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#2168740 - 10/20/13 12:47 AM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: Derulux]
stores Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/09
Posts: 6645
Loc: Here, as opposed to there
Originally Posted By: Derulux



On the first part of this, sir, you are wrong. Muscles tire because they are used, not because they are not used.



I think it is obvious where I was going. I didn't say that the fatigue is a result of the muscles NOT being used. I said it is because those muscles are not yet trained (to carry the workload). I realise that muscles tire, because of use, but, if you've not ever used said muscles in a particular way, fatigue will set in faster. It would seem we're actually on the same page here, but perhaps I should have worded things so as not to be confusing to anyone.
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#2168806 - 10/20/13 07:20 AM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: Derulux]
bennevis Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 4400
Originally Posted By: Derulux

So, to comment on another portion of the discussion, it is not necessary to "build up muscles" to play the piano. A certain degree of endurance notwithstanding (and which can be acquired through the regular course of practice), if you are strong enough to press down the keys (which only takes a few ounces of strength), then you need no more muscular strength at all.


Somewhat OT, in a sense, this is true.

But what is also true is that among virtuosi, men play with markedly more power than women, which is purely down to their greater strength, not superior technique. You can even hear the difference in recordings, e.g. if you compare two famous Tchaik 1 recordings - Van Cliburn's and Argerich's. But it's in piano competitions where this is most obvious, because you get the opportunity to listen to male and female pianists of similar age and accomplishment playing the same pieces, one after the other.

This is not to imply of course, that budding virtuosi should embark on a strength-training regime wink . But it is true that with regular piano playing of music that involves loud dynamics (especially octaves and chords), you will develop stronger muscles in your forearms, because they are principally responsible for moving the fingers (both flexion and extension). But you'll also develop the small muscles of the hands, as well as the big muscles of the upper arms (which move the forearm).

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#2168842 - 10/20/13 09:15 AM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: bennevis]
wr Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7428
Originally Posted By: bennevis

But what is also true is that among virtuosi, men play with markedly more power than women, which is purely down to their greater strength, not superior technique.


It's not about "strength", per se, it is about several different elements, one of the most important of which is height (and, related to that, hand span). AFAIK, there's never been a woman pianist on the international circuit as tall as either Van Cliburn or Garrick Ohlsson.

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#2168844 - 10/20/13 09:26 AM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: wr]
bennevis Offline
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Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 4400
Originally Posted By: wr
Originally Posted By: bennevis

But what is also true is that among virtuosi, men play with markedly more power than women, which is purely down to their greater strength, not superior technique.


It's not about "strength", per se, it is about several different elements, one of the most important of which is height (and, related to that, hand span). AFAIK, there's never been a woman pianist on the international circuit as tall as either Van Cliburn or Garrick Ohlsson.


OK then, compare Argerich's Rach 3 with Ashkenazy's. wink

They're the same height, and have similar hand spans. One is female, the other male. (I'll leave you to guess which is which grin ).

Whose fortissimos have got more power and heft behind it?

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#2168846 - 10/20/13 09:32 AM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: wr]
Morodiene Online   content
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Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: wr
Originally Posted By: bennevis

But what is also true is that among virtuosi, men play with markedly more power than women, which is purely down to their greater strength, not superior technique.


It's not about "strength", per se, it is about several different elements, one of the most important of which is height (and, related to that, hand span). AFAIK, there's never been a woman pianist on the international circuit as tall as either Van Cliburn or Garrick Ohlsson.

I think height does come into play. However, my former teacher is very small in stature (maybe 5') and her grad teacher told her she would have to lift weights to become more substantial. She doesn't get a huge sound, but it projects well enough.

Anyways, I don't think that size of sound is a big issue with the OP, and building muscle mass is not usually what playing piano is about - especially in the fingers (since there aren't any muscles in the fingers to begin with). Even endurance, when I've played piano for a while my fingers don't get fatigued, it's usually my whole body that loses energy and I just need to eat something to replenish the used energy. My mind probably fatigues more than anything!
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#2168856 - 10/20/13 10:00 AM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: Morodiene]
bennevis Offline
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Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 4400
I don't want to turn this into a battle of the sexes, but I found an interesting quote by the esteemed Canadian pianist Janina Fialkowska:

"....the vast majority of men have a higher volume level than their female counterparts. There are exceptions, naturally, but on the whole, if a 'normal' male pianist attempts a long, fortissimo octave passage, he'll generally find it easier to do so and will achieve it with a louder sound than a 'normal' female pianist."
(International Piano)

