Welcome to LivingPianos.com, I’m Robert Estrin. Today we have a piano quiz! You can take this quiz below. It should be a lot of fun! It’s not very long or very difficult. There are just five questions. I’m going to ask all five questions, then go back and give you the answers. You can see how well you’ve done on this. Also, you can email me and let me know any thoughts you have about these questions.
The first three questions are true or false.
1. If you buy a new Steinway piano, it will go up in value. True or false?
2. Concert pianists practice scales and exercises for many hours every day. True or false?
3. If you see the Yamaha name on a piano, you can be assured that it is a good quality mid-range instrument. True or false?
The next two questions are multiple choice.
4. Why are there repeat signs in music?
A.) They provide performers with flexibility of timing for programming.
B.) It saves paper!
C.) They help composers increase their output without having to do extra work.
5. Ideally, how often should your piano be tuned?
A.) Twice a year is perfect because of seasonal changes.
B.) Having your piano tuned once a month keeps it in tune best.
C.) Your piano should be tuned constantly, every time you play it.
Here are the Answers!
Now we’re going to go back and see how well you did on these questions. Here is the first question, once again:
1. If you buy a new Steinway piano, it will go up in value. True or false? This is a really tough question. If I just had a choice of true or false, I would say true. Now, you might wonder, how can this be? Let’s think about this. My grandfather bought my father a brand new Steinway baby grand in 1939. He paid $900 for it. That same model Steinway now sells for around $80,000. So yes, if you keep it long enough, it’s going to go up in value. But one thing to consider is inflation. Of course, condition is of paramount importance. I rebuilt that particular Steinway of my father’s, so it’s worth quite a bit. But if a Steinway is completely thrashed over the years, if it’s been subjected to the elements, it can have very little value. So, it’s really kind of true or false, depending on the conditions.
Here’s how it can be false. If you buy a brand new Steinway piano, and then just a few years later you want to sell it, you’re going to take a loss because it takes a long time for the yearly increases in the list prices and the sale prices of Steinway pianos to overcome the new versus used value. Like when driving a car off the dealer parking lot, you know that it’s going to lose a tremendous amount of value immediately. The same is true with pianos. But if you keep the piano long enough, the new ones keep going up, so you could be in pretty good shape, provided you take good care of it.
2. Concert pianists practice scales and exercises for many hours every day. True or false? A lot of you are going to be really surprised about this one. The answer is false. You might think concert pianists practice scales, arpeggios and exercises relentlessly. At some point in every concert pianist’s life, they have spent countless hours working on scales, arpeggios, octave exercises, thirds, trills and other technical studies. This goes on for years. But with touring concert pianists, they are so busy learning repertoire. They get such precious little time to practice. So when they’re practicing, they’re going through their programs, their concertos, their chamber music. Sure, they’re going to spend some time with scales, arpeggios and exercises, but the vast amount of the time they spend is rehearsing and practicing for upcoming performances. They don’t have vast amounts of time to practice exercises and scales every day.
3. If you see the Yamaha name on a piano, you can be assured that it is a good quality mid-range instrument. True or false? This is false. Yamaha is a very large music company. In fact, they’re the largest music company in the world! They have pianos on every conceivable level. Most Yamaha pianos you find out there are good mid-range pianos like the U series uprights and CX series grands. They’re good quality pianos for the money with a sweet spot of price and performance, so they’re very popular. But there are also Indonesian-made Yamahas that are entry-level, promotional-level, bare bones instruments. They are well made, of course, but they are far from what I would call fine instruments. On the other end of the spectrum, there are SX and CF series of Yamaha pianos that can be more expensive than Steinways. These instruments are meticulously crafted to the highest possible standards. So, the name Yamaha doesn’t tell you much about the level of piano you’re looking at.
4. Why are there repeat signs in music? Believe it or not, the answer is B.) It saves paper! Now, you might wonder if that’s serious. It is. Here’s the thing about repeat signs. Sometimes you’ll have one edition of a piece with repeats and you’ll have another edition of the same piece with the repeated music printed out in the score. If you saw the repeat notated, you wouldn’t think of leaving it out. But with repeat signs, somehow people get the feeling they are optional. Repeats are an intrinsic part of the composition and composers do it not only to save paper. Think about composers back when they had to write with duck quills. That was no easy task. Anything to save time was a godsend for them. I’m a firm believer in taking repeats. If you find a piece of music where the repeats don’t make sense and it seems too long, consider that maybe your tempo is too slow. The repeats are put in there for good reasons and they make the structure of the piece gel.
5. Ideally, how often should your piano be tuned? I consider twice a year to be the minimum. My father always had his pianos tuned once a month, and yet, by the end of the month they were out of tune. Believe it or not, the answer is C.) Your piano should be tuned constantly every time you play it!
Think about going to a concert featuring a guitar player. Between each song they tune the guitar because it’s going out of tune little by little. Well, so is your piano! It’s just not practical to tune it constantly. At my father’s recording sessions, as well as many other pianists’ recording sessions, the tuner is there. When they hear any notes going out of tune, which can happen at any time, there will be a break in the session, and the tuner will touch-up the few unisons that are out of tune. In a perfect world your piano would be tuned every day! That might be a surprise to some of you, But in recital halls at music conservatories, it’s not unusual for pianos to be tuned daily.
How well did you do? Do any of you have different ideas about these subjects? I know a lot of these questions are subjective in how you answer them. I hope this has been enjoyable for you!
I’m Robert Estrin here at LivingPianos.com, Your Online Piano Resource.
Please feel free to contact me with any piano related questions for future videos!