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Yet another NY Times Piece
#3045200 11/12/20 11:15 AM
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Re: Yet another NY Times Piece
tend to rush #3045206 11/12/20 11:38 AM
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Cool, thanks for the heads up!


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Re: Yet another NY Times Piece
tend to rush #3045209 11/12/20 11:59 AM
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Interesting article, but he didn't offer any theories why pianist don't understand much about pianos. Perhaps part of the answer is that regulating and voicing a piano are very complex. Are there even comparable tasks for the other instruments in the orchestra?

Last edited by pianoloverus; 11/12/20 12:01 PM.
Re: Yet another NY Times Piece
pianoloverus #3045216 11/12/20 12:26 PM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Interesting article, but he didn't offer any theories why pianist don't understand much about pianos. Perhaps part of the answer is that regulating and voicing a piano are very complex. Are there even comparable tasks for the other instruments in the orchestra?

Learning to tune is a lot of work and in the days when pianos were in every parlor, the profession of piano tuner became common. Remains to be seen if that remains the case. If there become fewer tuner/techs, players may be forced to learn more than in the past.

Re: Yet another NY Times Piece
pianoloverus #3045253 11/12/20 02:42 PM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Interesting article, but he didn't offer any theories why pianist don't understand much about pianos.

This is only anectdotal evidence, but from my conservatory days I can definitely say that I haven't met one single piano technician. They all tuned the pianos before or after regular opening times, never held a lecture or had any other communication with the student bodies.

And none of the professors I worked with had any idea about the innards of the piano, none of them has ever had a tuning hammer in his hand and frankly, most weren't even interested, because either they only taught - and the pianos were good enough for that, or they played concerts and worked with nicely prepared concert grands.

It should be a mandatory part of a pianist's and piano teacher's curriculum to be taught the basic things i.e. tuning unisons, regulation of the escapement and at least what makes a hammer do what it does and how one can manipulate the sound. Most pianists can't even describe what they dislike in a piano on stage and make it really difficult for a concert technician to do what they may actually want.

Re: Yet another NY Times Piece
tend to rush #3045261 11/12/20 03:16 PM
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If you're familiar with fixing everyday things that are held together with screws, or successfully assembled IKEA furniture, then simple piano adjustments should be within your reach. First, watch your tech when he or she pulls your action. It's really very simple. You can do it yourself, so long as you can handle the weight of the action. Then, watch what your tech does. Again, it's often a matter of adjusting screws of some sort.

In my case, the first time I saw my action pulled was when the tech came and adjusted all the dampers to delay the timing. I noticed that all it involved was unscrewing the screw that held the damper wire, moving the damper up a little, then tightening the screw again. As I watched her go from damper to damper, I swore I saw her miss tightening one. But, I figured she would catch it before she was finished. After she was done and left, I played the piano and on one note the damper would not lift. Immediately I knew that was the damper screw that she didn't tighten. Rather than call her back for what I knew had to be an easy fix, I pulled the action as she did so I could tighten the screw on the offending damper. However, after pulling the action, I noticed a block of wood with a bolt in it that was sitting deep inside the piano. It wasn't attached to anything so I pulled it out. Turns out the tech left her damper height jig in my piano. Luckily it didn't bind on anything when the action was reinstalled.

I tightened the damper screw, which solved the problem with that one note, but then I noticed all my dampers were lifting too late for my liking. Instead of scheduling another visit and living with late dampers for several days, I simply pulled the action again and reset the dampers with her jig. That is the last time I called a tech for a regulation issue.

Moral of the story: watch what your tech does and learn to do the easy fixes yourself. You can save yourself time and money, and it makes you appreciate your piano that much more.


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Re: Yet another NY Times Piece
Emery Wang #3045284 11/12/20 04:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Emery Wang
If you're familiar with fixing everyday things that are held together with screws, or successfully assembled IKEA furniture, then simple piano adjustments should be within your reach. First, watch your tech when he or she pulls your action. It's really very simple. You can do it yourself, so long as you can handle the weight of the action. Then, watch what your tech does. Again, it's often a matter of adjusting screws of some sort.

