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#1881528 - 04/18/12 01:21 AM playing with the music stand down
beet31425 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/12/09
Posts: 3993
Loc: Bay Area, CA
At my teacher's most recent recital, I played with the music stand up, but I noticed that most students played with it down. By way of experimenting at home, I've been playing a few memorized pieces with the stand down, and I've been horrified at what I heard: everything sounded so loud, so harsh, so slightly rhythmically imprecise. It was like seeing a picture in harsh lighting when I've been used to something nice and soft.

But my question is: Aren't I kind of deluding myself by playing memorized pieces with the stand up? After all, it seems to me, to the listener in my living room, it doesn't matter whether the stand is up or down, and, moreover, what he or she hears is closer to what I hear if I have the stand down. Is that logic right? And shouldn't I therefore get as used to playing with it down as possible? (Only for memorized pieces, obviously.)

What do folks think? (I'm playing on a 6' piano with the top half-up.)

-Jason

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#1881532 - 04/18/12 01:30 AM Re: playing with the music stand down [Re: beet31425]
Mark_C Offline
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Registered: 11/11/09
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Loc: New York
I think the more common question is a little different: whether to remove it completely when you're performing by memory. And preferably you do. But I know it's tough to do that when there are a number of people playing and some will be using the score. In such a situation I always at least do put the music stand down, among other reasons because I find it a distraction if it's up.

BTW, I think what you heard with the stand down was due to your having gotten accustomed to playing a certain way that sounds OK with the stand up, and that you need to make adjustments with it down, just like we need to make adjustments to any different setting.


Edited by Mark_C (04/18/12 01:45 AM)

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#1881542 - 04/18/12 02:09 AM Re: playing with the music stand down [Re: Mark_C]
beet31425 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/12/09
Posts: 3993
Loc: Bay Area, CA
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
BTW, I think what you heard with the stand down was due to your having gotten accustomed to playing a certain way that sounds OK with the stand up, and that you need to make adjustments with it down, just like we need to make adjustments to any different setting.

I agree. But I'm trying to decide whether it's worth it to go through the process of making those adjustments. I like how I sound with the stand up so much more. But if my experience stand-down is more representative of what the audience really hears, then it's worth it to learn how to play it stand-down, as painful as it is for now.

So again with the question: Is it more representative? (I could almost see an argument both ways.)

-J

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#1881543 - 04/18/12 02:14 AM Re: playing with the music stand down [Re: beet31425]
Mark_C Offline
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Originally Posted By: beet31425
....I agree. But I'm trying to decide whether it's worth it to go through the process of making those adjustments....

Sorry to digress, but I'll leave it to others to get back to the subject. But anyway this digression is far more important. Take my word. smile

Being able to adjust to different settings is very important, if you take yourself seriously as a musician. And you do. And this is just a subset of that ability.

It's not a question of whether it's "worth it"; it's something you sort of have to be able to do, and not just for the sake of theoretical goodness but because it's the same thing as the ability to play on different pianos and in different places and still make good music, which presumably you do want to be able to do.

OK, you can get back to the original question if you want to grin but IMO it's a tiny thing compared to this. If your reason for preferring to keep the stand up is that you don't want to have to adjust to it being down, that's not a reason.
_________________________
"Everything I say is my opinion, including the facts." :-)

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#1881605 - 04/18/12 07:27 AM Re: playing with the music stand down [Re: beet31425]
jdw Offline
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Registered: 03/04/11
Posts: 1213
Loc: Philadelphia, PA
I don't know the answer--but maybe you could get a friend to sit with you on the bench and listen, with the stand up/down and then out in the room.
_________________________
1989 Baldwin R
Currently working on:
Mozart, K 330
Debussy, La fille aux cheveux de lin
Schubert, Impromptu Op. 142 no. 2

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#1881614 - 04/18/12 08:04 AM Re: playing with the music stand down [Re: beet31425]
DameMyra Offline
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Registered: 12/21/04
Posts: 2053
Loc: South Jersey
In a performance or preparing for a performance, once you are memorized, you need to put the stand down, so you can hear what you are playing.
_________________________
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MTNA/NJMTA/SJMTA

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#1882097 - 04/19/12 01:12 AM Re: playing with the music stand down [Re: beet31425]
JohnSprung Offline
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Registered: 08/02/11
Posts: 1990
Loc: Reseda, California
Get someone else to play your piano while you listen and walk around. You may find that the position of the music desk really isn't relevant to what the audience hears. I was amazed how different my piano sounds on the couch vs. the piano bench.
_________________________
-- J.S.

