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#2304591 - 07/20/14 11:21 PM Can't play to my fullest potential without a good grand
joonsang Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/24/13
Posts: 66
so i've been practicing on an old, public baby kawai for awhile now and hit some serious plateau. I stoo by a Steinway dealer to play on a B and virtually every problem I had (mostly concerning tone and dynamics) disappeared and my music sounded better than I've ever heard. Any ways, i'm just really sad that it had to be this way frown

for all you good grand owners, make her sing.. for me !

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#2304596 - 07/20/14 11:35 PM Re: Can't play to my fullest potential without a good grand [Re: joonsang]
Brendan Offline



Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 5317
Loc: McAllen, TX
Don't give up on what you have. All my parents could afford when I was taking piano lessons was a very used and battered Wurlitzer upright that they bought for $500, and it lasted me until conservatory. I figured if I could make that piano sound good, I could make anything sound good. It was a great motivator and I like to think that it paid off long-term.
_________________________
http://www.BrendanKinsella.com

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#2304597 - 07/20/14 11:38 PM Re: Can't play to my fullest potential without a good grand [Re: joonsang]
joonsang Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/24/13
Posts: 66
well now that is humbling, you're right brendan, i suppose i'm lucky to even have a grand to play on .

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#2304599 - 07/20/14 11:41 PM Re: Can't play to my fullest potential without a good grand [Re: joonsang]
Polyphonist Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7606
Loc: New York City
Nothing beats a Steinway B - except, of course, the D.
_________________________
Regards,

Polyphonist

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#2304600 - 07/20/14 11:42 PM Re: Can't play to my fullest potential without a good grand [Re: Polyphonist]
Atrys Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/31/13
Posts: 990
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
the D.

wink
_________________________
"A good intention but fixed and resolute - bent on high and holy ends, we shall find means to them on every side and at every moment; and even obstacles and opposition will but make us 'like the fabled specter-ships,' which sail the fastest in the very teeth of the wind."
R. W. Emerson

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#2304603 - 07/20/14 11:43 PM Re: Can't play to my fullest potential without a good grand [Re: Atrys]
Polyphonist Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7606
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Atrys
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
the D.

wink

Steinway D.
_________________________
Regards,

Polyphonist

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#2304605 - 07/20/14 11:49 PM Re: Can't play to my fullest potential without a good grand [Re: joonsang]
joonsang Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/24/13
Posts: 66
/thread

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#2304607 - 07/20/14 11:53 PM Re: Can't play to my fullest potential without a good grand [Re: Atrys]
JoelW Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 4787
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: Atrys
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
the D.

wink

You're in your 20s?

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#2304615 - 07/21/14 12:44 AM Re: Can't play to my fullest potential without a good grand [Re: joonsang]
trigalg693 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/08
Posts: 656
Think of it like this: a good piano masks your mistakes and shortcomings. If you can play well on a bad piano, you can play well on a good piano.

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#2304654 - 07/21/14 02:35 AM Re: Can't play to my fullest potential without a good grand [Re: joonsang]
Pianamateur Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/14/14
Posts: 19
Loc: UK
True to a certain extent, maybe, but I personally find going from my 15-year old digital to any acoustic a real shock. Every time. My main problems are that real pianos feel so much more 'alive' and unpredictable (even well-regulated ones), and that I overpedal hugely. Still, you make do with what you have, right. I'd rather have my terrible digital than not be able to play at all! smile
_________________________
Working on:
Beethoven - Sonata Ab major Op. 26
Ginastera - Danzas Argentinas Op. 2
Scarlatti - K213
Medtner - Canzona Matinata Op. 39/4
Schumann - Papillons Op. 2

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#2304655 - 07/21/14 02:37 AM Re: Can't play to my fullest potential without a good grand [Re: trigalg693]
JohnSprung Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/02/11
Posts: 1377
Loc: Reseda, California
Ah, yes. But to paraphrase -- not sure if it's Tolstoy or Dostoyevsky -- All good pianos are alike. Crappy pianos are each crappy in their own way. ;-)
_________________________
-- J.S.

Knabe Grand # 10927
Yamaha CP33
Kawai FS690

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#2304672 - 07/21/14 03:39 AM Re: Can't play to my fullest potential without a good grand [Re: trigalg693]
faulty_Damper Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/11/14
Posts: 69
Originally Posted By: trigalg693
Think of it like this: a good piano masks your mistakes and shortcomings. If you can play well on a bad piano, you can play well on a good piano.


