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#1650549 - 03/29/11 09:28 PM Anyone who is anyone pedals in Bach?
WinsomeAllegretto Offline
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Registered: 07/18/10
Posts: 827
I am currently working on Bach's French Suite # 5 in g major. I played one of the movements for my teacher in my lesson, and she said I needed to add pedal. I thought it sounded fine as it was, so I asked why. Her answer was that all professionals use the pedal in Bach, and if I don't use the pedal I will sound like a beginner. She then went on to make me put in the pedal without giving me any guidelines first, which was frustrating, but that doesn't really have to do with the question. The questions is: is it really true that ALL professionals pedal in Bach? I thought there was a school that didn't believe in it.

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#1650551 - 03/29/11 09:32 PM Re: Anyone who is anyone pedals in Bach? [Re: WinsomeAllegretto]
ChopinAddict Offline
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Registered: 08/29/09
Posts: 6095
Loc: Land of the never-ending music
There was a discussion here some time ago... smile
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Music is my best friend.


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#1650552 - 03/29/11 09:33 PM Re: Anyone who is anyone pedals in Bach? [Re: WinsomeAllegretto]
Mark_C Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19647
Loc: New York
It's not true that all professionals use pedal in Bach, although most do.

And indeed there are different schools of thought -- not just "yes" or "no," but also 'how much,' and 'exactly how.'

It's fine to do it any of these ways, as long as you do it well.

What's "well"? That's the really hard part. smile
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"Everything I say is my opinion, including the facts." :-)

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#1650554 - 03/29/11 09:34 PM Re: Anyone who is anyone pedals in Bach? [Re: ChopinAddict]
Mark_C Online   content
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Originally Posted By: ChopinAddict
There was a discussion here some time ago... smile

But I bet it's never been asked before quite this way. smile
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"Everything I say is my opinion, including the facts." :-)

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#1650556 - 03/29/11 09:39 PM Re: Anyone who is anyone pedals in Bach? [Re: Mark_C]
WinsomeAllegretto Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/18/10
Posts: 827
Originally Posted By: ChopinAddict
There was a discussion here some time ago... smile


Oh, sorry. I hate to bring up stuff that has been beaten to death already. blush
BTW, when I clicked the link, it just brought me back to this topic.


Originally Posted By: Mark_C
It's not true that all professionals use pedal in Bach, although most do.

And indeed there are different schools of thought -- not just "yes" or "no," but also 'how much,' and 'exactly how.'

It's fine to do it any of these ways, as long as you do it well.

What's "well"? That's the really hard part. smile


That is the hard part. For the longest time I was really confused because I couldn't figure out where, why, how to use the pedal. Finally she said pedal on certain notes that need more sound. That helped a little, but it's hard to decide what notes need "more sound" too.

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#1650560 - 03/29/11 09:42 PM Re: Anyone who is anyone pedals in Bach? [Re: WinsomeAllegretto]
WinsomeAllegretto Offline
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Registered: 07/18/10
Posts: 827
Also, another way to put it: is it legitimate to refrain from pedaling? Will people take me seriously if I don't? And wouldn't it be better to leave it out than to put it in cluelessly?

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#1650565 - 03/29/11 09:45 PM Re: Anyone who is anyone pedals in Bach? [Re: WinsomeAllegretto]
ChopinAddict Offline
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Registered: 08/29/09
Posts: 6095
Loc: Land of the never-ending music
Originally Posted By: WinsomeAllegretto
Originally Posted By: ChopinAddict
There was a discussion here some time ago... smile


Oh, sorry. I hate to bring up stuff that has been beaten to death already. blush
BTW, when I clicked the link, it just brought me back to this topic.



Sorry! blush I copied and pasted the url of the wrong window (I had both tabs open)...
This is the correct link...

No problem at all, I bring up old topics too sometimes... I just thought maybe there are some useful ideas... And some new ideas may be added to this thread too... smile

As to me, yes, I use the pedal, but your teacher's assertion that ALL professionals use it is probably exaggerated I think.
_________________________



Music is my best friend.


