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Topic Options
#467070 - 08/24/08 02:12 AM Yet Another Topic About Chopin's Etudes
akonow Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/07/08
Posts: 589
Loc: Los Angeles
I am finishing up a waltz and a prelude by Chopin and am desperately anxious to start another etude of his. The ones I am most interested in are Op. 10 No. 12, Op. 25 No. 1, Op. 25 No. 5, and Op. 25 No. 9. In your experience, which of the above 4 most noticeably made a difference in your playing? I realize they all practice different aspects of one's technique but I also realize that some etudes practice more practical aspects (e.g. Op. 25 No. 10 helps develop octaves while Op. 25 No. 6 helps develop thirds, which occur less often in more challenging pieces). That may not have been a good or accurate example but I hope it illustrates my point nonetheless.

Lastly, I was wondering if, endowed with an aptness at my current repertoire and a handspan of an 11th, Op. 10 No. 4 or Op. 10 No. 8 are infeasible? As always, thank you in advance.
_________________________
Bach - WTC I in C major & C minor (BWV 846-847)
Mozart - Sonata K 282
Chopin - Polonaises Op 26
Schumann - Fantasiestücke Op 12

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#467071 - 08/24/08 02:24 AM Re: Yet Another Topic About Chopin's Etudes
Fleeting Visions Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/06
Posts: 1501
Loc: Champaign, IL
 Quote:
Originally posted by akonow:
I [...] am desperately anxious to start another etude of his. [/b]
Another etude? Have you played one? It sounds to me like you haven't.

What else are you playing? Which waltz/etc.? How difficult were they for you? How long did they take? Have you discussed this with your teacher?

I am a Czerny man. I have played his exercises since I was 10 and I still often use them to warm up and work on particular difficulties.

And what is this about not many thirds appearing in more difficult pieces? Don Juan? Chopin Ballade #4? Lucrezia Borgia has some ridiculously awesome passages in thirds. You also find many of them in orchestral transcriptions and chamber music. Octaves are easier than thirds to me by far. Furthermore, the development of the outer fingers and coordination of the fingers are indispensible technical benefits which would make 25-6 useful even if there were no pieces that required thirds.
_________________________
Amateur Pianist, Scriabin Enthusiast, and Octave Demon

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#467072 - 08/24/08 02:32 AM Re: Yet Another Topic About Chopin's Etudes
akonow Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/07/08
Posts: 589
Loc: Los Angeles
 Quote:
Originally posted by Fleeting Visions:
 Quote:
Originally posted by akonow:
I [...] am desperately anxious to start another etude of his. [/b]
Another etude? Have you played one? It sounds to me like you haven't.

What else are you playing? Which waltz/etc.? How difficult were they for you? How long did they take? Have you discussed this with your teacher?

I am a Czerny man. I have played his exercises since I was 10 and I still often use them to warm up and work on particular difficulties.

And what is this about not many thirds appearing in more difficult pieces? Don Juan? Chopin Ballade #4? Lucrezia Borgia has some ridiculously awesome passages in thirds. You also find many of them in orchestral transcriptions and chamber music. Octaves are easier than thirds to me by far. [/b]
I've played Op. 10 No. 3 and Op. 10 No. 6. My repertoire is in my signature. The Waltz is No. 17 in E Flat Major and the Prelude is Op. 28 No. 3. The Waltz and Prelude took 2 1/2 weeks but I was also on vacation for 3 days. ;\) The last etude I played (Op. 10 No. 3) my teacher had me decide between Op. 10 No. 3, Op. 10 No. 11, Op. 10 No. 12, and Op. 25 No. 1.

The only Czerny I can stand to do is the octave ones. \:\(

And I realize my example was bad but I couldn't think of a better one. ;\)
_________________________
Bach - WTC I in C major & C minor (BWV 846-847)
Mozart - Sonata K 282
Chopin - Polonaises Op 26
Schumann - Fantasiestücke Op 12

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#467073 - 08/24/08 07:50 AM Re: Yet Another Topic About Chopin's Etudes
argerichfan Online   sick
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/15/06
Posts: 8905
Loc: Pacific Northwest, US.
 Quote:
Originally posted by akonow:

The only Czerny I can stand to do is the octave ones. \:\(

Would you be referring to the Ab (#33) from the Op. 740? That's a cool study.
_________________________
Jason

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#467074 - 08/24/08 08:45 AM Re: Yet Another Topic About Chopin's Etudes
sotto voce Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
akonow,

The Chopin etudes are one of my favorite topics, especially as they've been the focus of my practice for a while. I discussed my own experiences with them, and offered my assessments of their relative difficulties, in this recent and informative thread . Do read it if you haven't already done so.

