Wednesday, October 8, 2008

How to Master Practicing a Musical Instrument


Learning to master the discipline of practicing a musical instrument


The amount of time spent practicing will make or break you. Period. And at first most of us don’t like to practice, we see it as a "must do" as opposed to a "want to do" kind of thing, and we all have many other things we’d rather do. So how do you practice 30 minutes, an hour, 2 hours, or 3 hours plus, every single day? Well, it can be done. I practiced 6 and 7 hours a day for many years, and still practice at least 2-3 hours every day. To get to that point there are many things I have learned.


First off, if no one practiced there’d be no musicians. So some have figured out how to get it done. The thinking goes like this:


If we all woke up every morning to a new day, and as the day went along had to figure out when we’d be able to get our practicing in for that day, it just wouldn’t get done. A musician’s time is the same as anyone else’s. So there must be a different way to approach it, and there is.

When I was first faced with practicing daily, in 5th grade, I was no different than anyone else in that I didn’t mind practicing all that much once I got going, but I assumed I didn’t have the time, and as a young kid I didn’t want to work much. Laziness is an art in 5th grade. So my having to decide when I was going to practice, worrying slightly about it all day, in itself, was more effort than I wanted to take on. So it seemed to me that deciding that a certain block of time, each day, agreed upon beforehand, a slot that was the same for each day, would make things easier and solve a lot of problems. So after carefully reviewing the TV Guide (The main source of my other and what I considered more important, "Commitments"), I decided I could afford, as a 5th grader, to devote 30 minutes from 7 to 7:30 to practicing my trumpet. With that determination followed a few simple "rules" that lead to aspects of accomplishing my practice responsibilities that eventually fell into place-


1. That half hour would be "my" time. I made an agreement with my parents that they couldn’t come pounding on the door, yelling something about "I don’t hear any trumpet playing going on!" at 3 minutes after 7. At 7 I went in, 7:30 I came out. End of story. Of course you will hear trumpet playing going on. And it will be what I can get in during that half hour. But I can’t be expected to play non-stop for 30 minutes, starting immediately.


2. I’d know going in what I would be doing. Later I studied with DavidB.Evans in L.A. for over 20 years, and I’d follow a set routine. Similar idea. In 5th grade it was a brief warm-up, some lip slurs, work on band music, then play pieces for fun from songbooks. In later years my routine would take 5 and 6 hours of calisthenics and literature studies, covering all aspects of my playing. But I have always attempted to keep what I had to do, the "plan" for that day, as simple as possible. Open a stave book with the routine written out. Pile of books on stand, go to first book and the exercise listed in routine, play it. Go to next book. Etc.


3. I’d be sure to stay engaged. I listened to my sound, tonguing, paid attention, learned what I could, set out from the start to master what I was working on and then move on in the material. I had heard often that it’s not what you play, it’s how you play it, but I never really understood what that meant. But I figured that I shouldn’t just slog through the material because I had to. Sometimes doing what had to be done could be a bit of a slog, but I knew the only way to get to put any particular exercise behind me was to learn it and be done with it. By contrast I have had students that practice for months to a metronome (because I assigned them to), who actually never made the effort to really play along with it as they should. For them doing something as it should truly be done was "too much work". It just ticks off in the background. All they want to do is the absolute minimum, characteristic of how many young students do everything in their lives. They stay disengaged, disinterested and fundamentally lazy about doing what they are supposed to do. Then, along with that, they hold little confidence of their doing well. Gradually getting better through any effort eventually overcomes these low self expectations, and leads to growth in every other aspect of their lives. But there are far too many students that never experience that growth. Don’t be one of those students.