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#1650567 - 03/29/11 09:53 PM Re: Anyone who is anyone pedals in Bach? [Re: WinsomeAllegretto]
fledgehog Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/09/11
Posts: 273
Loc: West Hartford, CT
i'm working on a couple movements from the same piece -- i do use the pedal, but i use it sparingly -- for the most part, finger legato SHOULD get you through.

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#1650574 - 03/29/11 10:01 PM Re: Anyone who is anyone pedals in Bach? [Re: fledgehog]
WinsomeAllegretto Offline
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Registered: 07/18/10
Posts: 827
Originally Posted By: fledgehog
i'm working on a couple movements from the same piece -- i do use the pedal, but i use it sparingly -- for the most part, finger legato SHOULD get you through.


Yes, for this particular movement (Allemande) the legato/articulation is exactly how I want it without pedal, which is why I was confused at first that my teacher wanted me to add pedal. I mean what else is the pedal for if not connecting the notes, right?...well actually wrong.

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#1650589 - 03/29/11 10:22 PM Re: Anyone who is anyone pedals in Bach? [Re: WinsomeAllegretto]
jeffreyjones Offline
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Registered: 01/31/10
Posts: 2290
Loc: San Jose, CA
There are people who feel the piano has capabilities far beyond the instruments Bach ever used, and he would be delighted to see those capabilities exploited. I can respect that premise, even as I disagree with it. Personally, I feel that Bach was a linear thinker. He didn't subscribe to the notions of harmony that Rameau set down in his treatise, and instead continued to think in a primarily horizontal fashion, with the "vertical" harmonies being a little more secondary. I do use the pedal in Bach, but always in such a way that the horizontal movement is clear.

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#1650600 - 03/29/11 10:42 PM Re: Anyone who is anyone pedals in Bach? [Re: WinsomeAllegretto]
argerichfan Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/15/06
Posts: 8820
Loc: Pacific Northwest, US.
Why NOT use pedal in Bach? Otherwise, why bother to play his music on a modern piano? I don't think Bach would have particularly minded: I cannot think of any other composer whose music adapts so beautifully to any medium. His music is indestructible. In the opening of the C minor Partita I couldn't imagine not using pedal, I certainly did when I studied it in secondary school.

Move over to the organ music, and the 'Baroque Boys' (as Virgil Fox sneered), would forbid Bach's music played on anything other than a Marcussen or that dreadful instrument Michael Chapius used in his recordings. One of the most moving performances I ever heard of the Fantasy & Fugue in G minor was on the massive Willis at Liverpool Anglican.
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#1650631 - 03/29/11 11:32 PM Re: Anyone who is anyone pedals in Bach? [Re: WinsomeAllegretto]
stores Offline
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Registered: 12/28/09
Posts: 6646
Loc: Here, as opposed to there
Umm no, all professionals do NOT use the pedal with Bach. It's late and I'm battling a cold...can't sleep...not even going to start with this subject, but there isn't a NEED for pedal with Bach and any teacher that claims you'll sound like a beginner shouldn't be teaching.
_________________________

"And if we look at the works of J.S. Bach — a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity... -Debussy

"It's ok if you disagree with me. I can't force you to be right."

♪ ≠ $


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#1650656 - 03/30/11 12:14 AM Re: Anyone who is anyone pedals in Bach? [Re: WinsomeAllegretto]
argerichfan Offline
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Registered: 11/15/06
Posts: 8820
Loc: Pacific Northwest, US.
Do get to bed stores. Things are much more pleasant when you're not around.
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#1650658 - 03/30/11 12:15 AM Re: Anyone who is anyone pedals in Bach? [Re: stores]
Mark_C Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19647
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: stores
Umm no, all professionals do NOT use the pedal with Bach. It's late and I'm battling a cold...can't sleep...not even going to start with this subject....