I find two surprises in what you've said here: that your teacher considered 10/11 as a starter etude (!), and that you're considering 25/5 now in your short list. But there were a couple of surprises in that earlier thread, too: one poster found 25/3 to be among the easier etudes, and another found 10/9 among the more challenging. It's a good indication of how much the perception of difficulty varies from person to person.

Steven
_________________________

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."
—Albert Schweitzer

Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
Fauré: Ballade Op. 19

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#467075 - 08/24/08 01:11 PM Re: Yet Another Topic About Chopin's Etudes
BruceD Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 18138
Loc: Victoria, BC
 Quote:
Originally posted by akonow:
I am finishing up a waltz and a prelude by Chopin and am desperately anxious to start another etude of his. The ones I am most interested in are Op. 10 No. 12, Op. 25 No. 1, Op. 25 No. 5, and Op. 25 No. 9. In your experience, which of the above 4 most noticeably made a difference in your playing? I realize they all practice different aspects of one's technique but I also realize that some etudes practice more practical aspects (e.g. Op. 25 No. 10 helps develop octaves while Op. 25 No. 6 helps develop thirds, which occur less often in more challenging pieces). That may not have been a good or accurate example but I hope it illustrates my point nonetheless.
[/b]
As many regular readers to this forum know, I often do not hesitate to give advice on musical and technical questions. I am always, however, somewhat taken aback by the "what should I play next" threads because the indicators of a poster's ability is not found in a list of current repertoire nor in the listing of skills acquired.

That said, I continue : Undoubtedly you realize that, depending upon skills already developed, the working out of an aspect of technique through an Etude may "make a difference to one's playing" more to some than to others.
 Quote:


Lastly, I was wondering if, endowed with an aptness at my current repertoire and a handspan of an 11th, Op. 10 No. 4 or Op. 10 No. 8 are infeasible? As always, thank you in advance. [/b]
Success with Op. 10 No. 4 shouldn't be based on handspan; it's a question of dexterity, particularly expansion and contraction of the hand at a very rapid tempo - as in many of the Etudes - so those are the skills that you need to consider. Given what I said above, - and not meaning to be flippant - I would say : "it depends." Would not the best way to find out if these Etudes "are infeasible" - or feasible - be to try working on them? Surely after a few hours time you should be able to determine - given your level of study - whether or not these Etudes will be "infeasible" or whether they will work for you.

The Etudes are a considerable step above the Waltzes and the Preludes, particularly those that you have cited, and I am sure you realize that. In the Henle edition, Waltz No. 17 is in a minor; the E-flat Waltz (Brown-Index 133) is number 18 in Henle; is that the one you are refering to? It's a simple, short, one-page sketch that would in no way determine one's ability to take on a Chopin Etude.

Along with sotto voce, I'm somewhat non-plussed by the choice between Op. 10, No 3 and Op 10. No 11, as if they were to be considered of equal difficulty. If your teacher believes that they are so, then undoubtedly s/he is the best one to consult for which Etude you should work on next. In any case, wouldn't your teacher be the best person to consult?

Regards,
_________________________
BruceD
- - - - -
Estonia 190

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#467076 - 08/24/08 02:32 PM Re: Yet Another Topic About Chopin's Etudes
akonow Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/07/08
Posts: 589
Loc: Los Angeles
 Quote:
The Chopin etudes are one of my favorite topics, especially as they've been the focus of my practice for a while. I discussed my own experiences with them, and offered my assessments of their relative difficulties, in this recent and informative thread. Do read it if you haven't already done so.
Thank you!

 Quote:
Would you be referring to the Ab (#33) from the Op. 740? That's a cool study.
No, it's the Op. 553. There are 5 octave exercises in ascending difficulty.

