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#2232226 - 02/15/14 06:48 PM RSI Caused by Computer Use - Will Piano Help or Exacerbate?
StringsOnFire Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/04/14
Posts: 16
Loc: United Kingdom
As titled really. I have problems with my right hand from extensive PC use. Will the piano help, or make things worse? I suppose the movement and stretching might be beneficial, but the weight of the keys might not be. Any experience? Doctors welcome!

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#2232232 - 02/15/14 07:00 PM Re: RSI Caused by Computer Use - Will Piano Help or Exacerbate? [Re: StringsOnFire]
phantomFive Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/11/14
Posts: 1154
Loc: California
A) What kinds of problems? Where exactly does it hurt and what kind of pain?

B) If it's your right hand, it sounds like a mouse problem. Mice should not cause RSI. Look at something in your workstation that is awkward.....are you pressing your bone down too hard on the desk? Then get a mousepad. Are you lifting your finger too high from the mouse when you click? These are both problems I've seen, and the problem went away after the aggravant was removed.

C) If you don't feel pain, and you feel your thumb getting weaker, then that is probably carpal tunnel, and you should see a doctor. Doing the right exercises in that situation can help make things better.

D) Try piano. If it makes things better, then great! If it makes you feel worse (especially if you notice more pain within five minutes) then stop.

E) Don't listen to me, I am not a doctor and don't know what I'm talking about. I have read several books about RSI and take a keen interest in the topic for professional reasons. That's all.
_________________________
Poetry is rhythm.

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#2232261 - 02/15/14 08:43 PM Re: RSI Caused by Computer Use - Will Piano Help or Exacerbate? [Re: StringsOnFire]
Derulux Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5286
Loc: Philadelphia
This will most-likely exacerbate the issue. Think of it this way: if you got a knee injury from jumping, and now you decide instead to go do squats with weights, do you think the knee injury will get better? Piano is very similar to typing on a keyboard. The same motions are used, the same muscles, the same everything.

With RSI, the only advice I've ever heard is to rest, not to pick up a different hobby using the same injured part of your body. wink
_________________________
Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.

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#2232274 - 02/15/14 09:07 PM Re: RSI Caused by Computer Use - Will Piano Help or Exacerbate? [Re: StringsOnFire]
Andy Platt Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/28/10
Posts: 2375
Loc: Virginia, USA
Piano really helped me! But why?

Simple - it was piano lessons that introduced me to the concept of tension. I hadn't been diagnosed with RSI but it was probably not far off - I'm a software engineer. I didn't realize how much tension I carried around with me in my day to day activities.

Although I never felt issues at the time, now I can't believe how much free-er I am at the keyboard (both kinds!) and other normal tasks such as driving.

Of course, you don't need to play piano to get that - you just have to understand it's there. But what better way to learn than through playing piano?!
_________________________
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#2232277 - 02/15/14 09:38 PM Re: RSI Caused by Computer Use - Will Piano Help or Exacerbate? [Re: StringsOnFire]
hreichgott Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/13
Posts: 897
Loc: western MA, USA
If you work with a teacher who is skilled at dealing with injured pianists, piano will help, because you'll have someone helping you think about exactly how you use every muscle. Most of us don't learn to use a computer that way smile In your situation self-study without a teacher could be harmful though, because you'll likely carry the same habits over to piano playing.
_________________________
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Daily attempts at 16th notes: Chopin Op. 10 no. 4, Pischna
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#2232285 - 02/15/14 10:05 PM Re: RSI Caused by Computer Use - Will Piano Help or Exacerbate? [Re: StringsOnFire]
jdw Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/04/11
Posts: 946
Loc: Philadelphia, PA
I agree, it totally depends on *how* you play the piano. Given that you have developed a problem from computer use, you probably do not have healthy movement habits at this point.

I was able to recover from computer-induced RSI by playing the piano--but only because I had careful guidance and retraining in ergonomic technique (Taubman approach). The right kind of movements are helpful, but they don't happen without the right kind of instruction for someone who's already injured. I'd suggest consulting people who have studied this.
_________________________
1989 Baldwin R
Currently working on:
Grieg, Papillon
Mozart, K 330
Brahms, Op. 118 no. 2

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#2232328 - 02/15/14 11:17 PM Re: RSI Caused by Computer Use - Will Piano Help or Exacerbate? [Re: StringsOnFire]
Mr Super-Hunky Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/17/05
Posts: 4220
Loc: Arizona.
From a nutritionional standpoint, just about everyone is Magnesium deficient. This is because our soil that the food is grown in is so poor in magnesium content.

