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#28655 - 01/04/02 05:23 PM Pianos & Teachers
PianoMusica Offline
Regular Member

Registered: 10/18/01
Posts: 78
Loc: Montreal, Canada
I was wondering how much knowledge does a piano teacher need to know about pianos? I get a lot of my students asking me questions when looking for a piano. Although I know what they should be looking for and I always refer them to a technician I always feel I need to know more. What do you all think. How much do we need to know?

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#28656 - 01/04/02 05:32 PM Re: Pianos & Teachers
Jason Offline
Star Member

Registered: 05/14/00
Posts: 2019
Loc: Iowa City, IA
I think it's always helpful to know enough to answer recommendation questions. This includes stuff like:

  • What are the reputable brands?
  • What are the approximage price ranges for good pianos?
  • Where are the major dealers in your area?
  • Who in your area do you recommend for tuning and maintenance?


I also think it's good to know the major parts. Case, plate, frame, bridge, soundboard, keys, action, hammers, pins/pinblock, etc... Not really necessary, but it's nice to be able to answer questions from students about what such and such a part is called or "how does a piano work?"
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)


www.pianoped.com

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#28657 - 01/04/02 07:28 PM Re: Pianos & Teachers
bethann Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 10/12/00
Posts: 359
Loc: Nebraska
Musica,

I know people have different opinions about "The Piano Book" by Larry Fine, but it is an OK place to start finding out the information you're looking for. I really knew nothing about pianos and reading his book was helpful. He is a little biased on his reviews of different piano brands, but he does go into a lot of detail about how a piano works and how the different sizes differ and so forth.

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#28658 - 01/28/02 12:22 PM Re: Pianos & Teachers
Linda Offline
Contributing Member

Registered: 02/25/01
Posts: 16
Loc: Bella Vista, Arkansas
Invite a piano technician to your next teacher meeting. They love the attention. :p Not only will you learn about the parts of a piano, they have some unbelievable stories to tell. :rolleyes: Like the one about the woman who told the piano tuner that she was too busy for his estimated hour of tuning. She asked him to just take the strings with him to tune and bring them back when he is finished.

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#28659 - 01/30/02 06:23 AM Re: Pianos & Teachers
Jalapeņo Offline
Star Member

Registered: 11/04/00
Posts: 5712
Other things to consider when purchasing a piano:

(1) where a piano was manufactured. For example, Yamaha manufacturers pianos in both Japan & in the States. I prefer to own a Yamaha that was made in Japan, as I perceive the quality control at a Japanese factory to be superior. You can figure this out by looking inside the piano, where there should be a factory emblem stamped on the wood.

(2) model specifications. For example, I own a Yamaha Model U3. It's a 52" upright that has, among other features, a working sostenuto pedal (full sustain, like a grand piano). However, Yamaha has changed the specs--the U3's they now make have sostenuto pedals, but with only bass sustain. So if I were to buy another Yamaha just like the model I presently own, I would have to buy the Model U4.

[ January 30, 2002: Message edited by: Jalapeņo ]

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#28660 - 01/31/02 06:47 AM Re: Pianos & Teachers
Jalapeņo Offline
Star Member

Registered: 11/04/00
Posts: 5712
Has anyone seen &/or tried the new 7/8 keyboard for pianos? I just saw an ad for it in this month's issue of American Music Teacher magazine.

It's supposed to be great for people with small hands 'cuz it allows them to play without risk of injury. In theory, it sounds great. However, I wonder about 2 things:

(1) How hard would it be for old folks like me, who are accustomed to performing on regular-sized keys, to adjust to the smaller-sized keys?

(2) How much of a problem would it be for me & my students to use such a keyboard in the studio, when everyone else uses regular-sized keys? After all, if you perform in public, you can't lug your piano around with you everywhere you go. [Well, I guess you could, but... :rolleyes:]

I haven't called the company & inquired but, from what I gather from the ad, this is a keyboard that you put on your existing piano (IOW, just new keys). Does anyone know?

Thoughts, anyone???

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#28661 - 01/31/02 07:51 AM Re: Pianos & Teachers
Jason Offline
Star Member

Registered: 05/14/00
Posts: 2019
Loc: Iowa City, IA
I visited the Steinbuhler company's booth last year at the national MTNA conference and spoke at length with them about these. Not only are there 7/8, but other sizes as well! I played on them, and I could reach a 15th. \:\)

The way it works is - you take the action out of your piano and send it to them. They make another action (with smaller keys) and send both actions back to you. The two actions can then be changed at will. To my knowledge, this is only possible on grand pianos.

