Letting students play on new grand piano?

Posted by: Amy B

Letting students play on new grand piano? - 10/08/12 12:38 AM

Wanted any ideas for the situation I will have in a couple of weeks. I teach about 11 students out of my home. I currently teach them on my old Ivers and Pond upright, which still has great sound and I keep it in tune. I have recently ordered a Shigeru Kawai seven foot grand, which will be here in a couple of weeks! It will mostly be played by me, but I will use it for recitals, performance classes, etc. I will keep my old upright, as it's a family hierloom. What I'm trying to decide is when I should let students use the grand for their lessons, if at all! Even when I have them go and wash their hands right before the lesson, I STILL find some griminess on the keys after some of them leave! Wonder if any of you have this issue, and when do you let your students play the better piano?
Posted by: kayvee

Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? - 10/08/12 12:56 AM

To be honest, I'd stop taking lessons with a teacher who wouldn't let me learn on a better instrument.
Posted by: Peter K. Mose

Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? - 10/08/12 01:42 AM

You could keep the Shigeru locked, and keep the key around your neck while you're teaching on the battered old family heirloom upright. Then tell your students that if they work really hard, perhaps someday they too can afford to own a great piano that they can keep locked away from *their* students.

Tell them this is part of a long tradition of piano teaching. They'll understand.
Posted by: R0B

Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? - 10/08/12 02:29 AM

Although I partly agree with the previous posters, I feel that allowing students to play on the grand, should not be a given.

They should demonstrate that they can respect a fine instrument, and earn the privilege of using it, just as Amy B has earned the privilege of owning it.

It could be a powerful motivator.
Posted by: apple*

Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? - 10/08/12 07:15 AM

I am happy to share my grand.

All my students, even the adults, wash and dry their hands before their lessons.

Congratulations on your new piano !!! - Pianos are tough.
Posted by: jdw

Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? - 10/08/12 08:10 AM

Maybe with just 11 students this is not such an issue, but surely constant daily use for lessons would age a piano much faster? I know that when I was shopping for a used piano, it was not a positive selling point to learn that a piano had been used for teaching.

So I don't think it's just a question of grimy fingers or being willing to share. There's also some potential cost.
Posted by: Minniemay

Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? - 10/08/12 09:16 AM

There is a cost. I have to have my Steinway rehammered after 11 years of teaching on it and it's not cheap, but I cannot imagine my students not playing it. Plus, the maintenance is tax-deductible. Do keep some money in a fund for maintaining your instrument.
Posted by: Lollipop

Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? - 10/08/12 09:25 AM

I've thought about this, because I would like to replace one of my uprights with a grand. I think I would use my grand as a "reward" when students memorized pieces, etc. It is not so much an issue of not letting them play the grand as that the grand would be in a different room from my teaching room (which is too small for a grand.)

My sons' teacher had an upright and grand in the same room. I remember feeling very irritated when he explained to my sons that they would have lessons on the upright until they got good enough. (They were already good!) After a few weeks, he switched them to the grand, but I didn't like the attitude that the piano was more important to him than my sons. And he was old-womanish about checking that my (high school) sons had washed their hands well enough, etc. Maybe I could see keeping students on the upright when they were younger beginners. His grand had a very heavy touch, and smaller students might actually do better on the upright.

The piano I teach on is much "sadder" looking than my other one, (but fine condition internally) because the fall board gets scraped by lots of fingernails, the lower panel gets kicked, etc. Last week, one of my student bled on the keys (her dog bit her, and father had "told her to put a bandaid on it!" but she didn't, and I didn't notice till she started playing. My teaching piano definitely gets used harder.
Posted by: Amy B

Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? - 10/08/12 09:48 AM

Just to note, my old upright really is a fine old piano! My technician says that if I ever want to get rid of it, he would snap it up in a heartbeat. It really has a nice sound and tone....that's why I ended up with a higher end grand, as many of the low to mid-range grands didn't sound that much better than my sturdy old Ivers and Pond!

I've been leaning towards letting any adult student use it for all lessons, plus my couple of more advanced students. For the younger/beginner kids, I was thinking of using it as an incentive/reward....when they get to the next level book, that's when they can start using the grand.

Especially for times when I have them play silently on the key cover, I can't imagine letting them do that on the new one! :-)

Thanks for the input. I now need to get the room ready for our new arrival!
Posted by: IPlayPiano

Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? - 10/08/12 09:52 AM

I do not yet own my dream instrument but when I do I will gladly let my students play it. Especially with new pianos it can take several years before it is actually broken in to it's true souns. So, the more use, the better! Also, I think students would feel a sense of... power... or something when they sit at a beautiful new grand piano. I also think you could put forth a set of "rules" (especially for the young ones) ensuring they will not bang on it, etc. Really, they are constantly under your supervision. How bad can it be?
Posted by: kck

Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? - 10/08/12 10:55 AM

Originally Posted By: kayvee
To be honest, I'd stop taking lessons with a teacher who wouldn't let me learn on a better instrument.


thumb Me too. Maybe not as a parent of a young beginning student. But intermediate and up? Absolutely.
Posted by: John v.d.Brook

Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? - 10/08/12 11:08 AM

The instrument you're getting is in the Stradivarius category, and I assure you that any violin student who thinks he has some right to play on his teacher's Strad would be laughed out of the studio.