4. Work hard not to be one that looks for every excuse NOT to have to practice. The best thing you can do for a cold, or a sore throat is to practice. As a horn player it opens the breathing passageways, gently stimulates circulation and continues the body’s need to continue a normal activity. There have been many times that I have been very, very ill, have always practiced, often propped up on a pillow so I can play. It’s what I do. With each day that I don't play I set myself back, undoing everything I had done on my horn up to that point. Doc Severinson used to say, "One day missed and I notice, two days missed and the band notices, 3 days missed and the audience notices." Another saying generally believed is that each day you miss requires 2 days of playing to return to where you were. 2 days requires 4, 4 requires 8, etc. This is never a bad way to look at it, and in many ways it’s correct. However, it does happen that after a particularly long stretch of tough performances your body occasionally needs to take a day off, but those types of days never happen in 5th grade!


5. Rest as you practice. Some even say to rest equally with the time you play. If I say I have practiced 6 hours in a day, a substantial portion of that time is resting between exercises. In that six hours of practicing, there may be only 4 to 4.5 hours of solid playing. However, I did sit in front of the music stand, focusing on the material, the entire 6 hours.


6. Try not to play in pain. If playing becomes painful when you are practicing, stop, rest, and try again. If the pain can’t be overcome, allow yourself to heal by ending for the day. But again, the kind of pain I’m talking about rarely comes about until well into high school and beyond, and only as a result of hard, extended playing in marching bands, etc.


7. There is no mechanical device that will cause you to play better without practice. Many technological advances in an instrument’s construction allow for us to play as well as man ever has on many instruments. Some of the technological improvements in my current instrument allow for me to play far longer than I used to without fatigue, but nothing has saved even a minute of practice or simple "time behind the mouthpiece" that needed to be done.


8. When you are playing beyond the usual amount of time other people practice, know that you are working after others have called it a day. I was told years ago that when in competition with others you must eat, sleep and breathe your playing, or someone that is will take your spot. On a smaller scale this can apply to anyone at any level of ability.


9. I practice wherever I am. I always have my horn with me, even when on vacation, etc., and often practice in the car, parked somewhere. I used to get home from a day job at 11PM, eat something, jump in the car and then drive to a local supermarket where I’d sit under a street lamp in the parking lot and play until 3 or 4AM. The local cop would stop by to chat once in a while, and no one ever noticed, much less had reason to bother me. This applies all year long- in the winter I’d have the car idling with the heater on.


10. If at all possible, locate a good teacher. I can not underestimate the overwhelming value of having a teacher you respect and appreciate assisting you through this journey. To this day I still practice out of respect for a great teacher that stood by me and taught me all that I know.


11. Then once your playing for the day is done, it’s done, and forget about it until tomorrow.

Achieving the consistent accomplishment of a practice routine and gradually reaching an adequate level of discipline to practice enough to keep improving is not easy to do. My experience as a teacher combined with my own growth and experience has convinced me that learning to carve a block of time into your day to practice needs to begin by no later than about 7th grade, and starting by 4th- 5th grade is ideal. This is why as a 4-12th grade band director I have fought hard to create established programs by 6th grade, but have routinely met with resistence from administrators that are determined to "let kids experience, pick and choose" until well into high school. By then it is too late. Students will rarely accomplish to grade level when begun so late, and will never be ready to compete against others if they choose to audition into a college music program by their junior or senior years in high school. Most school administrators do not know or have experience with the process and discipline of mastering a genuine fine art or a skilled ability. For most people, there is nothing they have done that approaches this type of committment.


Parents often ask me if they should force their students to practice. The problem with that is that playing an instrument should never be about power plays between you and your child, resistance, rebellion or their fighting your authority. Nor should it ever be about their being begged to do something they absolutely do not want to do. Yes, broader issues of responsibility, work ethic and self discipline are at stake here, but fundamentally your student is learning to play a musical instrument- a skill which should be affirming, positive and ultimately enjoyable. Your student should recognize the opportunity to create something special- I tell students that learning to play is exactly the same as learning to speak, and that the sound they produce will always be uniquely theirs, a voice that the world has never heard before or since. A parent should allow for their child to explore their instrument gradually, with respect for both the instrument and the child’s ability to play it. Once the decision to play is made, quitting should never be an option. Obviously, allowing students to routinely quit simply because they want to at the moment shouldn't be considered. Making recordings of their progress can be encouragement, as well as having recordings of performances by professional musicians going on around the house for the child to listen to must be provided. If your child refuses to practice their clarinet or play at home for enjoyment, and have never heard the original clarinet introduction in "Rhapsody in blue" or don't know who Benny Goodman is- then the fault of their lack of interest doesn't lie entirely with them.