Magnesium is what helps your muscles relax as opposed to constrict. Many people experience pains throughout their body that is merely just an expression of an incomplete nutritional intake. Magnesium (or lack thereof) many times is to blame.

Solution:

Get some magnesium mineral flakes and dissolve them to make an oil. Since Magnesium is best absorbed through the skin, rub the oil on your painful joints to let absorb through the skin. You can also use it in a foot bath since many minerals are best dissolved through the bottom of your feet. Yes, that's right!

Doing this for a while could help your pains if being Magnesium deficient is your problem. If it is not, the regular absorption of Magnesium is still extremely beneficial to your overall well being.

Do a search on the purpose and benefits of Magnesium in the body. Lots of great info on it.

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#2232335 - 02/15/14 11:36 PM Re: RSI Caused by Computer Use - Will Piano Help or Exacerbate? [Re: StringsOnFire]
Michael Martinez Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/22/12
Posts: 386
Loc: California
I would think piano won't help, because you're basically doing the same thing on the piano as on the keyboard: a "typing" kind of movement.

What I have found to help is to exercise the hands and wrists in a very different manner than what you do on the piano. I do curls, pullups and pushups as part of my exercise routine, and this tends to loosen up and strengthen fingers that are tired from repetitive motion.
_________________________
Music Educator, Computer Engineer, avid reader of literature, enjoyer of the outdoors
http://www.michael--martinez.com/music/

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#2232453 - 02/16/14 07:17 AM Re: RSI Caused by Computer Use - Will Piano Help or Exacerbate? [Re: Mr Super-Hunky]
outo Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/02/12
Posts: 529
Loc: Finland
Originally Posted By: Mr Super-Hunky


Do a search on the purpose and benefits of Magnesium in the body. Lots of great info on it.


I don't know about everyone, but for me a steady supplement of Magnesium has done wonders for my playing. I never thought my fingers, hands and shhoulders could actually feel so tension free. I was never able to play fast before, because my muscles were so stiff. Now the challenge has moved up to my brain grin


Edited by outo (02/16/14 07:17 AM)

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#2232510 - 02/16/14 10:23 AM Re: RSI Caused by Computer Use - Will Piano Help or Exacerbate? [Re: StringsOnFire]
Sand Tiger Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/25/12
Posts: 994
Loc: Southern California
I also have chronic problems from before starting piano. Piano made it worse. When I began I was doing two hours a day, and after a month, my hands were aching. I had to take a week off. Rest, ice, cold packs, warm water, and in my case gloves all helped.

If it is the right hand, it is almost certainly the mouse. I find a glove to be most helpful, especially if the room is cool. Two brands of gloves mentioned on the forum are Hand-Eze (a thin latex like material) and Imak (heavier cloth, marketed for arthritis).

I have not tried the magnesium.

People are different. What works for some may not work for others. Age is a factor because young bodies tend to heal much faster. If a person is self-teaching, be very careful. The issues can go from discomfort to pain to permanent damage in a short time, if a person is reckless. There are so many stories on the forum about beginners over doing it, and injuring themselves, and many did not have issues before piano. Listen to the body. Stop if there is pain, there already seems to be discomfort.

For me, strict limits on practice time is essential. Along with rest, ice, cold packs, soaks in warm water and gloves.



Edited by Sand Tiger (02/16/14 10:35 AM)
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#2232591 - 02/16/14 01:24 PM Re: RSI Caused by Computer Use - Will Piano Help or Exacerbate? [Re: StringsOnFire]
Tubbie0075 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/17/10
Posts: 544
Does this helps?


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#2232603 - 02/16/14 02:03 PM Re: RSI Caused by Computer Use - Will Piano Help or Exacerbate? [Re: StringsOnFire]
Elssa Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/15/05
Posts: 1541
Loc: NY
I do a lot of typing/editing with my full-time job as a medical transcriptionist, and I use a light-action keyboard for both work and piano. I'm sure that helps to prevent my getting carpal tunnel syndrome. I also have a high chair and bench so that I'm leaning down into the keyboards a bit.. I think that takes some of the stress off of the arms and hands.

