Finding a real piano to practice on.

Posted by: Jonathan Baker

Finding a real piano to practice on. - 03/23/13 09:39 PM

I am searching around for a place where my student can practice on a piano.

I am stumped at the moment on this one; I have a young student with an electronic keyboard in his bedroom. The walls of his parents tiny apartment in the Bronx are paper thin so neighbor's complaints would be an issue. But he needs a real piano at this point.

The boy is highly intelligent, has a great personality, just turned 13, and is well into Beethoven sonatas, Chopin etudes, etc. He has a natural technique and really should have the weight and tone of a real piano at this point in his development to grow both technically and musically.

The local churches are all store-front places with no decent pianos, and his school has only one piano with several dead notes. So I am puzzled where to look next. Any suggestions on this one are welcome since I can't seem to figure a solution (short of winning the lottery).

Best regards,

Jonathan
Posted by: Minniemay

Re: Finding a real piano to practice on. - 03/23/13 09:47 PM

Can he practice at your studio?
Posted by: Jonathan Baker

Re: Finding a real piano to practice on. - 03/23/13 09:49 PM

Hello MinnieMay. I teach from my apartment, so I am unable to lend it out for practice (plus I live in mid-town Manhattan, not the Bronx).
Posted by: pianoeagle

Re: Finding a real piano to practice on. - 03/24/13 12:26 AM

I practice at 853 Rehearsal Studios whenever I perform in NYC. The pianos aren't fabulous, but they are good, and the staff is sometimes willing to come in early/state late for a customer. They are located near Carnegie.

http://www.rehearsalstudiosny.com/index.html

Good luck!
Posted by: ten left thumbs

Re: Finding a real piano to practice on. - 03/24/13 05:10 AM

Could he buy a decent DP and practice with headphones?
Posted by: Joyce_dup1

Re: Finding a real piano to practice on. - 03/24/13 12:33 PM

Have you looked at local music stores? Both print music stores, and piano stores? Or a local piano rebuilder? If they have extra rooms with pianos, they may not mind a pianist in there practicing. They may appreciate the traffic in their place of business.
Posted by: Jonathan Baker

Re: Finding a real piano to practice on. - 03/24/13 11:01 PM

Hello PianoEagle - I am glad you have performing dates in NYC! Good for you. I was trying to find a place for free (shameless, I know) because $20 an hour does add up. I was hoping a local church might have something, but that has not worked out.

Ten Left Thumbs - thank you for your feedback - the boy has a digital 88-note keyboard with headphones now (I pushed that much onto his parents) and that is certainly better than nothing as we both know. When getting into serious technical works such as Chopin etudes, Beethoven sonatas, Liszt Rhapsodies, which is where the boy's technique has evolved, digital keyboards can result in finger injury when practicing with force, probably due to the combination of extra-light action but inadequate padding on the key bed to soften the blow, and I am worried about that.

Joyce - you raise an interesting idea. I will look into that. Thank you.
Posted by: Minniemay

Re: Finding a real piano to practice on. - 03/24/13 11:14 PM

Perhaps another friend that is not teaching would be willing to let him practice at their place?
Posted by: malkin

Re: Finding a real piano to practice on. - 03/25/13 06:49 AM

Maybe you could find a lonely elderly person with a piano.
To find this person, the boy or you will need to ask everyone everywhere, churches, piano tuners, MTNA members, non-MTNA teachers, music store owners, friends, neighbors, co-workers...
Posted by: Morodiene

Re: Finding a real piano to practice on. - 03/25/13 07:56 AM

Originally Posted By: malkin
Maybe you could find a lonely elderly person with a piano.
To find this person, the boy or you will need to ask everyone everywhere, churches, piano tuners, MTNA members, non-MTNA teachers, music store owners, friends, neighbors, co-workers...


Can also post on craigslist.

What about nursing homes? I know most nursing homes have terrible instruments, but sometimes they get a somewhat decent piano from a resident and perhaps in exchange for playing for free for the residents, they could tune the piano.

Another idea is what about college practice rooms? Again, not great instruments, but sometimes you can get lucky. I remember on more than one occasion a piano major would forget to lock the door to grand piano room smile
Posted by: Jonathan Baker

Re: Finding a real piano to practice on. - 03/25/13 08:18 PM

Malkin and Morodiene - those are possibilities I will pursue. Thank you.
Posted by: mermilylumpkin

Re: Finding a real piano to practice on. - 03/25/13 10:02 PM

I only have an electronic piano at home and I live in a college town (Chapel Hill, NC). I go to the practice rooms at UNC, which are always left unlocked, and frequently to the practice rooms at Duke which have much nicer grand pianos. I kind of enjoy the experience of sometimes playing on a very nice piano with a lot of dynamic range (the good ones at Duke) and other times being forced to coax music out of the old clunkers at UNC. It builds versatility.

What I do not like, is practicing on my digital piano at home! It feels more and more like a computer-digital-something than a musical instrument.

If he's in NYC, there must be a college somewhere with a similarly lax policy regarding their practice rooms.
Posted by: The Monkeys

Re: Finding a real piano to practice on. - 03/26/13 12:38 AM

Originally Posted By: mermilylumpkin
I only have an electronic piano at home .....It feels more and more like a computer-digital-something than a musical instrument.


May I ask which digital do you have? And what level are you at?
Posted by: mermilylumpkin

Re: Finding a real piano to practice on. - 03/26/13 10:50 AM

It is a Yamaha, I want to say it is P185, but I could be making it up? Supposedly the keys are weighted but they feel quite light. I suppose I am upper intermediate.
Posted by: TimR

Re: Finding a real piano to practice on. - 03/26/13 11:51 AM

My Yamaha P500 is similar in weight to any of the acoustic pianos I run into. (Steinway grands like my last church had were a bit heavier, but most uprights are comparable) When I was playing church services I did not have trouble moving from my practice instrument at home to the grand at church. I did have trouble playing the music, but that was stricly a skill issue.

The Clavinova in that church was a bit heavier in touch than the acoustics. None of us liked it, but there was one lady who played very fluent and deft church music but couldn't read music, so we had to use the transpose function to get her in the right key.

Probably a dumb idea, but didn't some of the masters do a lot of practice on a silent piano? What if you took the action out of a discarded piano, so it wouldn't make noise, and let him practice part time on that?
Posted by: The Monkeys

Re: Finding a real piano to practice on. - 03/26/13 12:10 PM

Originally Posted By: mermilylumpkin
It is a Yamaha, I want to say it is P185, but I could be making it up? Supposedly the keys are weighted but they feel quite light. I suppose I am upper intermediate.


I think you meant P85. It is funny that if you go over the fence to visit the digital forum, most people are complaining that the actions on digital are being too heavy rather than too light. P85 is an entry level product and the hammers are not graded.
It probably no longer suits your level.

Consider it a milestone passed, congratulations!
Posted by: mermilylumpkin

Re: Finding a real piano to practice on. - 03/26/13 02:06 PM

One of the things I wonder about digitals, I mean even really nice digitals - When you strike an acoustic piano key, there's like 20 different ways you can strike it, either leaning into the note with the pad of your fingers, or coming up from high above the keyboard, or digging in, or touching it so that the hammer just barely brushes the string, etc. etc. Each way of pressing it affects the hammer in a different way and that mechanical bit, the way the hammer is striking the string, seems to be the crux of where the tone comes from. Like it is the atoms of musical expression on piano. I've never really played a super nice digital, but I just wonder how an electronic item with no actual hammers could reproduce those gradations. I also miss that starry wah-wah-wah sound you get when you press the sustain pedal on an acoustic, all the little ambient noises from the undampered strings.

Sorry to derail the thread. I sort of took it way off topic. Practice rooms at universities!
Posted by: Ann in Kentucky

Re: Finding a real piano to practice on. - 03/26/13 04:04 PM

Jonathan,
I noticed today at our local Steinway dealer that they have a schedule up for when folks can use the practice rooms with acoustic piano. They recently expanded and started offering lessons at the store.
Posted by: Daisser

Re: Finding a real piano to practice on. - 03/26/13 06:06 PM

I've begun this search in NYC as well but it has been difficult - far more difficult then I would have thought for a city with 8 million in it. If I find any gems I'll post it, but so far free piano = garbage or not available for public practice.
Posted by: Morodiene

Re: Finding a real piano to practice on. - 03/26/13 06:52 PM

What about the possibility of him working at a department store playing the piano there for a little cash? Or he could follow in Brahms' footsteps and play at a bar wink
Posted by: currawong

Re: Finding a real piano to practice on. - 03/26/13 07:54 PM

Originally Posted By: Morodiene
What about the possibility of him working at a department store playing the piano there for a little cash? Or he could follow in Brahms' footsteps and play at a bar wink
smile Except that he's only 13.