Lastly, anyone can play, and anyone can become a great musician. The size of someone's fingers, lips or whatever is totally irrelevant, regardless of what anyone tells you. A child of small stature can still play the tuba, thin lips can still play trumpet, etc. If the child is willing to work for it through practice, anything is possible. Parents often cite a "natural gift" their child has to pick out melodies on the piano, or to make a sound on an instrument, as if that will help them or is somehow required to play well. The truth is, based on my experience, those who rise to become professional musicians were often not the ones for whom things initially came easily. Those that rose to the top are those that learned early to work at it. In fact, the "talented" ones often don't last long past when their "talent" is no longer there to make things easier for them. Some natural ability may ease the path into learning to play when first beginning, but it will never reduce or replace the amount that they, just like everyone else, needs to practice.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Consequences of Music Education

There will be alarming consequences to the long term lack of quality music education in our schools, and these consequences are not what the educational community expects. As a music educator and active performer that holds two graduate degrees in music education, I am well aware of the ignorance that keeps today's high school graduates from going to classical or jazz concerts, opera, etc. The future for the previously staple disciplines of opera, classical performance and even jazz is dim, as their audience passes on, taking their love and appreciation for established music with them. But that is not the consequence I speak of. Those circumstances are a logical consequence of what we are doing to music education.

My concern lies with students that no longer possess a passion for anything strong enough to spend years working toward a skilled ability. My concern lies with students that have become alienated by genuine discipline, and foreign to skill expressed through a talent that took years to develop, skills that that cannot be easily and immediately understood or reproduced.

As a teacher I used to paraphrase a quote by Arthur C. Clarke that "Any sufficiently developed discipline is indistinguishable from magic". There is no longer a desire in our students for that kind of magic. Not in art, not in science, not in mathematics. Literature is abandoned as too difficult, and simple reading for pleasure is now beyond the effort level devoted to other of life's activities. However, our schools are obsessed with the immediate gratification of "winning" some contest or other, or getting a higher test score, generally at the expense of a "rival" school or school district. We now concern ourselves with superficial test scores, sports games and activities that are pure entertainment, rather than personal development, with the "joy" coming from the loss of whomever has been bested.

Academics have become exercises that are quickly fixed, transient and ephemeral, with little if any actual permanent gains. Nothing requires focused personal insight or effective self- analysis, for fear of criticism or failure. Little is understood well enough to be reproduced, few things are consistent and all means nothing a week or a month after it happens. Avoiding this dire situation in the character of our students is exactly what music education, particularly band programs, worked hard to address and develop.

In today's educational environment everything must come with an ability to quickly turn things around. We lost this week, we can win next. Next year's annual yearly progress must go up by 2 points and then all will be alright. Long term academic discipline in the arts or any other devotion threatens being able to always start with a clean slate. Nobody gathers knowledge beyond what they can use for an immediate assessment.

When practicing a half hour a day for a middle or high school student can be exchanged for soccer or basketball practice with friends that require no homework, combined with the promise of attention from an audience at a sports game, the musical instrument always loses. Which means the student always loses. For a win at an sports game never stays with you. By contrast, the prepared for performance of a piece of music never leaves you.

I am not against sports or athletics. There will always be students best suited by a fine athletics program, many of whom may have no interest in playing an instrument. However, all students do not gain from sports participation, and many are harmed by being forced to participate in competitive sports when arts programs are not available or of poor quality. The argument that students today are overweight and unhealthy is simply not solved by the simplest, cheapest solution- more sports, and in many situations, sports causes far more harm than good.

