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#1551564 - 11/05/10 02:39 PM Re: teacher who doesn't take care of her piano - what to do? [Re: alexb]
wavelength Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 340
Loc: Vermont, USA
Originally Posted By: burma

This is a joke of a post - sorry to say. I'm not making excuses for anything if you bother to read. Getting defensive for some reason? No pride here, but lots of ego over there it seems. Yes I know, Lang Lang also practiced on a piano with 10 strings broken....


I'm open to the idea that I might be offensive. Defensive, not so much. If you think my post is motivated by a defensive ego, then you are misinterpreting it and rejecting information for the wrong reason.

My apologies for the use of the word "excuses". When you said that you "screw up because the action is in bad shape," it sounded very much like an excuse.

The fact remains that teachers hear that kind of complaint all the time. I hear it about my well-regulated modern Boston. I have made the same complaint to my teachers, some of whom were kind and patient about it, others less so. The message I got from those teachers was "practice more, and it will work out,"... and they were right.

When you say she charges "top dollar", I think $90 or $125. If that's her rate it would be strange for her to have a poorly maintained piano indeed.

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#1551592 - 11/05/10 03:45 PM Re: teacher who doesn't take care of her piano - what to do? [Re: alexb]
alexb Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/19/10
Posts: 265
Loc: USA
Fair enough, and I do understand. I understand also the skepticism from teachers, but I haven't said much to her as I've already described. I just found it strange and wasn't sure how/if I should approach it.

I do wish people these days (in most things) would give people the benefit of the doubt, but unfortunately the burden too often is for one to prove this and that. I think this has to do with the general pessimism going around these days, but I digress.

Yes, that is the rate, and I'm fine with it because as I said, she's very good. I'm sure she can easily play on a beat up spinet, so perhaps she's so used to it, nobody complains (for similar reasons to mine perhaps), so it just is what it is! Not a big point of focus for her. And of course in time everyone gets used to it, and it's not a bad idea. But curious still as you point out why some neglect their instruments. Artists!

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#1551604 - 11/05/10 04:32 PM Re: teacher who doesn't take care of her piano - what to do? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11847
Loc: Canada
Quote:
Keystring, could you please tell us what would happen if you went to a violin lesson, and you tried to play on an out of tune violin or your teacher's instrument was out of tune, missing a string, etc.?

John, I only saw this question today (on p. 1). Our instruments were always tuned by our teacher at the start of every lesson, because with temperature changes they go out of tune en route. Proper care was stressed: loosening the bow, wiping rosin off the body and strings. He would admonish us if it was not done. His own instrument showed signs of that care so he was a role model. Of course this does not cost money. However, the piano was probably tuned twice a year. Sometimes a few notes slipped a tad, and it was only an upright, but the action felt even - nothing weird. (I had a few piano lessons and so had a chance to play it.)

As a student, I think a very perfect piano (exclusively) can almost be a handicap, because we do encounter all kinds of instruments.We are not there to give a perfect performance but to learn handle the instrument. However, if you have worked all week and the studio piano is truly poor (missing notes that you must circumvent? yegads!) that has to be disappointing and ummotivating. Can you really work with a teacher if you are playing two notes with one hand, and one of the keys sticks while the other doesn't?

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#1553733 - 11/08/10 03:55 PM Re: teacher who doesn't take care of her piano - what to do? [Re: alexb]
wouter79 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/10
Posts: 3623
Interesting topic. I sometimes have similar issues.

I can't think of advantages of an irregular action for a pianist, neither a pro nor an amateur.

The amateur is just stuggling with it; and the pro will just learn bad habits from it (as he will learn how to compensate for a bad piano and those compensations will disturb his playing on the next piano).

Regulation just is part of obligatory maintenance, just like you need to replace strings on a violin or get new reeds for your clarinet.

So I think it is plain clear: if a piano is not ok your playing will suffer. Playing softer then will cause some notes to drop out. If your teacher's piano is that bad, I guess your teacher will accept that too if she asks you to play softer.
_________________________

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#1553854 - 11/08/10 06:47 PM Re: teacher who doesn't take care of her piano - what to do? [Re: alexb]
Jeff Clef Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 4441
Loc: San Jose, CA
Thinking it over... I've had a number of teachers over the years. Several of them have been very good; none has been perfect. I know one thing for sure: you can fix a piano a lot easier than you can fix a teacher.

