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#377498 - 08/18/06 11:32 PM So how do you handle people who say...
CherryCoke Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/11/02
Posts: 531
"classical's alright, I guess. But all they do is play the notes someone else already wrote. The real talent is in people who come up with their own stuff."

Or some other such nonsense? It's one of those things that's hard to explain to someone who's obviously ignorant on the subject of music.

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#377499 - 08/18/06 11:42 PM Re: So how do you handle people who say...
Palindrome Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/22/01
Posts: 3916
Loc: Chicago, IL USA
The answer? "So why are you listening to anyone instead of playing yourself?"
_________________________
There is no end of learning. -Robert Schumann Rules for Young Musicians

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#377500 - 08/19/06 12:25 AM Re: So how do you handle people who say...
Ted2 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/04/02
Posts: 790
Loc: Auckland, New Zealand
Both types of music require talent. The statement is therefore false and merely a provocation, as one talent is no more "real" than the other. Couched as a declaration, for example, "I find pianists who play original music more interesting than those who play classical", it is a true statement.

I would have replied, "It seems to me that both activities require considerable talent of differing type."
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"Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law" - Aleister Crowley

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#377501 - 08/19/06 12:44 AM Re: So how do you handle people who say...
CarlosKleiberist Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/01/06
Posts: 220
Loc: Southern California
give them a good kick in the balls or a punch in the face...

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#377502 - 08/19/06 02:43 AM Re: So how do you handle people who say...
Reaper978 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/08/05
Posts: 1326
I think it's considerably harder to play a piece than to improvise. No one's going to accuse you of missing notes if you improvise, nor will they rip you apart for interpretation, tempo markings, continuity, etc. etc.

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#377503 - 08/19/06 03:46 AM Re: So how do you handle people who say...
Max W Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/05/02
Posts: 2846
Loc: RHUL
 Quote:
Originally posted by Reaper978:
I think it's considerably harder to play a piece than to improvise. No one's going to accuse you of missing notes if you improvise, nor will they rip you apart for interpretation, tempo markings, continuity, etc. etc. [/b]
I would disagree with that. I'm not sure what improvisation you have listened to, but it is often just as structured and polished as written music, and to say that interpretation is not important is definitely wrong IMO. I feel attuned to playing written music and writing our own, while other pianists would feel more comfortable improvising. They are not on the same level and it's quite impossible to compare them in difficulty, it is just a matter of what you practise more.

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#377504 - 08/19/06 03:52 AM Re: So how do you handle people who say...
tomasino Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/24/05
Posts: 2039
Loc: Minneapolis, Minnesota
" . . . all they do is play the notes someone else already wrote."

But they all play the same notes differently, yet within a tradional performance practice. Therein lies the creativity and the talent. It's subtle, it's highly nuanced, and requires an experienced and active listener.

Tomasino
_________________________
"Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do so with all thy might." Ecclesiastes 9:10


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#377505 - 08/19/06 04:02 AM Re: So how do you handle people who say...
I'm Liszt's coffee pal. Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/11/06
Posts: 497
Loc: Liszt's backyard.
 Quote:
Originally posted by CarlosKleiberist:
give them a good kick in the balls or a punch in the face... [/b]
Nice.
_________________________
So, you're a cannibal.

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#377506 - 08/19/06 05:46 AM Re: So how do you handle people who say...
Palindrome Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/22/01
Posts: 3916
Loc: Chicago, IL USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by CarlosKleiberist:
give them a good kick in the balls or a punch in the face... [/b]
No, that's the answer to a different question:

"What do you say to someone who claims that nothing really exists?"

You show them two fists, and say, "Here's one thing, and here's another."

