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#155627 - 04/26/08 03:15 PM Piano Teachers' knowledge of piano innards / brands / need to know to - etc
lilylady Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/17/05
Posts: 4978
Loc: boston north
I confess.

As a music educator since teenage years, I had not been exposed to much of the piano innards and workings, and different brands and what they had to offer to a pianist.

Sure I knew a little about action, hammers/dampers/pedals, and somewhat about the difference of uprights and grands. I taught at the local Baldwin Piano and Organ studios and was somewhat versatile in pop music as well as classically trained on both.

But I really didn't know much when it came to pianos, other than playing. For instance -

What makes a good piano the best, and what other brands other than Baldwin, Yamaha, Kawaii, and of course Steinways were available? I had barely heard of Bosies and Bechsteins. They were 'up there' in the land of mucho money and my one time playing of them left me bewildered as to why and what was the difference? Did I hear the difference? Yes. But didn't know the why of it.

I have come a long way since then. Mostly recently and mostly due to the internet, this forum, and my travels exploring and learning. Once I was about to spend more money on 'the piano to last me a lifetime' than I did on my first home purchase, I listened, learned, and studied.

But that is not the point.

Craigen in a recent post, mentioned that piano teachers don't know how to teach about the difference in a piano's touch and repetition concerning an upright and a grand.

Rather than getting defensive (as a teacher) and uptight about this...I reflected and thought - you are so right. Many pianos teachers teach music - NOT the instrument. And I thought that we should have a thread on what can be done about this.

So, here it is.

How can we promote a change?

- What suggestions might you have to help educate the many piano teachers out there as they teach their flock?


- Might there be piano techs willing to speak at local Piano Teacher's Guilds? And how could we promote this?

- Might there be more education when you purchase a piano?

- Might their be courses at the college level to teach about the piano/the instrument?

- Could piano manufacturers offer more educational programs?

- Could the local piano stores offer more programs?


Do teachers even explore the insides of the piano during some lessons? (I always used make up lessons to do so) Could something like this be part of the standard curriculum?


I will probably also post this on the Teachers Forum and on the Techicians Forum but will refer to this thread as the mother thread - hoping that we might get some ideas to share with the teachers / techs / manufacturers / pianists / students / buyers in one thread.

Always dreaming, the lilylady
_________________________
"Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything."

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#155628 - 04/26/08 03:25 PM Re: Piano Teachers' knowledge of piano innards / brands / need to know to - etc
whippen boy Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/02/05
Posts: 3886
Loc: San Francisco
A very good point!

I had the same experience - I was so focused on the music and the technique, that I was completely uninterested in the instrument itself; in retrospect, that's pretty bizarre!

When I studied organ, the instrument demanded as much of my attention as the technique and the repertoire. I became fascinated with that aspect to the point that I worked for an organbuilder.

Years later when it came time to buy a piano (the Grotrian) I had come full circle, and was ready to be interested in the instrument itself. Pianists would do well to learn a bit more about their instrument - it should start with piano teachers.
_________________________
Grotrian 225
S&S Hamburg-C
M&H "A" at home

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#155629 - 04/26/08 05:10 PM Re: Piano Teachers' knowledge of piano innards / brands / need to know to - etc
schwammerl Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/06
Posts: 2012
Loc: Belgium
lilylady,

I am afraid the question you are raising is of all times and all continents.

I think this should be tackled really at the basis: should become part of the eductaion programs at music schools and music academies.

I once contributed in a thread on the 'tuners-technicians forum' with the title: 'When the customer knows more that the tech...".

I just quote a few things I said there.
 Quote:
Where I live music schools/academies pay little of no attention in their educational programms to how a piano really works
 Quote:
* Reading an article by J. Gedan on piano-e-forte.de -"Das Spielwerk von Pianos und Flügeln", he says on page two when talking about pianists:

quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ihr Instrument ist ihnen eine "Black Box", der man vorn auf die Tasten drückt, damit hinten Musik herauskommt
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

; freely translated: "For them their instrument is like a black box, when pressing keys at the front, music comes out at the back"