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#2232604 - 02/16/14 02:03 PM Re: RSI Caused by Computer Use - Will Piano Help or Exacerbate? [Re: StringsOnFire]
Mr Super-Hunky Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/17/05
Posts: 4220
Loc: Arizona.
I forgot to mention that Wal-Mart carries a product called 'Slo-Mag'. You can read the reviews for it on Amazon as they sell it too.

Magnesium is so important in our daily intake and most people are deficient as I mentioned.

I would suggest taking it. Trust me when I say I spend many hours per day researching health and nutrition information as nobody else has my best interest in mind.

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#2233261 - 02/17/14 03:49 PM Re: RSI Caused by Computer Use - Will Piano Help or Exacerbate? [Re: Mr Super-Hunky]
Elssa Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/15/05
Posts: 1541
Loc: NY
Originally Posted By: Mr Super-Hunky


Solution:

Get some magnesium mineral flakes and dissolve them to make an oil. Since Magnesium is best absorbed through the skin, rub the oil on your painful joints to let absorb through the skin. You can also use it in a foot bath since many minerals are best dissolved through the bottom of your feet. Yes, that's right!

Doing this for a while could help your pains if being Magnesium deficient is your problem. If it is not, the regular absorption of Magnesium is still extremely beneficial to your overall well being.


I've tried some magnesium cream in the past when I had muscle pain and problems and really think it helped. I agree with using Mr. SH's suggested form and/or buying a prepared cream form for the skin, because the pills can cause GI problems. If there is a component of nerve irritation or damage, the B vitamins are supposed to be good for that, B6 and B12 especially.

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#2233271 - 02/17/14 04:02 PM Re: RSI Caused by Computer Use - Will Piano Help or Exacerbate? [Re: StringsOnFire]
Mr Super-Hunky Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/17/05
Posts: 4220
Loc: Arizona.
For the record, I am usually against obtaining your essential vitamins and minerals through supplementation and suggest getting what you need out of quality food.

That's the problem however. The food is only as nutritious as the soil it was grown in and unless your food was grown in premium soil, odds are, it does not contain some of the minerals you think it does or should.

I am going to be growing all my own 'nutrition' very soon in the form of premium soil and sprouts as eating sprouts is essentially the perfect diet. MUCH more nutritious than its full grown counterpart.

I am going to eat my essential vitamins and minerals.
I am going to take oral supplementation of Magnesium Chloride (Slow-Mag).
I am going to rub dissolved magnesium Chloride flakes into my painful joints dissolved through the skin using a product called 'Ancient Minerals' Magnesium Chloride flakes. (Also available on Amazon).

This is probably your best, and only 'natural' remedy.

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#2233470 - 02/17/14 11:38 PM Re: RSI Caused by Computer Use - Will Piano Help or Exacerbate? [Re: Mr Super-Hunky]
Elssa Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/15/05
Posts: 1541
Loc: NY
Which foods do you think are best to get the magnesium and B vitamins?

I'm gluten intolerant, so have to make my bread from almond flour, but maybe that's better..Have always heard that nuts have a lot of nutrients, especially almonds.

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#2233474 - 02/17/14 11:55 PM Re: RSI Caused by Computer Use - Will Piano Help or Exacerbate? [Re: StringsOnFire]
Pathbreaker Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/04
Posts: 1036
Loc: Massachusetts
A nice hot cocoa recipe I found recently, not sure about the gluten:
Quote:

2 cups Vanilla Almond Milk (8% daily value magnesium)
1 tbsp raw honey (primary sweetener)
1 tbsp coconut oil (gives the smooth quality)
1 tbsp raw cacao powder (92 mg magnesium or 23% DV)
1/2 tbsp cinnamon

Heat the almond milk but don't let it boil. put it in a blender and dump in the rest of the ingredients. Blend for a minute and enjoy.