 Quote:
I find two surprises in what you've said here: that your teacher considered 10/11 as a starter etude(!), and that you're considering 25/5 now in your short list.
I'm sorry, that was a typo. I meant to write Op. 10 No. 9. :p I looked through the score of Op. 25 No. 5 and, to me, it seems that the primary difficulty lies in the ear and not so much in the hand. I may be wrong in this assumption though. ;\)

 Quote:
The Etudes are a considerable step above the Waltzes and the Preludes, particularly those that you have cited, and I am sure you realize that. In the Henle edition, Waltz No. 17 is in a minor; the E-flat Waltz (Brown-Index 133) is number 18 in Henle; is that the one you are refering to? It's a simple, short, one-page sketch that would in no way determine one's ability to take on a Chopin Etude.
In my Schirmer edition and in the CD I have, No. 17 is the first one played here: http://it.youtube.com/watch?v=9cm-t79aRTk . I knew I could learn this one easily but it's my favorite waltz so I decided to play it.

Sorry my question is a bit hackneyed but I just wanted a couple more opinions in addition to my teacher.
_________________________
Bach - WTC I in C major & C minor (BWV 846-847)
Mozart - Sonata K 282
Chopin - Polonaises Op 26
Schumann - Fantasiestücke Op 12

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#467077 - 08/24/08 02:33 PM Re: Yet Another Topic About Chopin's Etudes
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
I can see the apparent logic behind the
choice between 10/3, 10/11, 10/12, and 25/1,
as approximately at the same level. These
are by no means easy, but they are all
allegretto or slower--a fast tempo puts
the etude at a quantum step higher in
difficulty; 10/12 is allegro, but the notes
fall under the hands pretty well, so that makes
it fairly manageable.

A handspan of an 11th has no bearing on playing.
I can reach a 10th in the rt. and a 9th in the
lt., and I can play anything; in fact, I
wish I had a much bigger reach. The problem
with 10/4 and 10/8 is the fast tempo; this
would represent a quantum leap up in
diffculty, seeing as you've only played
two of the slower etudes thus far. If
the teacher is not enthusiastic about
you playing these, this is why (plus, he
might not be able to play them himself--
most teachers won't teach what they can't
play).

As for the choice between 10/12, 25/1,
25/5, and 25/9, 25/1 and 25/5 would present
problems because of the fast tempo. 25/9
is a concert pianist-level piece. That leaves
10/12, which was previously presented to you as
a choice.

The etude that I've personally found most
beneficial technically is the first of the
Trois Nouvelles Etudes, the one with the
continuous 3 against 4 polyrhythm. This
teaches you the old-style rt. hand only
rubato, which is a lost art today, and
is necessary for playing much of Chopin's
work properly.

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#467078 - 08/24/08 02:44 PM Re: Yet Another Topic About Chopin's Etudes
akonow Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/07/08
Posts: 589
Loc: Los Angeles
 Quote:
If
the teacher is not enthusiastic about
you playing these, this is why (plus, he
might not be able to play them himself--
most teachers won't teach what they can't
play).

The etude that I've personally found most
beneficial technically is the first of the
Trois Nouvelles Etudes, the one with the
continuous 3 against 4 polyrhythm. This
teaches you the old-style rt. hand only
rubato, which is a lost art today, and
is necessary for playing much of Chopin's
work properly.
Thanks! And my teacher went to Juilliard and played all the etudes already, so I think she knows what she is talking about ;\) but I understand what you mean.

Yes, I've looked at that etude before but I really don't love it musically that much. It would probably be wise to choose that sometime but I don't think I would do it justice or much thought...
_________________________
Bach - WTC I in C major & C minor (BWV 846-847)
Mozart - Sonata K 282
Chopin - Polonaises Op 26
Schumann - Fantasiestücke Op 12

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#467079 - 08/24/08 03:13 PM Re: Yet Another Topic About Chopin's Etudes
sotto voce Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by akonow:
In your experience, which of the above 4 most noticeably made a difference in your playing? [/b]
I realized when I read Bruce's message that I had forgotten entirely about this particular question.

By a "difference," did you mean a difference to the grasp one has of the particular technique employed in that etude? Or were you questioning which one of these etudes was found to make the most difference by raising the level of one's playing in general?

In the latter case, I don't think it's answerable even by someone who's worked on all four. If they were learned successively, there would be an accumulated benefit to overall technique with each one learned. Since you bring a different set of skills to each new one you study, then, it's not a level playing field for purposes of comparison. Results might well differ if they were learned in a different order, but there's no way of knowing because you can't go back!

