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#1992688 - 11/30/12 04:35 AM Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? [Re: ezpiano.org]
AZNpiano Offline
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Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5279
Loc: Orange County, CA
It's pretty much useless to go by the student's length of study because:

Kid A, started at 7, played 3 years, can play Liszt

Kid B, started at 7, played 3 years, can play Burgmuller

Kid C, started at 7, played 3 years, can play stuff from Piano Adventures Level 2B

Now, there are some competitions that dictate a prescribed repertoire for each age group and/or years of study. But then the Liszt kid can just pick the hardest piece and play it perfectly. The Burgmuller kid can pick the middle-of-the-road piece and play it fairly. The PA2B kid can barely play the easiest piece listed.

That's why some local competitions here did away with age AND length of study, and turned the festival into a free-for-all.
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#1992747 - 11/30/12 09:40 AM Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? [Re: ezpiano.org]
Piano*Dad Offline
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This is a competition with which I am very familiar:

Levels for the Classical Period competition

They break the applicants up into age ranges. The ranges are fairly narrow, so they don't have high school students competing against elementary age kids. This is perfectly logical, given the goals of the event. This event is not designed to satisfy egalitarian sentiments. All nine year olds are in the same category, and all fifteen year olds are in the same category. They seek the best in each group. If someone finds that criterion obnoxious, they won't enter their students or their children, and that's fine. The university that hosts the event is not interested in finding,

Quote:
The best twelve year old who has studied for five years and who has reached level three.


They simply want the best, as judged in a preliminary round by their piano faculty, and in a final round by an outside evaluator who then teaches a subset of the winners in a master class.

Again, if you find this distasteful, don't enter. In fact, you will not find much cannon fodder in the older age categories. This event draws from three big states, so very few people are likely to travel two hundred miles to have no chance. Some local kids enter who have little chance, and for them it's just a performance opportunity in front of two judges. You'll note that there is also an entry fee. Fees of that sort are less about making money, and more about erecting a nuisance barrier to reduce the number of irrelevant entries.

It's incumbent upon the teachers to understand what these events are all about, and select the ones that match the students' abilities and sensibilities.

I think it's a big mistake to consider events like this using the same fairness notions as events whose purposes are quite different.

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#1992785 - 11/30/12 11:19 AM Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? [Re: ezpiano.org]
keystring Online   content
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It's not a matter of obnoxious but a matter of logic. If a 13 year old started at age 12, and another 13 year old started at age 5 but they must both compete, how does that work? The only way that I can see that working is if the first one plays material that one could reasonably expect someone with one year of studies, and one expects skills that someone with one year of study may be able to acquire. Then the same criteria commensurate with the other student's background. Is that how it works?

I have not chosen the age at random. My child auditioned for placement in a special school with limited openings, having had one year of instruction, while many of the others had 6 - 8 years of instruction. All the applicants were around the same age since they were entering grade 9. In the application the private teacher stated the student's year of studies, and the grade level of the piece was commensurate. If it's along those lines then there is some logic. (He got in back then, btw.)

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#1992790 - 11/30/12 11:34 AM Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? [Re: ezpiano.org]
Piano*Dad Offline
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Why do you think that they must both compete? A thirteen year old who started at twelve is unlikely to have the skills to "compete" in any real competition of the sort that I have given in the link above. If they do, more power to them. If they don't, perhaps they should not enter.

If an organization is looking for "potential," then they can choose the most "potential-worthy" by whatever criteria seem best. Listen to the nine year old who has had two lessons and decide potential. Listen to the nine year old who has played since three and decide potential. Choose between them. That's fine. But if the organization is interested in awarding the nine year old with the best chops at this moment, then the one who has had only two lessons is unlikely to be given the $500 and the master class with Leon Fleischer.

I'm not trying to find a Golden Rule of Fairness to govern all selective processes. I think that is a fool's errand.

Likewise, I think organizations that cannot make up their mind about what it is they are trying to accomplish with their "competition" set themselves up for all sorts of failures, snafus, and ticked off teachers and students. It's rather difficult to be all things to all people.
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#1992793 - 11/30/12 11:46 AM Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? [Re: ezpiano.org]
TimR Offline
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Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3006
Loc: Virginia, USA
Hmm. Just thinking out loud.

As an assessment tool, if I could compare children with the same time in lessons, I could evaluate the teacher. Teacher A's 3 year students are consistently better prepared than Teacher B's, I know who to send my child to. Teacher A's 10 year old student is better than Teacher B's 10 year old, but that doesn't tell me much.

