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#1322683 - 12/10/09 01:46 PM Do owners of grands find it difficult to play on uprights?
Sean M. Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/16/09
Posts: 97
I mean, if you own and are used to playing on a grand, and then go visit your friend who has an upright, and your friend asks you to play something, do you find yourself fumbling over trills and mordents because the action on an upright requires the key to come back up much further before it can be pressed again? There's no repetition lever on an upright, either.

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#1322765 - 12/10/09 03:30 PM Re: Do owners of grands find it difficult to play on uprights? [Re: Sean M.]
Rickster Online   content


Registered: 03/25/06
Posts: 8076
Loc: Georgia, USA
Hi,

I’m not that good of a piano player, but I’ll respond to your question.
I have a decent 5’10” grand and very nice studio upright. I find that I much prefer to play my grand piano, even though I have easy access to either. As good as the touch and tone of my Pertof upright is, my grand feels better and sounds better to me.

I rarely play my upright anymore. I’ve thought about selling it, but my wife likes the looks of it.

Best regards,

Rick
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Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel

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#1322807 - 12/10/09 04:41 PM Re: Do owners of grands find it difficult to play on uprights? [Re: Rickster]
Larry Larson Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 992
Loc: Carmel, Indiana
I've got a good grand and a good upright. I enjoy playing them both. No question I can have better dynamic control with the grand. I could be wrong, but when it comes to the repetition advantage of a grand, I don't think that shows up until someone reaches a very high level of technical proficiency. My LH skill is very poor, but my RH skill is very good because I was an accomplished accordionist by the time I was 15. But I've never been able to get my upright to get hung up from deficiency of repetition even on the fastest of trills. And by the way, I don't even know what a mordent is!
_________________________
1995 Baldwin L grand
2001 Baldwin Hamilton upright
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#1322812 - 12/10/09 04:49 PM Re: Do owners of grands find it difficult to play on uprights? [Re: Larry Larson]
meowmix52 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/08/09
Posts: 110
Personally, I would gladly play both instruments.

However, playing a spinet with drop action is another story...

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#1322814 - 12/10/09 04:51 PM Re: Do owners of grands find it difficult to play on uprights? [Re: Sean M.]
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5834
Loc: Down Under
Originally Posted By: Sean M.
...do you find yourself fumbling over trills and mordents because the action on an upright requires the key to come back up much further before it can be pressed again?
Short answer, no, not really, because I'm used to playing different pianos. I have a well-maintained and regulated Yamaha C3 grand, but regularly play on all sorts of pianos from steinways to old heaps of firewood. Part of your skill as a pianist is being able to get the best out of what you're given to play on. It's not always the uprights that are the sub-standard ones where action is concerned! But I have to say that the biggest issue for me in going from a grand to an upright is height and nearness of music desk - in other words, vision issues...
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#1322828 - 12/10/09 05:05 PM Re: Do owners of grands find it difficult to play on uprights? [Re: Rickster]
crogersrx Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/25/08
Posts: 712
Loc: San Francisco, CA
I'm hardly a spectacular player, but have played grand since I was a kid. When I have played uprights, I generally find the touch not quite as subtle and responsive. A well regulated grand seem much easier to play a wide range of dynamics than most uprights.

That being said, I have plaid a few uprights (very few) that were surprisingly satisfying to play. While my 1887 Knabe was being restored, there was a Steinway upright in the shop that I took an opportunity to try out. The mechanism was already rebuilt/restored and regulated, new hammers, new strings, etc. The cabinet was not yet done because the tech was leaving that until he had a buyer, then they could specify the cabinet finish they liked. The Steinway upright (a very tall upright) was astounding. I am hardly a virtuoso, but it was the closest thing to a grand that I've experienced in an upright. The taller Yamaha professional uprights, I've hear, are also pretty amazing, but don't approach the feel of a nice grand.

I think, though, and others might be able to elaborate on this as well, that a major detractor from being used to a grand and going to an upright is the change in sound. Most uprights are at most 48-52" tall, and so they can't really compete with a grand in sound and accoustics. You rarely see an upright with a case that opens up to allow the sound to escape, whereas grands are almost always played with the lid open.

I have talked to people that are unaccustomed to playing on a grand and find the action feel quite different and prefer to play their upright rather than a nice grand -- but my guess is that if they had a regular access to a grand, they'd soon change their mind.

