acoustic piano

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Tone Depth

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acoustic piano
« on: 10 Nov 2018, 04:12 am »
My daughter started piano lessons using my Roland MIDI controller keyboard when she was in elementary school. By middle school, her teacher encouraged us to get her an upright piano, she was playing at an intermediate level, so we got her a Kawai upright studio piano. She eventually decided to play trumpet in concert band, including orchestra and marching band in high school and through college.

I resumed playing piano when I retired seven years ago, and started taking private piano lessons. I was able to acquire an 1899 Steinway Model A grand piano, which I had completely rebuilt, and it became my pride and joy. It is inspiring to practice on every day. My teacher says I am now playing at an intermediate level.

What is your piano story?
« Last Edit: 12 Jan 2019, 12:55 am by Tone Depth »

S Clark

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Re: acoustic piano
« Reply #1 on: 10 Nov 2018, 04:59 am »
I started when I was about 10 on some kind of old upright.  After a year I was learning quickly, and changed to a more serious teacher...playing simple Bach and Bergmueller.  By the time I was 12 I remember playing Chopin, a bit of Beethovan, MacDowell, and Grieg.  I think I was 14 when I started with Bomar Cramer, one of the two serious teachers in the Dallas area.  I was the youngest student he had ever accepted, as most studying under him were college or older.  Whereas my other teachers had been supportive, this guy was impatient, and had a mean streak.  I hated it.  Within a year I had quit. I took a few lessons from just a guy- messing around with stuff like Ellington and basically letting me try whatever I wanted.  Too late.  I no longer loved it. 
 
When it was evident I had some degree of talent, Mom had bought me an old Kimble 5'10 grand that came out of a bar-- cigarette burns all over it, but actually a nice instrument.  Somewhere around 13, we bought an old Steinway A 6'3" grand.  It was so old it had 85 keys, and was a wonderful instrument.  I sold it when I got married out of college... needed the money and no place for it in a one bedroom apartment (although the piano is gone, still got the wife).  I think we got $2500 for it in 1974.  Probably a dozen years later, I came across a huge Austrian grand- 7"10" probably built in the mid 1800's (or earlier) since it had a wood frame... which meant it had to be tuned weekly!  I gave $400 for it, a gorgeous piece of furniture if you put a vase over the buckled veneer where somebody had put a vase on it. The bass was actually pretty decent.  It was double strung in the last octave, something I'd never seen before.  I often wondered if in the salons of Vienna a Franz Liszt had ever sat and played it.  When my wife and moved from that house, I sold it to a friend for the $400, letting him know what a headache that instrument was going to be. 

Now, I've got a Chickering spinet that never gets played.  It actually has a nice action, and not a bad little instrument.  I need to tune it, but I've needed to do it for a decade. 

rollo

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Re: acoustic piano
« Reply #2 on: 10 Nov 2018, 04:19 pm »
  Where the real music is. Never played myself however lucky that our Neighbor had a baby grand. The memory of that sound helped big time in selecting gear. Nothing like live acoustic music to train ones ears.


charles

S Clark

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Re: acoustic piano
« Reply #3 on: 10 Nov 2018, 04:50 pm »
  ...Nothing like live acoustic music to train ones ears.


charles

So true, Charles.  A while back, when my hearing was younger, I was at Danny Richie's as he was working on the crossover for his V-1 speaker.  Now Danny has a great ear, but something about the upper range of the piano wasn't quite real.  I mentioned it, and a couple of tweaks later it was better.  When I was a kid, it was easy to hear the differences between a Steinway, a Mason Hamlin, a Baldwin, and a Yamaha.  Can't do that anymore. 

rollo

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Re: acoustic piano
« Reply #4 on: 10 Nov 2018, 06:13 pm »
  A true blessing playing the Piano. Not telling you anything new as you know when one gets the Piano correct ALL else falls in place.


charles

SFDude

Re: acoustic piano
« Reply #5 on: 10 Nov 2018, 06:55 pm »
I get to hear my son play every day. He started when he was 3.5 yo. We started off on a Casio digital piano. When he got through 2 years of piano lessons and decided (for himself!) that he was going to push on, we got him a Yamaha upright, used of course but sold with a 5 year promise to trade-in for full value to another piano at the same store. We were looking to get him a baby grand if he followed through and progressed.