Hey Stores -- I played (more or less) smile a whole recital with a cold. You're saying you can't even post? ha
_________________________
"Everything I say is my opinion, including the facts." :-)

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#1650661 - 03/30/11 12:18 AM Re: Anyone who is anyone pedals in Bach? [Re: Mark_C]
argerichfan Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/15/06
Posts: 8820
Loc: Pacific Northwest, US.
Originally Posted By: Mark_C

Hey Stores -- I played (more or less) smile a whole recital with a cold. You're saying you can't even post? ha

Frankly I would prefer if he didn't.

ha ha ha
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Jason

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#1650666 - 03/30/11 12:33 AM Re: Anyone who is anyone pedals in Bach? [Re: WinsomeAllegretto]
liszt85 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/26/08
Posts: 3159
argerichfan, why bait the man?

As for the OP, I find it strange that the teacher only gives you this "explanation" which is a silly one IMO. You shouldn't use the pedal just because some professionals do. You should use the pedal if you think it serves a purpose. You have no idea what that purpose might be right now thanks to your teacher's "explanation". You should probably demand a better explanation and if the teacher does not give you a satisfactory response, it might be time for you to look for another teacher.

Has your teacher discussed with you the various different functions a pedal can be used for? So for example do you know the pedal is used for purposes of tone color and not necessarily always for sustain? Heard of accent pedals? There are places in a Bach prelude that I play where I use the pedal on accents (but short) just to give the accented note a different color from the rest of the notes. So there are legitimate ways to use the pedal but you must know what the purpose is and what it is that you want to achieve with the sound before you begin to use the pedal. Throw your teacher's explanation out of the window if you are unable to see why the pedal must be used or if the teacher is unable to provide a better explanation. You using the pedal without having an idea about the purpose would do more harm than you not using the pedal where it might have added to the sound.
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Current:
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Debussy: Le vent dans la plaine (Prelude 3, Book 1)
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#1650675 - 03/30/11 12:46 AM Re: Anyone who is anyone pedals in Bach? [Re: WinsomeAllegretto]
fledgehog Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/09/11
Posts: 273
Loc: West Hartford, CT
Originally Posted By: WinsomeAllegretto
Originally Posted By: fledgehog
i'm working on a couple movements from the same piece -- i do use the pedal, but i use it sparingly -- for the most part, finger legato SHOULD get you through.


Yes, for this particular movement (Allemande) the legato/articulation is exactly how I want it without pedal, which is why I was confused at first that my teacher wanted me to add pedal. I mean what else is the pedal for if not connecting the notes, right?...well actually wrong.


agreed. excapt for a couple tiny places, pedaling in the allemande sounds really muddy and blurry.

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#1650676 - 03/30/11 12:46 AM Re: Anyone who is anyone pedals in Bach? [Re: liszt85]
Mark_C Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19647
Loc: New York
Just a general point, not aimed particularly at the OP......

I think we should be careful to assume too much about exactly what a teacher said, based on what is said in a post. I mean look: In real life, when we hear something said, and then we hear someone tell about it, how often do they get it exactly right? IMO, not that often. Something usually gets lost in the repetition. So why should it be any different with posts? And it's no slam on the poster; IMO it's normal, just something that happens.

And we even make mistakes like that with what people say in posts. When we talk about what someone said, we might get it a little wrong, sometimes even way wrong -- even though what they said was right there on the page.

So....I'm not assuming anything about what the teacher said. That's why I answered just in terms of what the OP asked, without saying anything about the teacher.
_________________________
"Everything I say is my opinion, including the facts." :-)

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#1650703 - 03/30/11 01:49 AM Re: Anyone who is anyone pedals in Bach? [Re: stores]
chopin_r_us Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/17/10
Posts: 874
Loc: UK
Originally Posted By: stores
Umm no, all professionals do NOT use the pedal with Bach. It's late and I'm battling a cold...can't sleep...not even going to start with this subject, but there isn't a NEED for pedal with Bach and any teacher that claims you'll sound like a beginner shouldn't be teaching.
Disagree. You should use the pedal whenever you want a passage to sound louder (more robust). In Bach's time you'd sometimes have flaps that opened on a harpsichord to give the same effect.

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#1650708 - 03/30/11 02:00 AM Re: Anyone who is anyone pedals in Bach? [Re: chopin_r_us]
Mark_C Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19647
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: chopin_r_us
.....You should use the pedal whenever you want a passage to sound louder (more robust)....