As a research tool, it would be interesting to know the difference between the 3 year student who started at age 6 vs the 3 year student who started at 9 or 12. Academically speaking, and given equal instruction of course.
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#1992848 - 11/30/12 02:12 PM Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? [Re: keystring]
The Monkeys Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/13/12
Posts: 400
Loc: Vancouver BC
Originally Posted By: keystring
When the question was first asked I thought the answer was obvious. Students who have been studying for 5 years would compete against other students who have been studying for 5 years. Students who have been studying for 2 years would be competing with those who have been studying for 2 years. It just seemed logical. Now I understand that a student who has been studying for 8 years could compete against a student who has been studying for 2 years because they are the same chronological age. It just seems very strange. What is the logic behind that?


Interesting, rather than to group them by age and by level, you are suggesting the third way of grouping, by experience (years of study). Haven't seen one.

Not sure if it is practical though, how do you verify the experiences? Also, don't you think the slower learners, like playing level 3 after 4 years study will feel really bad? since she can compete at level 3 but must compete with people at mostly at level 4 or 5?

I liked the ones that are grouped by aged under.
Like under 9, under 11, under 13 etc.
If you are 10 you can go the under 9 group, but you are welcome to go the under 13 group if you can compete at that level.

But again, don't sent the kid to a competition unless she is ready to compete, i.e. has a chance of winning.

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#1992850 - 11/30/12 02:17 PM Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? [Re: keystring]
The Monkeys Offline
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Registered: 01/13/12
Posts: 400
Loc: Vancouver BC
Originally Posted By: keystring
It's not a matter of obnoxious but a matter of logic.


I guess the logic is not to punish the ones started early.

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#1992851 - 11/30/12 02:18 PM Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? [Re: The Monkeys]
keystring Online   content
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Originally Posted By: The Monkeys

Interesting, rather than to group them by age and by level, you are suggesting the third way of grouping, by experience (years of study). Haven't seen one.

I'm not suggesting anything. I'm wondering how it's done. If you have a 12 year old with 2 years of lessons, and a 12 year old with 7 years of lessons, how do you group by age? How does that work? (Literally).

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#1992852 - 11/30/12 02:19 PM Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? [Re: The Monkeys]
keystring Online   content
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Originally Posted By: The Monkeys
Originally Posted By: keystring
It's not a matter of obnoxious but a matter of logic.


I guess the logic is not to punish the ones started early.

Why should anyone be punished. It's an event, not a court trial. (?)

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#1992859 - 11/30/12 02:29 PM Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? [Re: keystring]
The Monkeys Offline
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Registered: 01/13/12
Posts: 400
Loc: Vancouver BC
Originally Posted By: keystring
Originally Posted By: The Monkeys
Originally Posted By: keystring
It's not a matter of obnoxious but a matter of logic.


I guess the logic is not to punish the ones started early.

Why should anyone be punished. It's an event, not a court trial. (?)


Well, a 7 year old started at 4, and a 12 years old stared at 9, both studied for 3 years, do you think it is fair to put them together to compete?

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#1992867 - 11/30/12 02:45 PM Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? [Re: ezpiano.org]
wouter79 Offline
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Registered: 02/14/10
Posts: 3247
It IS kind of court trial. For some (many?) their future (getting a grant, or being accepted for conservatory) depends on it.

As mentioned above, I think the rationale behind 'age' is that at a certain age the kids leave school and have to decide to make a living with music or not.
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#1992898 - 11/30/12 04:13 PM Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? [Re: ezpiano.org]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

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Loc: Canada
Don't auditions exist anymore? I mean, are university decisions being made by competition results? Is this prevalent mostly in the U.S. or does it exist elsewhere? Neither of my relatives went anywhere near such a thing.

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#1992903 - 11/30/12 04:21 PM Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? [Re: ezpiano.org]
Piano*Dad Offline
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Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10297
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
keystring, you seem hung up on a particular kind of audition and/or what your family has experienced. If you look at the site I linked, which is a rather normal type of "competition," it is unlike anything you seem to be talking about. Most competitions are about selecting the best performers in certain age categories, because they presume that all entrants are serious students. They have no interest in adjusting for lack of training. They do understand that 9 year olds who have been studying for four years shouldn't be compared to fifteen year olds who have been studying for ten. But a fifteen year old who has only just started playing is simply out of luck. They shouldn't be at such an event, and it is not illogical for the organizers to behave in exactly the manner that they are behaving.
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#1992909 - 11/30/12 04:40 PM Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? [Re: TimR]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5279
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: TimR
As an assessment tool, if I could compare children with the same time in lessons, I could evaluate the teacher.