You might want to check out Del Fandrich's sight and google his company. They have an incredible upright that he designed to have grand-like sound and key response. I really would love to try one of his uprights sometime. And, if I were to ever have to convert to an upright for space reasons, I'd get on the waiting list to have one made for me.
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San Francisco, CA
1887 Knabe 6'4" (Rebuilt)

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#1322830 - 12/10/09 05:09 PM Re: Do owners of grands find it difficult to play on uprights? [Re: crogersrx]
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17699
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
Well, I find it difficult to play on ANY piano. laugh

To give a serious answer to your question, the biggest problem I have when playing on an upright is getting used to the shorter keys I find on a lot of them. My fingers bump into the fallboard more often.
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#1322831 - 12/10/09 05:10 PM Re: Do owners of grands find it difficult to play on uprights? [Re: crogersrx]
Mike088 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/23/09
Posts: 91
Loc: New Westminster, Canada
Hello Sean,

I asked this same question in May 2009 and here are the answers people gave me back then:

http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthrea...tml#Post1196438

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#1322846 - 12/10/09 05:25 PM Re: Do owners of grands find it difficult to play on uprights? [Re: Monica K.]
terminaldegree Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/03/06
Posts: 2557
Loc: western Wisconsin
No big deal switching between the 3 pianos in my signature. Now, a crappy/unregulated new or older upright is a problem...

Crogersrx,

I'll pit the sound of my 51" upright against any smaller grand, thank you very much... I've been fortunate enough to audition 2 uprights with the Fandrich Vertical Action- a 49" Klima and a 49" Feurich. The Feurich version was particularly awesome overall, though both were more (or, in the case of the Feurich, a lot more) than the Schimmel I bought. Definitely the "ultimate" upright action...though I'd take the Bechstein concert 8 for sound.
_________________________
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Piano Review Editor - Acoustic and Digital Piano Buyer
Casio px-200, Bechstein A190 #192939 @ home
Steinway A #585209, B #416809 @ work
Schimmel 130T #339100, on loan

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#1322856 - 12/10/09 05:47 PM Re: Do owners of grands find it difficult to play on uprights? [Re: terminaldegree]
dmc092657 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/02/08
Posts: 277
My at-home piano is a 1991 Yamaha UE-1 upright. Its in pretty good shape. But I just started up with a new teacher who happens to be a Steinway artist. The lessons are at the local Steinway dealer so we use the 9 ft Steinway D most of the time. Visiting Steinway artists use this piano when giving informal concerts, master classes etc. Quite a thrill to play on such a beautiful instrument but because the action is a touch stiffer than my upright, I find it a challenge to play quieter passages without occasionally dropping notes altogether. This is not a knock on the Steinway at all (if anything its a knock on ME for not adjusting). My point is that under the circumstances, I probably have more difficulty going from my upright to a grand (from a touch standpoint). Hopefully I'll be able to one day afford a decent grand to practice on so I can take full advantage of the dynamic range it has to offer. My upright's sound is fairly bright and vanilla.

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#1322862 - 12/10/09 05:52 PM Re: Do owners of grands find it difficult to play on uprights? [Re: dmc092657]
Norbert Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 13974
Loc: Surrey, B.C.
A good and well regulated upright, like our own Sauter upright at home, can be a joy to own and play on.

A not-so-nice grand with no or poor regulation can be a dud.

Amazing how many teachers own one of those....

So, it really depends - each case is different.

Norbert smile
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#1322920 - 12/10/09 07:18 PM Re: Do owners of grands find it difficult to play on uprights? [Re: dmc092657]
rodmichael Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/08/08
Posts: 334
Loc: Maryland
I am a beginner since Feb 2008. I have had my M&H AA since April 2009. When I went to Summerkeys in August this year, I had an opportunity to play on several uprights and grand pianos of many different manufacturers. There were probably adjustments that I made that I was not conscious of as I went between pianos. However, the worst piano that I played was a Steinway concert grand, at least 10 feet long. We had to play on that piano the last night in a recital for the assembled students and faculty. For me, it was terrible, compared to my M&H and compared to all the other pianos at the camp. I don't think it was the pressure of the recital because I haven't had that problem in other recitals.

The bottom line for me is that I have learned not to have automatic expectations or biases regarding pianos that I get to play. I just sit down and see if I can make music that satisfies me. Mostly, I enjoy almost any piano I get to play. I didn't enjoy that Steinway though.
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Mason & Hamlin AA, SN 93018
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#1323023 - 12/10/09 10:29 PM Re: Do owners of grands find it difficult to play on uprights? [Re: Sean M.]
Diane... Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/16/06
Posts: 3343
Loc: Western Canada
Originally Posted By: Sean M.
I mean, if you own and are used to playing on a grand, and then go visit your friend who has an upright, and your friend asks you to play something, do you find yourself fumbling over trills and mordents because the action on an upright requires the key to come back up much further before it can be pressed again? There's no repetition lever on an upright, either.