Maybe strength training isn't such a bad idea after all, unless you intend to specialize in the Baroque and early classical..... wink

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#2168861 - 10/20/13 10:12 AM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: Pathbreaker]
Alan Lai Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/16/13
Posts: 309
Loc: USA/Hong Kong
Originally Posted By: Pathbreaker
Originally Posted By: Alan Lai
I would like you to watch these videos, watch closely at the pianists' hands, and then ask yourself this same question again.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WpZr_cbYbXo
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZdCObCqE7ek


These two examples are really interesting in that there is a huge difference in the amount of movement between Ashkenazy and Ohlsson. Can someone comment on that (a significant amount of rotation from Ohlsson)? It's not that there is none from Ashkenazy but it's not very noticable.

It's due to different hand construction between those two pianists. Everyone's hands are different.

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#2168922 - 10/20/13 12:45 PM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: bennevis]
stores Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/09
Posts: 6645
Loc: Here, as opposed to there
Originally Posted By: bennevis


But what is also true is that among virtuosi, men play with markedly more power than women, which is purely down to their greater strength, not superior technique.


Bah!
_________________________

"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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#2168941 - 10/20/13 01:37 PM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: Allan W.]
Arghhh Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/31/08
Posts: 1025
If you do go to a piano performance DMA student for your next teacher(piano performance people get a Doctor of Musical Arts degree instead of a PhD), make sure that they have experience teaching. There are many who have only been playing piano and have never tried to teach anyone - and those are two different things.

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#2169006 - 10/20/13 04:08 PM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: stores]
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5067
Loc: Philadelphia
Originally Posted By: stores
Originally Posted By: Derulux



On the first part of this, sir, you are wrong. Muscles tire because they are used, not because they are not used.



I think it is obvious where I was going. I didn't say that the fatigue is a result of the muscles NOT being used. I said it is because those muscles are not yet trained (to carry the workload). I realise that muscles tire, because of use, but, if you've not ever used said muscles in a particular way, fatigue will set in faster. It would seem we're actually on the same page here, but perhaps I should have worded things so as not to be confusing to anyone.

Yeah, I didn't realize that until after I posted, and partly because I had to think about it more as I was responding. I probably could have kept silent on this one and still contributed as much as I did by speaking. grin

Originally Posted By: stores
Originally Posted By: bennevis


But what is also true is that among virtuosi, men play with markedly more power than women, which is purely down to their greater strength, not superior technique.


Bah!

I actually agree with stores on this. I know many women who can get every once of sound out of the piano. I'm sure the biographers in here, who have a quantity of intimate knowledge about major performers that I couldn't begin to touch, would be able to articulate just how many women have been able to play loudly enough to break strings (which is more power than you need, really). wink
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#2169040 - 10/20/13 05:17 PM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: bennevis]
musicpassion Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/30/12
Posts: 790
Loc: California, USA
Originally Posted By: bennevis

Maybe strength training isn't such a bad idea after all, unless you intend to specialize in the Baroque and early classical..... wink


I realize I'm contributing to driving this topic way of course... but it's an interesting discussion about strength, so here's my two cents worth:

I don't think strength training is needed for most people. From my perspective (I'm a man who is 6'3" tall and built like an NFL linebacker) I feel pianos can handle very little of the power of a strong man. It is a very rare piano that I feel I can put a lot of power into without driving way past good tone. Strong men need to be very conscious of not driving past good tone, and and not breaking the piano.

I do, however, hear a real difference btw most men and women pianists. But even a petite pianist can project well if they adapt their approach to their physical parameters.
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#2169148 - 10/20/13 09:42 PM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: Allan W.]
pianoloverus Online   content
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Registered: 05/29/01
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I have never heard a professional woman pianist in recital or concerto performance where I felt she lacked power. Perhaps those who think this is the case can tell us which pianists they think fall in to this category?

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#2169158 - 10/20/13 10:03 PM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: bennevis]
wower Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/13/10
Posts: 242
Loc: Calgary
Originally Posted By: bennevis
But what is also [baseless speculation] is that among virtuosi, men play with markedly more power than women, which is purely down to their greater strength, not superior technique. You can even hear the difference.


Feeling the need to stand in solitary with half the world's population I fixed Bennevis' quote. Unfortunately he made a perfectly quantifiable statement and one could easily test the forte playing decibels of different pianists pressing down 30 gram in a ~4 cm^2 area. I know of no study which has reached the conclusion he states as truth above. You can hear it? Pft.
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#2169268 - 10/21/13 06:59 AM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: wower]
bennevis Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 4400
Originally Posted By: wower
Originally Posted By: bennevis
But what is also [baseless speculation] is that among virtuosi, men play with markedly more power than women, which is purely down to their greater strength, not superior technique. You can even hear the difference.