Of course, this has been anticipated:

Among students of philosophy, Dr. [Samuel] Johnson is perhaps best known for his "refutation" of Bishop Berkeley's idealism. During a conversation with his biographer [Boswell], Johnson became infuriated at the suggestion that Berkeley's immaterialism [claiming that nothing really exists] could not be refuted. In his anger, Johnson powerfully kicked a nearby stone and proclaimed, of Berkeley's theory, that "I refute it thus! -Wikipedia
_________________________
There is no end of learning. -Robert Schumann Rules for Young Musicians

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#377507 - 08/19/06 08:44 AM Re: So how do you handle people who say...
LiszThalberg Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/13/06
Posts: 3288
I was made fun of in elementary school for only listening to Bach and Chopin. Now 13, im the only one my age in the galaxy i supose that doesn't listen to Linking-Park (or whatever).


And in the answer:

"If you think its so easy, YOU come up on a stage and play it in front of 200 people!"

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#377508 - 08/19/06 09:23 AM Re: So how do you handle people who say...
pianojerome Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/01/05
Posts: 9868
 Quote:
Originally posted by tomasino:
" . . . all they do is play the notes someone else already wrote."

But they all play the same notes differently, yet within a tradional performance practice. Therein lies the creativity and the talent. It's subtle, it's highly nuanced, and requires an experienced and active listener.

Tomasino [/b]
Perhaps what we do is a lot like "Paint by Number." You can by at the store a canvas which has all of the lines already drawn, and each area on the canvas is marked by a number to tell you what color to paint it. That way you can paint the canvas and it will look as the artist already painted it.

But it's not so simple. If you paint by number and all you do is just fill in what you're told to fill in, your painting might look splotchy and unnatural. But if you are a good painter, you might shade the colors a little bit. You might paint a little darker here and a little lighter there. You might emphasize borders around particular objects or paint over borders to enlarge, diminish, or mix other objects. To paraphrase Gustav Mahler, "The canvas holds everything that is important in painting by number, except for that which is essential."


So it is when we play music. The actual quote by Mahler goes something like: "The score holds everything that is important in music, except for that which is essential." If all you do is play what is written in the score - if you just play the notes as written, and the rhythms as written, and the dynamics as written, and the phrasing as writtten - it will sound like a midi file: lifeless and dull. The real art is in the interpretation of the score. The art is in the style. The art is in how one crescendos and how one accelerates. The art is in how loud and how soft, how fast and how slow. The art is in how one stretches the rhythm here and there with natural-feeling rubato. The art is in how one emphasizes the structure of the music, and plays in such a manner that particular moments are highlighted over others. The art is not just playing the notes, but in making the notes sound logically connected and organized, and in making a musical impression upon the audience.
_________________________
Sam

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#377509 - 08/19/06 10:02 AM Re: So how do you handle people who say...
playliszt Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/01/06
Posts: 450
Loc: Oh/Fla
To paraphrase a quote I heard, a fairly good answer might be: " I never argue with idiots. If I did, an observer wouldn't be able to tell us apart."

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#377510 - 08/19/06 10:23 AM Re: So how do you handle people who say...
pianojerome Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/01/05
Posts: 9868
I wouldn't say that they're idiots. It's a legitimate question, and a good question that probably a lot of musicians - myself included - have asked ourselves before.

It doesn't seem immediately that it would be so creative. After all, the composer does tell us what notes to play, and he does tell us what rhythms to play, and he does tell us where to crescendo, decrescendo, accelerate, decellerate, accent, etc.


Maybe another analogy would be to acting. The script contains all of the lines, and often it also contains directions for how to act, how to speak, and how the background scenery should be set up. Sometimes the script even tells the actor how to walk, and from what direction, and where on the stage to stand.

But if you watch the same play more than once, with different casts, it's different. Even with the same director - I was in a show of Guys and Dolls a long time ago, and I just saw the same musical again last year with the same director, and I was shocked at how different it was. I was in the same play a long time ago with a different director, and that was very different as well.