I tell my students that a commitment to a musical instrument will put a look in your eye that can never be erased, that you are someone of substance, someone that must be taken seriously. And there is no way to earn that look without years of careful, focused effort on improving your playing, physically and academically, and thus, yourself.

-- Greg Sage is a performer (trumpet) having toured with many national bands, as well as an arranger, a teacher for over 20 years, K-12 principal and writer. He is currently performing with the Catfish Kray blues band and the High Country Brass Drum and Bugle corps. He can be reached at gregsage@mesanetworks.net, and is currently opening a fine arts center for home school and public school students looking to get more from their band program offerings. He hopes to contribute occasionally to this blog, and would enjoy hearing from anyone in the music community on any aspect of music education, performance, learning to play an instrument, writing and arranging.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

"Whisperings" Piano Concert Comes to Atlanta, GA

"Whisperings: Solo Piano Radio" comes to the Atlanta area for a concert event on September 9th at 7:00 pm at PianoWorks in Duluth, GA, just north of Atlanta. This unique solo piano concert series features the piano artistry of Wayne Gratz, Michael Dulin, Greg Maroney and David Nevue, the founder of the "Whisperings: Solo Piano Radio" broadcast.

Atlanta, GA (PRWEB) August 11, 2006 -- "Whisperings: Solo Piano Radio" comes to the Atlanta area for a concert event on September 9th at 7:00 pm at PianoWorks in Duluth, GA, just north of Atlanta. This unique solo piano concert series features the piano artistry of Wayne Gratz, Michael Dulin, Greg Maroney and David Nevue, the founder of the "Whisperings: Solo Piano Radio" broadcast.

The Internet-only broadcast has vaulted a community of artists, long since forgotten about by major record labels, back into the ears of consumers. Launched in August of 2003, "Whisperings: Solo Piano Radio" is now the #1 broadcast on Live365.com, the Internet's largest radio network. The solo piano program enjoys the participation of over 80 pianists and composers from around the world and is enjoyed by over a half a million listeners every month.

"Whisperings: Solo Piano Radio" invites you to come and enjoy an evening of storytelling and song with some of today’s most talented players and composers. There will be a meet and greet with the artists afterward.

To view further details on the Whisperings concert, visit
http://www.solopianoradio.com/events.htm

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Press Contact: David Nevue
Company Name: MIDNIGHT RAIN PRODUCTIONS
Email: email protected from spam bots
Phone: 541-741-3262
Website: http://www.solopianoradio.com

Fifteen Schools in Fifteen Years: Education Through Music Announces Addition of Four New Partner Schools

On the fifteenth anniversary of its inception, Education Through Music, Inc. (ETM), a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing comprehensive music instruction to inner-city children, is thrilled to announce the addition of four partner schools in New York City, bringing the total number of ETM partner schools to fifteen.

New York, NY (PRWEB) August 15, 2006 -- On the fifteenth anniversary of its inception, Education Through Music, Inc. (ETM), a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing comprehensive music instruction to inner-city children, is thrilled to announce the addition of four partner schools in New York City, bringing the total number of ETM partner schools to fifteen. Starting in September 2006, ETM’s music programming will be in P.S. 38 and P.S. 155 in East Harlem and at St. Anthony and St. Athanasius, two parochial schools in the South Bronx. The addition of these schools bring the total number of ETM partner schools to six in Manhattan, eight in the Bronx, and one in Brooklyn, which together serve over 7,500 students who would otherwise have limited or no exposure to the arts.

P.S. 38 and P.S. 155 each serve close to 500 children in grades Pre-Kindergarten through fifth. St. Anthony serves 225 students in grades Kindergarten through eighth, and St. Athanasius serves 360 children in grades Pre-Kindergarten through eighth. Every child at these schools, including those in Special Education, will receive weekly music instruction in general music, recorder and chorus from an ETM-trained teaching artist. All four partner schools embody ETM’s mission to provide a standards-based, sequential music education that reinforces essential cognitive skills. Since its founding in 1991, ETM has worked to enhance children’s academic performance and general development by promoting and providing the sustainable integration of music into the curricula of inner-city schools. By supporting students’ learning in music, ETM strengthens their ability to learn in all areas.

