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#635879 - 06/15/03 01:04 PM problems when tuning before a concert
wallace_henry Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/13/03
Posts: 4
1. Tell us about the problems you've had when tuning before a concert (broken strings or parts, etc.) or other situations that caused a little anxiety or maybe a lot!
2. How did you deal with the situation and are you prepared in case it happens again?
3. Did it have a happy ending or were you ready to hang it up and did ditches for a living cuz the stress is too much?
This should be interesting...
wallace henry

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#635880 - 06/16/03 01:12 AM Re: problems when tuning before a concert
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21658
Loc: Oakland
I've had a bass string on a concert grand break before a concert. Tried putting a knot in it, but it couldn't hold the tension. I ended up putting in some plain wire so they wouldn't damage the piano if they played the note. I tuned it to pitch, but you couldn't hear it.

I once had to tune a piano on the loading dock of the local symphony hall before we got access. Nothing but a corrugated steel door between me and the traffic, and another corrugated steel door between me and the orchestra winds warming up for the New World Symphony. It wasn't my best job. I always try to do an extra good job for that pianist whenever I tune for his shows to make up for it. He was here a couple of days ago, and I told him that story and he sort of chuckled at it.

I just take things in stride. I realized a couple of things a long time ago: That you don't have to be perfect, you just have to be better than most people can hear, and that since they keep having me back, I must be as good as the artists I tune for.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#635881 - 06/17/03 08:14 AM Re: problems when tuning before a concert
Bob Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 3872
My worst experience at a concert tuning was for a piano duo show. I had to wait for completion of the stage and delivery of the two pianos. One piano was 100 cents flat, the other at pitch, but badly out of tune. I had 1/2 hour to tune BOTH pianos to each other. Of course they did the sound check as I tuned. Can you say Evelyn Wood Speed Tuning Course????
_________________________
www.PianoTunerOrlando.com






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#635882 - 06/17/03 08:27 AM Re: problems when tuning before a concert
Bob Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 3872
P. S. I try to tune a piano atleast twice before a concert. For a Sunday afternoon concert I prefer to tune the piano on Friday, (raising/lowering the pitch), and then again on Sunday morning. I don't rule out a 15 min bang though right before the concert either. Many artists show up 3 hours before the concert and play the piano. If the tuning isn't stable because you just raised the pitch, the piano will be out of tune for the concert.
_________________________
www.PianoTunerOrlando.com






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#635883 - 07/06/03 02:05 PM Re: problems when tuning before a concert
wallace_henry Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/13/03
Posts: 4
thanks to all who posted! I'm going to submit this again to get more stories...

1. Tell us about the problems you've had when tuning before a concert (broken strings or parts, etc.) or other situations that caused a little anxiety or maybe a lot!
2. How did you deal with the situation and are you prepared in case it happens again?
3. Did it have a happy ending or were you ready to hang it up and did ditches for a living cuz the stress is too much?
This should be interesting...
wallace henry

Top
#635884 - 07/21/03 07:57 PM Re: problems when tuning before a concert
88Key_PianoPlayer Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/02/02
Posts: 1907
Loc: El Cajon, CA
I'd like to find out sometime how this piano sounded:

from Franz Mohr's book "My Life with the Great Pianists"

An Italian pianist had just gotten a new Steinway from the factory. He continued practicing and practicing on the day of the performance. 2 hours before it was to start, Franz and the stage manager went to him and asked for 2 hours to tune the piano cause it wasn't stable yet and F M needed lots of time to tune the piano especially since it was new.
1.5 hours later, "We have to open the house in half and hour, and Franz needs half an hour to tune..." he still went on practicing. Michelangeli eventually gave Franz 10 minutes to tune the piano, which was out of tune completely. Franz told him he had warned him time and time again that he needed time and "now you give me 10 minutes. I will not touch your piano."


I'd like to find out what that sounded like, sometime. \:\)
_________________________
Associate Member - Piano Technicians Guild
1950 (#144211) Baldwin Hamilton
1956 (#167714) Baldwin Hamilton
You can right-click my avatar for an option to view a larger version.

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#635885 - 07/26/03 12:11 PM Re: problems when tuning before a concert
Bill Bremmer RPT Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/21/02
Posts: 3271
Loc: Madison, WI USA
"We have to open the house in half and hour, and Franz needs half an hour to tune..." he still went on practicing. Michelangeli eventually gave Franz 10 minutes to tune the piano, which was out of tune completely. Franz told him he had warned him time and time again that he needed time and "now you give me 10 minutes. I will not touch your piano."

I've heard Franz tell that story and read it in his book too. It must have sounded pretty bad. He says that the newspaper review reported the out of tune piano which is something I've never heard of being written anywhere else.

As for the 10 minute tuning...

I've been asked to tune for a 3 week concert series as I usually am this time of year. The series is held in 3 locations, I get to do two of them. There was a special request to tune at intermission last night and again for two shows on Sunday. The word was that something the pianist will be doing will put the piano out of tune.

One of the venues is new to me, a brand new piano in a newly restored "Opera House" theater, so I did not yet have a custom program for the piano. I spent the extra time needed for that in the afternoon so that I could simply put in my muting strips and correct any string which is off as quickly as possible.

I went right on stage as soon as the applause died down, took off all of the sticky, colored tabs the pianist had put on the dampers of the brand new Kawai 6 foot grand. Just as I was about to start tuning, one of the artists came up and I asked how long I had. "About 10 minutes" was the answer. I just thought to myself that I'd have to do what I could.

It had been one of those odd ball pieces, "Song of the Whales" or something like that where the cellist had retuned his instrument in a nonstandard way, the flutist used her voice in the flute and made odd sounds and the pianist reached inside, touched on strings to produce weird, thumping sounds. He also placed a metal rod on the strings at one point to produce terrible rattling sounds. He repeatedly raked his fingers across the bass strings with the damper pedal depressed.

I've heard of all of this before but had never seen it done live. To say the least, it made me very uncomfortable. I even found a chisel in the piano afterwards which I had not seen him use. I asked, "What did you do with THAT?". The answer was, "You don't WANT to know!" (Jokingly, I hope).

I had spent a good long time (2 1/2 hours) in the afternoon setting up a custom program and getting the piano as stable as possible and was hoping that would minimize the amount of tuning I would have to do at intermission. I got through all except the high treble (where I had not seen the pianist messing around) before they asked me to stop.

Another 5 minutes would have done it (15 minutes total) but I sure don't like to work under such pressure. The audience was talking loudly and some people were coming on stage asking what I was doing, if it was "by ear" and if I had "perfect pitch". I even heard the "You can tune a piano but you can't Tuna Fish" joke. (Where are the security people when you NEED them?)

As soon as I was done, I left. I'll be hearing the rest of the show twice tomorrow at another theater anyway. Thankfully, that audience will go out for drinks and I'll probably get a whole 20 minutes with no distractions.

Whew!
_________________________
Bill Bremmer RPT
Madison WI USA
www.billbremmer.com

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