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#924442 - 07/14/08 12:42 AM Making Schedules Come September
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5278
Loc: Orange County, CA
Any interesting "tricks" you folks use to schedule students come September?

In the past, I've been extremely accommodating and scheduled students according to their other extracurricular activities, since, I guess, their tae kwan do, tennis, or swimming lessons can't be moved to another time. This has usually resulted in crazy schedules (lots of students on one day and few on others).

This year, I'm tempted to try one of these three formulae:

1) I first rank all my students based on their improvement, accomplishment, and attendance within the past 12 months. The most improved, accomplished, and punctual students get first dibs in my schedule book.

2) Since several of my students are entering high school (and a few are still in high school), I thought about scheduling students according to their school grade level. I'd schedule all the (rightfully so) busy high school seniors first. All those 3rd graders who need to take ballet lessons can get their piano lessons at 8 PM.

3) Vary the tuition rates by time slot. It seems like everybody wants Monday-Thursday 3 PM - 6 PM. So those people can pay more for their prime slots. Since my rate is going up in September, those who take lessons past 6 PM can keep their current rate.

I'm basically tired of competing against all those extracurricular activities. I'm tempted to add a clause in the studio policy that stipulates "No student shall engage in more than TWO extracurricular activities, one of which being PIANO."
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#924443 - 07/14/08 10:13 AM Re: Making Schedules Come September
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 10753
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
AZN: I think those rules are certainly your prerogative, and depends on how much you are willing to lose a few in the process.

Personally, I have a first-come first serve basis for scheduling in the Fall. Those students who take their required 6 summer lessons get to schedule their lessons at any time for the Fall. I have a few who have already reserved their time. Others get to wait until those people are scheduled.

I also don't necessarily want to work late in the night, so I wouldn't want to schedule someone at 8pm when I may have a time between 3-6 pm.

As far as extracurricular activities, I think that is a great suggestion, and I would definitely make it clear to students and parents the importance of choosing wisely the activities they do as well as the number of activities. Giving them the idea that they can only do one other thing besides piano let's them know that piano does consume that much time, and also that you have a requirement of commitment from your students.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#924444 - 07/14/08 12:05 PM Re: Making Schedules Come September
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7200
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Very interesting topic - a 5 star in my opinion.

Right now, I have a spreadsheet on my computer, which is the Fall Lesson Schedule. Across the top are the days of the weeks, and down the side is the time in 10 min increments. As I offer a variety of programs, hopefully to meet the needs of students, lessons are 30, 40, 50, or 60 minute.

Generally, I leave students where they were from the previous year, unless the parent has requested something else. When students matriculate from middle school to high school, their school day shifts an hour earlier, so they finish up at 2:15, so can be here for a 2:30 lesson start time. Similarly, when students move into middle school, they can take a later lesson time, so I try to move them out of the prime times for elementary students.

Many, if not most, of my piano families, have two working parents, so actually, the 5PM to 7PM times are the most desirable.

We begin our Fall Term the week before school resumes. Students are going to learn what required activities are going to conflict with lesson times, so generally, I am faced with a 10% shuffle after the first week of school. Thus far, in these many years, this has worked out well. Parents are very accommodating, realizing that they, too, will be requesting time changes.

Your idea of charging more for prime time makes sense. In a way, I do that already as I offer 1hr lessons for the price of a 50 min lesson for home schoolers who come for lessons between noon and 2:30. My guess is that people respond more favorably to discounts than to premium charges. So, for example, if your regular fee is $50/hr, you might offer a 10% discount ($45/hr) for those accepting other less convenient times.

I explain to my new families up front (after we've talked about music issues, I say I need to spend a few minutes discussing the rather unpleasant topic of lesson payments) that their tuition is purchasing a time slot and it's theirs. It's their responsibility to be here and use it, or to lose it. I can only switch around with substantial advanced notification, and it must be used in the same week. And oh, by the way, my tuition assumes that students are going to miss one lesson a term, three a year, so if they make it to all lessons, they get three free lessons. That final statement almost always terminates any negative looks on parents' faces.
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#924445 - 07/14/08 12:15 PM Re: Making Schedules Come September
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 10753
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Does anyone allow students to contact one another to swap lessons? I am thinking since I only allow 1 make up per semester, this might be nice, as long as *I* am given 24 hours' notice that a different student would be there so I can have time to plan my day.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#924446 - 07/14/08 12:28 PM Re: Making Schedules Come September
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Golly, that's pretty radical structuring, AZN.

It is hard to strategize based on the criteria you mentioned, although if it really represents your need and your best thinking on it, it may be necessary and possible. This is your business to operate in the way you choose fit.