“We are thrilled to partner with four additional inner-city schools to help fulfill their vision of providing a skills-based music curriculum to every student,” stated Katherine Damkohler, Executive Director of Education Through Music. “As with every one of our partner schools, ETM will provide P.S. 38, P.S. 155, and St. Anthony and St. Athanasius schools with well-trained teachers and regular assessment.”

About the Schools:

P.S. 38 is located on East 103rd Street in East Harlem, New York. The school is dedicated to the educational development of all of its children through an atmosphere of cooperation, respect, and academic excellence. The principal of P.S. 38 is Norma Caraballo.

P.S. 155 is located on East 117th Street, also in East Harlem. The school is partnered with a number of arts-based organizations as part of its mission of ensuring that the educational needs of every child is met in order to ensure their successful participation in a diverse and increasingly challenging society. The principal of P.S. 155 is Alejandrina Hendrick.

St. Anthony school is located on Mansion Street in the South Bronx. The school is dedicated to improving its students’ academic and spiritual needs through a complete education, one that includes music and the arts. The principal of St. Anthony school is Frances Acosta.
St. Athanasius school is located on Southern Boulevard in the South Bronx. The school is committed to providing an effective and value-centered alternative system of education that emphasizes character, compassion, and values. The principal of the school is Marianne Kraft.

The addition of P.S. 38 and P.S. 155 bring ETM’s presence in East Harlem to five public and parochial elementary schools. All of these schools are located in and around in the triangular patch of East Harlem north of 119th Street and east of 1st Avenue that is the lowest-income census tract in the city, according to the latest Census report. St. Anthony and St. Athanasius schools are located in the South Bronx, which according to the Census report, is the poorest urban area of the country, with a poverty rate of over 30 percent.

About Education Through Music, Inc.
Founded in 1991, Education Through Music, Inc. (ETM) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation that promotes the sustainable integration of music into the curricula - including reading, social studies, math and science - of elementary and middle schools in order to enhance students' academic performance and general development. ETM is unique within the arts-in-education community for our focus on academics and changing the current state of the educational system. ETM’s unique methodology engenders systemic changes in teaching practices that help children learn, think and socialize better. ETM works with a variety of groups throughout the country, including individual schools, local and statewide education agencies, and arts and cultural organizations. We serve our partner schools from multiple angles and involve all members of the school community in reforming the school to incorporate the arts. Music is taught in its own right and also as a means of supporting learning in other areas. For more information, visit us at www.ETMonline.org.

Contact:
Emily Estock
(212) 972 4788

# # #

Press Contact: Emily Estock
Company Name: Education Through Music, Inc.
Email: email protected from spam bots
Phone: 212-972-4788
Website: www.ETMonline.org

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Eight Keys to Buying a Piano #4 - Craftsmanship Determines Quality

Craftsmanship is Another Essential Key That Determines the Quality of the Piano



Craftsmanship breaks down into three categories. There is the craftsmanship of how they build a piano at the factory and delivery to the retailer. Then there is the craftsmanship of the dealer in prepping the piano so the piano will work properly in your home. And then there is the craftsmanship of your tuner/technician who will help you preserve and maintain the quality of the instrument so it will work well for you and sound good over the lifetime of the instrument.



All the piano manufacturers I've mentioned earlier have excellent craftsmanship in their factories and work with certified dealers who they make sure know how to correctly prep their instruments for sale. So it is important to go with an accredited dealer when you are buying your new piano - this insures that your new piano will have the proper craftsmanship when you bring it home.



A Retailer to Check Out - Woods Piano Company



A dealer that I highly recommend is Joe Woods, of Woods Piano Company. Joe sells the highest quality pianos (Steinway, Mason & Hamlin, Yamaha, Petrof, Seiler, Bluthner, August Forster, etc.), and his store's prepping of these fine instruments is the best you can find anywhere. His reputation as a dealer is simply unparalleled.