I disagree. That's like saying a Ferrari will mask bad driving skills. It won't. A Ferrari makes bad driving obvious. A Honda will mask bad driving because everything is designed to be idiot-proof. Like a Gillette razor. Real skill is using a double-edge or a straight razor. If you screw up, you'll pay for it in blood.

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#2304734 - 07/21/14 08:52 AM Re: Can't play to my fullest potential without a good grand [Re: trigalg693]
DanS Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/28/12
Posts: 557
Originally Posted By: trigalg693
Think of it like this: a good piano masks your mistakes and shortcomings. If you can play well on a bad piano, you can play well on a good piano.


I have to disagree as well. Some good pianos will highlight your shortcomings.
_________________________
"Most pianists are poor musicians, they dissect music into bits-and-pieces, like a roast chicken" -Debussy

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#2304740 - 07/21/14 09:02 AM Re: Can't play to my fullest potential without a good grand [Re: joonsang]
pianoloverus Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19366
Loc: New York City
Players of all levels, from beginner to concert artist, sound better on a good piano vs. a bad one. But this doesn't mean a lousy player will sound good on a good piano. The only sense in which a bad piano might mask one's mistakes is if the tone/tuning is terrible it might distract the listener from other deficiencies the pianist has.

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#2304748 - 07/21/14 09:25 AM Re: Can't play to my fullest potential without a good grand [Re: pianoloverus]
Mark Polishook Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/29/12
Posts: 674
Loc: Leicester, UK
A great piano will reward great playing with fabulous sound. A great piano will also reveal all sorts of stuff that needs work (from a pianist), such an uneven articulation, fine control over dynamics, and tone in general.

It's really well worth it as a learning experience to visit dealers who stock top-tier pianos (Steinway, Steingraeber, Bosendorfer, Bluthner, Fazioli, Grotrian Steinweg, and there are others). Some top tier pianos give instant rewards. Others may give the sense that have have to "grow" into the piano. Meaning more control is needed to really get the fine details from a piano that's capable of making. In that sense top-tier pianos are like other things - high performance cars are often mentioned - where high-performance capabilities require someone who really knows how to get to them.

Larry Fine's Piano Guide is a great reference to get overall context about the "tiers" that pianos fall into. Here's a page about the different levels of quality pianos tend to fall into. Of course this is one source of information–in the end it does come to the experience of playing on a great piano, which is where this thread began

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#2304849 - 07/21/14 01:42 PM Re: Can't play to my fullest potential without a good grand [Re: joonsang]
joonsang Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/24/13
Posts: 66
i feel i can still learn new pieces and practice in every other way, but one thing that is impossible to work on is dynamics. doing the pp-to-ff sense touch, i have to "smash" my finger onto C to make it forte compared to the ease of touch it takes on a good grand. despite how i try to get around this issue on the kawai, it is just not possible. this is devastating but my appreciation for the beast has not changed

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#2304884 - 07/21/14 02:44 PM Re: Can't play to my fullest potential without a good grand [Re: joonsang]
Colin Thomson Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/28/07
Posts: 101
Playing on a good piano is a sort of unrivaled joy, to be sure. It's a feeling you cannot get really any other way.

That said, the real challenge is to attain that sort of musical experience even on a crappy piano. This take FAR more skill, to be sure, and perhaps the exact same effect could never be pulled off. But it is amazing how close some people can get.

That said....after I had the chance to play Horowitz's grand once.....I couldn't help but thinking "oh THAT's why he is so great!"

(of course not the actual reason....but it was my gut feeling at the time)
_________________________
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Colin Thomson

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#2304917 - 07/21/14 03:38 PM Re: Can't play to my fullest potential without a good grand [Re: joonsang]
gooddog Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/08/08
Posts: 4795
Loc: Seattle area, WA
I hope this thread lays to rest the old argument that a digital piano is just as good as an acoustic. Playing on a well regulated and voiced Steinway D is mind boggling. I remember trying out an older, concert prepped, Steinway CD at a store and it seemed as if rainbows were coming out of the body of the piano. If I had the money, ($90K) I would have bought it right then. I find I can create tones and dynamic changes on a D that I can't do on my O.