On the other hand, if they were studied simultaneously as a group, how would you isolate which one(s) made the most difference overall to improving your playing? I don't feel able to, anyway.

I'm glad Bruce mentioned that hand span is of little consequence, as I had forgotten to mention that previously. As with the vast majority of piano repertoire, an octave or a ninth is plenty adequate.

I see Gyro has contributed while I've been writing this, so I want to vigorously dispute that speed is such an important criterion in assessing difficulty; 10/9, 10/12, 25/1 and 25/2 are all common starter etudes. Also, 25/9 is not found by most people to be in the most difficult category; it's no more a "concert pianist-level piece" than the other etudes generally.

Finally, this is my take on 25/5: The Vivace outer sections, despite the spread chords and the constantly changing articulations, are probably the easiest. The lyrical middle section requires very sensitive treatment of the melody in the left hand; the right hand's arpeggiated chords with both single and double notes are just plain hard—very hard, in my estimation. And the tempo still moves at a very brisk clip—after all, Più lento relative to Vivace isn't Lento at all!

Steven
_________________________

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."
—Albert Schweitzer

Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
Fauré: Ballade Op. 19

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#467080 - 08/24/08 03:45 PM Re: Yet Another Topic About Chopin's Etudes
akonow Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/07/08
Posts: 589
Loc: Los Angeles
Thanks again, Steven. I think I will ask my teacher about Op. 25 No. 5 and see what she thinks about me playing it despite the rather unique melody that I'm sure my friends and family will have a difficult time getting used to. ;\) Nevertheless, I'm still not 100% sure which etude I should pick because of the many different answers I'm getting haha. I do love them all but I don't love them all equally and, while I will probably do all of them in my lifetime, I'm not quite sure which would benefit me the most at present. Well, I am rambling quite a bit.

In case you couldn't tell I'm very indecisive. \:\)
_________________________
Bach - WTC I in C major & C minor (BWV 846-847)
Mozart - Sonata K 282
Chopin - Polonaises Op 26
Schumann - Fantasiestücke Op 12

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#467081 - 08/25/08 04:52 AM Re: Yet Another Topic About Chopin's Etudes
Jan-Erik Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/18/05
Posts: 1302
Loc: Finland
I am playing the first of the Trois Nouvelles Etudes but I do not catch what is meant by RH only rubato.

There are basically 3 against 4. Slimple! But after a a phrase with a bow there is kind of a new start in RH with a slight delay. And the figures do not start on the frist beat. Is that the rubato?

And then there are some small tempo variations. But then I must slow down equally in RH and LH?

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#467082 - 08/28/08 06:45 AM Re: Yet Another Topic About Chopin's Etudes
GKL Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/21/08
Posts: 4
Loc: Rockville, MD
Try Op10-Nr2, RH only and focus on control of 4th & 5th fingers, relax, even tempo and follow the "cresc." marking. Start with a slow, comfortable tempo then work up to 144 with strict natural legato. Practice as a "real etude" not as a recital piece, the sparse LH adds interest later.

The 4th & 5th independence will help with numerous Chopin compositions. Practice with focus twice is far superior to repeated nonchalance.

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#467083 - 08/29/08 02:25 AM Re: Yet Another Topic About Chopin's Etudes
Wood-demon Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/25/07
Posts: 607
Loc: UK
 Quote:
Originally posted by Jan-Erik:
I am playing the first of the Trois Nouvelles Etudes but I do not catch what is meant by RH only rubato.

There are basically 3 against 4. Slimple! But after a a phrase with a bow there is kind of a new start in RH with a slight delay. And the figures do not start on the frist beat. Is that the rubato?

And then there are some small tempo variations. But then I must slow down equally in RH and LH? [/b]
I have heard it said (or, more likely, read it!) that Chopin (and Mozart) used a rubato where the left hand was played rigidly in time while the right hand wandered off doing its own thing. If this is at all true I think we would probably be astonished..not to say appalled..if we could travel back in time and listen to performances by these composers...and others, perhaps.
There is an old vinyl recording of Mozart's Concerto in C, K467 by Friedrich Gulda with Hans Swarowsky conducting where the pianist gives a demonstration of this sort of rubato in the slow movement. A friend of mine, on hearing the results, asked me,
"Do you think he'd been at the gin?"