Perhaps calculations would work better for you if you list the students by age, level, then, number of years of study with you, absences, compliance with your business structure, performance/competitions results, and see where the magic is.

You might want to establish a new student profile of your preferred student per age and level, and you may need to have a maximum number in some categories to keep your student enrollment replentished.

I would want a balance of top notch older students, an intermediate group moving up, and lots of beginners to fall into the older students slots due to "graduation".

I want to create committment and cooperation in my studio, so I try very hard to put changes in my studio in the best, most appealing and courteous tone of voice, and as a benefit to the client, if possible.

The "you will, you should, you must" (requirement, restrictions and limitations) do not work well with anyone.

I think you should spend some time thinking what is in it for your students - what advantage(s) does this change create?

Your topic is a good one - I will look forward to reading the coming postings.

Betty

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#924447 - 07/14/08 12:35 PM Re: Making Schedules Come September
lalakeys Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/05/06
Posts: 286
Loc: Chicago 'burbs
Yes, I encourage students & families to exchange contact info so they can swap lessons or carpool, and several have done this. Anything I can do to help it "work" in this tough economy is worth a try.

And because I expect students to continue their lessons during the summer months (working around everyone's vacation schedule--most students will miss 2 or 3 weeks, as will I; and that's expected), I offer the first choice of lesson time to the students who have been using those slots through the summer. Sometimes families will contact each other and discuss switching times, and that's fine with me. Those students who have "taken a break from piano" for the entire summer get whatever's left. And if I haven't heard from a family by Labor Day, I fill their spot with someone from my waiting list.

What I refuse to do is CALL people in mid-September and ask awkwardly, "um, did Susie want to take piano this year?" If Susie's folks couldn't be bothered to contact me, I'll spend that time with a more deserving family.
_________________________
Private piano & voice teacher for over 20 years; currently also working as a pipe organist for 3 area churches; sing in a Chicago-area acappella chamber choir

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#924448 - 07/14/08 12:47 PM Re: Making Schedules Come September
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17698
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
 Quote:
Originally posted by AZNpiano:
I'm basically tired of competing against all those extracurricular activities. I'm tempted to add a clause in the studio policy that stipulates "No student shall engage in more than TWO extracurricular activities, one of which being PIANO." [/b]
You are, of course, entitled to draft your policies however you like. But it may be useful to you to hear that a statement like that would rub some families (e.g., me) the wrong way. Sounds to me that your objection to extracurricular activities is when they intrude on piano. Why not phrase it that way, e.g., "Signing up for piano lessons in my studio represents a commitment to practice and lesson attendance. If your other activities will interfere with your progress in piano, you should reconsider taking lessons with me." Or, have rules like "Cancelling more than xx lessons or coming unprepared for more than xx lessons due to conflicts with other activities is grounds for dismissal."

Depending on the nature and demands of the other activities, I think it is eminently possible for a student to have more than one other extracurricular activity besides piano and be able to manage all successfully. Why attempt to exert control over or legislate other non-piano aspects of a student's life if it has not yet been demonstrated to affect how they're doing in piano?
_________________________
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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#924449 - 07/14/08 12:58 PM Re: Making Schedules Come September
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10297
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
Define an extracurricular activity! Try to do so in a manner that is clear, consistent, and fully descriptive of all the permutations of the term and you will likely write a book.

Is playing another instrument such an activity? What about the middle school "Math Counts" team? Model UN? A youth orchestra?

Not all extra- curricular activities place the same demands on time. And not all students react the same way to having multiple demands on their time.
_________________________
Grotrian 192 #156455

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#924450 - 07/14/08 03:25 PM Re: Making Schedules Come September
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7200
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Monika, I've met teachers who will not take students who are enrolled in extra curricular activities and who will drop students if they do enroll in same. These teachers are generally at the very high end and are teaching students who are highly capable and whose parents are totally devoted to music.

Knowing AZN a bit at this point, I think he probably fits into this category, so probably won't have any difficulty holding a firm line.
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#924451 - 07/14/08 03:39 PM Re: Making Schedules Come September
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10297
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
... and that's fine. But students like my son would be excluded from AZN's studio on that basis. If that works for AZN, that's fine by me. If a teacher has that as an explicit policy, I suspect such a match wouldn't work for either of us.

Personally, I find that kind of filter a bit irrational in comparison to using common sense and having a discussion with a family.

There are a lot of excellent students out there who are also involved in other things, and some of those other things could easily be titled 'extra-curricular' activities. Not all those activities consume gobs of time. Do YOU want to be in the business of judging whether one student's model UN that meets three times per semester is less of an activity than another student's marching band practice? I suspect not.