A former concert pianist recently told me that one of the reasons she gave up the professional concert circuit was the fact that,"I put in all that work and come in to find a terrible piano." I think she was saying that the subtlety of "all that work" wasn't evident on a poor instrument. It's too bad we can't load our instruments on our backs and carry them from place to place. This may be the only reason I envy other instrumentalists.
_________________________
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Deborah

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#2304935 - 07/21/14 04:21 PM Re: Can't play to my fullest potential without a good grand [Re: gooddog]
ClsscLib Offline

Platinum Supporter until Jan 02 2013


Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 1766
Loc: Northern VA, U.S.
Originally Posted By: gooddog
I hope this thread lays to rest the old argument that a digital piano is just as good as an acoustic....


Well, *a* digital can be as good as *an* acoustic, if the digital is good enough and the acoustic is bad enough.

I've certainly never seen a digital that plays nearly as well as a well-prepped concert D (or the equivalent from the other top makers).

On the other hand, I've also never played an acoustic upright that compared with that great concert grand; or a small acoustic grand, even by the top makers.

A top digital -- or even a pretty good digital -- can be a better practice instrument than a bad acoustic, though. I had to play a bad, tiny acoustic grand for practice on the road last week. I'd have been better off schlepping my Casio PX-350 with me on the train. Of course, I'd have been much happier still playing on my acoustic at home, but that just wasn't an option.

All that said, there's nothing like playing a truly fine concert grand, and I don't expect that any digital instrument will ever provide a comparable experience, much as I believe that digitals have a legitimate place for piano learners.
_________________________


"People may say I can't sing, but no one can ever say I didn't sing."

-- Florence Foster Jenkins

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#2304946 - 07/21/14 04:44 PM Re: Can't play to my fullest potential without a good grand [Re: joonsang]
Roland The Beagle Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 02/17/12
Posts: 254
Loc: California
I think practicing on a crap piano and learning to get a decent sound out of it is excellent exercise and will make you sound even better on a ballin' piano.
_________________________
Danzas Argentinas, Alberto Ginastera
Piano Sonata Hob. XVI: 34 in E Minor, Franz Joseph Haydn
Nocturne, Op. 15 No. 1 in F Major, Frédéric Chopin
Prelude, Op. 11 No. 4 in E Minor, Alexander Scriabin
Prelude and Fugue in G Major, Well-Tempered Clavier Vol. 2, Johann Sebastian Bach

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#2304953 - 07/21/14 04:57 PM Re: Can't play to my fullest potential without a good grand [Re: joonsang]
Vid Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/12/01
Posts: 842
Loc: Vancouver, B.C.
I think if you have dug into the music and know what your intentions are then actual instrument becomes less of an issue. You can try things and possibly some instruments will fail to give full expression, but when you find one that does the magic will happen. I don't believe every minute spent at practice need to be golden moments.
_________________________
Kawai VPC1, Pianoteq, Galaxy Vintage D

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#2305038 - 07/21/14 07:19 PM Re: Can't play to my fullest potential without a good grand [Re: Roland The Beagle]
joonsang Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/24/13
Posts: 66
Originally Posted By: Roland The Beagle
I think practicing on a crap piano and learning to get a decent sound out of it is excellent exercise and will make you sound even better on a ballin' piano.


i will agree with you that is the most noblest pursuit, but playing on a Steinway B, every single touch of the keys feels so effortless, and the sounds which were presented to me sang so crystal clear. it truly was like magic how much of a difference it made. i didn't have to concentrate hard on tone, which i believed let my brain concentrate more on hearing myself.

a good grand is like a puzzle piece which just fits so nicely in the musician's brain that wothout it, the brain is forced to compensate for its absence. .2

and i am fully convinced if i were to be able to practice on that piano everyday i could reach for the stars, faster.

Originally Posted By: Vid
I think if you have dug into the music and know what your intentions are then actual instrument becomes less of an issue. You can try things and possibly some instruments will fail to give full expression, but when you find one that does the magic will happen. I don't believe every minute spent at practice need to be golden moments.


you are right, the few pieces i really have down to heart i'm still able to play with full satisfaction,


Edited by joonsang (07/21/14 07:31 PM)

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#2305146 - 07/22/14 12:08 AM Re: Can't play to my fullest potential without a good grand [Re: Roland The Beagle]
outo Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/02/12
Posts: 696
Loc: Finland
Originally Posted By: Roland The Beagle
I think practicing on a crap piano and learning to get a decent sound out of it is excellent exercise and will make you sound even better on a ballin' piano.