The one who made the greatest fetish out of her perfect piano was the least satisfactory of the lot.

Count your blessings. Make the most of your time together and try to overlook the shortcomings; they all have something.

It's true of students as well, I would imagine.
_________________________
Clef


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#1554064 - 11/09/10 01:10 AM Re: teacher who doesn't take care of her piano - what to do? [Re: wouter79]
wavelength Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 340
Loc: Vermont, USA
Originally Posted By: wouter79


The amateur is just stuggling with it; and the pro will just learn bad habits from it (as he will learn how to compensate for a bad piano and those compensations will disturb his playing on the next piano).

Regulation just is part of obligatory maintenance, just like you need to replace strings on a violin or get new reeds for your clarinet.

So I think it is plain clear: if a piano is not ok your playing will suffer. Playing softer then will cause some notes to drop out. If your teacher's piano is that bad, I guess your teacher will accept that too if she asks you to play softer.


In a perfect world where there is a perfect piano in every house, this would be the final word. But it's not like that unless you are rich, or have some kind of Steinway endorsement. And I'd bet that even Steinway artists find something to complain about in the action of pianos that they are provided.

It has been said several times in this thread that playing an imperfect piano is bad for your playing. I say that the opposite is true, that playing a bad piano sometimes prepares you to play on all the imperfect instruments that you will encounter, including your own. I say that if you can only play on a perfect piano, then your skills are deficient. Because you can't expect to encounter perfect pianos-- that is reality. To complain about the poor pianos instead of increasing our level of playing is like complaining about the weather instead of wearing a sweater.

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#1554102 - 11/09/10 02:35 AM Re: teacher who doesn't take care of her piano - what to do? [Re: wavelength]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5590
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: wavelength
It has been said several times in this thread that playing an imperfect piano is bad for your playing. I say that the opposite is true, that playing a bad piano sometimes prepares you to play on all the imperfect instruments that you will encounter, including your own.


I don't follow your logic. If you are any decent at piano, then why would you even want to touch a bad piano?
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#1554183 - 11/09/10 08:11 AM Re: teacher who doesn't take care of her piano - what to do? [Re: alexb]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7417
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Subtle but important differences. We're not discussing the imperfect, but the poorly maintained. All pianos are imperfect, some less so than others. The perfect piano has yet to be manufactured. Not only that, a "perfectly" in tune piano is purposely tuned out-of-tune. My technician tells me that a piano is a bundle of compromises.

The real issue for teachers is whether they recognize what constitutes a well-maintained instrument in the first place, and secondly, are they operating their teaching business in such a way as to fund necessary and periodic maintenance on their pianos so they are playing to the standard built-in by the manufacturer.

IMHO, to ask/demand students play on poorly maintained instruments is unconscionable. The teacher sets the standard for the student, and the standard such a teacher is setting is mediocrity.
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#1554410 - 11/09/10 04:45 PM Re: teacher who doesn't take care of her piano - what to do? [Re: AZNpiano]
wavelength Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 340
Loc: Vermont, USA
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Originally Posted By: wavelength
It has been said several times in this thread that playing an imperfect piano is bad for your playing. I say that the opposite is true, that playing a bad piano sometimes prepares you to play on all the imperfect instruments that you will encounter, including your own.


I don't follow your logic. If you are any decent at piano, then why would you even want to touch a bad piano?


It's not that you would seek out bad pianos. It's that most of the pianos you will encounter, outside of your home, are not well-maintained. You can either say "I can't play that piano because the action is uneven," thereby limiting your musical experience to your living room or to an occasional recital-- or you can adapt and enjoy the pianos that you encounter in the wild, which are few enough as it is.