When actors audition for a play or a movie, maybe a very large number of people will audition for one part - and they are (almost) all probably very good actors, or else they wouldn't be auditioning. But only one gets the part. The directors listen, and maybe they like how some are acting the parts and they don't like how others are acting the parts, and some act similarly to how the directors envision the part to be played. They all act differently, even though the lines and context are the same. They are all creative, because what they do is so much more than just what they are told to do in the script. Anyone can read the lines, and anyone can walk around on stage wearing a costume, but it takes a truly creative and powerful actor to make the part alive and convincing and enjoyable.
_________________________
Sam

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#377511 - 08/19/06 10:30 AM Re: So how do you handle people who say...
Max W Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/05/02
Posts: 2846
Loc: RHUL
 Quote:
Originally posted by pianojerome:
I wouldn't say that they're idiots. It's a legitimate question, and a good question that probably a lot of musicians - myself included - have asked ourselves before.

It doesn't seem immediately that it would be so creative. After all, the composer does tell us what notes to play, and he does tell us what rhythms to play, and he does tell us where to crescendo, decrescendo, accelerate, decellerate, accent, etc.


Maybe another analogy would be to acting. The script contains all of the lines, and often it also contains directions for how to act, how to speak, and how the background scenery should be set up. Sometimes the script even tells the actor how to walk, and from what direction, and where on the stage to stand.

But if you watch the same play more than once, with different casts, it's different. Even with the same director - I was in a show of Guys and Dolls a long time ago, and I just saw the same musical again last year with the same director, and I was shocked at how different it was. I was in the same play a long time ago with a different director, and that was very different as well.

When actors audition for a play or a movie, maybe a very large number of people will audition for one part - and they are (almost) all probably very good actors, or else they wouldn't be auditioning. But only one gets the part. The directors listen, and maybe they like how some are acting the parts and they don't like how others are acting the parts, and some act similarly to how the directors envision the part to be played. They all act differently, even though the lines and context are the same. They are all creative, because what they do is so much more than just what they are told to do in the script. Anyone can read the lines, and anyone can walk around on stage wearing a costume, but it takes a truly create and powerful actor to make the part alive and convincing and enjoyable. [/b]
You could compare it to an actor playing a role in a comedy film, and a stand-up comedian. The actor would have been given the tools to make his role funny through the script, but there is a considerable amount of work on his part to bring it to life. The stand-up comedian might have some ideas before hand, but it would be up to him to fill in the gaps, with a similar attitude to pulling off his 'role'. However the actor has the ability to spend much more time practising and polishing his role beforehand, while the stand-up comedian would have to rely on a mixture of luck and his own abilities.

I definitely agree with you on the differences between different performances in other mediums - I have seen Julius Caeser (Shakespeare..) twice, and even though it was from the same company, they were wildly different.

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#377512 - 08/19/06 11:05 AM Re: So how do you handle people who say...
Arabesque Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/16/05
Posts: 553
Loc: Japan
Look, you need to find yourself some better company. What State are you in?
_________________________
It don't mean a ting if it don't have dat swing

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#377513 - 08/19/06 11:48 AM Re: So how do you handle people who say...
whippen boy Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/02/05
Posts: 3886
Loc: San Francisco
Speaking of Shakespeare, I would have said something like

Oh so if you compare a Shakespeare interpreter such as Sir Laurence Olivier to someone who just makes a bunch of stuff up whenever they speak - like you - you [/b]would be the real[/b] talent...?

:p
_________________________
Grotrian 225
S&S Hamburg-C
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#377514 - 08/19/06 12:13 PM Re: So how do you handle people who say...
Kreisler Offline



Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13818
Loc: Iowa City, IA
I would respond by telling them that:

Elton John sang Bernie Taupin's lyrics.

Without George Martin's help, the Beatles wouldn't have done nearly as well.

James Taylor owes his sound to Jim Olson. Thom Yorke owes his to a small army of programmers and electrical engineers.

Even an Irish lad singing an Irish song solo that he himself made up is drawing upon the influence of those who came before him.