But should you decide to move the new instrument into your teaching studio (literally or figuratively), then you need to adjust your monthly rates accordingly. Based on your current student load, projected inflation, and amortizing the instrument over 25 years, add $50/mo to their tuition.
Posted by: Piano*Dad

Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? - 10/08/12 11:12 AM

There is no right answer to this. There is a set of options, and you have to find one that fits your comfort level for all sorts of possible circumstances and levels of risk.

A friend of mine got a nice new top shelf grand. She does not use it for her regular teaching, though it's not forbidden territory either. But she has another grand for teaching. It's a rather old Steinway (from the 1920s), but it's still a decent instrument, and it has a grand action rather than an upright action. Your situation is your own, and your comfort level with the additional wear and tear the Shigeru might receive is your call.
Posted by: Piano*Dad

Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? - 10/08/12 11:14 AM

Quote:
But should you decide to move the new instrument into your teaching studio (literally or figuratively), then you need to adjust your monthly rates accordingly. Based on your current student load, projected inflation, and amortizing the instrument over 25 years, add $50/mo to their tuition.


Unfortunately, a strategy like this only works if there is a market for it. Simply acquiring a new piano does not mean that there exists a group of families willing to pay substantially more for lessons on the better instrument.
Posted by: Ann in Kentucky

Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? - 10/08/12 11:30 AM

Amy, I wondered the same thing when I got my grand. Mine is a well loved entry level baby grand piano. All my students use the grand. I use the upright for my part in duets.

If you really are not ready to let everyone play your grand, then don't put it in your teaching studio. Otherwise it's like serving a meal, and giving a cookie for dessert, but having a chocolate mousse sitting on the sideboard tempting everyone but not being served. Just have the chocolate mousse out of sight if it's not being served.
Posted by: LadyChen

Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? - 10/08/12 11:33 AM

My students (all young beginners) have done quite a bit of surface damage to my piano over the last few years, so I can understand the hesitance in letting them playing your brand new grand! A new grand is in my future as well, so I have been putting some thought into this too.

My piano teacher has three grands -- two in her studio and a Steinway in her living room. Only her senior students play on the Steinway, and only when their pieces are performance-ready. Actually, one of her senior students broke the una corda pedal this summer, so that student probably won't be playing the Steinway anymore wink.

My theory teacher bought her grand 4-5 years ago, but keeps an upright in her studio as well. Beginners play on the upright. If they ask about the grand, she tells them it is for intermediate and advanced students. I'm not sure what her criteria is for being "intermediate" or how she decides a student is ready for the grand though.
Posted by: John v.d.Brook

Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? - 10/08/12 12:06 PM

Originally Posted By: Piano*Dad
Quote:
But should you decide to move the new instrument into your teaching studio (literally or figuratively), then you need to adjust your monthly rates accordingly. Based on your current student load, projected inflation, and amortizing the instrument over 25 years, add $50/mo to their tuition.


Unfortunately, a strategy like this only works if there is a market for it. Simply acquiring a new piano does not mean that there exists a group of families willing to pay substantially more for lessons on the better instrument.

That's why I wouldn't get upset about not allowing students to play on it. If they don't like it, you always have the option of telling them that it's a premium performance instrument, not a teaching instrument.
Posted by: Peter K. Mose

Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? - 10/08/12 01:14 PM

Originally Posted By: Ann in Kentucky


If you really are not ready to let everyone play your grand, then don't put it in your teaching studio.


I always like Ann's advice on this forum. It's so reasonable and practical.

It's up to Amy whether her new piano will be for teaching or not. But there certainly could be problems!
Posted by: Ann in Kentucky

Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? - 10/08/12 01:35 PM

Originally Posted By: Peter K. Mose
Originally Posted By: Ann in Kentucky


If you really are not ready to let everyone play your grand, then don't put it in your teaching studio.


I always like Ann's advice on this forum. It's so reasonable and practical.

It's up to Amy whether her new piano will be for teaching or not. But there certainly could be problems!




Thanks Peter!
Posted by: PianoStudent88

Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? - 10/08/12 01:38 PM

Originally Posted By: LadyChen
Actually, one of her senior students broke the una corda pedal this summer, so that student probably won't be playing the Steinway anymore wink.

I wonder if the student broke the una corda pedal, or if it happened to break while s/he was playing? That is, was the student doing something unusual or rough with the pedal, causing the breakage? Or was the student using it normally, and there was something wrong with the pedal that happened to give out while the student was playing, rather than, say, while the teacher was playing?

