionals) often have to deal with all sorts of unpleasant surprises when playing on pianos that aren't our own, including grands. I think that practicing on exclusively a pristine grand would turn me off to playing almost anywhere else.

I do feel that it helps my playing to use a grand occassionally, and then transfer that feeling elsewhere. There's still a good deal of sensitivity that can be squeezed out of most "lesser" instruments.



Beethoven - Piano Sonata, op. 101
Bartok - Piano Sonata
Re: Practicing on upright pianos [Re: Vilhelm Moqvist] #2744449
06/14/18 04:05 PM
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Hi, Vilhelm Movquist! I agree with what has been said, but, being as good a pianist as you are, I would make judicious choices concerning the capability of your upright to withstand the repertoire. If your upright is a console, for example, I would be optimistic that it could handle the demands of Liszt, Rachmaninoff, Schumann, Beethoven, prokofiev, etc -- much of which is punishing when played at full tilt. If your upright is a spinet, I would be more cautious. And I would agree with BruceD that you should get to know a good tuner/regulator, one who can keep the instrument in fit repair. I myself had a Yamaha upright console for many years, and it endured my considerable poundings for many years.

Re: Practicing on upright pianos [Re: Vilhelm Moqvist] #2744452
06/14/18 04:17 PM
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Dummy keyboards : After 60 years of practising, I happenstanced across a workstation with a missing power cable, which didn't make any sounds (obviously!)

I've found that this has been the best instrument I've practised on in years, as I have to imagine every single note that it makes, and I don't get much feedback from the unweighted keys as they are a bit like playing blancmange.

I'm not saying that it works for everything, but to those who have achieved a reasonable standard, it does concentrate the mind in new ways ...


The English may not like music much, but they love the sound it makes ... Beecham
Re: Practicing on upright pianos [Re: Vilhelm Moqvist] #2744456
06/14/18 04:23 PM
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I think practicing on a grand makes a difference. Not so much in dynamic range or rate of repetition, but more in the tone. I think that one phrases and articulates differently when one hears the longer sustain of the grand piano. Obviously plenty of people do fine learning on an upright, but I think it would be difficult to disagree that a grand would be more optimal.

A conservatory teacher told me she could tell I practiced on an upright by my tone.

Re: Practicing on upright pianos [Re: BruceD] #2744675
06/15/18 12:04 PM
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Originally Posted by BruceD
When you think of the number of advanced pianists as well as professionals who have little choice but to practice on an upright because that's all they can afford and/or have room for, I don't think that a grand is essential to developing as a pianist. More important, I think, is that the upright is well-maintained at its optimal potential as much as possible.

Yes, one should have the experience of playing on a grand and some of us are very lucky to have a good grand in our home, but many pianists have advanced without one.

Regards,


That's the irony of it all. The best pianists can't afford the best pianos, and the best pianos aren't owned by the best pianists.


The English may not like music much, but they love the sound it makes ... Beecham
Re: Practicing on upright pianos [Re: mp15] #2744681
06/15/18 12:36 PM
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Originally Posted by mp15
With very few exceptions, pianists (including most professionals) often have to deal with all sorts of unpleasant surprises when playing on pianos that aren't our own, including grands. I think that practicing on exclusively a pristine grand would turn me off to playing almost anywhere else.


Yes, but playing regularly on a well-maintained, responsive instruments helps develop the ear and fingers, and the ability to adapt to different pianos and acoustic environments.

With each upgrade, going from my childhood Yamaha upright to a grand, then a Steinway grand, then a Steinway semi-concert grand, then... better pianos taught me what is possible, and expanded the gamut of expressions I seek. They certainly made me listen with more focus, and adapt better in performance.

It is indeed a "disappointment" at performances on the hall pianos, knowing so much more would have been possible with what I consider the third best piano I've encountered in my life that's in my living room.

Re: Practicing on upright pianos [Re: Ken Iisaka] #2744707
06/15/18 03:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Ken Iisaka

Yes, but playing regularly on a well-maintained, responsive instruments helps develop the ear and fingers, and the ability to adapt to different pianos and acoustic environments..