Maybe...Once a year I go to a place where they have this funny little piano, which is really not much of an intrument. Last weekend I did it again and after me playing a little someone said the piano sounds really nice...and I agree, for the first time I think I did manage to get a decent sound out of it.

But then again, what's the point? It's still far away from the sound and exprerience that I want to get from playing. A pro has to play on all kinds of things, but as an amateur, I will mostly be playing my own piano and I really want to get the best possible sound. Decent just isn't enough for me. I feel so limited by my upright, it sometimes is really demotivating. Only the fact that I know I will get a grand one day keeps me going smile

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#2305198 - 07/22/14 03:31 AM Re: Can't play to my fullest potential without a good grand [Re: joonsang]
Roland The Beagle Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 02/17/12
Posts: 254
Loc: California
Well, I mean if you can play on a better piano you should, in order to learn how to master that action and tone which is the most important. However, I imagine that learning to play on a wide variety of pianos is extremely challenging for the brain to handle and yet it can learn to do so very well with a lot of practice. I imagine by mastering so many touches and adapting so quickly the brain becomes very exercised at the art of touch itself.

Think of how difficult that it must be for the brain to learn multiple systems of muscle memory, touch reaction, and even aural response reaction, AND have to shift and alter them on the fly for all of the subtly different ways that different bad pianos are bad! Every inferior piano is its own unique inferior snowflake with unique defects in touch and sound. Must grow tons and tons of brain cells!

Or, if you can just get yourself a Steinway and afford to maintain it by all means do that! Unless you can get your piano flown with you though you will have to learn how to play on any piano anywhere and get a decent sound. No shame in learning to do the best with whatever instrument you've got.

I agree that it's such a pain and misery for your ears and musicianship, but what can you do? Think optimistically, that's what!


Edited by Roland The Beagle (07/22/14 03:36 AM)
_________________________
Danzas Argentinas, Alberto Ginastera
Piano Sonata Hob. XVI: 34 in E Minor, Franz Joseph Haydn
Nocturne, Op. 15 No. 1 in F Major, Frédéric Chopin
Prelude, Op. 11 No. 4 in E Minor, Alexander Scriabin
Prelude and Fugue in G Major, Well-Tempered Clavier Vol. 2, Johann Sebastian Bach

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#2305201 - 07/22/14 03:56 AM Re: Can't play to my fullest potential without a good grand [Re: faulty_Damper]
trigalg693 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/08
Posts: 656
Originally Posted By: faulty_Damper

I disagree. That's like saying a Ferrari will mask bad driving skills. It won't. A Ferrari makes bad driving obvious. A Honda will mask bad driving because everything is designed to be idiot-proof. Like a Gillette razor. Real skill is using a double-edge or a straight razor. If you screw up, you'll pay for it in blood.


A good piano is easier to control because it has a better action, and it will produce a nice tone even if you aren't paying attention to your touch. On the other hand, you have to work hard to get a good sound out of the bad piano.

If I may turn your analogy around on you, getting a fast lap time in a Honda Civic is harder because you have to work for it, while in the Ferrari you can mash the gas and make up for your crap driving.

If you play a nice piano, you will sound better, and that's why it's easier to play a nice piano.


Edited by trigalg693 (07/22/14 03:57 AM)

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#2305358 - 07/22/14 12:45 PM Re: Can't play to my fullest potential without a good grand [Re: joonsang]
joonsang Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/24/13
Posts: 66
very excellent points and i do agree with both sides of arguement. i guess we can conclude with a quote from schindler's list; "good things cost money."

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#2305381 - 07/22/14 01:25 PM Re: Can't play to my fullest potential without a good grand [Re: joonsang]
TwoSnowflakes Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/15/12
Posts: 1231
I spent my entire childhood playing on a spinet with all the, uh, "versatility" for which spinets are so universally...treasured? I remember when I switched teachers as a young teenager. The new teacher had several large beautiful grands in her house that were not only quite different than what I was playing, but she had weighted the keys on one of them.

Needless to say, it was a very different experience and it was incredibly frustrating to go to her house to play during lessons because it would take me most (if not all) of the lesson to adjust.