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#1554416 - 11/09/10 04:48 PM Re: teacher who doesn't take care of her piano - what to do? [Re: AZNpiano]
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5976
Loc: Down Under
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Originally Posted By: wavelength
It has been said several times in this thread that playing an imperfect piano is bad for your playing. I say that the opposite is true, that playing a bad piano sometimes prepares you to play on all the imperfect instruments that you will encounter, including your own.
I don't follow your logic. If you are any decent at piano, then why would you even want to touch a bad piano?
Plenty of reasons.
[1] I play to earn my living and for many of the everyday things I do I have no say in the choice of piano. Refuse to accompany a singer for an exam because the piano is bad? Not me. But I'll probably put in a written complaint afterwards, and suggest they have their piano attended to.

[2] If it's the only choice you have. If my circumstances were such that the only piano I had access to was bad, would I stop playing the piano? No way!!

(But I agree with John's points about our responsibility to students)



_________________________
Du holde Kunst...

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#1554673 - 11/10/10 01:15 AM Re: teacher who doesn't take care of her piano - what to do? [Re: currawong]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5590
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: currawong
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Originally Posted By: wavelength
It has been said several times in this thread that playing an imperfect piano is bad for your playing. I say that the opposite is true, that playing a bad piano sometimes prepares you to play on all the imperfect instruments that you will encounter, including your own.
I don't follow your logic. If you are any decent at piano, then why would you even want to touch a bad piano?
Plenty of reasons.
[1] I play to earn my living and for many of the everyday things I do I have no say in the choice of piano. Refuse to accompany a singer for an exam because the piano is bad? Not me. But I'll probably put in a written complaint afterwards, and suggest they have their piano attended to.

[2] If it's the only choice you have. If my circumstances were such that the only piano I had access to was bad, would I stop playing the piano? No way!!


Right. But your examples don't follow the discourse being quoted and discussed. Context.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#1554721 - 11/10/10 03:49 AM Re: teacher who doesn't take care of her piano - what to do? [Re: AZNpiano]
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5976
Loc: Down Under
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Right. But your examples don't follow the discourse being quoted and discussed. Context.
Then what did Wavelength mean by "... playing a bad piano sometimes prepares you to play on all the imperfect instruments that you will encounter, including your own"? He was talking about substandard instruments you encounter, and sometimes you have no choice about encountering them. If you want to play the piano, that is. I know it's not quite the situation of the OP, but neither (apparently) is the piano belonging to the OP's teacher a "bad" one, just (probably) poorly maintained.

Your question was why would you want to even touch a bad piano? - my answer was that there are many situations where it's the lesser of two evils, the greater being not playing. It seems the OP's situation is just this, as he actually likes his teacher and values her instruction.

On the necessity of we teachers maintaining our pianos well, there's no disagreement from me.

I just feel that if your attitude as a pianist is that you will only play the best and scorn anything else, you will miss a lot of musical opportunities. I kind of pride myself on being able to make the best of a substandard piano. I'm not saying I seek them out. smile
_________________________
Du holde Kunst...

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#1554736 - 11/10/10 04:49 AM Re: teacher who doesn't take care of her piano - what to do? [Re: currawong]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5590
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: currawong
I kind of pride myself on being able to make the best of a substandard piano.


I think that's a better way of putting it.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#1555059 - 11/10/10 04:47 PM Re: teacher who doesn't take care of her piano - what to do? [Re: alexb]
itsfreakingmeout Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/09/10
Posts: 706
Loc: Manassas, Virginia
Get on her ass and tell her to fix it. That's totally unacceptable...If my teacher was holding lessons on a piano that was out of whack I would cut her faster than an umbillical cord. Who does that?
_________________________
Yeah I've got a Cristofori and love it. What.

if you're thinking about going into that house, don't.

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#1555061 - 11/10/10 04:48 PM Re: teacher who doesn't take care of her piano - what to do? [Re: Dror Perl]
itsfreakingmeout Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/09/10
Posts: 706
Loc: Manassas, Virginia
Originally Posted By: Dror Perl
perhaps an anonymous note ?? smile

I guess its a lot better to have a great teacher with an awful piano than to have an awful teacher with a great piano...so consider yourself lucky !!

now seriously, If it is such a problem that you can't enjoy the lessons or you feel that its holding you back I would consider saying something to your teacher, its a reasonable concern to share with your teacher.





that didnt work on jersey shore!
_________________________
Yeah I've got a Cristofori and love it. What.

if you're thinking about going into that house, don't.