No, no - playing on different pianos is what develops the ability to play on different pianos and in different environments. I had that experience when I was young but for the last 20 years or so I haven't until this week when I had the chance to play for a couple of mornings on a lot of different pianos. Result was that by the end of it I was back to playing on different pianos without being thrown by either the differences in the pianos or the actual situations.

Last edited by Colin Miles; 06/15/18 03:12 PM. Reason: corrections

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Re: Practicing on upright pianos [Re: Vilhelm Moqvist] #2744735
06/15/18 06:02 PM
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The main advantage of practicing on a good grand for non pros is the much greater pleasure in terms of the sound and action responsiveness.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 06/15/18 06:02 PM.
Re: Practicing on upright pianos [Re: Ken Iisaka] #2744745
06/15/18 07:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Ken Iisaka
....It is indeed a "disappointment" at performances on the hall pianos, knowing so much more would have been possible with what I consider the third best piano I've encountered in my life that's in my living room.

(Hey there, Ken!) [Linked Image]

Gives a nice idea for a new thread....

Re: Practicing on upright pianos [Re: Vilhelm Moqvist] #2744780
06/15/18 11:47 PM
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There have been uprights that I have enjoyed playing, and grands that were not very good.


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Re: Practicing on upright pianos [Re: BDB] #2744834
06/16/18 08:54 AM
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Originally Posted by BDB
There have been uprights that I have enjoyed playing, and grands that were not very good.


So true! I have had the same experiences.

Re: Practicing on upright pianos [Re: Colin Miles] #2745862
06/20/18 01:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Colin Miles
Originally Posted by Ken Iisaka

Yes, but playing regularly on a well-maintained, responsive instruments helps develop the ear and fingers, and the ability to adapt to different pianos and acoustic environments..


No, no - playing on different pianos is what develops the ability to play on different pianos and in different environments.


Sure, playing on different pianos in different environments too is important, but without developing the technical ability to compensate for different environments, one could play the same way no matter what the instrument or the acoustic environment may be, too.

Re: Practicing on upright pianos [Re: Ken Iisaka] #2745920
06/20/18 05:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Ken Iisaka
Originally Posted by Colin Miles
Originally Posted by Ken Iisaka

Yes, but playing regularly on a well-maintained, responsive instruments helps develop the ear and fingers, and the ability to adapt to different pianos and acoustic environments..


No, no - playing on different pianos is what develops the ability to play on different pianos and in different environments.


Sure, playing on different pianos in different environments too is important, but without developing the technical ability to compensate for different environments, one could play the same way no matter what the instrument or the acoustic environment may be, too.


I appreciate what you are saying but I think you would find it very difficult to play the same way on different pianos, especially where the actions are quite different. Different pianos will help you develop your technique or at least show you what you need to work on.


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Re: Practicing on upright pianos [Re: spk] #2746467
06/23/18 05:25 AM
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Originally Posted by spk


A conservatory teacher told me she could tell I practiced on an upright by my tone.


I'm not sayingwhat she says isn't true but if she said that to every student she had there was probably a 99% chance of being right.

While it is silly to pay someone to impart their knowledge, experience and wisdom to you and then ignore them, that doesn't make everything they say right.

I wonder if she could she tell if a bad pianist practiced on a good grand.....

Re: Practicing on upright pianos [Re: Vilhelm Moqvist] #2746487
06/23/18 07:55 AM
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This is a really interesting discussion and I agree with everyone, which basically means I think there is no wrong or right answer about this.

My 2 cents, from a sheerly amateur perspective.

I am fortunate enough to have both a grand (an Estonia 190) and an upright (Baldwin Concert Vertical). The latter I only recently got back after it was loaned out after I bought the Estonia 10 years ago. Now able to go from one to the other, I've discovered that there are passages that I have struggled with for months on the Estonia (see my thread about the Chopin Nocturne Op27, 2) that I can play with relative ease on the Baldwin. So there is that.

Of course I purchased the Estonia for a reason - to hear more, or maybe more accurately, to hear more differently. I can't say that it revolutionized my playing as much as it enhanced it. I still love playing the Baldwin. As do I enjoy play a friend's Kawai KU-10. Those people talking about tone are correct. But in my opinion that is more icing than cake.