In my case, the first time I saw my action pulled was when the tech came and adjusted all the dampers to delay the timing. I noticed that all it involved was unscrewing the screw that held the damper wire, moving the damper up a little, then tightening the screw again. As I watched her go from damper to damper, I swore I saw her miss tightening one. But, I figured she would catch it before she was finished. After she was done and left, I played the piano and on one note the damper would not lift. Immediately I knew that was the damper screw that she didn't tighten. Rather than call her back for what I knew had to be an easy fix, I pulled the action as she did so I could tighten the screw on the offending damper. However, after pulling the action, I noticed a block of wood with a bolt in it that was sitting deep inside the piano. It wasn't attached to anything so I pulled it out. Turns out the tech left her damper height jig in my piano. Luckily it didn't bind on anything when the action was reinstalled.

I tightened the damper screw, which solved the problem with that one note, but then I noticed all my dampers were lifting too late for my liking. Instead of scheduling another visit and living with late dampers for several days, I simply pulled the action again and reset the dampers with her jig. That is the last time I called a tech for a regulation issue.

Moral of the story: watch what your tech does and learn to do the easy fixes yourself. You can save yourself time and money, and it makes you appreciate your piano that much more.
I think doing almost any work on a piano is light years beyond assembling furniture.

Re: Yet another NY Times Piece
tend to rush #3045300 11/12/20 05:49 PM
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It would certainly be helpful for pianists to have college coursework on the primary elements of piano design & function. If I could, I would teach each customer how to safely remove their grand action or remove top and bottom panels on an upright to at least be able to fish out a pencil that falls in. But beyond that, only pianists with a genuine interest in maintenance need to take it further.

I also think checking fluids and changing a tire should be part of any driving test, but that's another story.


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Re: Yet another NY Times Piece
tend to rush #3045304 11/12/20 05:54 PM
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Don't sell yourself short pianolover. If I can do it... but it helps to have a cheap piano like I originally did, it makes you more bold. If you have a very expensive piano, I'd be more nervous at first. But seriously, watch your tech. The trick is knowing what to adjust, and what affects what. But the mechanics of it once you've identified the part is usually rather simple.

That being said, a good tech will be light years beyond what we mere mortals can accomplish. But there are also a lot of not-so-good techs out there that do sloppy work (like the tech in my example). Nobody loves your piano like you do, so with enough caution and care, I think the average pianist can do a lot.


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Re: Yet another NY Times Piece
pianoloverus #3045306 11/12/20 05:58 PM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Interesting article, but he didn't offer any theories why pianist don't understand much about pianos. Perhaps part of the answer is that regulating and voicing a piano are very complex. Are there even comparable tasks for the other instruments in the orchestra?

I think that it is very true that tuning and maintaining a piano is far, far beyond what other instrumentalists need to do to keep their instruments in good performance condition.

I have also read that in many - if not most conservatories and music schools - piano maintenance is not even hinted at let alone covered in any course work. That is probably why pianists are woefully uninformed about understanding the complexities of piano maintenance.

That said, there may be certain music schools where such courses are an option, but I don't believe, from what I have read, that such courses are generally part and parcel of a performance degree in piano. Maintenance aside, I think that many pianists don't even know anything about piano mechanics, that is, how a piano works.

It might also be true that learning the maintenance of a flute, clarinet, violin, tuba or kazoo could be covered in one or two lessons, while learning how to maintain a piano could be a semester-long course in itself.

Regards


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Re: Yet another NY Times Piece
tend to rush #3045309 11/12/20 06:02 PM
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I'm so proud for not being one of them...


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Re: Yet another NY Times Piece
tend to rush #3045318 11/12/20 06:23 PM
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Both the conservatory I attended and the large university where I earned my doctoral degree had courses in piano technology, and full time technicians who had an office and workspace in the building...many piano majors got to know them. The conservatory even had a graduate teaching assistantship in piano technology (but I don’t know if that’s the case now).


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Re: Yet another NY Times Piece
tend to rush #3045324 11/12/20 07:15 PM
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Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think Steve Cohen has posted that he used to do seminars or workshops at local universities.

I think the resources are there, whether it's as simple as buying a good book and a tuning hammer, or finding your campus' tech and asking to tag along (the tech at my university offers to let me tag along any time I want to), or joining the PTG, etc.