I don't expect you to know the answer, but this is the question that came to mind.
Posted by: LadyChen

Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? - 10/08/12 01:41 PM

The student had a little temper tantrum and stomped on the pedal frown.
Posted by: PianoStudent88

Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? - 10/08/12 01:44 PM

Oh! How awful! mad
Posted by: Minniemay

Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? - 10/08/12 04:06 PM

Where do these students come from? Arg! I have never, ever, in my 30 years of teaching, encountered any of the behaviors so many people talk about with students.
Posted by: John v.d.Brook

Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? - 10/08/12 04:17 PM

Originally Posted By: LadyChen
The student had a little temper tantrum and stomped on the pedal frown.

Did you show the student the door, and notify the parent that lessons are terminated?
Posted by: keystring

Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? - 10/08/12 04:42 PM

A few years ago a student who had stopped lessons at an advanced level (gr. 8 or 9?) resumed lessons, and wrote in this forum on the issue. She had a grand at home, and was not able to produce the nuanced playing on her teacher's upright, and would have liked to play on her teacher's grand. So wouldn't the student's level be a factor, rather than it being a reward for good practicing (i.e., need)?

In terms of the Stradivarius, when students reach a certain level they are advised to upgrade to a better violin since greater responsiveness is needed. That same responsiveness means that weak player will not be able to draw a good sound out of a top quality instrument: it responds to poor playing as much as to good playing. I know of one teacher who did let his student try his instrument in order to drive home the point of what kind of practicing was needed - it was less forgiving that a student instrument and squawked.
Posted by: John v.d.Brook

Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? - 10/08/12 05:10 PM

I believe there are several factors at play here. First, the instrument. The OP's grand is no ordinary grand. It is one of the finest being crafted today. And the price shows it. Just because she now owns one doesn't obligate her to use it in the studio or use it for lessons. She has a very fine upright which she uses for teaching, and a quality upright, well maintained, can be used in lieu of a grand for all but the most exacting detail. Her upright probably matches the performance of most grands.

The second issue, which I addressed, is that when more expensive instruments are introduced into the studio, the tuition should reflect the upgrade. As P*D pointed out, the market may not support that, but that's a business decision. If a teacher chooses not to raise fees after significant upgrades, they are selling themselves short, or to rephrase it, undermining their business, income and future.

The third issue, which I've addressed in the past, is the presumption of students that piano teachers somehow owe them the use of premium instruments at no extra charge. This really doesn't need amplification.
Posted by: keystring

Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? - 10/08/12 05:16 PM

I was asking whether a student at an advanced level should be playing a better quality instrument. This has nothing to do with the notion of a teacher "owing" anything to the student. My thought is that teaching decisions are based on teaching needs: what do I need in order to teach this student at this level?
Posted by: zillybug

Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? - 10/08/12 05:21 PM

I have to agree with Kayvee. I would not want lessons on a piano that was not a grand. I have always had lessons on a grand, both way back in college and at the school where I take lessons now. All private lessons at the school where I take are on either Steinway or Yamaha grands.
Judy
Posted by: John v.d.Brook

Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? - 10/08/12 05:47 PM

Quote:
I was asking whether a student at an advanced level should be playing a better quality instrument.
Well, that's a given, but it sounds as if she's already offering lessons on a better quality instrument.

Quote:
This has nothing to do with the notion of a teacher "owing" anything to the student.
Several students here seem to think otherwise, that we owe them to let them use our grands.

Quote:
My thought is that teaching decisions are based on teaching needs: what do I need in order to teach this student at this level?
Absolutely, but within the economic confines of what/where we are. To expect a teacher to offer you lessons at $50/mo but then offer lessons on an $80,000 grand shows total economic ignorance.
Posted by: DadAgain

Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? - 10/08/12 06:08 PM

<just thinking out of left field here>

If you're not using the grand for teaching, I assume its just for personal use. In which case doesn't it call into question whether this is a work tool?

If its a work tool (and I'm guessing US tax law here - so could be WAAAY off) then presumably its a valid expense for tax deductions. If its not a work tool then its may not be a valid expense for tax deductions.

It may be cheaper for you to use it in lessons than to not use it - IF you want to remain compliant beyond question with tax rules.

[Of course whether the IRS would audit down to the level of making sure that you do actually *do* use a particular piano for your teaching is pretty unlikely - so you can probably safely commit tax fraud without any fear of being caught by anything more than your conscience!]
Posted by: AZNpiano

Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? - 10/08/12 08:00 PM

Originally Posted By: LadyChen
The student had a little temper tantrum and stomped on the pedal frown.

This is the funniest post I've read in several months.
Posted by: manyhands

Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? - 10/08/12 08:05 PM

Isn't teacher prep and practice work? So it's tax deductible.
Invite mr or ms IRS to a concert!

