"You can't be a proper musician unless you play the piano". Discuss

Talk about things that are not necessarily related to music or the guitar.
dofrenzy
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Re: "You can't be a proper musician unless you play the piano". Discuss

Post by dofrenzy » Wed Feb 06, 2019 8:47 pm

Adrian Allan wrote:
Wed Feb 06, 2019 8:17 pm

Yes, that is crucial as well.

In terms of price, I'm not sure about the US, but in the UK, they are pretty much being given away, as Mark says, even the half-decent ones, so over here at least affordability is not an issue. That is a very sad commentary on our values as a nation.
It's pretty much the same over here. CraigsList is chock full of cheap/free uprights. I guess this is where I begin to have some issues with buying a used piano. Have you ever bought a used GUITAR? Compare that purchase with the used-piano-buying-checklist:

From: https://www.total-piano-care.com/how-to ... klist.html

1) Does the piano match or complement your interior’s décor? Does it complement your existing furniture? Is there adequate space to house the piano? More importantly, is there an inner wall in your home - away from vents, windows, and direct sunlight – to place the piano?

2) Does this used piano need refinishing? The cost to refinish a used piano can cost several thousand dollars, comparable to the cost of a new piano [and/or rebuilding one]. Weigh things carefully. If you think you’ll be spending more on a used piano PLUS refinishing costs, then you might reconsider opting for a brand new one instead.

3) Consider if the piano has already been restyled or refinished in any way, unusual to your taste or the motif of your home.

4) Check the cabinet. Are there any missing and/or broken parts or hardware?

5) Check for loose veneer and/or other signs of moisture damage.

6) The piano should have its matching bench. And it should not just be any bench, but a bench that matches the piano, preferably in good condition.

Pin block and tuning

7) The piano’s pitch should be near A440hz and adequately in tune.

8) Have the owners maintained its pitch consistently, year after year?

9) Bring a technician with you. How tight are the tuning pins? Out-of-tune unisons (same string, one note) in most cases indicate a loose pin block. A loose pin block can render an otherwise “perfect-looking / sounding piano” useless.

Due to the age alone, a loose pin-block can mean restringing the entire piano (>$2,500 base cost) with larger tuning pins to replace the smaller ones. Larger replacement tuning pins grip the wood more firmly, to achieve a clear and stable tuning.

Note: Consult with a qualified piano technician in your area, to ascertain whether or not the pin–block should (1) be replaced, or (2) repined without replacement.

10) The tuning pins should be uniform. Check if there are any tuning pin replacements, especially on pianos older than 40 years, since some bad / worn pinblocks are common.

11) Make sure the tuning pin coils and the pinblock (level with the plate) have 1/8 inches of clearance, above the plate.

12) Beware of pinblocks that have been applied with chemicals to tighten the pins temporarily. You will know this because you’ll see a messy, dark brown (or grey or black) sticky stain around the bottom of the tuning pins.

13) Check the piano for signs of cracks and delaminating. This is possible on grand pianos when you remove the fallboard (which covers the keys). Check the underside of the pinblock.

Strings

14) When should you be alerted by rusted strings? It’s ok to shop for pianos with strings that are lightly rusted or tarnished, but never bet any amount of money on strings with excessive rust since it could only mean breakage in no time – ESPECIALLY if the piano has not been tuned every year by its previous owners.

Note: Strings can immediately break, when tuned, while in this condition (below A440hz). Even when the piano is tuned very slowly, string breakage is still very likely.

Make sure the piano is near A440hz, using an electronic tuning device ("ETD", or a metal tuning fork), if the strings show a considerable amount of rust.

15) Keep an eye on coils or at bearing points. Check for missing strings.

16) Excessive amount of new-looking strings ("shiny" vs. "dull"), as well as splicing, among a set of older strings means that wires are susceptible to breakage.

17) Check if the bass notes release a clear and rich sound. Or, do they sound “tubby” and flat when played?

Bridges

18) For the bridges, the most common areas where you need to keep an eye are on the bass bridges.

19) It is common for bridge pins to sustain very small, hairline-like cracks.

20) If you see the piano has several cracks in the bridges, chances are, the bridge pins have eventually dislocated. This means you need to have the bridge repaired, or get a new bridge or bridge cap replacement. These repairs can often equal or exceed the cost of the used piano, itself.