It's one tool, but you have to take into account other things. There are teachers and, ahem, "music schools," who don't teach theory. At all. Zero. All they teach are hard pieces so they can send students to competitions. They can spend an entire year on one Liszt piece that the student plays at five different competitions!! This stuff really happens!!

I heard several of these kids playing Liszt recently. They were just horrible. Jaw-droppingly horrible. They missed a bunch of notes, played at wildly different tempos, and OBVIOUSLY the pieces are WAY TOO HARD FOR THEM!!!!!!! They were horrid in July. They were horrid again in November with the same Liszt piece. I can't believe their parents can be duped into (really expensive!) lessons when all they do in a year is one stupid Liszt piece. It's like winning a trophy is all piano lessons are about.

In all my years of teaching, I've taught exactly two Liszt etudes. My students generally aren't advanced enough to play Liszt. I don't even like Liszt (can't you tell by the Liszt-bashing I'm typing so far?). However, stuck in the same competition category as these Liszt kids, guess who won?

When you obliterate idiotic judges who automatically hand out trophies to kids who dare to play Liszt--no matter how poorly--then competitions start to make sense. And "fair."
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#1992917 - 11/30/12 04:58 PM Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? [Re: Piano*Dad]
keystring Online   content
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Registered: 12/11/07
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P*D, I am not "hung up" on anything. I've asked questions to understand. My last question was about university entrance in music because someone said competitions were a gateway to that. Since several people I know went the professional route, and a few of them are practicing musicians with degrees, and we looked into it, I was surprised because competitions were not part of the equation. That is why I asked whether this is geographic. It is also possible that things have changed in the last 5 - 10 years. The people I know who got into university passed an audition which was administered by the university, and also had to write a theory exam as part of the auditioning process. That is all I know of first hand.


Edited by keystring (11/30/12 05:00 PM)

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#1992919 - 11/30/12 04:59 PM Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? [Re: ezpiano.org]
Piano*Dad Offline
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Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10297
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
I have encountered very few events like that, AZN. I'm sure they exist, and I'm sure that all too many families think of piano as a trophy sport and not as a tool of education. But I can't say I have seen very many piano events in which the outcomes were skewed in that manner. The horribly mangled, overly-difficult work is usually trumped by the very-well-played difficult work. smile
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#1992920 - 11/30/12 05:00 PM Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? [Re: ezpiano.org]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3006
Loc: Virginia, USA
It's one tool more than I have now. <grin>

But it's not an ideal tool. Not all teachers enter all their students, and I can only hear a competition prepared piece.

It's a little like home schoolers taking college boards. They tend to do slightly better than average public school kids. But less than 1% of home schoolers take the boards, so you can't really draw meaningful conclusions one way or the other.

The ideal tool is the pop quiz.

We take all 3 year students, give them a new piece and an hour to prepare, and rate that.

Hee, hee.
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#1992921 - 11/30/12 05:01 PM Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? [Re: keystring]
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10297
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
Originally Posted By: keystring
P*D, I am not "hung up" on anything. I've asked questions to understand. My last question was about university entrance in music because someone said competitions were a gateway to that. Since several people I know went the professional route, and a few of them are practicing musicians with degrees, and we looked into it, I was surprised because competitions were not part of the equation. That is why I asked whether this is geographic. It is also possible that things have changed in the last 5 - 10 years.


Well, when you keep referring to age categories as illogical, seemingly without wrestling with the reasons why (and situations when) they can be quite logical, I begin to wonder ...
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#1992925 - 11/30/12 05:09 PM Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? [Re: Piano*Dad]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

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Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: Piano*Dad

Well, when you keep referring to age categories as illogical, seemingly without wrestling with the reasons why (and situations when) they can be quite logical, I begin to wonder ...

Have you read all of each post, and succession of posts? As more is learned, they change? A problem in Internet reading is often a tendency to skim and react to impressions. I have done that myself at times.

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#1992935 - 11/30/12 05:31 PM Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? [Re: ezpiano.org]
ezpiano.org Offline
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Registered: 05/10/11
Posts: 958
Loc: Irvine, CA
Quote:
We take all 3 year students, give them a new piece and an hour to prepare, and rate that. Hee, hee.