* To further illustrate the lack of knowledge by piano professionals the same author quotes from a book written by Heinrich Neuhaus (famous pianist and pedagogist, teacher of Sjatoslav Richter and Emil Gilels) - "Die Kunst des KLavierspiels":

quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Die Tasten bewegen sich ausserordentlich leicht: es genügt ein wenig mehr als das Gewicht einer Streichholzschachtel, um eine Saite zum Schwingen zu bringen
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

; freely translated: "the keys are moving in a very light manner: one merely needs a bit more than the weight of a match to get a string vibrating".
The author (J. Gedan) comments:

quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Nun ist allerdings "ein wenig mehr als das Gewicht einer Steichholzschachtel" keine sehr genaue Formel. Aber wer hätte gedacht, das der wahre Wert bei etwas 15 Streichholzschachtel liegt?
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

; freely translated: " just a bit more than the weight of a match" is not excactly what one would call an accurate description. But who would have thought the real value is about 15 times the weight of a match?"

* J. Gedan even goes further when quoting Alfred Brendel from "Nachdenken über Musik":

quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Es gibt heute unvergleichlich mehr passable Pianisten als Klaviertechniker..[..]Könnte man nur einigen Klavierspielern begreiflich machen das sie als Klaviermaechaniker für die Musik von grösseren Nutzen wären!;
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

; freely translated: "There are today many more quite good pianist than there are pianotechnicians..[..]Could one only make clear to just a few pianists that if they would become pianotechnicians, they could contribute a lot more to music!"
The author interprets Brendel's statement as "that pianists lack technical knwoledge on their instrument whereas pianotechnicians often not have enough pianistical (music) experience
schwammerl.

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#155630 - 04/26/08 08:56 PM Re: Piano Teachers' knowledge of piano innards / brands / need to know to - etc
Marty Flinn Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/06
Posts: 2604
For years my wife Jennifer and I have conducted teacher symposia (luncheons) to expose the local teachers to what is new in the market place, how pianos work, and how to base their recommendations to their students, and why they should be helping their students select pianos. Most have found our presentations educational and helpful.

We have spoken at MTA meetings and conventions. Manufacturers frequently display and present at MTA conventions.

Sadly, many teachers believe they are too busy to concern themselves with learning what we believe they need to know. That is fine as long as they stay out of advising their students. If they want to be involved in the process of their students' piano selections, then they bear a responsibility to educate themselves on the subject matter at hand.

Weekly we are exposed to teachers who embarass themselves in front of their students in their attempt to guide purchases when they are clueless to how a piano works and what is available. We hear them recommending brands that are defunct. We hear them recommending pianos way beyond the budgets of their students' families. We hear them recommending pianos that are way beyond the space limitations of their students. Often their discussions of materials, construction, and inner workings are hugely incorrect and damaging to the ability to make an informed decision.

To many families of students, the teacher is the one to turn to for "professional" and "unbiased" advice on piano selection. Let's get these "advisors" up to speed.
_________________________
Co-Author of The Complete Idiot's Guide To Buying A Piano. A "must read" before you shop.
Work for west coast dealer for Yamaha, Schimmel, Bosendorfer, Wm. Knabe.

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#155631 - 04/29/08 01:26 PM Re: Piano Teachers' knowledge of piano innards / brands / need to know to - etc
Jerry Groot RPT Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/07/07
Posts: 6828
Loc: Grand Rapids Michigan
Hello all,

Good points Marty. I am often amazed at how frequently I get a call from a music teacher asking me questions soliciting free advise from me so that they can then go back out and look at a piano offering their own advice to the parents trying to make themselves look as if they know what they're doing when in fact, they don't.

In Lily's post in the tech forum, I mentioned that most customers have this expectation that musicians are the ones to ask the questions too. Proof is in the constant postings in the piano forum asking musicians questions on what should I buy, what piano is better verses those in the tech forum asking us instead. A lot more are posted in the piano forum about it. \:\) They really do think all musicians know more than piano technicians because they are master piano players I guess. It appears that the majority of musicians, (maybe I'm wrong) want to also appear as being knowledgable as well?
_________________________
Jerry Groot RPT
Piano Technicians Guild
Grand Rapids, Michigan
www.grootpiano.com

We love to play BF2.