You sure you want to put it that way? smile

For what it's worth, not too many people would agree with it.
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"Everything I say is my opinion, including the facts." :-)

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#1650715 - 03/30/11 02:21 AM Re: Anyone who is anyone pedals in Bach? [Re: stores]
Andromaque Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/08
Posts: 3886
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: stores
Umm no, all professionals do NOT use the pedal with Bach. It's late and I'm battling a cold...can't sleep...not even going to start with this subject, but there isn't a NEED for pedal with Bach and any teacher that claims you'll sound like a beginner shouldn't be teaching.


So you really would/did actually perform the WTC without any pedal?? or are you talking in general?

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#1650722 - 03/30/11 02:35 AM Re: Anyone who is anyone pedals in Bach? [Re: WinsomeAllegretto]
Cinnamonbear Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/09/10
Posts: 3844
Loc: Rockford, IL
Winsome One! laugh What a great question! The conclusion reached by the OP in the thread that ChopinAddict linked to for you to read was this: Let your ears be your guide.

I found these for you to listen to, if you care to. Tatiana Nikolayeva is one of my very most favorite Bach interpreters. The sound quality of this recording is not great, but my impression is that she is NOT pedalling in these renditions AT ALL!

Tatiana Nikolayeva-French Suite No.5 (part 1)

Tatiana Nikolayeva-French Suite No.5 (part 2)

Then, there is Emil Gilels (another of my faves), and in these renditions, my impression is that he DOES pedal, but ever, ever so slightly... sometimes... grin

Emil Gilels-French Suite No.5 (part 1)

Emil Gilels-French Suite No.5 (part 2)

What do you think? Here are two professionals NOT PEDALLING! Whether or not to pedal any particular Bach piece or phrase is, IMO, a very personal decision, to be made based on very personal expressive needs. DOWN WITH DOGMA, no matter how deeply imbued with intellect or how shallowly asserted through ignorance.

Hope this helps!
--Andy

P.S. That thread ChopinAddict linked to has lots and lots of very cool posts and is worth reading. smile
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#1650729 - 03/30/11 02:54 AM Re: Anyone who is anyone pedals in Bach? [Re: WinsomeAllegretto]
debrucey Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 2600
Loc: Manchester, UK
I use quite a lot of pedal here, in the sense of using it for many small effects, not smearing the whole sound. I think it works, particularly in the sarabande, though you may disagree.



Edited by debrucey (03/30/11 04:55 AM)

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#1650738 - 03/30/11 03:30 AM Re: Anyone who is anyone pedals in Bach? [Re: WinsomeAllegretto]
kevinb Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 1565
It's a judgement call at the end of the day, isn't it, like so much in music?

Bach didn't write for piano, so if you play his music on a piano you're making a transcription. As with any transcription, there's a range of possibilities between doing your best to preserve the timbre and dynamics of the original instrument, to making free use of all the features of the new one.

It's not a 'right' and 'wrong' question, but a matter of figuing where you, or your audience, thinks the line may best be drawn. My experience is that few decent pianists shun the pedal completely, and few go to the other extreme and (for example) use the whole dynamic range from ppp to fff. Most people are somewhere in the middle.

Personally, I'm a pedal-phobe because (a) I'm training for the day I can afford a harpsichord and (b) I've heard too many young pianists pedalling like they're on a bicycle.

I wonder if the original comment about 'sounding like a beginner' reflects a view that one should use pedal to cover up inadequate finger legato technique? Personally I'd hope not, but I belief such advice is not uncommon.

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#1650756 - 03/30/11 04:46 AM Re: Anyone who is anyone pedals in Bach? [Re: WinsomeAllegretto]
wr Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7758
Originally Posted By: WinsomeAllegretto
Also, another way to put it: is it legitimate to refrain from pedaling? Will people take me seriously if I don't? And wouldn't it be better to leave it out than to put it in cluelessly?