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#467084 - 08/29/08 03:22 AM Re: Yet Another Topic About Chopin's Etudes
sotto voce Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
Wood-demon, I appreciate your candid remarks about RH-only rubato. It's said to correspond to a vocal technique used in the kind of bel canto melodies Chopin admired, yet nothing about it makes sense to me on piano.

Maybe my interpretive tastes have been molded by the nefarious classical music "establishment" that wants everyone to sound the same (according to Gyro!), but if intentional desynchronization of the hands is a "lost art" (as he also claims)—well, maybe there's a reason for that.

Steven
_________________________

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."
—Albert Schweitzer

Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
Fauré: Ballade Op. 19

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#467085 - 08/29/08 12:38 PM Re: Yet Another Topic About Chopin's Etudes
Wood-demon Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/25/07
Posts: 607
Loc: UK
 Quote:
Originally posted by sotto voce:
Wood-demon, I appreciate your candid remarks about RH-only rubato. It's said to correspond to a vocal technique used in the kind of bel canto melodies Chopin admired, yet nothing about it makes sense to me on piano.

Maybe my interpretive tastes have been molded by the nefarious classical music "establishment" that wants everyone to sound the same (according to Gyro!), but if intentional desynchronization of the hands is a "lost art" (as he also claims)—well, maybe there's a reason for that.

Steven [/b]
Sotto Voce, if what you imply by intentional desynchronization of the hands means the sort of thing you can hear on a number of Paderewski's recordings, or, to a lesser degree in the recordings of Wilhelm Kempff and even Michelangeli (slow movement of the Ravel concerto) it's not the same thing as Gulda tried to do in the Mozart recording I mentioned. Although pianists of the Paderewski generation didn't always get their hands down together I doubt, though can't be sure, that this was a conscious attempt to follow the "left-hand steady, right-hand free" idea. There was a general elasticity about their playing, including the left-hand, which corresponds much more to ideas still current about "tempo rubato."
I'm all for character in interpretation and would gladly exchange a dozen modern, clinically-correct recordings of a Chopin work for one by Paderewski..split hands, wrong notes and all!

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#467086 - 08/29/08 01:11 PM Re: Yet Another Topic About Chopin's Etudes
sotto voce Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
Wood-demon, I may have misunderstood you, then, and didn't mean to mischaracterize what you said.

I thought that the intentional desynchronization of the hands was an accurate description of so-called RH-only rubato ("left hand steady, right hand free").

As an interpretive device, I wouldn't do it or wish to listen to it—whether by Gulda or Paderewski, and whether done as an expression of old-fashioned rubato or something more idiosyncratic. No disrespect intended to anyone who likes it or practices it; it's just not for me, and I'm glad it's out of fashion.

JMHO (and humble, indeed, to dare to diverge from Chopin's stated preference).

Steven
_________________________

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."
—Albert Schweitzer

Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
Fauré: Ballade Op. 19

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#467087 - 08/30/08 07:01 AM Re: Yet Another Topic About Chopin's Etudes
Numerian Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 1075
The assumption behind akonow's question is that one can only "work on" a few of Chopin's etudes at a time, and we must assume the purpose is to add that etude to a growing list of concert-ready, memorized pieces that are officially in one's repertoire.

This approach is dictated usually by an intent of the pianist to pursue a career in piano by going to a conservatory, or it is a requirement of the pianist's teacher that the student work on a select few compositions at a time.

For the rest of us amateurs who play the piano for personal enjoyment, the Chopin etudes are a lifetime avocation. We pick them up from time to time, perhaps without ever getting many of them up to performance standard, but they are ours to marvel at for their musical brilliance and their ever-challenging technical difficulties. Once you get to know all 27 of them, you start to agree with many musical scholars that these etudes are among the greatest accomplishments in music ever, and that includes opera, chamber music, song, symphonies, etc.

I am glad to see akonow that you hope someday to make all of these etudes your steady companion in a lifetime pursuit of the piano. Perhaps some of those you find today not so musical will grow on you - that happened to me. I find, for example, that in these discussions no one ever brings up 10/7, even though it is highly musical, wickedly difficult, and a true test of one's stamina and ability to relax so as not to strain your muscles.

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