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Page 1 of 2 1 2
kids pounding on the keys #624242
12/16/05 01:45 PM
12/16/05 01:45 PM
Joined: Nov 2005
Posts: 1,597
Mo.
sarabande Offline OP
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Mo.
I was wondering can kids or 'young students' "pound" too hard on the keys and cause damage?

I had my students over for a little "Christmas Piano Party." Some of them got a little carried away playing the keys awfully hard just being goofy. My piano is out of tune and the pounding caused some of the keys to stick although we got them all "unstuck". Also at people's homes I've heard people after their kids for "pounding" too hard on the piano as if it will ruin it, maybe with a fist or open fingers but really hard.

Is it a myth that kids "pounding" too hard on the piano will damage it in some way or is there some truth to it?

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Re: kids pounding on the keys #624243
12/16/05 03:26 PM
12/16/05 03:26 PM
Joined: Sep 2004
Posts: 1,046
San Francisco Area
Casalborgone Offline
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It's not a myth; pounding on a piano can do damage. The damage also depends on the age, quality and condition of the piano. It's not hard to break action parts in an older, more fragile piano by pounding.


Mike
Registered Piano Technician
Member Piano Technicians Guild
Not currently working in the piano trade.
Re: kids pounding on the keys #624244
12/16/05 04:03 PM
12/16/05 04:03 PM
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Oakland
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BDB Offline
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A strong adult player will hit the piano keys harder than any child. The only parts which are at risk are the keytops, which can be chipped by a glancing blow, or hitting with toys or other hard objects. A good tuner will be able to set the strings so that it will not go out of tune. If keys stick, that is a problem that should be taken care of anyway.

Teach the kids to hit the keys properly, and don't worry about pounding.


Semipro Tech
Re: kids pounding on the keys #624245
12/16/05 04:50 PM
12/16/05 04:50 PM
Joined: Feb 2002
Posts: 1,930
El Cajon, CA
88Key_PianoPlayer Offline
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The worst I've done to my 92-year-old upright is break about 3 (at different times) less-than-2-year-old bass strings, by playing quadruple fortissimo.


Associate Member - Piano Technicians Guild
1950 (#144211) Baldwin Hamilton
1956 (#167714) Baldwin Hamilton
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Re: kids pounding on the keys #624246
12/16/05 05:04 PM
12/16/05 05:04 PM
Joined: Sep 2004
Posts: 1,046
San Francisco Area
Casalborgone Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by 88Key_PianoPlayer:
The worst I've done to my 92-year-old upright is break about 3 (at different times) less-than-2-year-old bass strings, by playing quadruple fortissimo.
I was going to mention string breakage, but that usually happens with adults who try to get too much sound out of a piano that has hammers that need work.

True, kids can't play nearly as forcefully as adults, but their "pounding" on keys can easily apply forces at angles which keys and their bushings are not designed to support. This can deform the key wood which supports the key bushings and can break keys, especially at the balance rail pin.


Mike
Registered Piano Technician
Member Piano Technicians Guild
Not currently working in the piano trade.
Re: kids pounding on the keys #624247
12/16/05 05:53 PM
12/16/05 05:53 PM
Joined: Aug 2005
Posts: 141
Morgan Hill, CA
R Barber Offline
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Morgan Hill, CA
The worst thing you could do is discourage a child away from the piano. What you are seeing are potential Beethovens.
You should be more concerned with possible lacerations caused by keytop irregularities.

I have a scar from a chipped ivory.

If a piano can't handle fortississississimo playing, it should be euthanized or overhauled. YMMV.


Richard Barber, piano technician
Santa Clara Valley, CA
tune@pianoregulation.com
Re: kids pounding on the keys #624248
12/16/05 06:15 PM
12/16/05 06:15 PM
Joined: Nov 2005
Posts: 1,597
Mo.
sarabande Offline OP
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Mo.
Thanks for the replies. It's a Kawai CX-5H I bought new but it's about 10 yrs. old now. I'm embarrassed but can't remember if it's called an upright or console.

Anyway, my students and kids I don't think really had banged it with anything other than their hands positioned the same way as when playing or maybe a fist a time or two. I realize the keys sticking wasn't from that but it didn't help matters. I'm going to get it tuned in Jan. At least the keys sticking scared them enough into thinking their banging did something to it. I've also just heard kids say things like, "our grandma won't let us goof around on her piano because she's afraid we'll ruin something" or something to that effect.

Re: kids pounding on the keys #624249
12/16/05 07:37 PM
12/16/05 07:37 PM
Joined: Jun 2001
Posts: 4,827
USA
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Bob Offline
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If they hit the keys at an angle, that could have damaged the front key bushing, causing the sticking. See if any of the keys wiggle from side to side enough to hit the adjacent key. If so, the bushing was damaged and will need repair. The wood of the black keys can actually split at the fron bushing.