Feeling the need to stand in solitary with half the world's population I fixed Bennevis' quote. Unfortunately he made a perfectly quantifiable statement and one could easily test the forte playing decibels of different pianists pressing down 30 gram in a ~4 cm^2 area. I know of no study which has reached the conclusion he states as truth above. You can hear it? Pft.

I'm not in the habit of picking squabbles with other posters, and I'm also not in the habit of writing anything of which I have no personal experience or knowledge. Unlike many others here....(pft)

Have you ever heard two virtuosi, one male and one female, playing the same bombastic piece one after the other? I have, lots of times, with many different pianists, of similar age and accomplishments. The differences in the sustained level of decibels as well as at the loudest climaxes are quite evident. And it's not just my opinion - you obviously haven't read my post quoting a highly respected virtuoso pianist above (who also judges at many piano competitions).

BTW, what's a solitary pressing down 30g got to do with piano playing? A 6-year-old child can easily press down 1000g with one finger, but cannot play with the power of any adult.

And before anyone accuses me of misogyny, let me reiterate that I'm only talking purely of strength and power, not about musicianship, technique or anything to do with music. (I have an interest in sport-specific training, and strength v endurance etc, because I take part in marathons, adventure-racing etc as well as rock-climbing). It should be self-evident that playing the piano isn't about how loud your ff chords and octaves are (- though this factor does seem to influence perception, e.g. why do so few female pianists play the Brahms concertos?).

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#2169319 - 10/21/13 08:26 AM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: Derulux]
wr Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7428
Originally Posted By: Derulux
I'm sure the biographers in here, who have a quantity of intimate knowledge about major performers that I couldn't begin to touch, would be able to articulate just how many women have been able to play loudly enough to break strings (which is more power than you need, really). wink


I'm a man, about average in height and weight, and I used to break strings fairly often (it's really not that hard to do, if you aren't careful). My technician, who came to repair the damage, loved to deflate any potential male ego nonsense I might be entertaining by telling me about seeing tiny and fragile-looking females who also broke strings with no visible special effort.

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#2169368 - 10/21/13 10:06 AM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: bennevis]
wower Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/13/10
Posts: 242
Loc: Calgary
Originally Posted By: bennevis
But what is also true is that among virtuosi, men play with markedly more power than women, which is purely down to their greater strength, not superior technique. You can even hear the difference in recordings,


Wow Bennevis. You doubled down on your credentials instead backtracking for simply confusing truth and opinion. Stay classy.
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#2169397 - 10/21/13 10:51 AM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: wower]
bennevis Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 4400
Originally Posted By: wower

Wow Bennevis. You doubled down on your credentials instead backtracking for simply confusing truth and opinion. Stay classy.

Can you translate that into simple English? (I only know 'doubled-up').

As you know, my command of English isn't quite as comprehensive and all-embracing as yours... wink

By the way, I'm always classy, except when I'm not.

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#2169416 - 10/21/13 11:16 AM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: Allan W.]
Hakki Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 2100
Allan,

This is a very difficult etude. And there is the risk of injuring yourself if you overdo it and stress your fingers, wrists, elbows, shoulders, etc.

So the first thing to do is practice at a VERY slow tempo.

If possible download the following video and play it in slow motion:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1AEWJqtspg

That is (along with Ashkenazy) the correct technique for this etude.

A few things:

1. Always try to play with your finger tips when possible.
2. Use gravity and let the flow of your wrist carry your fingers to the necessary places. Do not try to reach the notes with expanding your hand.
3. When going up raise your wrist towards your pinky. At that moment your hand should be collapsed and your thumb should already be ready and on the first note of the next group of notes.
4. When coming down similarly lean your wrist towards your thumb and your pinky this time should be ready and already on the first note of the next group of four notes.
5. Always pay close attention that your fingers, wrist, elbow and shoulders are always relaxed.

Hope these help.
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#2169464 - 10/21/13 12:15 PM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: wr]
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5067
Loc: Philadelphia
Originally Posted By: wr
Originally Posted By: Derulux
I'm sure the biographers in here, who have a quantity of intimate knowledge about major performers that I couldn't begin to touch, would be able to articulate just how many women have been able to play loudly enough to break strings (which is more power than you need, really). wink


I'm a man, about average in height and weight, and I used to break strings fairly often (it's really not that hard to do, if you aren't careful). My technician, who came to repair the damage, loved to deflate any potential male ego nonsense I might be entertaining by telling me about seeing tiny and fragile-looking females who also broke strings with no visible special effort.