He does focus on the higher end acoustic pianos and as with most things, you do get what you pay for. However, due to his special way of doing business, Woods Pianos are of the highest quality, while his pricing is moderate as compared to other dealers selling instruments of a similar caliber.



Woods Piano Company does ship nationwide. Joe is also great at giving piano buyers service and helpful information. So if you have an interest in high end quality acoustic pianos, check out Woods Piano Company where they can at least help you sort out what type of instrument might best meet your needs.


See this video on the piano soundboard.








For more information about pianos, see this Piano Newsletter Site - Piano Talk Online and a Colorado Piano Site - Colorado Piano Buyers Guide.

Eight Keys to Buying a Piano #3 - Materials Make the Piano

The Quality of The Materials Make the Piano



After the design, the next key component of a piano is the quality of the materials. What are the materials used in a piano? Pianos are 80% wood, and the rest is made up of felts and metals (cast and iron frames). What type and quality of wood is used in the different parts of the piano, whether the wood was kiln dried, etc, all make can make a difference in the way the piano plays and sounds.



How can you judge the quality of the materials used in a piano. Actually, this is very tricky because you can't really judge the quality of the materials from the look of the piano. All pianos look pretty good new, and even if there were flaws you might have a hard time noticing them.



Since the quality of the materials used in a piano can be so hard to gauge, here's what I generally recommend: your safe if you go with Mason & Hamlin, Steinway, Yamaha, Bluthner, Seiler, Petrof, August Forster. I'm comfortable with these manufacturers, and you can't generally go wrong buying one of these pianos.



A Retailer to Check Out - Woods Piano Company



A dealer that I highly recommend is Joe Woods, of Woods Piano Company. Joe sells the highest quality pianos (Steinway, Mason & Hamlin, Yamaha, Petrof, Seiler, Bluthner, August Forster, etc.), and his store's prepping of these fine instruments is the best you can find anywhere. His reputation as a dealer is simply unparalleled.



He does focus on the higher end acoustic pianos and as with most things, you do get what you pay for. However, due to his special way of doing business, Woods Pianos are of the highest quality, while his pricing is moderate as compared to other dealers selling instruments of a similar caliber.



Woods Piano Company does ship nationwide. Joe is also great at giving piano buyers service and helpful information. So if you have an interest in high end quality acoustic pianos, check out Woods Piano Company where they can at least help you sort out what type of instrument might best meet your needs.


See this video on the piano soundboard.








For more information about pianos, see this Piano Newsletter Site - Piano Talk Online and a Colorado Piano Site - Colorado Piano Buyers Guide.

Eight Keys to Buying a Piano - Key #2 - The Blueprint of What a Piano Will Be

A Piano's Design Is the Blueprint for What a Piano Will Be


Pianos are still essentially an old world technology. Bottom line - the sound quality, playability and durability of a piano begins with the following three factors. Its design, materials and the craftsmanship in assembling it. On the outside pianos can look to be very similar. But there are many intricacies that go into constructing a piano that affects how it plays and sounds. Some of these include scaling, action design, and the tension resonant structure (the soundboard, the pin block, plate, and rim or back of the piano).



I know that this area can get kind of technical, so I want to give you some easy guidelines on picking the right design for the kind of use you intend for your piano. Generally speaking, it is always optimal, if you have the resources, to go for a grand piano. Grand pianos just have a superior design over an upright and the action and sound is just better. But if you don't have the space or don't want to spend the money for a grand piano, then you should look for a larger upright (a studio to a full size upright). Consoles can be ok if you are a beginner or beginning intermediate player. But if you want an instrument with more sound and resonance a full or studio upright is something you should consider. I would generally recommend staying away from spinet style uprights - they just don't have the action or sound that will measure up to any type of players' needs.



A Retailer to Check Out - Woods Piano Company



A dealer that I highly recommend is Joe Woods, of Woods Piano Company. Joe sells the highest quality pianos (Steinway, Mason & Hamlin, Yamaha, