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#1439354 - 05/18/10 09:45 PM Picky players <==> Worse skills?
ffevhbtwh Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/28/08
Posts: 61
Loc: U.S.A.
I notice that when my techniques are on the action on my piano is smooth as butter and sound is beautiful and even. When my techniques are off the action and sound are not as nice. I wonder if when people complaint about their piano's action or sound, it may very well be the player's deficiency? I'm not talking about a piano that is falling apart, but a piano in decent shape should provide pretty good sound in the right hands. My piano teacher's piano is not in the best of shape but when she plays it it sounds magical. To borrow from an old Michael Jordan's Nike ad, I'm thinking, no, it's not the shoes.

Do technicians notice pickier piano owners tend to be less skilled?

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#1439368 - 05/18/10 10:10 PM Re: Picky players <==> Worse skills? [Re: ffevhbtwh]
La Vega Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/04/09
Posts: 124
Loc: Oakland, CA
Interesting question. I think on the one hand, a great pianist should be able to adjust on the fly to different keyboards. On the other hand, all things being equal, a professional would probably prefer to stick with their favorite keyboard action (for example, a light-action Steinway), and hope they experience something similar on pianos they play in concert. Even if you are totally capable of adjusting to different actions, why would anyone wish for the extra difficulty?
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#1439431 - 05/19/10 12:32 AM Re: Picky players <==> Worse skills? [Re: ffevhbtwh]
beethoven986 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3293
This is absolutely ludicrous. Glenn Gould, Vladimir Horowitz, etc. were among the pickiest pianists ever and among the most skilled. I'm super picky, but that's because I'm less willing than other pianists to deal with deficient pianos, and because I've played every high-end grand that exists, with one or two exceptions.
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M.Mus. Piano Performance & Literature 2011
PTG Associate Member
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#1439433 - 05/19/10 12:41 AM Re: Picky players <==> Worse skills? [Re: beethoven986]
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 20746
Loc: Oakland
There are a very few pianists who are extremely skilled, and they can be picky. There are pianists who are extremely skilled and good at making do with what they have. There are pianists who are picky but just think they are extremely skilled. There are pianists who are picky so they can blame something else for their shortcomings.

One of the toughest parts of the concert technician's job is being pickier than the artist is. Even tougher is being able to accommodate all of these different types of artists.
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#1439442 - 05/19/10 01:39 AM Re: Picky players <==> Worse skills? [Re: ffevhbtwh]
SeilerFan Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/27/09
Posts: 746
Originally Posted By: ffevhbtwh
Do technicians notice pickier piano owners tend to be less skilled?


What is this question supposed to mean? There are all sorts of people out there, some fitting your description, others not. Generalizations of that nature result in no meaningful discussion in my view.

Lastly, in order to be picky I'd assume that one has to be pretty alert to notice inconsistencies in a piano. Most people that I know would never complain about my piano's tuning even though I can hear when the octaves become just a little bit impure. It bothers me as I'd like to have a perfectly tuned piano. However, based on my statement, I wish you good look figuring out whether I am less or more skilled at playing it.

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#1439444 - 05/19/10 01:46 AM Re: Picky players <==> Worse skills? [Re: beethoven986]
SeilerFan Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/27/09
Posts: 746
Originally Posted By: beethoven986
I'm super picky, but that's because I'm less willing than other pianists to deal with deficient pianos...


Which leads me to the next question on which we could poll people here: Do people who claim to be picky on an online forum just do this to corroborate their online persona as a discerning and picky one. Or, in turn, are they picky for pickiness's sake? Or, are they actually picky because the amount of underwhelming pianos is sheer overwhelming and therefore said pickiness serves as a bona-fide means to express the need for well-maintained pianos? Or.... crazy

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#1439446 - 05/19/10 01:49 AM Re: Picky players <==> Worse skills? [Re: SeilerFan]
Konzert Patrick Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/09/08
Posts: 790
Loc: The Netherlands
I am not a skilled pianist but I am terribly picky!

On my own piano I can feel every small difference that my own tuner does not even feel. I OCD majorly on my piano action and sound, it seems I want 100% perfection as the piano was so expensive!
The piano sounds gorgeous but when you listen note by note, there are some minor diffences, almost inaudiable that nobody seems to hear but me. I do know that this is part of owning a piano, 100% perfection does not exsist. It is up to the player to make it sound glorious!

I call the tuner every 3 months......

Sometimes I spend to much time on these things, I should focus my energy on becoming a better player!!

My partner says I am crazy crazy (Maybe I have issues cool)

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#1439449 - 05/19/10 01:56 AM Re: Picky players <==> Worse skills? [Re: SeilerFan]
Pianolance Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/09
Posts: 1178
Loc: Nashville, TN
These topics don't just concern pianists. Singers always searching for the "perfect" monitor mix, microphone, etc. guitar players on their quest for the perfect tone, strings, neck action, pickup configuration, etc. Reed players being super picky about reeds, etc. In my mind there is no question that a skilled player should be able to make the most of any situation, however, a poor instrument does bring a whole set of variables to the table, some of which can not be overcome. I once played a piano that had a sticky key that would ring out. The guitar player was sitting right next to me and whenever that key would stick he would crack up and lean over to raise it back up again, which I very much appreciated. Some people are so picky that they take the fun right out of making music. To me, you make the best of any situation and have fun, if not it's not worth it. Of course I don't get paid thousands of dollars per gig either. Prime example is Taylor Swift struggling with her monitor mix during the Grammy's. She was panned by many critics when clearly it was not her fault. If you can't hear your voice, you can't sing on pitch period. The public and especially the critics don't want to hear excuses, even if they are legitimate. I guess music and life are both complicated shades of gray.
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Knabe 5'2" Louis XV Walnut circa 1927
Very part time piano broker.

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#1439559 - 05/19/10 08:23 AM Re: Picky players <==> Worse skills? [Re: Pianolance]
NoctuGranes Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/22/07
Posts: 285
Loc: Northeast USA
Patrick summed it up for me.

And, Seilerfan, I think I could find a witness or two to testify that I am indeed a bit picky. But I don't think it is for any ulterior motive. I just get the best "high" from playing with nuance and a singing tone. When I can't get it, I'm frustrated.

This has also developed into a true appreciation of wonderful pianos and the people who make and maintain the good ones.

When it comes down to it and I am performing (e.g. on a crappy old grand piano in the school auditorium or church) it doesn't get to me AT ALL. I do my best and it usually sounds great. If they want it to sound better then "they" can buy a better piano. At home, at night, in the quiet, I hear everything and want it to sound good simply to please me...and because I know it can and should sound great.
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-Nocty
Not in the piano business.
1906 Baldwin C rebuilt 2008

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