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Piano Stories (Page Four)

Fine answers a few questions about choosing a piano
Piano sales are in decline, as are most other "luxury" purchases.   As home sales decline, so do home furnishings, and pianos often fit that category.   However, this is good news for those who can afford to buy now.   Piano manufacturers and dealers are discounting their instruments significantly in an effort to "weather the storm."

Arthur Ferrante passes on
Ferrante died of natural causes early Saturday at his home in Longboat Key, Fla., his manager, Scott W. Smith, said Sunday.   Lou Teicher died in August 2008 at age 83.   "Although we were two individuals, at the twin pianos our brains worked as one," Ferrante said last year after Teicher's death.

Recycling old uprights
The Upright Furniture Company is a collaboration between Tinkertunes Music Studio and Feldkamp Design of Lansing, Michigan.   Our custom designed desks are created from the cabinets of old upright pianos that have no value as instruments, and would otherwise end up in a landfill.
Original Workstation Design
Editor's note: The desk in the photo above (the Original Workstation Design) is just one example of five beautiful desks
fashioned by pianist Tom Kaufmann and cabinet maker Brian Feldkamp.   Other pieces include the Opera House Piano,
the African Tiger-Striped Mahogany Desk, the Claro Walnut Workstation Cabinet, and the Two-Thirds Oak Desk.
Tom is currently working on a how-to video that he hopes to have available for sale soon.

Denmark student has Texas teacher
Last Tuesday morning, a piano lesson was taking place. Typical, some might say, Ince has been teaching piano in Gonzales for many, many years.   But what is so different about this lesson is her student, Susanne Olsen, is in Denmark and Ince is instructing her via the internet.

From a lumber yard in Alaska to the factory in Queens
While highlighting the process every step of the way from wood selection to final tuning, the documentary is interspersed with interviews with acclaimed pianists Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Kenny Barron, Bill Charlap, Harry Connick Jr., Helene Grimaud, Hank Jones, Lang Lang and Marcus Roberts, all of which praise the manufacturer.   In addition, the film also features an interview with 93-year-old Henry Z. Steinway, great-grandson of the brand’s founder, Heinrich Engelhard Steinweg.

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The Usual Suspects organize to benefit Baize
Four months ago, Baize was diagnosed with a degenerative bone disease that he likely won’t survive.   “I still don’t believe it," he said.   "They’ll be putting me in the ground, and I’ll be going, ‘Noooo, not yet!'"   But despite his condition, Baize is completely uncovered in today’s health care system.   "I’m too young for Medicare, I don’t qualify for Medicaid, I have too many assets for disability and indigent.   I’m one of those people that falls through the cracks.”

Bigger, louder, heavier, and longer
With pianos, instruments have changed over time by growing bigger, louder, and heavier, with the capacity to sustain notes for longer periods of time.   In the late nineteenth century, they also grew more uniform.   All of the registers on a modern-day piano have more or less the same color and sonority; that was not the case in Chopin's day, where each register had its own distinct timbre and color.   Many pianists have taken to experimenting with period performance, even if they spend most of their careers seated at modern Steinways.

Rectangular grands - $100
The sale included some unusual items such as a pair of rectangular grand pianos that were manufactured more than a century ago.   They were sold for a mere $100 each.   The state Department of Parks and Recreation had the dusty instruments, which were in need of serious refurbishing, in storage, said Fred Aguiar, secretary of the State and Consumer Services Agency, which is overseeing the garage sale.

Geoffrey Tozer passes
PIANIST Geoffrey Tozer was one of the most gifted musicians this country has known.   Born in the Indian Himalayas, he began piano lessons with his mother before moving to Australia at the age of four.   A child prodigy, he gave his first public performance at age five at the St Kilda Town Hall; at eight he appeared on ABC television with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, playing Bach's Concerto in F minor.   By 12 he had performed all five of Beethoven's piano concertos across Australia; two years later he was the youngest semi-finalist in history at the Leeds International Piano Competition.