Southern Methodist University has been doing a lot of investigation into these keyboards. You might be interested to know that Carol Leone (from SMU) is going to be giving a recital at Texas Tech on March 25th and will be playing on a 7/8 keyboard that travels with her.

The faculty at TTU have expressed interest in obtaining a pair of 7/8 size action stacks (one for the piano in the performance hall and one to practice on). They're quite expensive (at least $5000 per keyboard) so the price is a bit of a barrier.
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)


www.pianoped.com

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#28662 - 01/31/02 08:15 AM Re: Pianos & Teachers
Rhapsody Offline
Star Member

Registered: 11/19/00
Posts: 2329
 Quote:
Originally posted by Jalapeņo:
the new 7/8 keyboard for pianos?

Thoughts, anyone???

_________________________
There is no cure for boring.

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#28663 - 01/31/02 08:20 AM Re: Pianos & Teachers
Jalapeņo Offline
Star Member

Registered: 11/04/00
Posts: 5712
Originally posted by Jason:
I visited the Steinbuhler company's booth last year at the national MTNA conference and spoke at length with them about these. Not only are there 7/8, but other sizes as well! I played on them, and I could reach a 15th. \:\)

I'd be happy if I could comfortably reach a 10th. \:\)

The way it works is - you take the action out of your piano and send it to them. They make another action (with smaller keys) and send both actions back to you. The two actions can then be changed at will.

Sounds Can they be changed at will by anyone, or just by piano technicians?

To my knowledge, this is only possible on grand pianos.

I was afraid of that! \:\(

Southern Methodist University has been doing a lot of investigation into these keyboards. You might be interested to know that Carol Leone (from SMU) is going to be giving a recital at Texas Tech on March 25th and will be playing on a 7/8 keyboard that travels with her.

So she's just bringing the action, not the entire piano??? I'm just wondering what the practicalities are of performing in various public places.

The faculty at TTU have expressed interest in obtaining a pair of 7/8 size action stacks (one for the piano in the performance hall and one to practice on). They're quite expensive (at least $5000 per keyboard) so the price is a bit of a barrier.

Yep, that's a bit of a barrier alright! Still, Dan McSpadden is a very good technician & can competently put those actions in for you TTU folks. \:\)

To clarify something about Lubbock piano technicians: I have mentioned several times that I can't find an honest, competent piano technician here. I am, of course, referring to the piano technicians whose services are available to the general public. Dan McSpadden is a very honest, competent technician. However, he's employed by TTU & doesn't have the time to tune other folks' pianos. Anything I say about incompetent, dishonest technicians does not (in ANY way, shape or form) apply to him. He did find some after-hours time to come tune my piano & level the keys so that I could use my piano (without having a nervous breakdown) while waiting for my Waco, TX technician to come do the voicing work. I will forever be grateful to him for helping me out.

[ January 31, 2002: Message edited by: Jalapeņo ]

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#28664 - 01/31/02 08:32 AM Re: Pianos & Teachers
Jalapeņo Offline
Star Member

Registered: 11/04/00
Posts: 5712
 Quote:
Originally posted by Rhapsody:


That's my reaction about using it in the studio for teaching, then having my students have to go home & practice on regular-sized keys. I think it would be hard for them to handle.

[ January 31, 2002: Message edited by: Jalapeņo ]

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#28665 - 01/31/02 08:49 AM Re: Pianos & Teachers
Eric Offline
Star Member

Registered: 04/04/00
Posts: 2325
Loc: New York, NY
Who knows how this development might have a really positive effect on teaching? If successful, perhaps somewhere down the road it will become advisable for young students to begin on a 7/8, much the way young violinists start out on those adorable mini-violins.

As for me, I'm happy with the conventional size! \:\) When I was trying out pianos, I played on a Mason and Hamlin that had slightly larger black keys, and I found my fingers too big to easily maneuver between them.

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#28666 - 01/31/02 08:58 AM Re: Pianos & Teachers
Jalapeņo Offline
Star Member

Registered: 11/04/00
Posts: 5712
Originally posted by Eric:
Who knows how this development might have a really positive effect on teaching? If successful, perhaps somewhere down the road it will become advisable for young students to begin on a 7/8, much the way young violinists start out on those adorable mini-violins.