I am a retired teacher who now teaches people to ride motorcycles in the Motorcycle Safety program Basic Rider Course. Neither BRC nor Advanced Rider Course students ride my bike, a Honda Goldwing, which is larger and nicer than the training bikes. In time they will get their own. You are entitled to enjoy and preserve your wonderful gift to yourself as just that.
Posted by: rlinkt

Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? - 10/08/12 09:22 PM

As a student's dad, I am in favor of John Brook's suggestion. Once a student is at some reasonable level of proficiency, it would be a treat for the student to be able to play on such a fine instrument.

I am in the SF bay area too :-) If I ever have reason to be dissatisfied with our current teacher (she is actually fantastic!), I will be tempted to check how far / near you are located.
Posted by: Piano*Dad

Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? - 10/08/12 09:31 PM

Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Originally Posted By: LadyChen
The student had a little temper tantrum and stomped on the pedal frown.

This is the funniest post I've read in several months.


It wouldn't be, if it was your piano ... smile
Posted by: Beth_Frances

Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? - 10/08/12 10:26 PM

If I purchased a Shigeru there is NO WAY my students would be touching it, apart from as a very special treat.

I wouldn't feel guilty about it.

The taxable expense point was a good one, but I guess if you do your own practice of students pieces and lesson preparation at it, that technically you are still using it for work. I'm sure you'll also find yourself using it to play through pieces with a student, or do duets together, further covering that area.
Posted by: Mozart'sGal

Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? - 10/09/12 12:15 AM

Originally Posted By: Amy B
Wanted any ideas for the situation I will have in a couple of weeks. I teach about 11 students out of my home. I currently teach them on my old Ivers and Pond upright, which still has great sound and I keep it in tune. I have recently ordered a Shigeru Kawai seven foot grand, which will be here in a couple of weeks! It will mostly be played by me, but I will use it for recitals, performance classes, etc. I will keep my old upright, as it's a family hierloom. What I'm trying to decide is when I should let students use the grand for their lessons, if at all! Even when I have them go and wash their hands right before the lesson, I STILL find some griminess on the keys after some of them leave! Wonder if any of you have this issue, and when do you let your students play the better piano?


Let me put it this way. If I was your student, and you let me play on your seven foot grand for my piano lesson, say once a month, you'd be my new best friend!

IF I was getting a nice grand(wish I could), I think I'd really have to know my student well before letting them play on it, and I'd probably only let an older student play on it.

If you're worried about them getting the keys dirty, that's totally understandable. I always clean my piano after my student comes over. Especially when he rubs his hand across his nostrils after he sneezes. EW.

Or if you're worried they'll pick at the seat or wood under the keyboard...well, that's another thing... grin
Posted by: Jeff Clef

Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? - 10/09/12 12:39 AM

Go back to Carnes and see what kind of a trade-up deal you can get for your upright. Your students can very well have a lovely music education on a sturdy RX-2 or -3... which will look well with the SK. Occasionally, you may allow certain picked students to play the SK.

I think you will get a good price, considering your recent purchase, and also with the thought in mind that some of those students may come to Carnes to buy what they liked in the studio. Carnes may also send you their best tech to care for them, and if they don't, I'll hook you up by PM.

A new family tradition will be born thereby.

Carnes does not blatantly encourage that teachers send buyers their way for a cash kickback, while the student is kept in the dark about the arrangement. But in a more subtle and genteel way, one hand washes the other; more in the nature of, 'you've helped keep their business healthy, and they'll want to help you keep yours healthy also.'

As for the cost, stick it to your accountant; find a way to write it off on the fast track. Minnie is right that piano maintenance for a teaching situation is deductible, but expensive and to be budgeted for. And in the end, the ratepayers will have to absorb their share. It will not tax them overmuch. What taxes them is crummy school pianos that are badly maintained yet the fees are still high.
Posted by: kayvee

Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? - 10/09/12 02:45 AM

I should probably add context for what I said before:

I took my brother to a trial lesson a few years ago. Not only was the teacher late (and this was at her house), but when she finally arrived, she sat down at her grand piano...and then turned to her upright that was right next to it.

The instrument was, without question, pretty messed up. Way too bright in some registers, muddy in others, I could see the keys weren't in the greatest condition, etc etc etc.

Right next to her very nice grand.

Why would I want to learn on that instrument? Of course, if your upright is good, then there isn't really a problem. But I'd still feel odd if my teacher had me play on an 'inferior' instrument.
Posted by: TimR

Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? - 10/09/12 09:13 AM

I would ask two questions.

Is the grand inherently more fragile than the upright? I would have guessed not, but I don't know, and that makes a difference.

Is the grand a better learning platform for a beginning student, because the feedback is more directly tied to the input, or more sensitive, etc.? Or worse, because the response will differ from the practice piano even more than the upright? or neutral because it doesn't make any difference at their level?

It would seem to me the the first question overrides. If the grand is significantly more fragile, then one only graduates to it after proving safety.