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Remembering a multitrack recording innovator
Les Paul died Thursday.   In addition to a string of hits with his wife, Mary Ford, he is credited with the invention of the solid-body guitar as well advances in multitrack recording.   He was 94.   Piano Jazz remembers him with a program from 1999.

Free tix for piano pics
Scattered about the downtown Sioux Falls area are nine pianos, painted by local artists.   All in the spirit of promoting the upcoming South Dakota Symphony Season.   "It's the season of the piano, so what we've done is sprinkled piano concertos with the symphony orchestra throughout the season," said Music Director Delta David Gier.   Gier says this promotion is a great way to get the community involved and local artist Chad Lubbers, who painted the piano at the Phillips Avenue Diner, would agree.

Two out of ten tips to make piano lessons rewarding
5. Check your child's assignment.   Most students will try to avoid practicing songs they don't like.   It is your job as a parent to make sure the student is practicing all of their assigned songs.   Also make sure your child is making all of the corrections the teacher suggested at the prior lesson.

6. Help your child practice.   Many children don't know how to practice.   Explain to your child that practice means working slowly through songs until they are able to play through the songs without mistakes.

165 Steinways to appear on CBS September 20
OK, we’ve had about three different air dates now.   Sunday Sept. 20 is the LATEST date that the story about CCM’s 165 new Steinway pianos will be on CBS Sunday Morning.   It will air between 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m.   A planned viewing party on Aug. 30 on Fountain Square has been canceled and a new viewing party is in the works.   For the TV spot, 50 hours of taping will be edited down to 9 minutes.
See also: Four million dollars for 165 new Steinways

The coolness of Twilight
Since Edward has been seventeen for "a while" he has had plenty of time to build up his collection of music.   When Bella visits his bedroom, she finds Claire de lune in his CD player.   Bella surprises Edward by being able to name the song.   Bella says Claire de lune is "cool."   Definitely not your typical teenage reaction to music published in the early 1900's.

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Get wired with two pilots
The software takes the midi song file and coverts it to a proprietary file system where the controller box distributes this signal to the wrists pilots and finger sleeves.   The Finger Sleeves are placed on all fingers of both hands and the user's wrists lay gently on the wrist pilots.   When the music begins the wrists pilots guide your hands across the piano to a specific location and the finger sleeves receive a pulse to indicate which key to press.

Sit at middle-E
It is a lot easier to reach out for notes at arm’s length than to squash the arm in the opposite direction (think a tennis backhand stroke), so by sitting to the right you add an extra octave of ease to your keyboard possibilities.

Killjoy folk at Worthing Town Hall need to get a life
But if it encourages them to take playing the piano a bit more seriously, surely that's good?   But not in the eyes of the Town Hall killjoys.   They told the caf» owner he had the wrong type of music licence.   He had to have a licence for "public provision of a musical instrument" and musicians had to be professionals, not amateurs and had to be announced 48 hours in advance.

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An atomic bomb couldn't destroy this upright
"During the bombing of Hiroshima, everything within two kilometers from ground zero was burned and destroyed.   This piano was within that boundary and miraculously survived," said Mitsunori Yagawa, who restored the instrument and tours across Japan, playing it at peace concerts.

Live longer and exercise your brain
At the first lesson, Maysak passed out a copy of an article titled “The Ultimate Anti-aging Hobby,” which highlights how longtime musicians, especially pianists, have longer life spans and that students of any age can learn to play the piano.   “It’s a wonderful brain exercise,” McGrory said.   She added that the movement of playing piano also is good for her arthritic fingers.

Sea chantys on the seashore
Sunbathers are having a good old-fashioned knees up – by tinkling the ivories on a beach piano.   The open air piano has been unveiled by Coast cafe on the seafront just east of Splash Point in Worthing.   Customers of all ages and musical aptitude have been queueing up to give it a go.   Stefan Sykes, the owner of the cafe and chairman of Worthing Arts Council, said: "It is such a simple idea, and it has raised loads of smiles.   "We even had a jazz pianist stop and play for half an hour."