I use a key banger when I tune, which hits the key harder than anyone playing can. Even with that, I rarely break parts on a 10 year old piano. I don't use the banger on very old pianos.




Re: kids pounding on the keys #624250
12/16/05 07:43 PM
12/16/05 07:43 PM
Joined: Feb 2002
Posts: 1,930
El Cajon, CA
88Key_PianoPlayer Offline
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El Cajon, CA
Casalborgne, yes, my hammers DESPERATELY need work. The grooves in the hammers, shall we say, are deeper (in the bass, for example) than the strings are thick, and if I was to file enough felt off to eliminate the grooves, the felt would be thinner than the strings.

I'm on the lookout for a preferably larger (mine is 56" tall) piano built between 1890 and 1930 or so (newer ones are smaller) piano in better condition (although that's for another topic which I'll probably post sometime - I'm still trying to figure out what I'm going to say in that topic.)

As far as "trying to get more sound" out of my piano, when I pound the bass notes as hard as I can, it's still 40dB too quiet, and the sustain is way too short (I can understand sustain being short because of pounding, but when I play at a normal volume, I want the lowest octave or so to decay no faster than 2dB every 5 seconds or so.)


Associate Member - Piano Technicians Guild
1950 (#144211) Baldwin Hamilton
1956 (#167714) Baldwin Hamilton
You can right-click my avatar for an option to view a larger version.
Re: kids pounding on the keys #624251
12/16/05 09:17 PM
12/16/05 09:17 PM
Joined: Oct 2005
Posts: 79
Apison, TN
Orgelquaeler Offline
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Posts: 79
Apison, TN
Quote
Originally posted by 88Key_PianoPlayer:
As far as "trying to get more sound" out of my piano, when I pound the bass notes as hard as I can, it's still 40dB too quiet, and the sustain is way too short (I can understand sustain being short because of pounding, but when I play at a normal volume, I want the lowest octave or so to decay no faster than 2dB every 5 seconds or so.)
Wait...you didn't actually measure that, did you?!?!?!?!?

Re: kids pounding on the keys #624252
12/16/05 10:27 PM
12/16/05 10:27 PM
Joined: May 2003
Posts: 797
port washington, ny, us
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pete Offline
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port washington, ny, us
Quote
Originally posted by R Barber:
The worst thing you could do is discourage a child away from the piano. What you are seeing are potential Beethovens.
You should be more concerned with possible lacerations caused by keytop irregularities.

I have a scar from a chipped ivory.

If a piano can't handle fortississississimo playing, it should be euthanized or overhauled. YMMV.
You see the big picture. We need pianists in the future generations, or the evolution of this species is doomed.

Re: kids pounding on the keys #624253
12/17/05 07:46 PM
12/17/05 07:46 PM
Joined: Feb 2002
Posts: 1,930
El Cajon, CA
88Key_PianoPlayer Offline
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Posts: 1,930
El Cajon, CA
You don't think kids pounding would have caused this, do you?
[Linked Image]
No, that's not my piano, but I HAVE played it a few times.


Associate Member - Piano Technicians Guild
1950 (#144211) Baldwin Hamilton
1956 (#167714) Baldwin Hamilton
You can right-click my avatar for an option to view a larger version.
Re: kids pounding on the keys #624254
12/18/05 09:32 AM
12/18/05 09:32 AM
Joined: Sep 2004
Posts: 1,869
Massachusetts
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Roy123 Offline
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Joined: Sep 2004
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Massachusetts
Kids may not have fingers that are as strong as those of an adult, but how many adults use their fists to pound the keyboard?

Re: kids pounding on the keys #624255
12/18/05 11:18 AM
12/18/05 11:18 AM
Joined: Dec 2004
Posts: 57
San Clemente, CA
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PianoGrappler Offline
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San Clemente, CA
I'm in agreement with the 'let them pound' theory. I also agree that adults with chops can hit the keys far, FAR harder than even strong teenage kids (or any untrained person) could with their fists. Technicians who have worked for virtuosic players will know what I'm talking about.

Probably the worst threat to the keys from 'hard playing' comes from improperly done glissandos. The sharp keys are easiest to damage like this, but with a bad enough technique even white ones can be. Isn't there a LBV sonata that has a C (down to) C octave gliss in it? Perhaps students who have a fascination with playing a gliss every time they pass by the piano could be shown this passage to practice. We tuners could carry that little piece of information with us, sort of as a preventative tool!