He ended up with one of the more well known teachers in the Seattle area, Dr. Peter Mack. For some reason, Dr. Mack had a friend who had passed a baby grand to him and he has been letting his students "borrow" this while learning from him. This baby grand (an old Bush and Lane which was refurbished) entered our home and is regaling us with great tunes. We got a piano tuner which we regularly use, and he actually remembered the old Bush and Lane we had, saying he actually did the refurbishing on it about 15 years ago!

In between pieces by Scriabin and Slominsky, Bach and Beethoven, and some random piano music my son does, every day is a joy to hear this music at home. It really does lift up the soul!

charmerci

Re: acoustic piano
« Reply #6 on: 10 Nov 2018, 07:04 pm »
I love the sound of the piano - I love to play it too, though I'm not that good and very self-conscious and don't like people hearing me play. I even spontaneously write songs while fooling around on the piano.


(No, I don't have a piano and haven't played in a long while.)

mmfuku

Re: acoustic piano
« Reply #7 on: 20 May 2019, 02:48 pm »
Started playing at age 11 with my mom made me take lessons.he was the best thing she ever did for me cuz now at age of 56, you just one of the only activities I can say that I have consistently enjoyed for over 40 years.

I have two sons and my wife and I both insist that they learn to play the piano. In today's world full of screens and distractions it's nice to have something for the kids to to teach them some things just can't be mastered through a digital screen!

MuseChaser

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Re: acoustic piano
« Reply #8 on: 2 Apr 2020, 04:14 pm »
Had a year of lessons from my mother when I was five years old; we had an old baby grand of indeterminate lineage and questionable quality. Kept playing on my own, digging McCoy Tyner on Coltrane recordings at the age of 8, then enthralled with Chick Corea in my early teens and started transcribing his solo on Spain at the age of 13.  Family sold baby grand and bought a Kawai console...didn't like that one as much, but it wasn't bad. Went on to become a professional pianist/keyboardist, enthralled w/ synths in the 80s (MicroMoog, PolyMoog, Korg PolySix, Roland Juno, etc), then lost interest in that stuff after digital synthesis (Yamaha DX and forward) took over.  As an adult, didn't own a real piano for several years until my wife and I bought a cheap upright for our kids to learn on ($500). It was pretty bad, and I tuned it myself at a barely competent level, but it served it's purpose.  Fast forward.. about fifteen years ago a dear friend owned one of the two Yamaha C7 pianos Yamaha had gifted to Rostropovich upon his relocation/defection to the US in 1974, and he offered to sell me the piano at substantially less than it was worth.  It is a tremendous instrument and brings us hours of joy every day.... and the history behind it is pretty cool, to boot.

Tone Depth

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Re: acoustic piano
« Reply #9 on: 4 Sep 2020, 02:56 am »
Having a real piano to play and listen to, gives me a sanity check vs. reproduction of that sound through an audio system. The unreproduced sound quality never gets old.

Digi-G

Re: acoustic piano
« Reply #10 on: 4 Sep 2020, 02:06 pm »
About 7 or 8 years ago my wife and stepson stumbled across a nice Chickering upright piano at a local thrift store.  At the time he was in his early 20's and was the only member of our family who could play piano.  It's a very large, open store that used to be a skating rink when I was younger.  The sound fills the place and actually draws a crowd.  He is a decent player and able to perform some classical and pop songs.

My wife is impressed with his playing as well and calls me (I'm at work) and asks if I've ever wanted a piano.  Price $200+.  I say "sure" but we have to figure out how to get it moved.  Now, mind you I have no clue how to actually play a piano.  Two men and a truck wanted $500 to move it a mile and a half.  Nope.  Long story, short, while we're trying to figure out how we'll get it home, one of the patrons who was at the store, listening to my stepson play, steps up and buys the piano!!!  The very piano he was playing and we were considering, not one of the other 8-10 pianos they had.

Frustrated and feeling let down, we decided to pursue finding a piano and ended up finding a Sohmer baby grand for less than $4000.  Yes, that's considerably more than $200, especially for an instrument that I can't play.  But it's a beautifully restored piano with a mahogany finish and (of course) the salesman makes it sing when he plays it.  It did, indeed, sound great!

It actually fit better in our medium size family room than I thought it would.  Looks great, too.