Knabe Grand # 10927
Yamaha CP33
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#1882105 - 04/19/12 01:40 AM Re: playing with the music stand down [Re: JohnSprung]
jeffreyjones Offline
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Registered: 01/31/10
Posts: 2446
Loc: San Jose, CA
Originally Posted By: JohnSprung
Get someone else to play your piano while you listen and walk around. You may find that the position of the music desk really isn't relevant to what the audience hears. I was amazed how different my piano sounds on the couch vs. the piano bench.


This is basically what I was going to say. There may be a small difference in what the audience hears on the left side of the theater with the stand up. However, the only way to know how it actually sounds in the theater is to have a point of reference, and it isn't going to be any more accurate from in front of the keyboard whether the desk is up or down. If you think about projecting the sound deep into the hall, and use your body appropriately to do so efficiently, then it usually sounds good all the way to the cheap seats.

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#1882109 - 04/19/12 01:48 AM Re: playing with the music stand down [Re: beet31425]
beet31425 Offline
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Registered: 06/12/09
Posts: 3993
Loc: Bay Area, CA
Thanks for the replies so far. My question, though, is this: my playing sounds very different to me when the stand is up vs. when it is down. Which of those is *closer* to what an audience hears?

I am guessing that the answer is "stand down", because the audience doesn't have a barrier blocking the sound. (The piano lid is half-way up.) On the other hand, there is something particularly raw and "unmixed" to the sound I hear as I play with the stand down. This is a sound I very much don't like, and I'm wondering and hoping that to an audience a little further back from the piano than I am, they won't experience the same effect.

Of course, I can test this out with a recording device. I'm just wondering if it's a generally known principle that one should get used to playing with the stand down because what you hear when you play with the stand up is not representative of the audience experience.

-J

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#1882112 - 04/19/12 01:57 AM Re: playing with the music stand down [Re: beet31425]
jeffreyjones Offline
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Registered: 01/31/10
Posts: 2446
Loc: San Jose, CA
Originally Posted By: beet31425
Thanks for the replies so far. My question, though, is this: my playing sounds very different to me when the stand is up vs. when it is down. Which of those is *closer* to what an audience hears?

I am guessing that the answer is "stand down", because the audience doesn't have a barrier blocking the sound. (The piano lid is half-way up.) On the other hand, there is something particularly raw and "unmixed" to the sound I hear as I play with the stand down. This is a sound I very much don't like, and I'm wondering and hoping that to an audience a little further back from the piano than I am, they won't experience the same effect.

Of course, I can test this out with a recording device. I'm just wondering if it's a generally known principle that one should get used to playing with the stand down because what you hear when you play with the stand up is not representative of the audience experience.

-J


The easiest way to answer that is this: every hall is different, but all grands will basically be equally loud and discordant with the stand down. Either way, what you experience at the keys is completely different than out in the audience. If you can get accustomed to it, then you play with the stand off. If you can't, then you don't, and the overall effect will be rather small.

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#1882114 - 04/19/12 02:09 AM Re: playing with the music stand down [Re: beet31425]
debrucey Offline
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Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 2606
Loc: Manchester, UK
In most solo recitals I've played in, the music stand hasn't even been there, so I practice like this as often as I can so as to become familiar and undistracted by the sight of the hammers moving in my peripheral vision.

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#1882266 - 04/19/12 10:07 AM Re: playing with the music stand down [Re: Mark_C]
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3343
Originally Posted By: Mark_C


Being able to adjust to different settings is very important, if you take yourself seriously as a musician.


This happens to me all the time playing in clubs, festivals, stages, etc.

Yes, it is not Classical that I play there, but the principle is the same. Most times the sound on the stage is totally different from what the audience hears.

There have been times when I simply could not hear myself play, because the sound man had me mixed improperly in the stage monitors, or for any other reason. Or the piano sounded completely different that what I am used to.

During those times, I have to play by hearing in my head the music I am playing, and not relying upon the quality of what I hear, because that can be so unreliable and tenuous.

Also, there have been numerous times when the sound I heard of myself was some version of terrible, but when I later heard the recording of what the audience heard, it was fine. In fact, one of the cuts on my CD was like that...I thought the sound was lousy, but the recording is great.

Someone suggested recording yourself...that is the best thing...get a Zoom or similar small recorder, put it out where the listeners are, and play.
_________________________
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#1882325 - 04/19/12 11:52 AM Re: playing with the music stand down [Re: beet31425]
BruceD Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 18841
Loc: Victoria, BC
Originally Posted By: beet31425
At my teacher's most recent recital, I played with the music stand up, but I noticed that most students played with it down. By way of experimenting at home, I've been playing a few memorized pieces with the stand down, and I've been horrified at what I heard: everything sounded so loud, so harsh, so slightly rhythmically imprecise. It was like seeing a picture in harsh lighting when I've been used to something nice and soft.
[...]