21) A loose bass bridge means a weaker tone on one end of the bass section than the other.

22) Check if the treble bridge shows any signs of cracking.

23) For old pianos, make sure that the wooden upper bearing points have no cracks.

Soundboard and ribs

24) Check if the sound board is still in excellent condition by playing ALL the keys from one end to the other. Check if the tones are even. No buzzes or unnecessary sounds should come from the piano.

25) The soundboard should never have any excessive cracks. Pay attention to soundboards that may be unrepaired as well.

26) Wooden shims in cracks indicate that the soundboard has undergone repair. However, if you are to buy a used piano, see to it that there are no new cracks alongside the shim(s).

27) Make sure that the soundboard is properly installed and glued around the perimeter.

28) If you notice any ribs cracking, check to see if they are well-glued.

29) Do a pluck test to check if the soundboard is in great condition.

Slowly press a key in the octave that stars above on top of middle C. This is where the critical melody range is. Hold the key down to elevate its damper. Pluck one of the three strings of the note of your choice. The sound should rise right after you do this, 'smoothening' down, slowly, after the string vibrates.

The note should remain audible for at least five seconds to indicate the sound board is functioning properly. Less than this amount of time indicates the soundboard has a problem.

30) The soundboard's crown (slight curve) should be visible. Any crown is better than none. Some pianos without crown are able to sound just as good as those without.

Structural Integrity

31) DO NOT LIFT ANY LIDS – on ANY USED GRAND or VERTICAL piano - before checking for any (1) missing hinges or (2) signs of cracking around the hinges.

32) A cracked plate is very rare. Check the struts and the tuning pin areas to check if they are free from any damage. Repairing a cracked plate is very expensive, and usually, is not guaranteed by piano rebuilders.

33) Look for separations or delaminations in the bottom part of the rim (grand pianos). Check for the existence of a large crack which you may find behind the top horizontal beam on an upright (vertical) piano.

34) Make sure the piano does not rock. Check the legs for cracks and make sure its structural integrity is sound and sturdy.

35) Check to make sure no casters (wheels) are missing (both vertical and grand pianos).

Keys, Action, Hammers, Dampers, and Regulation

36) Check if all the keys play. If not, ask the seller why. Also check for missing, broken, or unattached parts.

37) Check the piano’s interior to see if the spacing and alignment of parts are parallel with one another.

38) Beware of buying a pre-1960 piano if the action parts are made of plastic. Choose those with parts replaced of post-1960 manufactured materials. It pays to ask your technician to help you do the checkup to make sure that you’re on the right track.

39) Make sure the piano is free from moth damage, especially the hammers, dampers and other felt parts.

40) For vertical pianos, see to it that bridle straps are not missing, broken, or brittle.

41) Check if the keys are inactive, sluggish, or sticking.

42) Take note of what type of keytops are used. Are they ivory or just mere plastic? Also, check for damaged, missing, unglued, or chipped keytops.

43) Check if the keys are moving unnecessarily (excessively) to the right or left. New key bushings (felt inside / underneath the keys) may be a necessary repair. Are the keys noisy, or do they "knock" excessively, when played? From the front and top angles, are the keys evenly spaced and squared?

44) Check the hammers for grooves, the amount of remaining felt, and correct number of string dents. Misplaced or unclear string dents on hammers indicate wobbly and/or loose hammers. Loose hammer heads can give off a clicking noise, or show up / down movement when played.

45) Do the dampers work properly? Or do notes continue to ring after a key is pressed? Notes should "cut-off" evenly and cleanly when played in a staccato fashion.

46) Look at the dampers. Then press the sustain pedal. Do the dampers move together and lift evenly, all at once?

47) The hammers should move simultaneously when the soft pedal (normally the one to the far left) is pressed.

48) Play a few keys in the bass, treble, and high treble as softly as possible. If the keys cannot play evenly at soft dynamic levels (e.g. misses, skips, doesn't play 'on time'), the action probably needs to be regulated.

49) Play one key at a time, very rapidly (using alternating hands), while depressing the right pedal; then without the right pedal, to check the keys' repetition.

Pedals

50) Check the dampers, when pressing the sustain pedal (see #45 & #46 above).

A sostenuto pedal (the middle pedal), on a vertical piano indicates a piano of excellent quality.

But, if the middle pedal does not activate a sostenuto on a grand piano, then the piano may be a lower-quality instrument.