Free lessons were included with our purchase, for a year, I believe.  So my wife and I and a younger son (15 or so) go for lessons.  The youngest son stops after the very first lesson.  Wife and I stop after 3 or so lessons.  The lessons were in the back of the store where we bought the piano on one of the roughest upright pianos I've ever seen.  The middle C piano key didn't work - it was dead.  The rest was out of tune.  The older lady giving the lessons was likely to throw a little fit if someone made a mistake while playing what she asked.  Uhhh.  This wasn't fun.

While taking our weekly lessons I had discovered piano lessons on YouTube.  I could learn at my own pace and the people making the videos weren't judging my playing.  Or my mistakes.  And dammit, I was determined to learn to play this instrument I had just spent all this money on.

So I stuck with it.  One of the very first songs I learned was Lean On Me.  Then Love Me Tender.  Hello Goodbye was next.  I can't read music (I'd still like to learn some day) but the lady giving lessons wasn't teaching that either.  But I can play and enjoy myself while doing it.  And I can make it sound pretty good too.  With feeling.

Here is some of what I can play (big Beatles fan):

Hello Goodbye
Let It Be
The Long and Winding Road
Yesterday
Strawberry Fields Forever (what a fun song to play)
Golden Slumbers
Till There Was You

Imagine
Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five
Single Pigeon
Wanderlust
My Love
Jet

Year of the Cat
I'm Not in Love
A Groovy Kind of Love
Strange Magic
Goodbye Stranger
Stairway To Heaven
Us and Them
Layla (coda)
Chariots of Fire
Vincent
Right Here Waiting
All of Me
I Know I'm Not The Only One
some Christmas songs

etc.

It's been a fun journey.

Craig B

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Re: acoustic piano
« Reply #11 on: 4 Sep 2020, 02:21 pm »
I took lessons in my 50s (!) and it was one of the most interesting, fun and frustrating things I've ever done. This from someone who already knows how to read, and who's played trumpet, banjo and guitar for years. I ended up quitting when I lost my job at the start of the '08 recession, and my Yamaha P-85 digital stopped powering up. I regret that, and finally replaced it with a P-125 back in July, and I've been trying to regain lost ground since then.

My teacher followed a pretty strict classic pedagogy, and I got to the point where I could play (from music) some intermediate classical, pop/standards and other pieces (my favorite was Bruce Hornsby's instrumental "Song C" from his Spirit Trail album - I was goofing around in the keyboard section of our local Guitar Center playing it one day, and an old black man came up and said he liked the way I was playing "that old spiritual").

As much as I enjoyed it, the one thing I didn't like about my teacher's approach was that I wasn't learning why I was playing what I was playing, even with theory thrown in. I was OK if I had music in front of me, but when my sister-in-law and her husband would come visit and he'd bring his guitar, she would ask us to play together and I wouldn't have a clue what to do. I was trying to fix that by taking some additional lessons (group ones, based on Scott Houston's "Play Piano in a Flash" method books) when the recession hit.

Digi-G

Re: acoustic piano
« Reply #12 on: 4 Sep 2020, 03:06 pm »
I was in my early 50's when I started learning as well.  A guy I work with (a couple of years older than me) told me "That's pretty ambitious" and it was implied "because of my age".  I never really thought of it that way. Although yeah, if I was 6 years old I'm sure I'd learn it quicker.

Russell Dawkins

Re: acoustic piano
« Reply #13 on: 5 Sep 2020, 12:41 am »
I don't hear grand piano reproduced convincingly very often. Often the recording itself is lacking, but the main culprits are the speakers, I think—that and insufficient amplifier power.  Some of the best representations I've heard have been from large drivers, like the Tannoy Ardens (15" coaxial) with Hsu subs I once had. There is somthing nice about well-behaved large drivers covering the midrange.

If I were starting to put together a system offering the most fun for the money right now, and living space permitted it, I think I would risk $400 on a pair of these Chinese 15s:
https://www.lii-audio.com/product/recommended-15-full-range-speaker-driver-for-music-loudspeaker-with-tube-amplifier-f-15-in-pair/

and if circumstances allowed (owning the home, for one thing) I'd make a non-enclosure out of floor to ceiling baffle boards across two corners of the room and sit back and enjoy the music.