I'm going to rock the boat a bit here and suggest that the reason most people know so little is simply because they don't want to.


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Re: Yet another NY Times Piece
Retsacnal #3045326 11/12/20 07:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Retsacnal
[...]
I'm going to rock the boat a bit here and suggest that the reason most people know so little is simply because they don't want to.

I am sure that there is some truth to that.

Regards,


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Re: Yet another NY Times Piece
BruceD #3045329 11/12/20 07:29 PM
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Originally Posted by BruceD
It might also be true that learning the maintenance of a flute, clarinet, violin, tuba or kazoo could be covered in one or two lessons, while learning how to maintain a piano could be a semester-long course in itself.
The training at a top piano tech school would be more like a full year with not just one but all courses devoted to piano technology.

Re: Yet another NY Times Piece
pianoloverus #3045342 11/12/20 08:41 PM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by BruceD
It might also be true that learning the maintenance of a flute, clarinet, violin, tuba or kazoo could be covered in one or two lessons, while learning how to maintain a piano could be a semester-long course in itself.
The training at a top piano tech school would be more like a full year with not just one but all courses devoted to piano technology.

Yeah! I think basic piano tuning could probably be a one-semester course, but overall piano maintenance would be much more comprehensive. I believe the program at North Bennett Street School is a year long, with a second year for more advanced studies. I think the Oscar-Walcker-Schule in Ludwigsburg, Germany has a very comprehensive curriculum too. By odd coincidence, I spent a year in high school in Ludwigsburg, but a different school (obviously).


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Re: Yet another NY Times Piece
pianoloverus #3045352 11/12/20 09:37 PM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
]The training at a top piano tech school would be more like a full year with not just one but all courses devoted to piano technology.

It's going to be two years of full day training with master technicians plus piano lessons, instrument history, music history, music theory, technical acoustics and a lot more.

Plus four internships at a piano factory and local stores with a concert department. Add masterclasses of other renowned concert technicians and a venue that holds concert grands of all major brands to train on to and a workshop that has everything to tune, regulate and voice a concert grand, all under the supervision of a renowned expert concert technician.

That's my plan. Completely vendor independent, of course.

Re: Yet another NY Times Piece
OE1FEU #3045386 11/13/20 12:10 AM
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Originally Posted by OE1FEU
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
]The training at a top piano tech school would be more like a full year with not just one but all courses devoted to piano technology.

It's going to be two years of full day training with master technicians plus piano lessons, instrument history, music history, music theory, technical acoustics and a lot more.

Plus four internships at a piano factory and local stores with a concert department. Add masterclasses of other renowned concert technicians and a venue that holds concert grands of all major brands to train on to and a workshop that has everything to tune, regulate and voice a concert grand, all under the supervision of a renowned expert concert technician.

That's my plan. Completely vendor independent, of course.

That would be quite a program! thumb


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Re: Yet another NY Times Piece
tend to rush #3045412 11/13/20 05:29 AM
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Some people are not very good at dealing with DIY and tools, and are not to be trusted with repairs and maintenance, and I perfectly understand this. It is like theorists in physics, like Einstein, who was hopeless at experiments.

But Einstein knew everything about the mechanics of how theory worked, even if he let others do the dirty work. I think it is unforgivable that pianists ignore the design and physical workings of their pianos.

Either it is dumb unability in terms of science and technology, like we often see in university philosophy or litterature departments (to the great detriment of their output, like C P Snow used to deplore in the "Two Cultures"), or arrogance in believing that mundane mechanics is below the calling of their "Art".

In reality, the true artists in music, which are the composers, not the performers, generally had a deep understanding of technology, starting with JSB's friendship with Silbermann.



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Re: Yet another NY Times Piece
Vikendios #3045443 11/13/20 07:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Vikendios
In reality, the true artists in music, ... are the composers, not the performers.

Wow! I am speechless with such a grand statement like this. Should we, perhaps, ask for some evidence to back it up (unlikely) or call for an independent and totally objective judge (impossible)?

Well, as with almost anything related to "Art" (whatever this may really be), "cosí è se vi pare". smile


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