I can understand how a raised music desk may somewhat modify the sound heard by the pianist when compared with the sound s/he hears when the stand is lowered or completely removed, as the desk will deflect some of the sound waves reaching the pianist's ears. I do find it hard to imagine, however, that any rhythmic accuracies - or inaccuracies - in the playing are going to be changed by the change in the position of the music stand.

Is not your listening becoming more critical as you become aware of the more direct, more intense sound, and are you not hearing inaccuracies which were always there but which you were not noticing before? Perhaps this new listening experience may be a good teaching tool.

Regards,
_________________________
BruceD
- - - - -
Estonia 190

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#1882329 - 04/19/12 12:06 PM Re: playing with the music stand down [Re: BruceD]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 20308
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: BruceD
....I do find it hard to imagine, however, that any rhythmic accuracies - or inaccuracies - in the playing are going to be changed by the change in the position of the music stand.

The clearer the sound, the starker any rhythmic things may become to our ears.

This is exactly the experience I had when I first recorded myself on "digital." As luck would have it grin the piece was one of those fast Scarlatti sonatas, which can be vicious for revealing rhythmic imperfections -- but what I had never realized was that the relative fuzziness of tape recording had muffled them, just enough that I could think I sounded fine. When I heard it in digital (on one of those old "Mini-Discs"), I was horrified (same word Jason used....how about that) at what was actually coming out. I think the situation with the music stand is comparable, if maybe not as extreme.

Quote:
Is not your listening becoming more critical as you become aware of the more direct, more intense sound, and are you not hearing inaccuracies which were always there but which you were not noticing before? Perhaps this new listening experience may be a good teaching tool.

That's what I think too, and at first I had something about this in my first reply but edited it out because I was afraid it would sound nasty. shocked
Plus, Jason was asking about it from the angle of preference of type of sound, which is a separate thing and arguably a legitimate angle in itself, so I thought it would be taking it off his question in yet another way. I consider one-digression-per-first-reply to be the maximum allowance. grin
But I'm glad you brought this up. I think it's an important additional aspect.

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#1882375 - 04/19/12 01:13 PM Re: playing with the music stand down [Re: beet31425]
rada Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/07/06
Posts: 1124
Loc: pagosa springs,co
I prefer the stand down if not all together removed....the music travels better to my ear as the performer/listener....it would not help me [ other than volume] to have someone else's opinion. I went to a concert where a well known pianist had the lid up but the front cover folded forward rather than back...to me that helps direct the sound even better.

rada

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#1882379 - 04/19/12 01:16 PM Re: playing with the music stand down [Re: beet31425]
Varcon Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/15/04
Posts: 1931
Loc: Mount Vernon, Georgia 30445
In high school I was playing with the music rack up and after I finished my teacher told me to put it down if I wanted to hear how I sounded. I did and it was not totally different but certainly a difference.

With the stand down I think one can balance was he hears and thus get a better effect for the audience as well.

It is somewhat revealing to those who haven't done that--as well as with the lid up or down.

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#1882410 - 04/19/12 01:52 PM Re: playing with the music stand down [Re: beet31425]
aidans Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/08/10
Posts: 141
I love performing with the stand removed. The better I can hear, the easier it is for me to get into the music. And it really does make a difference. (I say that as someone who has mediocre ears; I generally can't tell the difference between 128kbps and 320kbps MP3s, for instance.)

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#1882453 - 04/19/12 03:21 PM Re: playing with the music stand down [Re: beet31425]
wouter79 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/10
Posts: 3935
Quote:
I've been playing a few memorized pieces with the stand down, and I've been horrified at what I heard: everything sounded so loud, so harsh, so slightly rhythmically imprecise.


I have pretty much the same: too loud, a bit harsh. But not for the rhytmically imprecise (can hear that anyway)

I'm pretty sure the cause is that the stand -when up- blocks the direct sound from the middle treble register, particularly its overtones.

Audience will not hear this direct sound either because they are sitting way too low (they can't see the strings directly in normal seat position)
_________________________

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#1882595 - 04/19/12 07:04 PM Re: playing with the music stand down [Re: beet31425]
pianoloverus Online   content
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Registered: 05/29/01
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Although I think the position of the music desk makes a difference in the sound(my tech said that certain partials were heard differently...don't remember which ones), I don't think things like rhythmical accuracy would be affected at all.


Edited by pianoloverus (04/19/12 07:06 PM)

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#1882612 - 04/19/12 07:27 PM Re: playing with the music stand down [Re: pianoloverus]
Mark_C Offline
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Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 20308
Loc: New York
We were talking about the sharpness with which we may perceive aspects of the rhythm.

(As was noted.) smile

The clearer the sound, the starker the imperfections (and any other aspects).

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#1882630 - 04/19/12 08:00 PM Re: playing with the music stand down [Re: Mark_C]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 20351
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
We were talking about the sharpness with which we may perceive aspects of the rhythm.