But if not, any teacher would use the best learning approach, and if that's the grand, then use it.
Posted by: John v.d.Brook

Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? - 10/09/12 10:01 AM

For the sake of discussion, let me point out that the teacher's home isn't their studio. They may have designated a certain area as a studio, such as a family room, a room in the basement or over the garage, or bedroom adjacent to the entry. There are two separate entities occupying adjacent space. What is used for the business is that which is purchased by the business for use by the business. What is purchased by the teacher for personal use doesn't suddenly transfer to the business because a client happens to see it and wants to use it. Likewise, equipment purchased by the business may be designated for use by clients or not. The OP has zero obligation, morally, ethically, or practically, to use her new piano for teaching clients, if that is her choice.

FWIW, my students learn on a very nice Boston vertical. I just spent $900 having it totally regulated, revoiced, tuned, etc. (It was purchased new in 1999 and ready for serious reconditioning.) The instrument shows signs of cosmetic wear and tear, obviously, with hundreds of students having learned and advanced on it. We do use the Grotrian grand for monthly performance classes, but that's my choice. The students have no say in the matter.
Posted by: TimR

Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? - 10/09/12 10:29 AM

Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook

FWIW, my students learn on a very nice Boston vertical. <snip>


We do use the Grotrian grand for monthly performance classes, but that's my choice. The students have no say in the matter.


The Boston is your business's instruction instrument, the Grotrian is your personal instrument that you graciously allow occasional use of. Makes sense.

Is there anything a student can learn on a grand that they can't on an upright, or at least learn significantly faster or better?

If not, why buy a grand at all? If so, shouldn't one have lessons on a grand? (and if you want to be contrary, replace grand with acoustic and upright with digital. <g>)
Posted by: John v.d.Brook

Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? - 10/09/12 10:36 AM

Quote:
Is there anything a student can learn on a grand that they can't on an upright, or at least learn significantly faster or better?

Use of pedals is one, as most uprights only have a damper pedal. A few have a soestenuto pedal, none have unachorda pedal.

The ideal piano studio would have two grands, side by side. But not all of us have that space available or the studio generate the kind of revenue to support that.
Posted by: Laurie R.

Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? - 10/09/12 10:37 AM

I bought my brand new Petrof IV 2 years ago. It is in my home, where I only teach on Fridays. Monday-Thursday is at my studio, on my Yamaha U1. My students DO play on it.

There are a couple of hazards here that you have to watch out for.

1. Be sure hands are clean. That said, I've noticed that some students have sweatier hands than others.

2. No big swinging pendants around the neck (teenage girls) that can swing into and damage the finish.

3. No un-approved 3-ring binders of music on the music desk. Many of my students use binders, and some of them have the "open ring lever" too close to the edge of the music desk. This has scratched all the finish off the edge of the music desk of my Yamaha, and I don't want it to happen to my Petrof.
Posted by: TimR

Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? - 10/09/12 11:35 AM

Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Quote:
Is there anything a student can learn on a grand that they can't on an upright, or at least learn significantly faster or better?

Use of pedals is one, as most uprights only have a damper pedal. A few have a soestenuto pedal, none have unachorda pedal.



Hah! You got me on that one!

(my digital however, like most decent digitals, does have three functioning pedals. Hee, hee)
Posted by: keystring

Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? - 10/09/12 12:28 PM

Originally Posted By: kayvee
I should probably add context for what I said before:

I took my brother to a trial lesson a few years ago. Not only was the teacher late (and this was at her house), but when she finally arrived, she sat down at her grand piano...and then turned to her upright that was right next to it.

The instrument was, without question, pretty messed up. Way too bright in some registers, muddy in others, I could see the keys weren't in the greatest condition, etc etc etc.

Right next to her very nice grand.

Why would I want to learn on that instrument? Of course, if your upright is good, then there isn't really a problem. But I'd still feel odd if my teacher had me play on an 'inferior' instrument.

Under those circumstances I agree with you. But there is more at issue here than a grand. I think if she had had a decent upright piano, that would not have been an issue at all. By arriving late and having a poorly maintained student piano, she did not show a good attitude toward students, and I would worry about how much care would be put into lessons. Was it at least in tune?
Posted by: keystring

Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? - 10/09/12 02:12 PM

Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook

Use of pedals is one, as most uprights only have a damper pedal. A few have a soestenuto pedal, none have unachorda pedal.

The ideal piano studio would have two grands, side by side. ....

John, I came back from holidays yesterday (Thanksgiving over here), and was too zonked from the trip to answer your response yesterday.

I wasn't thinking specifically of that particular grand, or decision, but the general idea of a grand piano in a studio. Among the reasons of why to let students use or not use a grand that is in the studio, what I didn't see were teaching reasons. I mean, if a student reaches a given level, there are things you can only do on a grand piano. I was thinking of the type of thing that you mentioned. Even when uprights have una corda, I don't think they function the same way. At the same time, I imagine that advanced serious students would be in a different circumstance all round.
Posted by: rocket88

Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? - 10/09/12 02:26 PM

Originally Posted By: Laurie R.
I bought my brand new Petrof IV 2 years ago. It is in my home, where I only teach on Fridays. Monday-Thursday is at my studio, on my Yamaha U1. My students DO play on it.