Hee Hee.... I like that too. I prepare my students extensively in ability of sight-reading, I am sure they can do well in this pop quiz.
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#1992937 - 11/30/12 05:34 PM Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? [Re: Piano*Dad]
Ann in Kentucky Offline
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Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2643
Loc: Kentucky
Originally Posted By: Piano*Dad
The horribly mangled, overly-difficult work is usually trumped by the very-well-played difficult work. smile


This reminds me of another competition I attended. Organized by a few local teachers. There was plenty of accomplished playing at the elementary and middle school level. But the high school level had only two entrants. These two couldn't remember their piece, had poor stage presence and made the audience as miserable as they were. Yet they both got a trophy (1st and 2nd place). It looks like an accomplishment on paper though.

So this is another problem that can arise. There's the question of whether winning means anything.
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#1993068 - 12/01/12 03:20 AM Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? [Re: Ann in Kentucky]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5279
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: Ann in Kentucky
But the high school level had only two entrants.

It is a trend that most kids quit piano before high school; however, in my MTAC branch we always have excellent players at the high school level, even going past Level 10 and doing higher-level competitions and auditions. It's tragic that very few of them actually become piano majors! They just keep playing piano because they like it.
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#1993124 - 12/01/12 09:07 AM Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? [Re: AZNpiano]
malkin Offline
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Registered: 04/18/09
Posts: 2206
Loc: *sigh* Salt Lake City
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
... excellent players at the high school level, even going past Level 10 and doing higher-level competitions and auditions. It's tragic that very few of them actually become piano majors! They just keep playing piano because they like it.


What is tragic about this?
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#1993128 - 12/01/12 09:33 AM Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? [Re: ezpiano.org]
Piano*Dad Offline
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Registered: 04/12/05
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Hmmm, sounds like MY son. smile
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#1993417 - 12/01/12 10:14 PM Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? [Re: malkin]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5279
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: malkin
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
... excellent players at the high school level, even going past Level 10 and doing higher-level competitions and auditions. It's tragic that very few of them actually become piano majors! They just keep playing piano because they like it.


What is tragic about this?

It is tragic because those talents will go to waste once they're done with lessons. There is a huge difference between having college-level piano training and not having it.
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#1993448 - 12/02/12 12:07 AM Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? [Re: AZNpiano]
The Monkeys Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/13/12
Posts: 400
Loc: Vancouver BC
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Originally Posted By: malkin
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
... It's tragic that very few of them actually become piano majors! They just keep playing piano because they like it.


What is tragic about this?

It is tragic because those talents will go to waste once they're done with lessons. There is a huge difference between having college-level piano training and not having it.


The problem is that the employment outlook of the music majors is not particularly bright. Financially it is probably better to be a dentist (or even a programmer) and amateur musician. As much as we love music, we have to face the real life.

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#1993498 - 12/02/12 02:25 AM Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? [Re: The Monkeys]
Opus_Maximus Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/27/04
Posts: 1458
Originally Posted By: The Monkeys
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Originally Posted By: malkin
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
... It's tragic that very few of them actually become piano majors! They just keep playing piano because they like it.


What is tragic about this?

It is tragic because those talents will go to waste once they're done with lessons. There is a huge difference between having college-level piano training and not having it.


The problem is that the employment outlook of the music majors is not particularly bright. Financially it is probably better to be a dentist (or even a programmer) and amateur musician. As much as we love music, we have to face the real life.


You can be a music major and still go on to dental or medical or law school, or whatever. Lots of graduate programs look favorably upon music studied in undergrad years.

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#1993563 - 12/02/12 09:11 AM Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? [Re: ezpiano.org]
malkin Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/09
Posts: 2206
Loc: *sigh* Salt Lake City
Still, what's the tragedy?

The kid 'coulda been a contendah' but chose to pursue a professional career outside of music?
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#1993825 - 12/02/12 07:17 PM Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? [Re: AZNpiano]
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5834
Loc: Down Under
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
It is tragic because those talents will go to waste once they're done with lessons.
I don't think you can be sure about that. Just speaking from my own experience, even though I have degrees in music, they're not in performance, yet I ended up with an immensely satisfying career as a performer. If the passion and motivation are there, they'll do something worthwhile. If it's not, a performance degree probably won't do it for them.
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