How unfortunate! My first piano was an old player upright from the 1880's (ish) with the player system ripped out. Had real ivory keys, yellowed from billows of saloon smoke. I was told it was the age of the strings, not my freakishly powerful 12-year-old arms. grin
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#2169559 - 10/21/13 02:55 PM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: bennevis]
BruceD Offline
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Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 17671
Loc: Victoria, BC
Originally Posted By: bennevis
[...] men play with markedly more power than women, which is purely down to their greater strength, not superior technique. You can even hear the difference in recordings, e.g. if you compare two famous Tchaik 1 recordings - Van Cliburn's and Argerich's. But it's in piano competitions where this is most obvious, because you get the opportunity to listen to male and female pianists of similar age and accomplishment playing the same pieces, one after the other.
[...]


I would have to take issue with the first part of this quote, given that I cannot determine what level of power produced in a recording is due to differences in pianos, recording venues and, most of all, engineering techniques.

The second instance would be a more reliable criterion for determining, and then, only if a fair number of male and female pianists were to play the same work in succession.

Regards,
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#2169581 - 10/21/13 03:30 PM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: Allan W.]
Hakki Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 2100
From Chopin-Society.org.uk:

"Records shows that as an adult weighing 40 kilos (about 88lbs) and 1.70 metres (5'6") tall, Chopin was chronically under weight"

Why this weird power discussion about Chopin's music? I find it really absurd, meaningless and pointless.
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#2169933 - 10/22/13 08:52 AM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: BruceD]
wower Offline
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Registered: 03/13/10
Posts: 242
Loc: Calgary
Originally Posted By: BruceD
The second instance would be a more reliable criterion for determining, and then, only if a fair number of male and female pianists were to play the same work in succession.


I haven't closed my mind to changing my view and this idea lies closer to how it might happen with one additional condition: Blind listening tests (leaving aside all the details of good experiment design for the moment). Then this becomes a super interesting question. Though I would predict the results would be closer to what Kreisler and others have spoken about in regards to orchestras now running auditions behind screens as a matter of convention.
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#2170103 - 10/22/13 02:38 PM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: Allan W.]
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5067
Loc: Philadelphia
Why leave it to the ear? If you really want to run the experiment, get a piano rewired (literally wink ) so instead of pounding on strings, you're hitting pressure plates. Then measure the force generated. Second step, determine the maximum load a string can bear. Third step, determine what maximum load still produces good sound. If women are above that bar in terms of force production (which I fully believe they are), then they can play every bit as loud and powerful as men. wink

You could probably even convince an undergrad at a university to help you run this experiment. Science loves clearing up "misconceptions of perception" and quantifying all sorts of data to prove (or disprove) a hypothesis. smile
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#2170167 - 10/22/13 04:50 PM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: BruceD]
jdw Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/04/11
Posts: 805
Loc: Philadelphia, PA
Originally Posted By: BruceD
Originally Posted By: bennevis
[...] men play with markedly more power than women, which is purely down to their greater strength, not superior technique. You can even hear the difference in recordings, e.g. if you compare two famous Tchaik 1 recordings - Van Cliburn's and Argerich's. But it's in piano competitions where this is most obvious, because you get the opportunity to listen to male and female pianists of similar age and accomplishment playing the same pieces, one after the other.
[...]


I would have to take issue with the first part of this quote, given that I cannot determine what level of power produced in a recording is due to differences in pianos, recording venues and, most of all, engineering techniques.

The second instance would be a more reliable criterion for determining, and then, only if a fair number of male and female pianists were to play the same work in succession.


And wouldn't you also have to know whether each of the pianists *wanted* to blast the piece out as loudly as possible? They might conceivably be aiming for something else. smile
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#2170245 - 10/22/13 07:34 PM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: Derulux]
wower Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/13/10
Posts: 242
Loc: Calgary
Originally Posted By: Derulux
Why leave it to the ear?


For the simple reason that was the subject at hand when I replied. I wasn't aware I needed to speak to the entire history and philosophy of science. Someone in this thread was practically stating it was self-evident one could tell by ear whether a male or female was playing. While I'm completely open to the possibility I do have reasonable conditions to be met in order to be convinced.


Edited by wower (10/22/13 08:20 PM)
Edit Reason: spelling!
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