There are a couple of hazards here that you have to watch out for.

1. Be sure hands are clean. That said, I've noticed that some students have sweatier hands than others.

2. No big swinging pendants around the neck (teenage girls) that can swing into and damage the finish.

3. No un-approved 3-ring binders of music on the music desk. Many of my students use binders, and some of them have the "open ring lever" too close to the edge of the music desk. This has scratched all the finish off the edge of the music desk of my Yamaha, and I don't want it to happen to my Petrof.


Belt buckles, especially large ones, can damage a piano. My young nephew stood up and chipped some and tore off other real ivory keytops of a few keys, and badly scratched the piece of horizontal wood that runs just below the keys with his belt buckle.
Posted by: pianomouse

Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? - 10/09/12 07:11 PM

It's completely understandable that there's a big reluctance to let your students play on your brandnew grand piano. So, if you don't feel okay with letting them play on it, just don't let them play. It's your piano.

But on the other hand, it's a wonderful thing for studens to be taught on a grand piano: This is the real, original instrument, and the touch is not only different from the one of an upright because of the different layout of the mechanic, it's more demanding and much more delicate. So, many of your students will make more progress on the grand. (In this case I agree that you should slightly rise your fees, as your teaching will be of higher quality).

If you explain to them how special this instrument is and if they're taught the rules which apply to be allowed to play on this wonderful instrument from the beginning , they will treat it nicely and respectful. Good pianos and especially Kaways are of such a high quality that they aren't fragile.

The hardest thing for students is to have their lessons on an upright, but to play their recitals on a grand. The adjustment from one instrument to the other without preparation is really hard. In that case, you should let them play on the grand about two weeks before the recital so they can get used to the grand. Last but not least: don't forget that the music stand is much highter up on the grand than on the upright. If students aren't used to look higher up to their music, it can result in many stops during their performance (as I know from my own hurtful experience as a child).

PS: Even if you don't let your students play on your wonderful new grand, you won't be able to prevent scratches. My Steinway still looks very shiny and I'm really careful with it, but unfortunately, it has had an encounter with my vacuum cleaner and some other enemies...
Posted by: kck

Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? - 10/09/12 10:47 PM

Originally Posted By: keystring
I was asking whether a student at an advanced level should be playing a better quality instrument. This has nothing to do with the notion of a teacher "owing" anything to the student. My thought is that teaching decisions are based on teaching needs: what do I need in order to teach this student at this level?


I am a parent of an advancing 11 year old. He's working on a Scarlatti Sonata and one of Mendelssohn's Songs without words among other things at the moment. I cannot imagine NOT having a lesson on a grand at this point. When we're in unusual places and have small uprights, it's so hard for him to practice a full dynamic range or phrasing. We have a very nice rebuilt antique full upright at home (all 3 pedals). Our tuner has told us the only thing that would have better sound than what we would be a full size grand. His teacher has 2 grands side by side, and generally a very advanced studio compared to most teachers I know.

I would say if you're not planning on teaching on it, do not put it in your studio. If your studio is beginning to intermediate and you're happy with that, carry on. 11 students is a pretty small studio, so maybe it will be no big deal for you.

We do pay a premium for our teacher and I'm totally fine with it. The piano these kids get to perform on is ridiculously high end. My kid has definitely made more progress than he would have with another teacher and a simpler piano set up. His teacher was able to talk about balance and phrasing almost from the get go.
Posted by: pianomouse

Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? - 10/10/12 09:28 AM

Just to clarify what I wrote above: Piano lessons on a grand piano alone don't make better students. And it's not necessarily so that students who are taught on an upright make less progress. The teaching and the way the student learns are huge factors, too. But as I wrote above, being lucky to have lessons on a grand (or even being able to practice on a grand) can be a wonderful motivation and have a huge impact.
On the other side, owning myself a Hamburg Steinway A, I pride myself of being able to play decently on almost every piano, grand or upright. It's just as well a matter of our inner approach and of the way our inner hearing is connected to the way our fingers touch the keyboard. And this can be taught and learned on almost every piano. The advantage on a good (!) grand is that our ears get a better answer from what we do on the keyboard.
Posted by: TimR

Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? - 10/10/12 11:29 AM

Originally Posted By: pianomouse
I pride myself of being able to play decently on almost every piano, grand or upright.


I play equally badly on all types of piano.

Well, unweighted keys do throw me off a bit, but I adjust.
Posted by: Chris H.

Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? - 10/15/12 08:11 AM

All I can think when reading this is that it's a good job us teachers and performers are not so precious about the instruments we often have to play or accompany on at various venues! Last week I turned up to accompany at a church to find a rather worn out clavinova and at the weekend I went to see a local amateur orchestra with a soloist playing beethovens third concerto on a Yamaha grand which clearly needed a lot of work.