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#155632 - 05/19/08 03:13 PM Re: Piano Teachers' knowledge of piano innards / brands / need to know to - etc
alglasser Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/21/07
Posts: 69
Loc: Rhode Island
I really enjoyed reading this post and the replies, especially the reference to the black box where music comes out of. I taught piano for about 30 years privately until recent health had me close my studio (I was also a school teacher but am now retired). Anyway, I always made it a practice to show my students the "guts" of a piano and how they work. More recently, a friend who is a wonderful fellow/piano technician, sent me a sample action that I used to demonstrate in my classroom as well as in my studio, what the "action" is all about and how it translates the movement of the hand to the tone. The kids found this very interesting, and especially enjoyed seeing how the pedals worked and how they "wove their magic". I do believe that an understanding of the mechanics of the instrument improves their playing.

I have just reopened my studio to adult students (I have 2 at the moment) and their second lesson was on the topics of touch/tone/action and pedalling, including watching the workings inside an upright and grand. The adults really showed an understanding and I expect that this will be helpful as we work hard to turning "playing" into "making music". Piano is indeed more than just the "black box".

RI AL

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#155633 - 05/19/08 03:14 PM Re: Piano Teachers' knowledge of piano innards / brands / need to know to - etc
alglasser Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/21/07
Posts: 69
Loc: Rhode Island
I really enjoyed reading this post and the replies, especially the reference to the black box where music comes out of. I taught piano for about 30 years privately until recent health had me close my studio (I was also a school teacher but am now retired). Anyway, I always made it a practice to show my students the "guts" of a piano and how they work. More recently, a friend who is a wonderful fellow/piano technician, sent me a sample action that I used to demonstrate in my classroom as well as in my studio, what the "action" is all about and how it translates the movement of the hand to the tone. The kids found this very interesting, and especially enjoyed seeing how the pedals worked and how they "wove their magic". I do believe that an understanding of the mechanics of the instrument improves their playing.

I have just reopened my studio to adult students (I have 2 at the moment) and their second lesson was on the topics of touch/tone/action and pedalling, including watching the workings inside an upright and grand. The adults really showed an understanding and I expect that this will be helpful as we work hard to turning "playing" into "making music". Piano is indeed more than just the "black box".

RI AL

Top
#155634 - 05/19/08 03:15 PM Re: Piano Teachers' knowledge of piano innards / brands / need to know to - etc
alglasser Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/21/07
Posts: 69
Loc: Rhode Island
I really enjoyed reading this post and the replies, especially the reference to the black box where music comes out of. I taught piano for about 30 years privately until recent health had me close my studio (I was also a school teacher but am now retired). Anyway, I always made it a practice to show my students the "guts" of a piano and how they work. More recently, a friend who is a wonderful fellow/piano technician, sent me a sample action that I used to demonstrate in my classroom as well as in my studio, what the "action" is all about and how it translates the movement of the hand to the tone. The kids found this very interesting, and especially enjoyed seeing how the pedals worked and how they "wove their magic". I do believe that an understanding of the mechanics of the instrument improves their playing.

I have just reopened my studio to adult students (I have 2 at the moment) and their second lesson was on the topics of touch/tone/action and pedalling, including watching the workings inside an upright and grand. The adults really showed an understanding and I expect that this will be helpful as we work hard to turning "playing" into "making music". Piano is indeed more than just the "black box".

RI AL

Top
#155635 - 05/19/08 03:59 PM Re: Piano Teachers' knowledge of piano innards / brands / need to know to - etc
kenny Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 7051
I try to remember to encourage all teachers I meet to hang out here.


Also, there is a philosophy that some teachers have that they try to impart to their students..
Don't complain about the piano! Just make the best of it![/b]

There is good reason for this.
Pianists can't carry their piano around.
They will be stuck performing on poor or poorly prepared pianos and have to not be tripped up by this.

This philosophy is quite different from the pianoworld way, in which we encourage all pianos to get regular tuning voicing and regulation from the best tech possible.

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#155636 - 05/19/08 06:16 PM Re: Piano Teachers' knowledge of piano innards / brands / need to know to - etc
WhoDwaldi Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/13/08
Posts: 244
1. Dealers resent when teachers veto a sale.

2. Teachers resent when dealers try to sell a student a piano the teacher wouldn’t want to have himself. Yet . . .

3. Teachers resent that students pound the teacher’s piano into junk, then go home and do not practice.

4. Nobody wants to sit in a seminar that tells you “here are all the mistakes you made with your purchase, now help others.”

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