Test the sostenuto by pressing the right pedal to elevate the dampers. Next depress the middle pedal. Let it stay depressed while releasing the right pedal. If the dampers remain raised, this indicates a sostenuto pedal.

51) The left pedal moves the hammers closer to the strings (vertical pianos only). Grand pianos will shift the keyboard. If the left pedals on the grand piano lifts the bass dampers, this is a sign of a lower quality instrument.

52) Pedal lyre. Grand pianos only: Is the pedal lyre coming apart from the top? Are glue joints in tact? Are the lyre braces in place, attached securely to the piano underneath? Does the lyre feel firmly in place (secure) when the pedals are pressed?

Other Critical Information

53) Ask the owner about the piano's history. Ask to see maintenance records. Ask for the previous (or current) technician's name and contact information. Where has the piano been situated (indoors/outdoors and in what city) for most of its life? How many times has it moved, and by whom?

54) What is the piano's serial number, which indicates its age? Has it been painted over or sanded out, indicating a less-than-mediocre rebuilding job?

55) Can you afford the repairs, annual tuning, and initial moving costs, to bring this instrument into a playable condition?

and most important ...

56) What does your piano technician have to say about this piano?

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Adrian Allan
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Re: "You can't be a proper musician unless you play the piano". Discuss

Post by Adrian Allan » Wed Feb 06, 2019 9:37 pm

You can do all of the above.

However, when choosing a piano, if all the keys can be pressed and rise, if the tuning is good across its range and at 440, then that is a pretty powerful indication that the rest of the piano has been maintained as well.

A tuner would not tune a piano to concert pitch on a regular basis and leave another glaring fault unaddressed, or would be highly unlikely to do so.
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Wuuthrad
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Re: "You can't be a proper musician unless you play the piano". Discuss

Post by Wuuthrad » Thu Feb 07, 2019 6:35 am

Where I live here in the USA people throw Pianos out on the street, mostly Spinets and Consoles, but I've even seen a Studio and Full Size Upright tossed out! I hope they are picked up, but many are taken to the garbage dump. I recycled a fully functional in tune Wurlitzer Console Piano some years ago, but I'm one of the few.

People just don't seem to want Pianos anymore. They say "I'd love to have a Piano like you," but when I call them to say there's one on the curb, I hear the usual ...

"I don't have room," "how will I move it," and other excuses while they sit on the couch to watch Netflix...What a world!

But a Digital Piano is a fine alternative, one which has other sounds as well. Digital Keyboards, Keyboard Workstations and MIDI controllers are also fine instruments, especially if space is a consideration. They can also open up a world of possibility in terms of Composition and Sound Design.

I have to recommend any electronic keyboard to come with aftertouch- it can really improve the sound and playability in different ways. The quality of sampled and digital Pianos is quite excellent these days. Surely there is a difference between the Piano in terms of harmonics, but that difference has become somewhat less obvious over the years. You could in fact spend more on a digitally sampled Piano library than the cost of a real Piano! I do ultimately prefer a real Piano, (for Piano playing,) but the quality of the alternatives is quite good after all.

Surely there is no way to adequately sample, or make a digital version of a Classical Guitar, with any reasonable approximation of it's polyphonic and multi-timbral capabilities.

The Proof is in the Pudding...

There is no such thing as a Digital Classical Guitar after all, and I'm quite glad about that!

As a result, I think Guitar has an edge over the Piano, no?
"Pay no attention to what the critics say. A statue has never been erected in honor of a critic." -Jean Sibelius

SleepyheadRooster
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Re: "You can't be a proper musician unless you play the piano". Discuss

Post by SleepyheadRooster » Thu Feb 07, 2019 6:51 am

Since we’re going a little off topic. I love my digital piano. It sounds and feels very close to the real thing, but I absolutely love being able to turn down the volume. I treasure my ears - as I’m sure you all do - and I would like them to last me many more years. I enjoy quiet practice in the early morning hours.
Best,
Chuck

dofrenzy
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Re: "You can't be a proper musician unless you play the piano". Discuss

Post by dofrenzy » Thu Feb 07, 2019 7:17 pm

Some full disclosure after considering my words here recently. I hope I didn't ruffle any feathers. As an adult entering the latter half of his first century, I must admit I am pretty immature in many ways and only recently learned to recognize my emotional state.