Really though it's more important that students have good instruments to practice on at home. An hour a week on the teachers grand isn't likely to make much difference at all. I had never really played and practiced on grands until I went away to college by which time I was already an advanced pianist. When I had acces to many fine grands in proper concert venues I could learn to get the best from them. Remember it's not just the piano but where you put it! I used to have a grand in my studio but to be honest it sounded terrible because the room is too small. My students didn't like playing and neither did I so I got rid of it. I now have a trusty Yamaha u1 which does the job and my students like it. Although many of them still complain that it sounds and feels different to the firewood they use at home!
Posted by: Chopinlover49

Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? - 10/16/12 12:07 AM

I am having my Mason-Hamlin BB 7 foot grand delivered this week. Although it is primarily for my own use, two of my grandchildren, both beginners, will be doing their practicing on it since my daughter has no piano in her home. They live right down the street and take their lessons on an older upright at the teacher's home. I plan to go over some ground rules and supervise their practices, but cannot imagine denying them the use of this wonderful piano. I hope they progress in their lessons and learn to love music as much as I do. I know this is different from the question of a teacher allowing students (probably many, many students) to play on her new Shigura, but from another point, consider the child who does not have a good instrument in their home. Even a little bit of playing on a fine one might make a difference in their motivation and growing skills. When two of my daughters were young, they took lessons from a wonderful teacher on her heirloom Steinway B while only being able to practice at home on an inferior spinet from the 40's. It was all we could afford then, but playing at their lessons on the Steinway was inspiring and one of them is now a music teacher and very accomplished pianist.
Posted by: Amy B

Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? - 10/16/12 02:38 AM

Thank you all for the input. I'm sorry for posting the question, and kind of disappearing, but I am trying to get ready for the piano as fast as I can! We are painting the room, installing recessed light, etc. The piano is at the store waiting for me, so I just need to finish the room!

I have watched my students closely in the past week, and there are some that I will let play on it, but some that will just have to gain a little more maturity before I let them have a go at it!

I'm fairly certain that my current upright is better than most instruments my students have in their homes, so they enjoy it even now when they play the upright.

Thanks again for the input. Will keep you posted on the progress!
Posted by: LadyChen

Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? - 10/16/12 11:04 AM

We want to see photos of your new baby! smile
Posted by: Amy B

Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? - 10/24/12 01:32 AM

My SK6 arrived yesterday! I posted photos in the photo gallery....take a look.

I had five students today. We are having a Halloween Party next week, where they will come in their costumes and play Halloween music. I did most of their lessons on my upright (see the photos), but had them play their Halloween Party piece on the Shigeru. I explained to them how to respect both instruments, and things that are just not acceptable (dirty hands, long fingernails, banging on the keys, etc). They did great, and I could really see the excitement on their faces when they played their pieces on the grand. I also explained that we will use the old piano for "learning", just like learning to drive a car. The grand is for when a piece is polished, and ready to be performed. They all seemed to be fine with that!

One exception, though.....I let my one adult student of the day have her full lesson on the grand. She only has an electronic keyboard, and I wanted her to see what a real piano is like!! She really enjoyed it (although I think she was shocked that we chose to move our TV out of the living room, and put in a huge piano instead smile
Posted by: Michael_99

Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? - 10/24/12 08:52 AM

My SK6 arrived yesterday! I posted photos in the photo gallery....take a look

Congradulations - where is the gallery and how do I get here?
Thanks.
Posted by: Minniemay

Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? - 10/24/12 08:53 AM

It's on the main forums page. Scroll down.
Posted by: Michael_99

Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? - 10/24/12 08:55 AM

No sooner had I posted then I saw photo gallery and then your posting. Thanks very much.
Posted by: Peter K. Mose

Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? - 10/24/12 09:10 AM

Amy, congratulations on your new piano, and on your sensible solutions. Further congrats on the tv.
Posted by: Michael_99

Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? - 10/24/12 09:41 AM

Wow, what a wonderful looking piano - a beautiful sixfooter!

I got me a new baby piano 5 footer and I love it to pieces. Prior to that I had and still have a klavinova(sp?) which is cool, too. But I sure love playing the piano.

Having never had a baby - so I didn't know what to do about keeping the top/lid open and open how much and how often and what about the dust? The only babies I see are on you tube videos and most of those seem to be half taken apart I guess to get the sound out for recording.


I am just a beginner so keeping the lid closed isn't a problem because I am only in book 2 of how to play the piano - when I get to the classics - six books later, I will consider opening it up. It is not a problem because I live in a shack on a highway running through the city so I only hear huge dump trucks and diesel stretch buses going by shaking the windows.

When I got the piano it came with a beautiful red cloth piano cover so I cover it all time except the keys lid, of course.

I would appreciate it if someone could give me feedback on opening the piano and handling the dust. I always wash my hands before I touch the piano. I have only had the piano 3 months.

Thanks.
Posted by: Ann in Kentucky

Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? - 10/24/12 11:32 AM

Michael, that would be a good question for your piano technician. Mine suggested maintenance for the sound board and I bought the "kit" recommended which is a soft cloth and a metal piece for weaving the cloth along the soundboard beneath the strings. I plan to do that cleaning twice a year, just prior to the tech's visit.