Of course it is legitimate, and for a very simple reason:
It is a one-hundred percent sure thing that Bach did not write any keyboard music with a modern piano's sustain pedal in mind. He just didn't. People can argue about it until blue in the face, but the fact that he didn't have it in mind means that nothing he wrote requires it.

Whether people want to use it in Bach, like to use it, can't play without it, etc., is a whole different issue, and really is about the individual's taste. And, I think, much revolves around people's ability to play well without the pedal, which many are not used to doing. Personally, I rarely use pedal in Bach, and have found that teaching myself how to play without it is one of the best things I've ever done for myself at the piano. I recommend it (but I don't necessarily dislike Bach playing that does use it, either, at least not for that reason alone).

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#1650762 - 03/30/11 05:15 AM Re: Anyone who is anyone pedals in Bach? [Re: chopin_r_us]
stores Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/09
Posts: 6646
Loc: Here, as opposed to there
Originally Posted By: chopin_r_us
Originally Posted By: stores
Umm no, all professionals do NOT use the pedal with Bach. It's late and I'm battling a cold...can't sleep...not even going to start with this subject, but there isn't a NEED for pedal with Bach and any teacher that claims you'll sound like a beginner shouldn't be teaching.
Disagree. You should use the pedal whenever you want a passage to sound louder (more robust).


Ummm...no. I'm not even going to argue this one...I'm just going to say you're wrong. You use the pedal as a crutch, but that's ok...to each his own.
_________________________

"And if we look at the works of J.S. Bach — a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity... -Debussy

"It's ok if you disagree with me. I can't force you to be right."

♪ ≠ $


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#1650765 - 03/30/11 05:20 AM Re: Anyone who is anyone pedals in Bach? [Re: WinsomeAllegretto]
Nikolas Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5220
Loc: Europe
I'd reckon that a tiny bit of pedal in Bach won't exactly hurt, especially if used right and shoudln't be taken as a crutch.

On the other hand comment that 'you shoulsd use the pedal whenever you want a passage to sound louder (more robust).' is somewhat misleading to say the least... :-/ Too bad that I agree with stores but that HAD to happen at some point in life, no? laugh
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#1650766 - 03/30/11 05:21 AM Re: Anyone who is anyone pedals in Bach? [Re: Mark_C]
stores Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/09
Posts: 6646
Loc: Here, as opposed to there
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: stores
Umm no, all professionals do NOT use the pedal with Bach. It's late and I'm battling a cold...can't sleep...not even going to start with this subject....

Hey Stores -- I played (more or less) smile a whole recital with a cold. You're saying you can't even post? ha


Sorry to hear that. My practice time today (yesterday now) sounded like sheet, because my focus wasn't there (yes, unlike our book readers who think their altered focus doesn't affect the final product, I need to be focused). I pushed myself through my normal 16 hour day and that probably wasn't a good idea, because now I'm kind of paying for it and today I'm going to have to cut back.
_________________________

"And if we look at the works of J.S. Bach — a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity... -Debussy

"It's ok if you disagree with me. I can't force you to be right."

♪ ≠ $


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#1650769 - 03/30/11 05:33 AM Re: Anyone who is anyone pedals in Bach? [Re: Nikolas]
debrucey Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 2600
Loc: Manchester, UK
Originally Posted By: Nikolas
I'd reckon that a tiny bit of pedal in Bach won't exactly hurt, especially if used right and shoudln't be taken as a crutch.

On the other hand comment that 'you shoulsd use the pedal whenever you want a passage to sound louder (more robust).' is somewhat misleading to say the least... :-/ Too bad that I agree with stores but that HAD to happen at some point in life, no? laugh


Even a stopped clock gives the correct time twice a day. ;-)

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#1650770 - 03/30/11 05:39 AM Re: Anyone who is anyone pedals in Bach? [Re: debrucey]
Nikolas Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5220
Loc: Europe
Originally Posted By: debrucey
Even a stopped clock gives the correct time twice a day. ;-)
This isn't always the case actually! laugh

On Saturday (this Saturday), 02:00 went to 03:00 (Summer time). So my clock which was stopped on 02:05 actually was once right that day! frown

LMAO!
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