Last night I eventually realized that my response to this thread was an emotional reaction. Just a few months ago my wife made me get rid of my electronic keyboard.........wait for it...........because it's not a real piano and doesn't look nice in our house! So my "strong" responses here were actually just a weak way for me to cry about my situation!

Now, back to your regular programming.....

astro64
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Re: "You can't be a proper musician unless you play the piano". Discuss

Post by astro64 » Thu Feb 07, 2019 8:20 pm

dofrenzy wrote:
Thu Feb 07, 2019 7:17 pm
Some full disclosure after considering my words here recently. I hope I didn't ruffle any feathers. As an adult entering the latter half of his first century, I must admit I am pretty immature in many ways and only recently learned to recognize my emotional state.

Last night I eventually realized that my response to this thread was an emotional reaction. Just a few months ago my wife made me get rid of my electronic keyboard.........wait for it...........because it's not a real piano and doesn't look nice in our house! So my "strong" responses here were actually just a weak way for me to cry about my situation!

Now, back to your regular programming.....
Sounds to me she opened the door to getting a real piano! Get a Grand, they look nicer, you can look out over them and stare out the backyard instead of looking at that blank wall behind the upright, the key stroke repeat is much better (so I learned on my video exploration) and they have a great spot for the cup of coffee on the top right.

dofrenzy
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Re: "You can't be a proper musician unless you play the piano". Discuss

Post by dofrenzy » Thu Feb 07, 2019 8:27 pm

astro64 wrote:
Thu Feb 07, 2019 8:20 pm

Sounds to me she opened the door to getting a real piano! Get a Grand, they look nicer, you can look out over them and stare out the backyard instead of looking at that blank wall behind the upright, the key stroke repeat is much better (so I learned on my video exploration) and they have a great spot for the cup of coffee on the top right.
LOL! Tiny house....we need a grand piano / dining room table combo.

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Adrian Allan
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Re: "You can't be a proper musician unless you play the piano". Discuss

Post by Adrian Allan » Thu Feb 07, 2019 9:39 pm

If that story is 100% true, your wife has a lot to answer for.

Something that gets between a man and his need for cultural expression is grounds for divorce.
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ddray
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Re: "You can't be a proper musician unless you play the piano". Discuss

Post by ddray » Fri Feb 08, 2019 11:18 am

Contreras wrote:
Wed Feb 06, 2019 7:58 pm
2lost2find wrote:
Mon Feb 04, 2019 5:12 pm
Adrian Allan wrote:
Mon Feb 04, 2019 4:18 pm

If he had said, "you cannot be a true all round musician" or a "music teacher", then there might have been more than a grain of truth.

I still call BS. Being able to play piano is proof of nothing except that you can play piano. You can teach all the music you want without ever going near a keyboard.

Regarding the accompaniment thing: I will gladly accompany anybody, anytime. Without preparation. On the guitar. If you think that lacks legitimacy, get somebody else.
+1

My grandfather was a superb violinist, and always said any fool could play the piano ... all the notes were laid out in front of you, all you had to do was hit them in the right order.
Then I assume that your grandfather was an even more superb pianist than he was a violinist, since the piano is "easier".

Can you be a "proper musician" without ever learning a keyboard instrument? Of course. But in my opinion starting with learning piano and gaining proficiency at it has tremendous advantages:

1. Pianists are generally more firmly grounded in harmony and general music theory from the beginning. This often means that pianists have a much, MUCH easier time learning just about any other instrument. Cellists Casals, Fournier and Rostropovich all started on the piano.
2. Learning to read the grand staff is a great preparation for learning to read ensemble/orchestral scores. Most of the great conductors from the past 150 years or so have been at least proficient at the keyboard. https://www.nytimes.com/1987/04/26/arts ... erest.html
3. If you can play the piano at an intermediate-to-advanced level, you become closely acquainted with some of the very greatest music ever composed -- and not by listening to it or reading about it, but by actually learning to play it: Bach's Inventions and Sinfonias, the Well-Tempered Clavier, the Goldberg Variations, the Art of Fugue, Mozart's piano music, Beethoven's sonatas and sets of variations, Chopin, Liszt, Schumann, Brahms, Debussy, Shostakovich, Prokofiev and on and on. The repertoire is incomparable.

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Re: "You can't be a proper musician unless you play the piano". Discuss

Post by Shadowbelle » Fri Feb 08, 2019 5:18 pm

Oh, pffft.

1. Define "proper musician".

2. Explain why no "proper musicians" existed before the pianoforte was invented.

3. Explain why no "proper musicians" exist where there are no pianos.
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Re: "You can't be a proper musician unless you play the piano". Discuss

Post by riffmeister » Fri Feb 08, 2019 6:07 pm

The piano is a great instrument for sure. Everything is laid out so nicely for viewing scales, intervals, and chords. My opinion is that while it is helpful to know some basics on piano, it is not essential to being a complete musician.

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Mollbarre
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Re: "You can't be a proper musician unless you play the piano". Discuss

Post by Mollbarre » Fri Feb 08, 2019 6:16 pm

I think we all need to do what we want/need to do, but (there's always a but 8) )...

I don't quite understand this resistance, or anti-music, approach to learning music either! Why not just relax and learn more, than tense up and insist on learning less?

I wish I knew more! :mrgreen: And that's in part, why I currently go to weekly lessons, have explored the keyboard, am 'learning' the guitar, etc. And yes...I also play, woodwind in our community orchestra, and I have a string quartet that meets irregularly. What I'm trying to do is pull it all together - so I understand 'music', and not just how to play one instrument. But - that's my 'need'... :D

BTW: I was the kid, whose parents couldn't afford a piano, or piano lessons (or any lessons for that matter) - who was desperately jealous of all the kids complaining how their parents 'made' them take piano lessons...
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Re: "You can't be a proper musician unless you play the piano". Discuss

Post by ddray » Sat Feb 09, 2019 8:57 am

dofrenzy wrote:
Thu Feb 07, 2019 7:17 pm
Some full disclosure after considering my words here recently. I hope I didn't ruffle any feathers. As an adult entering the latter half of his first century, I must admit I am pretty immature in many ways and only recently learned to recognize my emotional state.

Last night I eventually realized that my response to this thread was an emotional reaction. Just a few months ago my wife made me get rid of my electronic keyboard.........wait for it...........because it's not a real piano and doesn't look nice in our house! So my "strong" responses here were actually just a weak way for me to cry about my situation!

Now, back to your regular programming.....
Some of the "cabinet" type digital pianos look really nice imo with prices as low as ~$900 (for a Casio PX 870 - I have one and love it). The Yamaha YDP143 and Kawai KDP110 in the same general price range are also fine and quite realistic. None of them of course will be the *exact* same thing as an acoustic piano, but these are very, very close...and they don't weigh as much as a tank. In any case I think it's better and more enjoyable to play a pretty good digital than a less-than-optimal upright or baby grand. That can be really frustrating.

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Re: "You can't be a proper musician unless you play the piano". Discuss

Post by dory » Sat Feb 23, 2019 2:24 am

In my experience it is guitarists who say that more than players of other instruments. I mostly wanted to say that.
I don’t like keyboards but I am not a “real” musician either. (No, I am not saying I would have to know piano to be one.
What I find weird is that almost everyone I meet in choirs thinks I am strange because I practice my choral parts on the guitar. They say “Don’t you have a keyboard?” I tell them I have tolook under my fingers to play a piece on the piano but I know where all my notes are without looking on the guitar fingerboard. They generally roll their eyes at me and think I am crazy. But, as I just said I am not a real musician. Just a fumbling amateur. I am going upstairs now to practice my choral piece on the guitar.
Dory

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Re: "You can't be a proper musician unless you play the piano". Discuss

Post by ddray » Sat Feb 23, 2019 4:19 am

I'd say that just because you concentrate on the guitar and don't like the keyboard doesn't mean you're not a "real musician", amateur or not. I'm not that much of a musician either. Certainly not the musician I'd like to be. But to be honest, actually learning to play the cello is more enjoyable to me than playing the piano. You're more directly involved with producing the music itself and you can feel the sound going through you like 16' pipe organ stops. The enjoyment in playing the piano comes from the music available to play on it. I think that's why pianists may have a little bit of a head-start in music theory: in addition to everything being more easily seen on a keyboard, the beginning stages of learning aren't as occupied with tone production as they are with other instruments. There are trade-offs in everything I guess. But I don't think any one instrument is the be-all, end-all. I wish I could play all of them.

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