How Many Parts are There in a Piano?

  It’s fascinating to think about how many parts there are in the average piano. Think about how many string there are, how many keys there are, and then how many moving parts are involved with each press of a key; it’s daunting to think of just how many parts there are in a piano!   A typical scale design … Continue reading How Many Parts are There in a Piano?

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What is the Right Size Piano for Your Home?

 

You’d think that finding the right size piano for your home would be an easy thing to figure out. You might assume that the room size dictates what size piano you should get. There is actually quite a bit more to it.

 

Two issues to deal with when buying a piano are who will be playing it and whether it will disturb other people in your household or neighbors. Beginning players will not generate a great deal of sound out of any piano. However, generally speaking, the larger the piano, the more volume it produces. You probably don’t want to buy an instrument that is going to be a nuisance for people in your home or next door; it’s something important to consider. Fortunately, there are silent piano systems you can add to pianos to mute the sound and hear sampled piano sound in headphones – making the size and volume of the piano less of a concern. Although this will compromise your playing experience.

 

It’s important to take note of the room you are going to put your piano in. Not only does the size of the room matter, but many elements affect the volume and tone of the instrument. For example, if you have carpet rather than hardwood floors, the piano will be somewhat muted since the carpet absorbs sound. Half of the sound comes out the bottom of grand pianos. Sometimes a room with hard floors can produce too much sound in which case you could consider putting a rug under the piano.

 

The floor is not the only aspect of acoustics of a room. Drapes, soft furniture, and other absorbing objects can dampen the sound of the piano. A large piano can sound much quieter in an acoustically dead space.

 

Naturally you must consider the physical space needed for a piano. A small baby grand piano is typically 5 feet in length and about 5 feet wide (as all pianos are because of the 88 keys). Concert grand pianos are usually around 9 feet long. The length of a piano is measured from the key slip (the piece of wood in front of the keys on the keyboard) to the very end of the lid. You should also allow for an additional 2 feet for when the bench is pulled out in front of the piano.

 

Upright pianos can be a good choice for smaller rooms, but they are less flexible in placement since the backs are unfinished. Therefore, they generally go up against a wall whereas grand pianos and baby grands look good from all angles and can even be tucked into a corner.

 

These are the main factors in determining what size piano is best for you. Thanks again for joining us here at Living Pianos. If you have any questions about this topic or any others, please contact us at: Info@LivingPianos.com (949) 244-3729

  You’d think that finding the right size piano for your home would be an easy thing to figure out. You might assume that the room size dictates what size piano you should get. There is actually quite a bit more to it.   Two issues to deal with when buying a piano are who will be playing it and … Continue reading What is the Right Size Piano for Your Home?

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Are Piano Keyboards All the Same Height?

 

You would think there would be a standard height of keyboards on pianos. After all, you rarely take your piano with you when you perform, so having a normal height would seem like something you should expect. Sadly, this is not the case when it comes to the height of keyboards on pianos.

 

Most upright pianos have keyboards that are lower than grand pianos, yet some of large uprights from decades ago actually have higher keyboards than grand pianos!

 

The height of keyboards on pianos also differs by region. For example, most Asian pianos, piano manufactured in Japan, China, Korea and Indonesia, usually have higher keyboards than American made pianos.

 

One easy way of dealing with keyboards of different heights is having an adjustable artist bench. As we discussed in a past video, The Importance of the Piano Bench, getting yourself an adjustable artist bench is something that every pianist can benefit from. Most performance settings will have an artist bench that allows you to raise or lower the bench to your prefered height – so the keyboard height is no longer an issue.

 

Another odd thing about Asian pianos is that the benches tend to be lower than American piano benches. So, when you take into account the shorter benches and higher keyboards of Asian pianos, there is a substantial difference in your playing position compared to sitting at American pianos. Since most of my height is in my legs, I absolutely need an adjustable artist bench (or something to sit on) when playing Asian pianos. Yet, on American pianos, the height is usually just right!

 

I hope you found this video helpful. Thanks again for joining us here at Living Pianos. If you have any questions about this topic or any others, please contact us at: Info@LivingPianos.com (949) 244-3729

  You would think there would be a standard height of keyboards on pianos. After all, you rarely take your piano with you when you perform, so having a normal height would seem like something you should expect. Sadly, this is not the case when it comes to the height of keyboards on pianos.   Most upright pianos have keyboards … Continue reading Are Piano Keyboards All the Same Height?

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What is Stretch Tuning?

 

Stretch tuning is a term you may not be familiar with, but you’ve certainly encountered it if you play piano – or almost any instrument for that matter! Today we are going to talk about what stretch tuning is and why it’s important to you.