Seriously...there isn't an artist on the planet who doesn't get an enormous amount of help from others. Whether it's notes, sounds, lyrics, harmony, color, or rhythm, it all comes from somewhere else. The artist's individuality and originality comes from the way they dissect and reassemble their influences (whether consciously done or not.) So I use Schumann's notes when I play, I still shape the rhythmic and tonal concept of the piece, and my motions are the ones being translated into sound, not his.

At least classical musicians give the composers credit. When's the last time you saw a pop singer give credit to the songwriters on the front cover, or did you think Christina Aguilera actually writes all her own stuff?
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

www.pianoped.com
www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed

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#377515 - 08/19/06 02:37 PM Re: So how do you handle people who say...
Antonius Hamus Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/24/05
Posts: 2230
By smiling disdainfully... The person or group becomes embarrassed, and will try to find out how things really are. It's always better to make them find out themselves...

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#377516 - 08/19/06 02:45 PM Re: So how do you handle people who say...
Frank_W Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/10/06
Posts: 1047
Loc: United States
The thing is, most people are ignorant of just how much time and hard work goes into playing the piano. Period. Whether someone is coming up with their own stuff or playing the dots, it requires hours and hours, discipline, tenacity, and sacrifice. If they are too deaf to hear those things pouring through the notes you play, then yeah, a disdainful smile, or an icy, "Oh, what an interesting point of view!" or perhaps beating them to death with live weasels, are all justifiable reactions.
_________________________
Compassion, Love, Strength, Peace, Dignity, Balance, Order

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#377517 - 08/19/06 02:55 PM Re: So how do you handle people who say...
kokomo61 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/06
Posts: 678
Loc: Herndon, VA
I like Kriesler's points - no one does anything without influence from others....and some artists are not nearly as good without their missing partner....Paul McCartney without John Lennon tends to be a lightweight, saccharine tunesmith - but when he's paired up with someone with a more Lennon-like edge (Elvis Costello) for example, he puts out great work (Check out Flowers in the Dirt - probably his best post-Beatles album).

James Taylor owes is (current) sound to Jim Olson - on his first albums, he was just playing Martin guitars....but Olson is his current axe. Olson used to have up to a 5-year waiting list...but I think he's scrapped that recently, instead, for $12.5K, you can get one in 9 months. You can get a JT signature model for $15K.

As to those who look down on musicians who play classical music, let them try to do it.

99% of all music is crap...but 1% of all music (I don't care what category it is) is great. The reason the classical genre holds up is because it's the 1% that survived to this day. The best endures, while the rest of it just gets lost in time. Classical musicians are paying their respects to the composers who were brilliant and dedicated enough to make music that endures.

To quote Isaac Newton, "If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants."
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Estonia 190, #6098

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#377518 - 08/19/06 03:28 PM Re: So how do you handle people who say...
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5375
Loc: Philadelphia
When's the last time you saw a pop singer give credit to the songwriters on the front cover, or did you think Christina Aguilera actually writes all her own stuff?[/b]
First Santa and now this?! Say it ain't so!


To the original question... What is talent? ;\)
_________________________
Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.

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#377519 - 08/19/06 07:41 PM Re: So how do you handle people who say...
Frank_W Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/10/06
Posts: 1047
Loc: United States
 Quote:
Originally posted by Derulux:
What is talent?[/b]
Talent, most often, is what allows someone to crap out and never reach their potential because it all comes too easy to them, so the people with NO talent are the ones who put in the sweat equity and end up reaching the sublime heights.
_________________________
Compassion, Love, Strength, Peace, Dignity, Balance, Order

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#377520 - 08/19/06 08:06 PM Re: So how do you handle people who say...
shajo Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/17/05
Posts: 8
it takes way more talent to write good music than to play somebody elses. everybody and their dog can play stairway to heaven on the guitar. any intermediate guitarist can master it. as well as fur elise. not a hard piece to master. chopin probably could write better peices than horrowitz or lang lang when he was 10 then they ever will/attempted to.