But my parents didn't ever get a different piano. I quit a couple of years later anyhow. Anyway, I moved the old spinet from my parents' house into my home after I was married and proceeded to barely look at it for two decades.

I bought a grand piano last year and while it ain't a Steinway, it's a lovely piano and I can't stop playing it. Sometimes I think it makes me sound better. Sometimes I think it reveals all my flaws. But most of the time it has an annoying habit of doing both in the same piece.

I will say this, though. I quit because I was unable to put the right kind of work into piano. I make no allowances for that; that's on me. But I will say that part of the issue was that I never really thought I could play with the control, expression and resonance that the music I was playing deserved. I now know that I had I stuck with it more, I would have been exposed to better and better pianos and had the opportunity to play on them and explore what they had to offer. I remember feeling like I had three choices on my spinet: 1) mf; 2) hit the key sharply and roughly to get anything louder than mf, or 3) nothing at all as anything with a softer touch than mf often failed to sound the note at all. Trills were a disaster.

I really thought it was me. And yes, to a certain extent, it was. But it would have been nice to have been able to get past that and know which parts were me, and which were limitations of the piano. I had to rehearse a piece on a yucky spinet on which not even the pedal worked. After learning it on a better piano, I could tell the difference between the piano and my own shortcomings.
_________________________
Currently:
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With the pedal I love to meddle; When Paderewski comes this way... -Irving Berlin

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#2305580 - 07/22/14 07:30 PM Re: Can't play to my fullest potential without a good grand [Re: Roland The Beagle]
JohnSprung Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/02/11
Posts: 1377
Loc: Reseda, California
Originally Posted By: Roland The Beagle
However, I imagine that learning to play on a wide variety of pianos is extremely challenging for the brain to handle and yet it can learn to do so very well with a lot of practice. I imagine by mastering so many touches and adapting so quickly the brain becomes very exercised at the art of touch itself.


If you've only had one piano for a long time, it's a real jolt at first. But if you can get the opportunity to play lots of different pianos (and even some digitals), the learning curve isn't all that tough. It quickly gets a lot easier. You aren't really learning a large catalog of different touches, you're learning to adjust your input to get the desired output. It can't possibly require a whole bunch of brain power, after all, I'm doing it.... ;-)
_________________________
-- J.S.

Knabe Grand # 10927
Yamaha CP33
Kawai FS690

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#2305776 - 07/23/14 07:16 AM Re: Can't play to my fullest potential without a good grand [Re: TwoSnowflakes]
jdw Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/04/11
Posts: 982
Loc: Philadelphia, PA
Originally Posted By: TwoSnowflakes


But I will say that part of the issue was that I never really thought I could play with the control, expression and resonance that the music I was playing deserved. I now know that I had I stuck with it more, I would have been exposed to better and better pianos and had the opportunity to play on them and explore what they had to offer. I remember feeling like I had three choices on my spinet: 1) mf; 2) hit the key sharply and roughly to get anything louder than mf, or 3) nothing at all as anything with a softer touch than mf often failed to sound the note at all. Trills were a disaster.

I really thought it was me. And yes, to a certain extent, it was. But it would have been nice to have been able to get past that and know which parts were me, and which were limitations of the piano. I had to rehearse a piece on a yucky spinet on which not even the pedal worked. After learning it on a better piano, I could tell the difference between the piano and my own shortcomings.


I had a very similar childhood experience with our old upright. I really thought I was incapable of playing varied dynamics. Since I knew the instrument was named the pianoforte for a reason, this made me feel pretty useless.
_________________________
1989 Baldwin R
Currently working on:
Grieg, Papillon
Mozart, K 330
Brahms, Op. 118 no. 2

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#2307023 - 07/25/14 02:45 PM Re: Can't play to my fullest potential without a good grand [Re: joonsang]
joonsang Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/24/13
Posts: 66
So I played on a 7'4" Bösendorfer last night. Yes, every single thing was better about it obviously, it is a <$100,000 piano. But what I found craziest was the huge, and i mean HUGE difference in the way my Etude 10/1 played. My fingers were flying so fast that I wasnt able to control the speed, my fingers were actually tripping over themselves. The amount of effort it took to play through the arpeggios was way too much of a difference so, that I don't think I even want to return to playing it on a bloody baby gfand

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