I just had this about an hour ago actually but I swapped out 1/3 of the Almond Milk for coffee that I had brewed earlier. I personally make all the tablespoons heaping. It's tastes pretty amazing and is much better for you than normal hot chocolate. It might not help but it can't hurt! When it's cold this will warm you to your fingertips. Especially if you add the coffee. smile

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#2233477 - 02/18/14 12:12 AM Re: RSI Caused by Computer Use - Will Piano Help or Exacerbate? [Re: StringsOnFire]
Mr Super-Hunky Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/17/05
Posts: 4220
Loc: Arizona.
Elssa, sprouts are probably natures most perfect food. They are powerful and complete in terms of their nutritional content. They even contain complete proteins which means you get the same protein from them as you would a steak, but without the heart attack.

Right now we are getting ready to start a batch of Mung Beans and Quinoa sprouts. A perpetual 6 day cycle using canning jars.

As for bread, You may want to look into Indian 'Naan' bread as it is yeast free. Another good one is fermented sourdough bread. I would highly recommend making these fresh at home if possible.

For Magnesium rich foods, eat homemade banana muffins sans sugar. Use whole grain flour. Also try black bean Hummus dip on brown rice crackers. There is lots of food that contain Magnesium, (or at least should), but again, it just depends if the plant got enough from the soil. Crappy nutrients = crappy end result. If you grow your own nutrition (which you can in a jar), you are in control of everything. No worries about contaminants, pesticides etc.

I place a high value on my health, much more than convenience because once it is gone, you can't just 'conveniently' get it back.

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#2233478 - 02/18/14 12:15 AM Re: RSI Caused by Computer Use - Will Piano Help or Exacerbate? [Re: StringsOnFire]
Mr Super-Hunky Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/17/05
Posts: 4220
Loc: Arizona.
Don't forget a foot bath with Epsom salts (Magnesium) which is soothing as well. Full body bath too.

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#2233730 - 02/18/14 12:45 PM Re: RSI Caused by Computer Use - Will Piano Help or Exacerbate? [Re: Pathbreaker]
Elssa Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/15/05
Posts: 1541
Loc: NY
Sounds like a delicious - and healthy - drink! smile thumb

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#2233737 - 02/18/14 12:53 PM Re: RSI Caused by Computer Use - Will Piano Help or Exacerbate? [Re: Mr Super-Hunky]
peterws Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/21/12
Posts: 3459
Loc: Northern England.
Too many sprouts can harm you . . . Too much of anything can harm you I guess . .
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#2233739 - 02/18/14 12:57 PM Re: RSI Caused by Computer Use - Will Piano Help or Exacerbate? [Re: Mr Super-Hunky]
Elssa Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/15/05
Posts: 1541
Loc: NY
Thanks for all the helpful tips, Mr. SH. smile I'm going to look into growing the sprouts.. never realized how much protein and nutrition they have. I've tried sprouted bread in the past and it was good, but it's hard to get around here now. I try to avoid all grains now because a lot of them have gluten-like substances in them, and I think the nuts have much more nutrition than grains anyway. I don't mind making my breads from almond flour; they're quick breads, no yeast, easy to make. I get blanched almond flour from www.nuts.com and it's very good. They also have a great Tahini product. That's a good idea about the hummus - am going to try that, too.

Agree, homemade is always better. I make my own yogurt from half & half all the time - They say the store yogurts are weak as probiotics because they only let it set 4-7 hours. I let mine cook about 12 hours.

I'm with you, "Let food be thy medicine" is the way to go. thumb

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#2233766 - 02/18/14 02:03 PM Re: RSI Caused by Computer Use - Will Piano Help or Exacerbate? [Re: StringsOnFire]
billhilton Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/26/07
Posts: 10
Loc: Wales
Just a quick one on my experience here:

I got quite nasty RSI from typing a few years ago that really affected my playing. I still flares up now and then, but here's some stuff I've done that's helped:

1. New computer keyboard - no-brainer. Luckily, the new-style Apple keyboard is nice and light. Generally, the lighter the better. Laptop keyboards are often better than desktop ones.

2. I've changed my typing style to avoid "weak" fingers. My main problem is with my fourth on my right hand. I just don't use it when I type any more. Result: slower typing, happier fingers.

3. Ice baths really help when it flares up - really ice the hands until they're numb.

4. Wrist splints, but only at night, to stop me crunching up my hands and restricting blood flow.

5. Playing on a light piano. For practice I now only use my Dietmann upright, which has a super-light action. I only use my digital (Nord NP-88) for shooting videos, MIDI work and gigs. In general, I think the more "givey" action of a real piano is probably less damaging than the hard keybed of a digital.