so the differance is

you cant teach people how to write good music
but you CAN teach them how to play it
big differance

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#377521 - 08/19/06 09:24 PM Re: So how do you handle people who say...
pianojerome Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/01/05
Posts: 9868
 Quote:
Originally posted by shajo:
you cant teach people how to write good music
[/b]
you can't?
_________________________
Sam

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#377522 - 08/19/06 09:27 PM Re: So how do you handle people who say...
LiszThalberg Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/13/06
Posts: 3288
 Quote:
Originally posted by shajo:
you cant teach people how to write good music
[/b]
Im with Jerome on this one...
Why do people take composition lessons if they can never write good music???

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#377523 - 08/19/06 09:41 PM Re: So how do you handle people who say...
Kreisler Offline



Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13818
Loc: Iowa City, IA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Debussy20:
 Quote:
Originally posted by shajo:
you cant teach people how to write good music
[/b]
Im with Jerome on this one...
Why do people take composition lessons if they can never write good music??? [/b]
Why take an English class if you can never write a good novel?
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

www.pianoped.com
www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed

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#377524 - 08/19/06 09:42 PM Re: So how do you handle people who say...
pianojerome Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/01/05
Posts: 9868
 Quote:
Originally posted by Kreisler:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Debussy20:
 Quote:
Originally posted by shajo:
you cant teach people how to write good music
[/b]
Im with Jerome on this one...
Why do people take composition lessons if they can never write good music??? [/b]
Why take an English class if you can never write a good novel? [/b]
Maybe music is just some supernatural art that can't possibly be created by human beings, except through rare divine inspiration.

But literature and art are different - lots of people can do that.




I think that maybe we just glorify "the" great composers (the famous ones) so much that we forget they are just people like us.

I'm convinced that if musical composition was a required class during every year of grade school - as English writing is a required class every year - that a lot of graduating high school students would be capable of writing good music, and that music would not be viewed as such a supernatural art. (Although, even with years of 'learning' English writing skills, so many graduates still can't seem to write good essays!)
_________________________
Sam

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#377525 - 08/19/06 09:51 PM Re: So how do you handle people who say...
pianojerome Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/01/05
Posts: 9868
 Quote:
Originally posted by shajo:
so the differance is

you cant teach people how to write good music
but you CAN teach them how to play it
big differance [/b]
The other part: "but you CAN teach them how to play it."

Actually, I have been told by several teachers that you CAN'T teach someone how to play musically. I'm told that it is relatively easy to teach someone technique - you can teach them how to read music, and you can teach them how to hit all the right notes - but it is very difficult to teach them how to play musically.
_________________________
Sam

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#377526 - 08/19/06 09:53 PM Re: So how do you handle people who say...
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10422
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
Debussy20: My son is 13 as well and he studies composition with a university music professor. You can indeed learn how to compose. But like anything else true greatness at it requires heart, persistence, and a willingness to make lots of mistakes and learn from them.

By the way, my son manages to like classical music AND Linkin Park. Go figure.
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Grotrian 192 #156455

https://www.youtube.com/user/dhfeld/videos

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#377527 - 08/19/06 09:54 PM Re: So how do you handle people who say...
pianojerome Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/01/05
Posts: 9868
 Quote:
Originally posted by shajo:
it takes way more talent to write good music than to play somebody elses. everybody and their dog can play stairway to heaven on the guitar. any intermediate guitarist can master it. as well as fur elise. not a hard piece to master. chopin probably could write better peices than horrowitz or lang lang when he was 10 then they ever will/attempted to.
[/b]
1. Yeah, those are easy pieces. How about Chopin ballades? How about Brahms Variations, or the Barber Sonata? Can everybody and their dog play these pieces musically?

2. Why was Chopin so special?

3. Horowitz actually did compose music, and some of his arrangements are actually fairly popular. Rachmaninov was a friend of his, and in fact Rachmaninov often asked Horowitz for advice when he was writing his music.
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Sam

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