This is Robert Estrin at LivingPianos.com. Today’s subject is playing the piano to the room. What is meant by that? The room you’re playing in can be as important to the sound and the approach to the keyboard as the piano you’re playing! I remember, for example, in high school there was a seven-foot Baldwin semi-concert grand piano that was kept to the side of the stage in an incredibly echoey room. It was almost deafening playing in there! I practiced there whenever I had a chance. Then it would come on stage with the curtains closed. It was a completely different sound and I had to approach the keyboard differently in order to project the sound properly. Then when the curtains were open, I could hear the sound project into the hall. It was a fairly live hall. So, it was important not to use too much pedal. Otherwise, the sound could get muddy. In fact, you may have to adjust the tempo you play your music to suit the acoustics of the hall. A hall that is very reverberant can get muddy and you may have to take more time in order for the audience to hear things clearly.
Playing to the room is something that all instrumentalists have to deal with.
So, as pianists, we have a double whammy. We have to adjust to the piano, and we have to adjust to the room! But any other musician, whether they play violin, flute, trumpet, clarinet as well as singers have to figure out how to play to the room, to project a sound, and to reach the last row in the audience.
It is necessary to create the appropriate sound for each specific space.
Certainly, if you’re playing in a living room, you don’t want to blow people out of there with too much volume! So you want to temper your sound to match the room, always using your ears. Practicing isn’t about just molding one performance. It’s about being in excellent shape on your instrument so you can instantly create the right sound for that specific piano and room at that moment.
Thanks so much for the great questions! I’m Robert Estrin here at LivingPianos.com, Your Online Piano Store