Tune the piano - even if nobody can play it!
Tuner William Gray, 78, has been given the task of making the four-hour ferry crossing to tune the island’s concert grand.   The historic instrument was shipped out to Canna in 1938 by Gaelic folklorist Margaret Shaw who died in 2004, aged 101.

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No hands - just 117 actuators
Seeing the instrument in photos and videos, the only thing that comes close to the scale of the Gamelatron is the gigantic piano-tron that was the musical heart of Heiner Goebbels's astonishing theatrical installation, Stifter's Dinge.

DS Lite now contains keyboard
Sure, Guitar Hero continues to dominate the video game music scene, but some people actually prefer to play the piano.   For those musicians, a new title for the DS called Easy Piano will let you tickle the ivories on your portable.

How to fit an entire orchestra into a garden shed
So who was the sharp-eared music lover who finally spotted that the person playing Liszt's 12 Etudes d'Ex»cution Transcendante wasn't Hatto but a Hungarian pianist called L…szl€ Simon?   Er ... iTunes.   His name, not hers, came up on someone's iPod.

Tapping, pinching, pressing, and flicking
The transparent sensor tracks up to 10 simultaneous finger touches--we assume that should cover most uses--making possible complex multifinger gestures such as closing an application by "crumpling" it with several fingers, or playing polyphonic sounds on a virtual piano keyboard.

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Digitized music from the 1800s
Its name is Sheet Music Back In Print Inc., and Francis Lynch, the Web company's founder and editor, is busy creating new, digital editions of thousands of forgotten songs and piano pieces dating from the late 1800s to the early 1920s.

How to properly floss your piano with fishing line
Bowed piano, if you're not familiar with this approach, emerged in the 1970s and the technique relies on (not dental floss!) rosin-coated nylon fishing line.   If you're intrigued by the video and want to hear more works for bowed piano, look for music by Curtis Curtis-Smith, George Crumb, as well as Stephen Scott of course.

Crunchy, soft, and sustained
Harold Rhodes was born on December 28th, 1910 in California.   By the age of twenty, he had developed his own schools, The Harold Rhodes School of Popular Piano, which encouraged self-instruction on the instrument.   During World War II, Rhodes was a member of the Army Corps where the first incarnation of his piano was created using aluminum pipes from military B-17 bomber wings.   Originally the instrument was used by bed stricken soldiers for therapy and rehabilitation.   The instrument ended up being a success and thousands were produced.   Rhodes was awarded the Medal of Honor by the United States government for his invention.

Two new works by Mozart
The International Mozarteum Foundation in Salzburg, Austria, said it had discovered two new works by Mozart.   The foundation said in a statement that it had "identified two works, which have long been in the possession of the Foundation, as compositions of the young Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart."

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Save $100K on a new Grand
"A $19,000 piano might not seem recession-friendly.   But it's a bargain when it's nearly indistinguishable from one that costs $100,000 more.   The sole difference: The discount grand is digital," wrote Popular Science reporter Sean Captain in his review.

Steinway Model D Concert Grand presented to President Roosevelt
In a continuing celebration of its 156-year history, Steinway & Sons commemorates the Steinway piano as a cornerstone of American music and culture.   Since 1853, Steinway pianos have captured hearts and inspired generations of Americans, from New York's Tin Pan Alley, to the stages of legendary jazz clubs and renowned concert halls to Hollywood studios and countless family living rooms in between.   Two instruments in particular are notable for their place in American history -- the White House grand pianos of 1903 and 1938.

Rock Piano add-on new from Modartt
Modartt presents the brand new Rock Piano add-on (YC5) for Pianoteq 3.   It is developed to meet demands for a specific pop/rock piano, modelled from a well-known Japanese grand piano, frequently seen on stages and very much appreciated by touring artists for its musical qualities and reliability.   Its bright and vivid tone makes it addictive and cuts through elegantly in pop/rock oriented mixes.