There is a story about how Ravel and a friend used to travel around France finding terrible pianos on which to play Chopin Nocturnes. I love this idea because it reminds me that beautiful music doesn't need a fancy instrument to come through. That is, half the experience is in your head. While I'm sure that Chopin would luxuriate on playing a modern day Fazioli, remember, he didn't create his music on an instrument with nearly as much nuance as most any modern grand piano, and probably many uprights too.
.

Re: Practicing on upright pianos [Re: toyboy] #2746489
06/23/18 08:27 AM
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Originally Posted by toyboy
I've discovered that there are passages that I have struggled with for months on the Estonia (see my thread about the Chopin Nocturne Op27, 2) that I can play with relative ease on the Baldwin.
Why do you think is the case? Something different about the touch?

Originally Posted by toyboy
While I'm sure that Chopin would luxuriate on playing a modern day Fazioli, remember, he didn't create his music on an instrument with nearly as much nuance as most any modern grand piano, and probably many uprights too.
While I definitely prefer the sound of modern pianos, I'm not sure one can say they have more nuance. Maybe this depends on what means by that word.

Re: Practicing on upright pianos [Re: pianoloverus] #2746504
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"Why do you think is the case? Something different about the touch?"

Yes. I'm like the princess and the pea. I bought the Estonia because I liked the lightness of the touch. Then at some point I didn't and I had my technician adjust it to be lighter [long story here]. I don't know if the Baldwin is lighter, or the throw of the hammers is shorter, or sometimes I think there is some sort of "leverage" or gravity thing going on (hammers going horizontal vs vertical) but I can play that fast passage much easier on the Baldwin.

I've also come to think of pianos so full of memory that you come to them differently. Having this Baldwin back has a whole other emotional "thing" for me. Hard to explain. But even after having the Estonia for 10 years, I feel less intimidated by the Baldwin. Maybe because I revere the Estonia so much?

"While I definitely prefer the sound of modern pianos, I'm not sure one can say they have more nuance. Maybe this depends on what means by that word."

I don't know what other word to use. smile

Re: Practicing on upright pianos [Re: Vilhelm Moqvist] #2746527
06/23/18 12:21 PM
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The 1 difference that the piano performer / teacher Robert Estrin talked about in his online video are "trills". Otherwise grand pianos have a much bigger volume of sound meant for a big room or a concert hall. You may also find the sustain foot pedals more responsive on a grand piano because you have more sound to begin with.
Unless you are playing fast trills a lot, most who play at an intermediate level won't notice much of a difference. The reason has to do with the hammers striking the strings vertically in a concert grand. When you play trills, you can get a faster response because the hammers get pulled by the weight of gravity and will hit a piano string a fraction of a faster after a key is pressed. In an upright, the hammers strike the strings horizontally giving a slower action. A fraction of a second may not be a big deal but when playing fast trills, you can alternate between notes more times with a grand piano.

Re: Practicing on upright pianos [Re: thepianoplayer416] #2746535
06/23/18 01:08 PM
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ha! i was just saying the opposite in my comment before yours. technically speaking, on a grand, gravity works with you when the hammers pull away from the strings, but against you when you want them to hit the keys. on an upright, that is even, or more even. but it's an impossible thing to compare, piano to piano. and the geometry and science of it doesn't mean that equates to the feeling of it.

i think it probably more depends on the action of the grand. no? there are heavy grands and light grands.

Re: Practicing on upright pianos [Re: thepianoplayer416] #2746560
06/23/18 03:22 PM
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Originally Posted by thepianoplayer416
Unless you are playing fast trills a lot, most who play at an intermediate level won't notice much of a difference. The reason has to do with the hammers striking the strings vertically in a concert grand. When you play trills, you can get a faster response because the hammers get pulled by the weight of gravity and will hit a piano string a fraction of a faster after a key is pressed. In an upright, the hammers strike the strings horizontally giving a slower action. A fraction of a second may not be a big deal but when playing fast trills, you can alternate between notes more times with a grand piano.
The action of gravity is on the way down... after the note is struck. Trills are easier on a grand because of the repetition mechanism that is present on grands but not generally on verticals.

