Which piano?

Have you ever heard people say that their cats adopted them, rather than the people choosing their cat as a pet?

This not only happens with cats, but cars and in some cases musical instruments too.

I found my piano in a “house clearance” type shop a fair few years ago. In fact I walked straight past it because as it was “all shut up”, it actually looked like an organ rather than a piano. The keys were yellow and when I attempted to clean them with a duster and a damp cloth smelled rather worryingly of cat wee! There was just something about this piano though, it wasn’t too badly out of tune, so after I had it looked over by a piano tuner Ben Nolan, it came home to me.

It seems I’m not the only one who suffers like this! I found a recent post through Twitter, on the St Louis Website, although I have included the article at the end of this post.

My piano is old, it was built in the 1920’s and is starting to begin to show signs of needing a little TLC. It has yearly visits from Ben, and sometimes more often if it warrants it. It really does depend on what you want from a piano, and the environment in which it’s kept. Traditional pianos don’t like to be kept near radiators (er, mine is next to one… not good I know), can you afford or want the hassle of keeping it in tune at the cost of paying a piano tuner? Have you got room for one?

The digital piano’s that are now available are very good, they will never have the ‘feel’ of a traditional piano, but they don’t come with much of the associate pain of locating the instrument! Even my Mum has had to take the drastic option of switching to a digital piano because the room in which her piano is situated is just too warm and dry for a piano to be truly happy.

If you let a traditional piano choose you, follow up on piano tuning costs, have it checked out before you buy if you aren’t buying from a piano shop – play it, play it as much as you can. Take your music pieces with you and play the whole keyboard, from the very bottom, to the top. If you were buying a suit would you just try on the jacket and not the skirt/trousers?!

Beat-up piano is `like my best friend’

Stacey Albin Wilson's object of desire is her Steinway B concert piano. Wilson, who is a dentist, has played piano since she was six-years-old.


BY SARAH BRYAN MILLER
POST-DISPATCH CLASSICAL MUSIC CRITIC

04/03/2010

Stacey Albin Wilson’s profession is dentistry, but music is what feeds her spirit. A Steinway Model B concert grand piano is the center of her musical life.

Wilson, 38, began piano at 5, with her father as her first teacher. “When you play piano, it’s so personal,” she says. “You’re really exposing your soul.” As a shy eighth-grader, she became the accompanist at school, “and it was almost like it was a motivational tool for me to bloom. All of a sudden, my choir depended on me.”

She bought her piano at a university used-instrument sale when her daughter Anna, now 6, was just 2 weeks old. “I looked around the room, and it was filled with beautiful pianos — honestly, the ugliest one was the Steinway B. I went around; I played the first couple of measures of (Beethoven’s) ‘Für Elise’ on every one, but I kept coming back to the Steinway. The lacquer was chipped; the ‘n’ had popped out of the ‘Steinway’ inlay and was held on with Scotch tape — but the sound was warm. It was like meeting a friend.” Valued at $75,000, she got it for $35,000 and had it restored.

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