Re: kids pounding on the keys #624256
12/18/05 05:05 PM
12/18/05 05:05 PM
Joined: Feb 2002
Posts: 1,930
El Cajon, CA
88Key_PianoPlayer Offline
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El Cajon, CA
PianoGrappler's latest reply reminds me of something. My piano hurts to do a glissando on the white keys (if you could see a picture of it, you'd know why - the action needs a full regulation (but the hammers are shot so it's not getting it right now) and the keys aren't level, and I suspect the balance rail bushings are probably shot, too.) Last time I did an enthusiastic glissando on the black keys, I broke a few keytops off.


Associate Member - Piano Technicians Guild
1950 (#144211) Baldwin Hamilton
1956 (#167714) Baldwin Hamilton
You can right-click my avatar for an option to view a larger version.
Re: kids pounding on the keys #624257
12/20/05 12:02 AM
12/20/05 12:02 AM
Joined: Jul 2005
Posts: 3,990
Haverhill, Massachusetts
J
John Citron Offline
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Haverhill, Massachusetts
My former teacher had a visting 3year-old child hurt her 1907 Mason & Hamlin. She called me in tears after the brat left. The three year old went in and really pounded the snot out of the keyboard. She went in and chased him away a few times, and then he left.

The next day when she went to play, she noticed that some of the notes sounded extra loud and clangy. (This is the words she used. I didn't investigate). She had a tuner-technician come in, and he said the action was fine, but he had to do something with the strings to fix the problem.

John


Current works in progress:

Beethoven Sonata Op. 10 No. 2 in F, Haydn Sonata Hoboken XVI:41, Bach French Suite No. 5 in G BWV 816

Current instruments: Schimmel-Vogel 177T grand, Roland LX-17 digital, and John Lyon unfretted Saxon clavichord.
Re: kids pounding on the keys #624258
12/20/05 12:03 AM
12/20/05 12:03 AM
Joined: Jul 2005
Posts: 3,990
Haverhill, Massachusetts
J
John Citron Offline
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Joined: Jul 2005
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Haverhill, Massachusetts
Quote
Originally posted by 88Key_PianoPlayer:
PianoGrappler's latest reply reminds me of something. My piano hurts to do a glissando on the white keys (if you could see a picture of it, you'd know why - the action needs a full regulation (but the hammers are shot so it's not getting it right now) and the keys aren't level, and I suspect the balance rail bushings are probably shot, too.) Last time I did an enthusiastic glissando on the black keys, I broke a few keytops off.
My old Wurlitzer spinet was like that. The key-drop on it was about a knuckles worth and it would kill the hands. I swear I used to live a stream of blood after a glissando.

Ouch!

John


Current works in progress:

Beethoven Sonata Op. 10 No. 2 in F, Haydn Sonata Hoboken XVI:41, Bach French Suite No. 5 in G BWV 816

Current instruments: Schimmel-Vogel 177T grand, Roland LX-17 digital, and John Lyon unfretted Saxon clavichord.
Re: kids pounding on the keys #624259
12/21/05 01:17 PM
12/21/05 01:17 PM
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 708
Binghamton, New York
palley Offline
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Binghamton, New York
When watching the young pros pound on the Steinways during the Van Cliburn competition earlier this year, I was struck with the idea that [just my opinion here] good controlled playing should always allow for the possibility of the composer calling for just a bit louder in the next measure.

It looked to me that the "stars" were often just playing as hard and loud as they could.


Phil
Re: kids pounding on the keys #624260
12/24/05 03:11 AM
12/24/05 03:11 AM
Joined: Oct 2005
Posts: 523
NY
V
virtuosic1 Offline
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NY
Quote
Originally posted by Roy123:
Kids may not have fingers that are as strong as those of an adult, but how many adults use their fists to pound the keyboard?
These two guys have done more than their fair share of key pounding. I've actually heard stories about their beseiged piano waving a white flag during some of their performances:

http://images.amazon.com/images/P/B00006672J.01.LZZZZZZZ.jpg

http://drlarryross.bizland.com/Cecil_Taylor.jpg


My version of Lennie Tristano's "Scene and Variation":

http://d.turboupload.com/d/1410287/R1_0010.MP3.html

A downloadable file with examples of my jazz improvising (Accompaniament on Fender Rhodes, lead lines on Acoustic piano):

http://d.turboupload.com/d/229801/R1_0001.MP3.html
Re: kids pounding on the keys #624261
12/24/05 12:16 PM
12/24/05 12:16 PM
Joined: Jun 2003
Posts: 26,897
Oakland
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BDB Offline
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Monk was before my time, but Cecil Taylor, after you get used to him, is fun to work with. Every show is a circus. He broke some strings at one of the shows, but the piano was on its last legs already. What was odd is that he practices all the time, and had been practicing on the same piano for a couple of days before the show with no ill results. So he must put much more into playing during the show than while practicing. I am pretty sure he is not aware of it.


Semipro Tech
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