Re: Practicing on upright pianos [Re: pianoloverus] #2746567
06/23/18 03:58 PM
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[/quote]The action of gravity is on the way down... after the note is struck. Trills are easier on a grand because of the repetition mechanism that is present on grands but not generally on verticals.
[/quote]

Where is that "repetition mechanism" located on a grand piano?


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Re: Practicing on upright pianos [Re: Lakeviewsteve] #2746589
06/23/18 06:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Lakeviewsteve
The action of gravity is on the way down... after the note is struck. Trills are easier on a grand because of the repetition mechanism that is present on grands but not generally on verticals.
[/quote]

Where is that "repetition mechanism" located on a grand piano? [/quote]
http://www.piano.christophersmit.com/repetitionMech.html

Re: Practicing on upright pianos [Re: Vilhelm Moqvist] #2746613
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Originally Posted by Vilhelm Moqvist
Unfortunately, since grand pianos are very expensive I only have an upright at home. My question is: Do you think practicing on uprights affect how pianists play? And in that case, in what way? And do you think it is important to have a grand piano?


I do think it's important to have a grand piano. You will develop better touch and tone. Of course there's the cost and space factor. I had an upright for almost 9 years before finally getting a grand. I simply didn't have space in a very small apartment for even a baby grand. Is it necessary? No. One can also learn on a good digital and pass ABRSM, etc., but at some point, you will notice that you will want the action and sound only an acoustic grand can produce.


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Re: Practicing on upright pianos [Re: Vilhelm Moqvist] #2746615
06/23/18 09:25 PM
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Not apropos of anything.....well maybe it is. Or maybe all it means is that at age 15 I didn't know anything. Not that it's necessarily different now. grin

We always had a piano when I was growing up. It was an upright, not a real good one but OK (the brand was Starr). But after a while I guess it started breaking down -- keys started breaking.

I asked for a new piano, and for a while around that time we went through a hard financial time so it wasn't possible. But my folks promised that when possible, they'd get a new piano, and it would be a grand.

I loved the Sohmer brand because that was the piano in my school's auditorium and I thought it was wonderful. (I did have the chance to play on it many times.) So, when the time came, we went to the Sohmer factory, which wasn't far from where we lived, for the long-awaited happy moment to pick out a grand piano.

I tried several and liked them all pretty much. But then I saw an upright that was different from any I'd seen before -- a bit taller. I tried it, and it blew me away. At that time I didn't know about the theoretical and structural advantages and differences between grands and uprights, just that grands were "better," and of course that they looked a lot cooler. But the main thing I knew was just how I thought a piano felt and sounded.

I liked that upright even more than the grands. After many months of pining after a new piano and being so thrilled that it would even be a grand, I picked the upright.

I still remember the prices of those pianos. (These numbers might make you sick when you consider them in comparison to now.) ha
The grands were $1900. The upright was $800.
Besides having gotten a piano I loved, I felt very virtuous for having saved us $1100. grin

Re: Practicing on upright pianos [Re: ghostwind] #2746616
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But the difference between the tone and response of a digital and an acoustic are much greater than the difference between an upright and a grand acoustic.


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Re: Practicing on upright pianos [Re: BDB] #2746620
06/23/18 09:45 PM
06/23/18 09:45 PM
Joined: Mar 2011
Posts: 119
USA
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ghostwind Offline
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ghostwind  Offline
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Joined: Mar 2011
Posts: 119
USA
Originally Posted by BDB
But the difference between the tone and response of a digital and an acoustic are much greater than the difference between an upright and a grand acoustic.


Yes, though some like the Yamaha N series have a better action than most uprights, and that's important. My point was that I don't think a good digital or an upright will impair anyone from learning, but that an acoustic grand will be better. I read Mark's post, and I have heard of others finding a special upright that spoke to them, but I never did. Sound wise, yes, but the action just never felt as good - how could it?


2017 Boston GP-163 PE II
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