On some uprights I have noticed that the keys are a bit shorter. And so I don't stretch my fingers out as much. Feel a little limited that way. But you adjust to what you've got. The sound of the piano is the first thing I'll notice, then the feel. Okay, maybe the other way around. Always a surprise either way really!

Think a good tuner/technician can play a "HUGE" part in it's performance ability!
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Diane
Jazz/Blues/Rock/Boogie Piano Teacher


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#1323041 - 12/10/09 10:55 PM Re: Do owners of grands find it difficult to play on uprights? [Re: Diane...]
Peter Sumner- Piano Technician Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/07
Posts: 852
Loc: San Francisco
Dianne...
You make a very valid point, one which is missed in many of the references, in these pages, to how a particular piano plays.
Everyone should please remember that the difference between a well maintained and prepped piano compared to a rarely tuned, poorly maintained piano is so huge as to be laughable.
The question at hand is a very valid one, and an issue which can cause concern i.e....is it me or the piano????

The geometry and 'assist' springs in a modern grand, if maintained, will make it easier to articulate trills...however, a quality upright will make up in tone what it lack in agility...but the grand 'should' be easier to play.

I would venture to suggest that ALL pianos out there would benefit from some technical 'intervention' (a buzz word on a specific TV programme, so I've been told)...seems appropriate to use it here as many owners have no idea that their keyboard can be made to feel smoother with a very simple procedure...one that even a beginner tooner should be able to do (upright pianos are much easier to do than grands)... Keyboard friction is out there....get rid of it and the feel will be instantly improved...

Applications for the procedure should be requested written on the back of a $20 bill....
Send it to Pete c/o Redwood City, CA...only kidding.....ask your tech....
_________________________
Peter Sumner
Concert Piano Technician



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#1323089 - 12/11/09 12:39 AM Re: Do owners of grands find it difficult to play on uprights? [Re: Monica K.]
4evrBeginR Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/27/09
Posts: 1607
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: Monica K.
Well, I find it difficult to play on ANY piano. laugh

To give a serious answer to your question, the biggest problem I have when playing on an upright is getting used to the shorter keys I find on a lot of them. My fingers bump into the fallboard more often.


I think that is a serious answer. I have the exact problem. I think this is especially true if you only play on one piano (home) all the time. When I was in school, I played all sorts of pianos, and there were some favorites that were always in use. Back then, I never had any problems switching from any piano to any other piano.
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Art is never finished, only abandoned. - da Vinci

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#1323126 - 12/11/09 02:38 AM Re: Do owners of grands find it difficult to play on uprights? [Re: 4evrBeginR]
Karen Bretz Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/17/02
Posts: 215
Loc: Anchorage, Alaska
The biggest difference between playing my grand (basically the only horizontal piano I play) and an upright is my perception of where the sound is. The sound on my grand envelopes me. It's vibrant, and I'm a part of it.

In contrast, the sound on an upright is a mile away - I suppose because the soundboard is facing away. It's a sensation similar to playing an organ when the pipes (or speakers) are across the room. There is a disconnect.

Karen

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#1323157 - 12/11/09 05:48 AM Re: Do owners of grands find it difficult to play on uprights? [Re: meowmix52]
Sean M. Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/16/09
Posts: 97
Originally Posted By: meowmix52
However, playing a spinet with drop action is another story...


Ha. I currently have a spinet with drop action. From 1953.

Can you tell me some more about this, because this is actually what inspired my question.

I noticed that when playing trills and mordents, I mess them up frequently. The key has to come almost all the way back up before I can press it again. I have to play them so carefully, that to play them up to speed it's hard not to also play them very LOUDLY because I have to move my fingers so quickly. Sometimes I can pull it off successfully. Often times, I mess up.

(OK, being able to do it successfully will probably help me play more articulately on _any_ piano...)

But I noticed when playing a grand at the store a while back, I really didn't have this problem. Somehow it was easier to play such ornaments.

I had assumed it was due to the difference between vertical and horizontal actions, but hadn't considered it's due to the difference between decent, modern actions and the drop-action from a cheap 1950s spinet.

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#1323158 - 12/11/09 05:59 AM Re: Do owners of grands find it difficult to play on uprights? [Re: Sean M.]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 20766
Loc: Oakland
The problem with your spinet is probably the regulation, more than anything else. I bet it has not been done since the piano was made. Very few people have anything done other than tuning.

It is a bigger adjustment going from a well regulated piano to an unregulated piano than it is going from an upright to a grand. As Norbert said, a well regulated upright will play better than an out of regulation grand.
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Semipro Tech

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#1323177 - 12/11/09 07:53 AM Re: Do owners of grands find it difficult to play on uprights? [Re: BDB]
Rank Piano Amateur Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/11/07
Posts: 1735
For me, the problems I run in to playing uprights (I have a grand at home) relate not to the music itself, but to eyesight. My increased age has caused me to become farsighted. I wear reading glasses to read, and weaker reading glasses to play my piano. Unfortunately, when I sit down at an upright, I often find that the music is too close, so reading it becomes a real challenge with or without glasses. I guess my arms aren't long enough!

I did grow up learning on a huge old upright, though, so the differences in touch, etc., don't bother me.

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#1323209 - 12/11/09 09:09 AM Re: Do owners of grands find it difficult to play on uprights? [Re: dmc092657]
dglo Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/30/09
Posts: 103
Loc: New York
With a 5'10" grand and a 46" studio upright, I have the same issues that most people outlined above. The grand is certainly easier to play (the action is simply more responsive) and the sound is a grand sound. The upright has many benefits as well, including an easier soft pedal. The action fights you, though, and if I had to play in a nightclub I would be paralyzed by the end of the evening, but it does allow remarkable control over ppp's. That being said, I prefer the grand because of the, well, grand sound! And I could play it all night without any repercussions. But I'm keeping the keeping the upright because it looks good in the guest room!

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#1323217 - 12/11/09 09:19 AM Re: Do owners of grands find it difficult to play on uprights? [Re: dglo]
rada Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/07/06
Posts: 1124
Loc: pagosa springs,co
A piano is a tool [ and a passion of course]. The better the piano, the more accomplished the pianist, the better the outcome. Personally I like to enjoy what I'm hearing when I play. A piano against a wall is the worst.

rada

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#1323236 - 12/11/09 09:53 AM Re: Do owners of grands find it difficult to play on uprights? [Re: rada]
I'll be Bach Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/11/09
Posts: 122
Loc: North Carolina
Originally Posted By: rada
A piano is a tool [ and a passion of course]. The better the piano, the more accomplished the pianist, the better the outcome. Personally I like to enjoy what I'm hearing when I play. A piano against a wall is the worst.

rada


Yes...the worst. Better to quit altogether or even better, have your hands removed at the elbow rather than play those insufferable uprights.
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#1323339 - 12/11/09 01:18 PM Re: Do owners of grands find it difficult to play on uprights? [Re: I'll be Bach]
gutenberg Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/05/07
Posts: 376
Loc: Wichita, Kansas
Sean, you put your initial question in helpful context when you told us you play on a spinet. I don't think comparing grands and uprights generally is going to be very helpful in addressing your circumstances. You are playing on a difficult to play instrument. Most people are going to find it difficult to go from a grand to a spinet. Properly regulated, a good quality upright can have a wonderful feel (and sound). Mine does for me.

And rada/Bach, you should appreciate that there are many people here who love their uprights. No need to go out of your way to offend.

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#1323341 - 12/11/09 01:24 PM Re: Do owners of grands find it difficult to play on uprights? [Re: I'll be Bach]
djtoast Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/20/07
Posts: 136
Loc: Glasgow
I've got one of each kind and I feel like I "acclimatize" to the touch of each pretty quickly when playing. Regarding the repetition aspect my grand is a little different from more modern instruments... so has less of an edge over the upright in that department than many grands would - having said which, both my pianos exceed the limits of my ability when it comes to trills! For individual notes repeated rapidly they've also both coped with anything I've asked for - the repeated C#s halfway through Rhapsody in Blue and the Bbs in the Katachurian Tocatta spring to mind and both pianos are up to the job for those.

The height of the music desk is the biggest problem - I do 95% of my practice on the upright and it can be tricky remembering to look (back up) much higher on the grand - this also gives me problems on my teacher's grand; for ages I felt I played worse in my lessons than at home and put thus down to being nervous at playing in front of my teacher but actually I think not having the keyboard as prominent in my peripheral vision as on an upright is a substantial part of it.
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#1323373 - 12/11/09 02:16 PM Re: Do owners of grands find it difficult to play on uprights? [Re: djtoast]
thumper49 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/28/09
Posts: 170
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
The difference in the height of the music desk and its distance from the eye are definitely major reasons why I play worse on the grand in my teacher's studio than on my upright at home. The grand (one of the smaller Yamahas, not sure which)at least allows the music stand to be pushed back or pulled forward, which helps with my near-sightedness, but the music sits up much higher than it does at home and I have that much more difficulty returning my eyes to the right position if I happen to have looked down at my hands for a second. I'm a veteran of cataract surgery, and my eyes just don't respond as quickly any more to quick shifts in distance.

It definitely is easier to maintain good tone and produce a broader range of dynamics on the grand (especially getting a decent ppp) than on my T118, but I've only had this particular upright for a few weeks and am still getting used to how it handles. It doesn't help that I often practice with the mute pedal engaged because I live in a townhouse and like to play at night. When I happen to be at home and all the neighbours are out, I dispense with the mute (and open the lid) and it takes me a while to adjust to the difference in touch between the muted and unmuted state. I've likened the sensation to adjusting to a new lover: How should I touch you, up here, down here, to make you purr, or growl, or roar?

Who knew re-learning to play the piano would turn out to be an erotic exercise. blush

I need to get out more.
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Currently working on: Suzuki Piano School, book 4, second half

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#1323458 - 12/11/09 03:56 PM Re: Do owners of grands find it difficult to play on upright [Re: thumper49]
Louis H. Bousquet Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/22/08
Posts: 350
Loc: Stratford, Ontario, Canada
I think Bach was mocking rada, not actually calling uprights bad. Another thing, "erotic" you don't need to get out more, you need to get out all the time wow, erotic.


Edited by Louis H. Bousquet (12/11/09 03:58 PM)
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Louis Bousquet

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#1323466 - 12/11/09 04:03 PM Re: Do owners of grands find it difficult to play on uprights? [Re: gutenberg]
I'll be Bach Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/11/09
Posts: 122
Loc: North Carolina
Originally Posted By: gutenberg
Sean, you put your initial question in helpful context when you told us you play on a spinet. I don't think comparing grands and uprights generally is going to be very helpful in addressing your circumstances. You are playing on a difficult to play instrument. Most people are going to find it difficult to go from a grand to a spinet. Properly regulated, a good quality upright can have a wonderful feel (and sound). Mine does for me.

And rada/Bach, you should appreciate that there are many people here who love their uprights. No need to go out of your way to offend.


I don't think I could have made my sarcasm any more obvious if I came out over the internets and beat everyone over the head with my bleeding stump arms.

I recently purchased a Kawai K-2 upright...and love it.



Edited by I'll be Bach (12/11/09 04:06 PM)
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#1323552 - 12/11/09 05:38 PM Re: Do owners of grands find it difficult to play on uprights? [Re: I'll be Bach]
gutenberg Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/05/07
Posts: 376
Loc: Wichita, Kansas
My apologies, I'll be Bach. Thats what I get for mixing work with PW today and doing neither all that well. Congratulations on that Kawai.

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#1323561 - 12/11/09 05:50 PM Re: Do owners of grands find it difficult to play on uprights? [Re: thumper49]
dg4 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/24/09
Posts: 8

I agree about the height of the music desk. I am currently trying out pianos for purchase, and since I haven't played in years and don't currently have an instrument, I have been more or less dependent on having to sight-read my way through my old music (I learned to play on uprights). This has been more challenging than I had expected since the desk is not at my eye level on the grands I've tried so far, and I've had to muddle my way through playing while frequently pausing to look up and down. I will definitely have to investigate highly-adjustable benches to help out with this. Hopefully there is something out there that works.

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#1323582 - 12/11/09 06:26 PM Re: Do owners of grands find it difficult to play on uprights? [Re: thumper49]
crogersrx Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/25/08
Posts: 712
Loc: San Francisco, CA
I started out on a grand as a kid, so I've always been used to they hand/music disconnect. My piano teacher that I had when I was a kid was kind of eccentric (aside from living in a big old house which she had filled with seven different pianos, 5 of them grands...). She would use a piece of cardboard that she put under the music rack to cover my hands so that I had to look at the music and not keep watching my hands. She would make me work with trying to get a feel where the keys were without having to shift my eyes from the music. The results of that were that I rarely ever look at my hands, almost never lose my place in the music, I can sight read pretty well, but it took several years to correct my crazy fingerings that I came up with.

I find it hard to adjust to the differences in hight in the music stands on uprights because it is so much closer to my hands. Even today, I rarely look at my hands while I play, so seeing them while I'm reading the music sometimes throws off my (fragile) rhythms...!
_________________________
Cary Rogers, PharmD
San Francisco, CA
1887 Knabe 6'4" (Rebuilt)

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