Narrower keys for smaller hands
When she's not performing, though, this University of North Texas (UNT) piano performance doctoral student is part of a collaborative study between the Denton campus and the UNT Health Science Center designed to measure the benefits to a pianist's hands when using a special modified keyboard.   This information can then be used to educate musicians who teach musicians and help prevent pianists -- especially those with small hands -- from developing pain caused by playing keyboards.

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"Well, here's another nice mess..."
So just in case anyone had forgotten quite how funny the Hollywood duo were, Neil Bromley and Simon Lloyd, both 38, decided to recreate the scene in central London.   They dragged an upright piano through Piccadilly en route to Jermyn Street - where the two men are bringing Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy back to life in a stage show inspired by their friendship and careers.

Fundraisers for piano repair
When you think of Cuba, several obvious things rush to mind right away.   Castro.   Communism.   Trade sanctions.   Cigars.   Crumbling buildings.   Havana.   Che Guevara.   The Malecon.   And, of course, music.   You might never have visited the famous small island beside Haiti, but to listen to Cuban music is to have a cultural experience of a country where music is both highly valued and utterly commonplace.   You could no more stop the Cuban people making music than you could expect birds to stop singing.

Test drive a new Boesendorfer
Or maybe it's just that cars and pianos are inherently similar: They both have pedals, hood-ish mechanisms, make noise, and sit users at some manner of control panel.   If that didn't blow your mind, then, well, you probably understand art.

Up on blocks near a fire pit
It was weathered, with ivory keys separating and falling to the ground.   Its legless frame was propped by cinderblocks -- three on one side, two on the other.   Its awkward angle enhanced its lapse into decay.   Nearby was a fire pit, some beer bottles and composting cardboard -- and no other clues.

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When 43 just isn't enough
"44 Pianos was a filmed and recorded performance project that was the product of being in a piano store that contained a very large number of pianos, which later I counted at 44.   I was intrigued if they could all be successfully played at the same time by a range of pianists from all walks of the musical spectrum."

Why is that C?
"Auditory stimulation is one of the first things that children react to," she explained.   "That's why Baby Einstein and programs like Kindermusik have been so successful.   Their brains are like sponges, they don't ask questions.   For instance, why is that C?   They just respond with yes that is C, and move along to the next thing."

Jam along with iTunes on your iPhone
By placing individual notes, entire chords, and even complete musical phrases onto a set of buttons that you can order and play, users can write and perform real piano music with chord progressions, "two-handed" patterns, and melodies in Allegro.

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Study with Skype
No stranger to the Internet, Biegel created and performed the first live audio/video concerts on the Internet in 1997.   Even way back then (ancient by Internet standards) he considered using the Internet for teaching, but it would be more than ten years before high speed connections and audio/video technology would catch up enough to make it work.

A nice idea for locals and visitors
The splendid people at Street Piano have distributed 30 of their inspirational instruments around London town for the delectation of inhabitants and visitors alike, as part of the Sing London 2009 festival.   Here's Jools Holland playing one and chatting to the BBC about what a nice idea it is.

More coverage from the BBC and the DailyMail.

Forbes going belly-up
Forbes Piano and Organ Company sent out mailers to its customers last week announcing its going out of business sale.   Hundreds of pianos will be discounted and go on sale this Saturday.   The Forbes family and its employees are getting ready for a historic sale closing the door on the 120-year-old family business.   It's a disappointing decision for the latest generation to own Forbes.

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Bear to become movie star
A piano prodigy from Rockford will soon have one more thing to add to her growing resume: international film star.   An Australian crew is in Rockford filming a documentary on 7-year-old Emily Bear.

The "Lightning Fantasy"
Some six months after the lightning strike, Cicoria dreamed that he was in a concert hall, standing behind himself, watching himself play the piano.   "I was struck by it; I was listening, and the music I was playing was not somebody else's.   It was my music!   I listened intently. ... It had a loud, crashing ending that woke me up."   The wake-up sent Cicoria to the piano, trying to "plunk out the notes" and remember the melodies.

One way to dance the toccata

You may be familiar with the Bach Toccata and Fugue in

D minor, but you've probably never seen it played quite like this:

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