I know nothing about violins, but I very seriously doubt that those "adorable" mini-violins cost $5,000! [You'll have to forgive me, but I hate listening to beginning violin students practice: squeak, squeak, squeak ]

And what are the odds that parents who aren't even willing to buy a decent digital piano :rolleyes: (that costs $2,000 or less; as low as $800 or so if you catch a great sale) are going to be willing to buy a grand piano so they can have it fitted with a 7/8 keyboard?

As for me, I'm happy with the conventional size! \:\) When I was trying out pianos, I played on a Mason and Hamlin that had slightly larger black keys, and I found my fingers too big to easily maneuver between them.

If there aren't going to be many 7/8 keyboards around, I'd rather stick with the regular-sized keys as well. Even though my hands are rather small (I can barely span a 9th), I have managed to adapt fairly well to performing on a regular piano & imagine it would be difficult to adjust to smaller keys, practice on smaller keys at home, then have to perform in public on a regular piano. Until the 7/8 keyboard becomes a commonplace item (which is unlikely at the present $5,000 price), I'll stick with what I have & be content. \:\)

[ January 31, 2002: Message edited by: Jalapeņo ]

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#28667 - 01/31/02 10:44 AM Re: Pianos & Teachers
Jason Offline
Star Member

Registered: 05/14/00
Posts: 2019
Loc: Iowa City, IA
Switching actions in and out of a grand piano is a rather simple procedure. All it takes is a screwdriver. (And some pianos even have a wing nut instead of a screw so you wouldn't need any tools at all.)

Basically, you:

1) Unscrew the screws underneath the keyboard on either side.

2) Pull the fall board out (the wood blocks on either side of the keys will come out with it.)

3) Slide out the action (the action isn't actually bolted down or anything - it just sits in there)

The big thing you have to worry about is that the hammer shanks are a bit fragile and it can be easy to snap a hammer off when putting an action in a piano. It's also pretty heavy and a bit awkward to carry.
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)


www.pianoped.com

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#28668 - 01/31/02 11:11 AM Re: Pianos & Teachers
dlinder Offline
Mainstay Member

Registered: 03/11/01
Posts: 689
Loc: Ohio
Amazing...
Just yesterday afternoon I was wondering about the possibility of smaller keys for younger students and even used the same violin analogy to myself!
Although it is still way out of price range for the average teacher and student, who knows....maybe one day they will be as commonplace as different size violins.
dlinder-remembering my own beginning violin practicing days....I wonder if that's why my dad started wearing ear plugs....

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#28669 - 01/31/02 01:39 PM Re: Pianos & Teachers
Jalapeņo Offline
Star Member

Registered: 11/04/00
Posts: 5712
 Quote:
Originally posted by Jason:
Switching actions in and out of a grand piano is a rather simple procedure. All it takes is a screwdriver. (And some pianos even have a wing nut instead of a screw so you wouldn't need any tools at all.)

Basically, you:

1) Unscrew the screws underneath the keyboard on either side.

2) Pull the fall board out (the wood blocks on either side of the keys will come out with it.)

3) Slide out the action (the action isn't actually bolted down or anything - it just sits in there)

The big thing you have to worry about is that the hammer shanks are a bit fragile and it can be easy to snap a hammer off when putting an action in a piano. It's also pretty heavy and a bit awkward to carry.


Doesn't sound like such an easy thing for a petite person like me to do, Jason. \:\(
And God only knows what it would do to my already-bad lower back (& its accompanying sciatica pain).

[ January 31, 2002: Message edited by: Jalapeņo ]

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#28670 - 01/31/02 01:44 PM Re: Pianos & Teachers
Jalapeņo Offline
Star Member

Registered: 11/04/00
Posts: 5712
 Quote:
Originally posted by dlinder:
dlinder-remembering my own beginning violin practicing days....I wonder if that's why my dad started wearing ear plugs....




[ January 31, 2002: Message edited by: Jalapeņo ]

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#28671 - 01/31/02 03:56 PM Re: Pianos & Teachers
Rhapsody Offline
Star Member

Registered: 11/19/00
Posts: 2329
 Quote:
Originally posted by Jalapeņo:
[You'll have to forgive me, but I hate listening to beginning violin students practice: squeak, squeak, squeak ]


Beginning violinists can create some rather torturous sounds but NOTHING can compare to the AGONIZING HORROR created by beginning trumpeters. I once had a job in a music department office of a trumpet teacher and even though the adjoining room was soundproof (?) with a 6"-thick door, I still have nightmares about it!!!!!!!!!
_________________________
There is no cure for boring.

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