6. I've diversified my musical doings (I now compose more, and sing in a choir) so that if my RSI flares I can still scratch the music itch smile
_________________________
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#2233776 - 02/18/14 02:18 PM Re: RSI Caused by Computer Use - Will Piano Help or Exacerbate? [Re: StringsOnFire]
billhilton Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/26/07
Posts: 10
Loc: Wales
I just realised that after posting all that I forgot to answer the OP's actual question - duh.

I think playing can help the in the recovery stage, as long as you're not overdoing it, not doing massive Rachmaninov-like stretches, and playing on a piano with a light, forgiving action.

There - I'll shut up now wink
_________________________
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#2233878 - 02/18/14 06:02 PM Re: RSI Caused by Computer Use - Will Piano Help or Exacerbate? [Re: StringsOnFire]
StringsOnFire Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/04/14
Posts: 16
Loc: United Kingdom
Thanks for all the answers so far! I'll speak to my doctor soon - a blood test should show if I have a disproportionate level of magnesium vs calcium (which is fairly likely with my diet).

Is the general recommendation to use a piano with 'light' keys? I was under the impression that heavier keys used so differently from a keyboard/mouse might make my hand stronger - am I wrong?

Thanks!

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#2233884 - 02/18/14 06:26 PM Re: RSI Caused by Computer Use - Will Piano Help or Exacerbate? [Re: StringsOnFire]
billhilton Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/26/07
Posts: 10
Loc: Wales
Dunno if everybody would say the same, but I definitely found that a light action helped. Mind you, I learned on light pianos, and I've always preferred them to heavy ones, so it could just be a prejudice I have.

I'd say the main thing is to be careful with your hands and experiment to find out what works best for you. Talking to other people about it, it seems that no case of RSI is quite like any other. On the upside, loads of people get it and manage to cope with it - it's just a question of being careful, thoughtful and patient.
_________________________
Check out my piano tutorial channel on YouTube smile

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#2233963 - 02/18/14 10:18 PM Re: RSI Caused by Computer Use - Will Piano Help or Exacerbate? [Re: StringsOnFire]
Elssa Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/15/05
Posts: 1541
Loc: NY
Yes, would definitely stick with a light-action keyboard, at least for now. My 2 Rolands seem just right for me, weighted yet not stiff and heavy.

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#2233999 - 02/19/14 12:29 AM Re: RSI Caused by Computer Use - Will Piano Help or Exacerbate? [Re: StringsOnFire]
Derulux Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5286
Loc: Philadelphia
Originally Posted By: StringsOnFire
Thanks for all the answers so far! I'll speak to my doctor soon - a blood test should show if I have a disproportionate level of magnesium vs calcium (which is fairly likely with my diet).

Is the general recommendation to use a piano with 'light' keys? I was under the impression that heavier keys used so differently from a keyboard/mouse might make my hand stronger - am I wrong?

Thanks!

The fact that you're still asking about strength is worrisome. If you physically can push the keys down, you don't need any more strength. wink
_________________________
Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.

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#2234078 - 02/19/14 07:16 AM Re: RSI Caused by Computer Use - Will Piano Help or Exacerbate? [Re: StringsOnFire]
jdw Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/04/11
Posts: 946
Loc: Philadelphia, PA
I'm not a fan of light action for RSI myself, because I think it could tend to mislead people into using only finger movement instead of technique that's healthily coordinated with the arm. This is part of what gets people into trouble on computer keyboards. It feels as if you're hardly moving, so you don't think about doing it ergonomically.

Of course, some people prefer light action and that's fine, but it won't protect against injury.
_________________________
1989 Baldwin R
Currently working on:
Grieg, Papillon
Mozart, K 330
Brahms, Op. 118 no. 2

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#2234086 - 02/19/14 07:43 AM Re: RSI Caused by Computer Use - Will Piano Help or Exacerbate? [Re: StringsOnFire]
StringsOnFire Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/04/14
Posts: 16
Loc: United Kingdom
Is it fairly likely that most piano tutors will know their stuff regarding students with RSI, or will I be looking for someone with specific experience?

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