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#1555067 - 11/10/10 04:54 PM Re: teacher who doesn't take care of her piano - what to do? [Re: itsfreakingmeout]
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5976
Loc: Down Under
Originally Posted By: itsfreakingmeout
Get on her ass and tell her to fix it. That's totally unacceptable...If my teacher was holding lessons on a piano that was out of whack I would cut her faster than an umbillical cord. Who does that?
Colourful language. But the original post was about how to approach the issue with the teacher. It might be your style to march up to the teacher and demand it be fixed otherwise you'll "cut her" etc etc, but I don't think it's the OP's style.
_________________________
Du holde Kunst...

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#1555075 - 11/10/10 05:06 PM Re: teacher who doesn't take care of her piano - what to do? [Re: currawong]
itsfreakingmeout Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/09/10
Posts: 706
Loc: Manassas, Virginia
Originally Posted By: currawong
Originally Posted By: itsfreakingmeout
Get on her ass and tell her to fix it. That's totally unacceptable...If my teacher was holding lessons on a piano that was out of whack I would cut her faster than an umbillical cord. Who does that?
Colourful language. But the original post was about how to approach the issue with the teacher. It might be your style to march up to the teacher and demand it be fixed otherwise you'll "cut her" etc etc, but I don't think it's the OP's style.


I have enough self control not to 'march up to the teacher and demand it be fixed' as you so claim, but i would certainly have a word with her about her neglected piano. Lets teach everyone to drive on a car with a bad alignment, a cracked axle and bad brakes....see how good they do.
_________________________
Yeah I've got a Cristofori and love it. What.

if you're thinking about going into that house, don't.

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#1555628 - 11/11/10 01:09 PM Re: teacher who doesn't take care of her piano - what to do? [Re: itsfreakingmeout]
wavelength Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 340
Loc: Vermont, USA
Originally Posted By: itsfreakingmeout
Lets teach everyone to drive on a car with a bad alignment, a cracked axle and bad brakes....see how good they do.


Just fine, thanks. Now that I have a good car it's like a dream.

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#1555792 - 11/11/10 05:51 PM Re: teacher who doesn't take care of her piano - what to do? [Re: alexb]
Jonathan Baker Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/09/09
Posts: 475
Loc: New York City!
This reminds me of Beethoven's Broadwood piano: according to Reis, clumsy Beethoven had the habit of repeatedly knocking an inkwell into it. Johann Stumpff, visiting Beethoven, said of his piano, "The upper registers were mute, and the broken strings in a tangle, like a thorn bush whipped buy a storm."

Of course, Beethoven was deaf by that time, nevertheless, he was an active teacher, particularly of Czerny, who in turn was a teacher of Liszt and Leschetitzky.

But the teacher in question, above, is not Beethoven, so the logical conclusion is that: 1) the teacher is indifferent to the condition of the piano, or, 2) the teacher is living on the razor's edge of financial survival, is also mortified by the condition of her piano, but has only enough cash for immediate bills.

I would spring the question to the teacher, without animus, "I really enjoy studying with you, but this action is far too uneven - what has your piano technician said about regulating the action?" It is a fair question, and deserves a frank response in turn. If the piano is that bad, but the teacher that good, I would also ask her about conducting lessons on your own piano, and be willing to pay extra for the travel & time incurred by your teacher.
_________________________
Jonathan Baker
http://www.BakerPianoLessons.com/index.htm

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#1555826 - 11/11/10 06:59 PM Re: teacher who doesn't take care of her piano - what to do? [Re: alexb]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7417
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Jonathan, I like your approach. If no one says anything about the problem, it will not get resolved. But you don't have to be antagonistic to broach the subject of a badly maintained teaching instrument.
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#1555843 - 11/11/10 07:45 PM Re: teacher who doesn't take care of her piano - what to do? [Re: alexb]
Jeff Clef Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 4441
Loc: San Jose, CA
Beethoven was indifferent to more than that wind-whipped thorn bush. One memorable letter, written by a visiting aristocratic friend to another, mentioned, not only the extreme disorder of Beethoven's quarters, but also the stench of an unemptied chamberpot shoved under the piano.

Would you still take lessons?
_________________________
Clef


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