 

Before we get into the concept of stretch tuning we need to discuss what pitch is. Pitch is the ability of your brain to count sound waves. When you hear an A – as when an orchestra tunes to A440, you are hearing 440 vibrations per second which is perceived as the pitch A above middle C. If you double the frequencies to 880 vibrations per second, you will get A an octave higher. We could go into extreme depth about the proportional relationship of tones. This article and video touches on the subject:

 

 

When it comes to tuning, specifically the tuning on a piano, you’ve probably heard the term “A-440 tuning”. This refers to tuning the piano to A440 – or 440 vibrations per second. There are tuners who can precisely tune a piano to these frequencies but there is much more to tuning a piano than just the reference pitch. Even if a piano is tuned to 440, the higher octaves would sound flat to the human ear if they were mathematically perfectly in tune. You may wonder how this can be.

 

This is where stretch tuning comes into the equation. The human ears are imperfect in how they perceive pitch. They tend to hear flat in the higher register. To counter this, the octaves must be stretched beyond their normal pitches in order for the human ear to hear them correctly. A good piano tuner will know how much to stretch the higher octaves to make it sound correct to the human ear. This can be as much art as science since tuners take different approaches to this as well as other challenges in tuning a piano.

 

You can depend on technology to an extent, but the ultimate test is your ears when it comes to deciding if an instrument is in tune throughout all registers.

 

Thanks again for joining us here at Living Pianos. If you have any questions about this topic or any others, please contact us at: Info@LivingPianos.com (949) 244-3729

  Stretch tuning is a term you may not be familiar with, but you’ve certainly encountered it if you play piano – or almost any instrument for that matter! Today we are going to talk about what stretch tuning is and why it’s important to you.   Before we get into the concept of stretch tuning we need to discuss … Continue reading What is Stretch Tuning?

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Piano Lesson – The Essentials of Fingering

 

Today we are going to discuss a very important topic, the essentials of fingering on the piano. We are going to use a couple of pieces as an example so you will benefit from watching the accompanying video.

 

Fingering on the piano is one of the most important aspects for developing a good technique. One of the greatest challenges is figuring out the best fingering for individual pieces. Even with scores that include fingering, you will rarely have all of the fingering written down except in very rudimentary music. Fingering is indicated as suggestions for key sections of the music. In fact, different editions of the same pieces have different fingerings! The fingering you play for a certain piece might not be the same as someone else. You must find good fingering that works for you.

 

Fingering is the foundation of good piano playing. When you hit a wall in your practice after trying many techniques such as – slow practice, metronome work, hands separately, and other techniques, you should consider re-examining your fingering and see if there is a solution that works for you. Many times you will be able to solve your technical problems by discovering a new fingering.

 

Years ago I made a video that breaks down all piano playing into two essential components:

 

Fingering Patterns and Hand Positions

 

To sum up the idea behind that lesson, you should try to break down your music to chords wherever possible. By doing this you, will be able to take in as many notes as you can in a hand position so you don’t have to jump around more than necessary.

 

The first piece I use in the video is Bach’s Prelude in C major from the Well Tempered Clavier Book I. I picked this piece because it is simply a series a broken chords – which makes it easy to demonstrate this lesson.

 

 

When you approach this piece, try playing block chords first instead of playing as written. It looks like this:

 

 

By grabbing as many notes as you can, it makes the piece much easier to learn and makes fingering choices obvious.

 

The trouble begins when you have to change hand positions.

 

For example, in the second movement of the Pathetique Sonata by Beethoven, when the first theme finishes, it repeats an octave higher. How do you approach this with the chord technique?

 

 

You see in the highlighted section that the piece goes up an octave. There is a technique for handling sections like this when you’re breaking down into chords. You figure out a “pivot note” to switch to a new hand position that gets over the new chord. Typically it’s a third or fourth finger crossing or as in this case, a thumb crossing. This instantly puts you into a new hand position!

 

 

Notice the position of my hands, as soon as I hit middle C, I am over the next chord.

 

By using this technique of identifying pivot notes to switch hand positions, it will guide your fingering choices.

 

Thanks again for joining us here at Living Pianos. If you have any questions about this topic or any others, please contact us at: Info@LivingPianos.com (949) 244-3729

  Today we are going to discuss a very important topic, the essentials of fingering on the piano. We are going to use a couple of pieces as an example so you will benefit from watching the accompanying video.   Fingering on the piano is one of the most important aspects for developing a good technique. One of the greatest … Continue reading Piano Lesson – The Essentials of Fingering

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What is Polyphony in Music?

  You may have heard the term polyphony before and might have wondered what it meant. Polyphony is intrinsic to almost all the music we listen to today but it wasn’t always that way. So, what does this term mean and why is it important?   There was a time when the only written music was monophonic, which means “one … Continue reading What is Polyphony in Music?

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