(As was noted.) smile

The clearer the sound, the starker the imperfections (and any other aspects).
I understood exactly what you were talking about despite your endless and boring tendency to discuss words used in posts(you've probably made more posts just doing just that than most PW have made in all their posts). Of course, it's just your opinion. I think only the sound one hears is affected by the music desk.

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#1882643 - 04/19/12 08:17 PM Re: playing with the music stand down [Re: beet31425]
MikeN Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/18/10
Posts: 579
Loc: Ohio
I never really thought much about whether the music stand was up or down seeing as I only have that option when I perform, and I'm usually too concerned with the physicallity of the performance itself. I do know that I'm consistently told by my teacher to make sure I put it down. I'm assuming it has more to do with etiquette.

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#1882672 - 04/19/12 09:25 PM Re: playing with the music stand down [Re: beet31425]
Orange Soda King Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/09
Posts: 6261
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky, United S...
Play with the stand down.

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#1882686 - 04/19/12 09:55 PM Re: playing with the music stand down [Re: pianoloverus]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 20308
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
I understood exactly what you were talking about....

If you understood it, then what you said was unfathomably dense. grin
(Really.)

It only made sense if you had misunderstood it or just missed some posts. I was giving you the benefit of the doubt.

BTW in case you haven't noticed, I don't say such blunt things to you except in reply to your attack posts. All you have to do is cut it out.

Quote:
I think only the sound one hears is affected by the music desk.

That's exactly what I was talking about, my friend -- how the different sound quality can affect one's perception of the rhythm, and it seemed that's what Jason and Bruce meant too. (If you wish, ask them.) So, you did misunderstand, and you did deserve that benefit of the doubt.

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#1882781 - 04/20/12 03:31 AM Re: playing with the music stand down [Re: beet31425]
stores Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/09
Posts: 6649
Loc: Here, as opposed to there
Originally Posted By: beet31425
...I've been horrified at what I heard: everything sounded so loud, so harsh, so slightly rhythmically imprecise. It was like seeing a picture in harsh lighting when I've been used to something nice and soft.



This is what should concern you most, because not only are those imperfections what YOU hear, but they are what the audience will hear as well. This is only one of many reasons why it is so important to learn the fine art of listening (which is much more difficult than most believe...nor is it even WHAT most believe it to be). Record yourself often and listen to what you're doing. You will more than likely be quite surprised by what you hear.
_________________________

"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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#1882833 - 04/20/12 06:43 AM Re: playing with the music stand down [Re: Mark_C]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 20351
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
That's exactly what I was talking about, my friend -- how the different sound quality can affect one's perception of the rhythm...
You mean how you think that can happen. Not everyone on the thread agrees with you about the rhythm(me, wouter and perhaps Bruce) although you state your opinion as fact.


Edited by pianoloverus (04/20/12 07:46 AM)

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#1883121 - 04/20/12 04:43 PM Re: playing with the music stand down [Re: beet31425]
jdw Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/04/11
Posts: 1213
Loc: Philadelphia, PA
This thread led me to experiment with this a little. The main difference I notice playing without the stand is that the sound is louder. I found I didn't want to play the ff sections fortissimo, which makes me wonder: maybe it's not that great an idea for regular practice to blast one's ears with all that sound? after all, the audience is a lot further away from the sound source.

I didn't notice so much difference between stand up and stand down. I always play with the stand pushed back so that the pins are exposed; otherwise the sound seems muffled to me. Stand up/down seems to make more difference when the stand is closer to the keys.
_________________________
1989 Baldwin R
Currently working on:
Mozart, K 330
Debussy, La fille aux cheveux de lin
Schubert, Impromptu Op. 142 no. 2

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#1883134 - 04/20/12 04:56 PM Re: playing with the music stand down [Re: beet31425]
Bob Newbie Offline
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Registered: 09/02/06
Posts: 1555
Maybe all those open scrolled ornate music stands served a purpose other than just decoration.. they switched over to solid stands in the 20th century..

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#1883145 - 04/20/12 05:24 PM Re: playing with the music stand down [Re: Bob Newbie]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 20308
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: Bob Newbie
Maybe all those open scrolled ornate music stands served a purpose other than just decoration....

Come to think of it, yeah!

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#1883247 - 04/20/12 07:51 PM Re: playing with the music stand down [Re: Mark_C]
BruceD Offline
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Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 18841
Loc: Victoria, BC
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: Bob Newbie
Maybe all those open scrolled ornate music stands served a purpose other than just decoration....

Come to think of it, yeah!


Yes, but the stand in the "up" position would be supporting a score covering a large portion of the music desk. Last time I checked 19th century scores weren't "open-scrolled" like the music desks!

Regards,
_________________________
BruceD
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Estonia 190

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