Do you want to be in the business of checking up on students to make sure they're not violating your policy? Ouch.
_________________________
Grotrian 192 #156455

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#924452 - 07/14/08 03:58 PM Re: Making Schedules Come September
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7200
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
I don't but I guess there are some who do. I think AZN is venting his frustration with students coming to lessons who could be prepared, but are not, and are offering the "I had to do this activity" excuse.

Personally, I become internally hostile when a student misses a piano lesson for a birthday party. Even if it's their own. It's not like they didn't have 364 days to plan ahead and reschedule!

My two did Model UN, Model Senate, and a host of other activities, but my wife & I stayed on top of them, making sure practice was daily, and that they were prepared for each lesson. Such parents as you and I are probably not AZN's problem.
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#924453 - 07/14/08 04:12 PM Re: Making Schedules Come September
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11181
Loc: Canada
AZN, may I assume that your actual priority is that a) your students come to your studio well prepared, b) that they take the necessary time to prepare, and c) that they actually show up regularly? It would seem that "extra-curricular" is a means to that end but not that end.

I am thinking of my son's highschool days. It was in a highly demanding arts program, and only about 20% actually graduated within that program, even though they were select students. All his extra-curricular activities dealt with music, and were mandatory (compulsory activities). He knew how to prioritize and use his time effectively. In the last years he went with little or no sleep on some days in order to get it done, and also knew how to work unstressed, to pace himself. Any graduate of the program must have done the same.

Having seen this, it seems to me that students ought to be able to be responsible for how they use their time and prioritize. What bothers me about the "extra-curricular" rule is that this ought to be the responsibility of student and family, in that order when we get to the teen years. Maybe my expectations of what people are capable of are higher than they should be.

I would hate to have seen my son shut out by a good music teacher when he was in a music program requiring a fair deal of extra curricular activities, based on the fact of those activities, rather than based on his record of arriving at lessons prepared, which is also to say, based on his character. I think the lack of trust behind that control would also bother me.


Keystring

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#924454 - 07/14/08 05:16 PM Re: Making Schedules Come September
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7200
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
By the way, to those of you a bit put out at AZN's verbiage, do you also take umbrage at the soccer coach, the track team coach, the swim coach, etc., when they set a policy of "Miss one practice and you're out - and no refunds on the fee."?
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#924455 - 07/14/08 05:24 PM Re: Making Schedules Come September
Stanny Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/08/06
Posts: 1461
I don't think I have a single student who doesn't have other activities than piano. Sometimes, the best students are the ones who are good at lots of other things too. I don't care what else they are doing as long as they are progressing and making it to lessons.

My summer students get priority in scheduling, so I sent out a spreadsheet of the times I'm available to teach and I had students fill them out with their top three choices. On July 20, I"ll get the summer students scheuled, then I'll open it up to everyone else.

I've never done this before, so I'll see how it goes!
_________________________
~Stanny~

Independent Music Teacher
Certified Piano Teacher, American College of Musicians
Member: MTNA, NGPT, ASMTA, NAMTA

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#924456 - 07/14/08 05:43 PM Re: Making Schedules Come September
dumdumdiddle Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 1250
Loc: California
I always schedule returning Fall students by the end of May prior. This way everyone knows their lesson time before we break for summer and before other activities are scheduled. Parents can then work gymnastics, dance, art, karate, etc... around the fixed piano schedule and not the other way around. Of course, there are about 5-10% of students who will have a conflict come September and adjustments are made. So far this system has worked great for me. I already have everyone's enrollment fee for the Fall (and have spent a ton of money on new music at our state Convention), their lessons are scheduled, and I can somewhat project what openings I'll have for any new students.
_________________________
Music School Owner
Early Childhood Music Teacher/Group Piano Teacher/Private Piano Teacher
Member of MTAC and Guild

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#924457 - 07/14/08 06:02 PM Re: Making Schedules Come September
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10297
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
John,

I haven't encountered any of those, and I suspect that if I did, it would be the last they would hear from me. \:D

My son's band director has been extremely good about understanding conflicts, and we have always set our music lesson schedules around known conflicts anyway. This is only polite to all the instructors involved.

BUT, the issue of demanding team sports is different from 'extra-curricular activities' more broadly construed. That's one reason why I find the 'extra-curricular' language to be a slippery slope. Extra-curricula could mean five-day-a-week cross-country team, or one day per month Latin Club.
_________________________
Grotrian 192 #156455

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#924458 - 07/14/08 06:23 PM Re: Making Schedules Come September
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7200
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
PD, around here, the coach's word is inviolate. And this is what they tell students as well. If I have a recital scheduled since July of the previous year, it's just too darn bad if a game falls that afternoon. Be there or good-bye.