I keep mine open on the low setting (probably not what it's really called).
Posted by: Michael_99

Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? - 10/26/12 04:43 PM

As you age, your hands excrete less natural skin oil, kids would excreted more oil because they are young and fit. I always wash my hands before I touch the piano and I noticed on my keyboard the other day that it seemed like the keys had a grease or oil so I should probably wash before I use the keyboard, too. I think the fingerprints are lifted partly by the oils left on the hands.
Posted by: Jeff Clef

Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? - 10/27/12 08:47 PM

"...She really enjoyed it (although I think she was shocked that we chose to move our TV out of the living room, and put in a huge piano instead..."

Many people would rather be cut to pieces with a dull knife, than to remove a television. But it is my opinion that there is no place for both instruments in a single room. You are a girl after my own heart.
Posted by: Amy B

Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? - 10/28/12 01:10 AM

We moved the TV upstairs two weeks ago, and haven't even turned it on since then! And, I have a twelve year old and eight year old. Not much of a TV family :-)
I love that the grand piano is the first thing you see when you walk in our house, and not a big TV!
Posted by: ilikemozart

Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? - 10/28/12 07:42 PM

When I was looking for a piano teacher for myself, the first question I asked was what kind of piano they taught on. I had to make sure that it was a decent grand, since this is what I have at home.

When I was a child, I had a teacher that taught on a Steinway grand, and it was only at this time did I become serious about learning to play the piano. And, I progressed quite well, compared to previous teachers that taught on an old upright.

So, in my opinion, it is important for the student, young or an adult to learn on a decent grand piano.

Maybe in time, your Kawai will be like a new car...you will relax with it and not be real upset when it gets its first smudge.
Posted by: John v.d.Brook

Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? - 10/29/12 10:53 AM

Oddly enough, most quality uprights, well maintained, can respond more subtly than most students and teachers can play. If you insist that a teacher use a grand for teaching, I can point you to some which would be better used for firewood than piano lessons. And you will probably bypass many outstanding teachers in doing so.
Posted by: Amy B

Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? - 10/29/12 02:36 PM

I fully agree, John. That's why I ended up going with a higher end Shigeru Kawai. Many of the grands I played, especially if they were less than 6', weren't all that much better than my upright. I really wanted to find something in a lower price range that would be a huge step above my upright, but couldn't.
Posted by: riley80

Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? - 10/29/12 07:43 PM

How about........once the stu has mastered a piece, you then let him give it a shot on the grand? Reward?
Posted by: Amy B

Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? - 10/30/12 12:21 AM

Riley80.....that is my plan. We had a Halloween recital today, and I let them play their songs on the grand. The upright is for teaching/learning. Once it's polished, they get a go on the new piano. Seems to be working out just fine.
Posted by: Stanny

Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? - 10/30/12 05:14 PM

I wrote off my grand fully to my business, so of course I let my students play on it at every lesson.
Posted by: Chopinlover49

Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? - 11/02/12 11:38 AM

It sounds like you have made a workable decision for now. Perhaps you will find more and more than even you prefer to hear your students playing on your fine Shigura, though. The upright will lose its appeal quickly.
Posted by: John v.d.Brook

Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? - 11/02/12 12:15 PM

Originally Posted By: Stanny
I wrote off my grand fully to my business, so of course I let my students play on it at every lesson.

I understand what you're saying, but the logic doesn't follow. I write off my phone, my desk, my computer, my studio filing cabinet, etc., but students never, ever touch these items. Likewise, a colleague has a harpsichord, and students seldom if ever get to play on it, but it's totally written off as a business expense. Ditto my violin (I used to teach beginning strings, years and years ago). There are many reasons for a teacher to have a special instrument which is not used or routinely used by students, and we don't have to justify this policy to students.
Posted by: Morodiene

Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? - 11/05/12 08:49 AM

Hi guys, it's been a while! Been busy performing and opening a studio with a fellow voice teacher.

Back OT, when I taught lessons from my home this past year after moving, I used my 9'2 Petrof. Most of my students are beginners, and it was a real treat for them to try it out. I didn't have any issues with them damaging the instrument at all. In the past, I've taught from a G3 Yamaha, also with no damage issues except for a key that split and I really do not know how it happened since the glue was not "unstuck". I personally think that students can be inspired by playing on a great instrument, even if they can't get out of it great sounds. It's just a treat to them. Of course, if I had a choice like the OP, I would only allow students to use it once in a while, and only those I trusted (and even then, I would let them know what the piano cost me and that if they happened to damage it, they'd have to pay to repair it :P).

As for those saying that it's not a tax write-off if students dont' play it, that isn't necessarily correct. Where do you draw the line between what a teacher plays for her own enjoyment and what she plays for her continued education so that she can be a better teacher? You cannot, and therefore, it is tax-deductible regardless if students use it or not.