I think your example of a once per month Latin Club is probably not what AZN is chaffing at. Just a guess, of course.
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#924459 - 07/15/08 01:37 AM Re: Making Schedules Come September
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5278
Loc: Orange County, CA
Wow, nice responses already!

I guess I am bossy in terms of being a control-freak over students' practice time. But here are some of the WEEKLY "extracurricular" activities that my students are doing, which takes up time that could be used toward practicing piano:

tae kwan do
tennis
basketball
painting lessons
violin lessons
flute lessons
cello lessons
saxophone (lessons?)
band practice
honors orchestra
swim team (this takes up WAY too much time)
ballet
SAT classes (in middle school????????)
PSAT classes
tutoring (math)
tutoring (writing)
tutoring (language arts)
tutoring (Chinese)
Chinese school
Model UN

No--not all of my students are your hyper-overachievers. Most of them really don't want to be doing all these things, but they are signed up by their parents to do 3-4 of these activities (or 5, by one count). I've been carping to the parents about reducing the quantity of activities and increasing the quality of activities. Doesn't that make sense?

I actually talked two students into quitting piano because they are already doing 7 other things. My studio is for students who are more-or-less serious about piano and who want to make strides toward learning music.

I'll put more thought into phrasing the stipulation in my policy. I agree with Monica that the current wording does come across as being control-freakish.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#924460 - 07/15/08 01:41 AM Re: Making Schedules Come September
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5278
Loc: Orange County, CA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Betty Patnude:
I would want a balance of top notch older students, an intermediate group moving up, and lots of beginners to fall into the older students slots due to "graduation". [/b]
This is really good advice, Betty!! But I do have trouble recruiting brand new, or nearly new students. Most of the recent "brand new" students have been younger siblings of current students. I have more luck with experienced transfers, which can be a good or bad thing depending on their previous experience.

To do what you suggest would require some planning. I'm up for it. \:D
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#924461 - 07/15/08 01:43 AM Re: Making Schedules Come September
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5278
Loc: Orange County, CA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Morodiene:
Does anyone allow students to contact one another to swap lessons? I am thinking since I only allow 1 make up per semester, this might be nice, as long as *I* am given 24 hours' notice that a different student would be there so I can have time to plan my day. [/b]
Absolutely yes! Lesson swaps are awesome. This is especially good for kids who are truly sick, and need more time to recover.

I also double up lessons for siblings if one is sick. Then the "sick" sibling can have double lessons next week.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#924462 - 07/15/08 10:25 AM Re: Making Schedules Come September
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
AZN,

Does it go against your comfort level to put your profile on a music teacher director site - I joined 2-3 (most were free, I believe, or less than $100 per year, not quite remembering, and for the past 18 months, I have been getting contacts monthly from my immediate area.

We moved 21 months ago and only 5 students were able to make the distance and time to my new home, so I have had building going on in the last year.

I get far more inquiries from Learning Musician or Lesson Portal or GetLessonsNow than I do from my local music store which has lost it's flavor with piano teachers due to management changes and poor service and music materials on hand. Their biggest business now is the school instrument rentals and guitars. Piano Music has been relagated to smaller and smaller corner. I've been shopping there since the early 1980's.

The good news is that a long established Tacoma music store "Ted Brown Music" is coming to South Hill Puyallup by September, and within 30 blocks of my residence. Wow, am I excited!

Betty

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#924463 - 07/15/08 12:01 PM Re: Making Schedules Come September
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17698
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
 Quote:
Originally posted by John v.d.Brook:
By the way, to those of you a bit put out at AZN's verbiage, do you also take umbrage at the soccer coach, the track team coach, the swim coach, etc., when they set a policy of "Miss one practice and you're out - and no refunds on the fee."? [/b]
Yes, I do... and my children aren't enrolled on those teams. Here in my city, for example, we have a "competitive" soccer league that has a grueling practice schedule and many games in other cities that require long drives. We also have a league at the Y with the philosophy that "every child plays," and it's quite laid back, once a week practices, once a week games. (They don't even keep score until the kids are 10 years old.) My kids play with the Y. \:D

I want my children to have a balanced, relatively unstressed life and wouldn't endorse them being involved in ANY activity (including piano, gasp) that would occupy the bulk of their free time.
_________________________
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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#924464 - 07/15/08 12:36 PM Re: Making Schedules Come September
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7200
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
That's comforting, but of course, Monica, you know that vast majority of parents do not.
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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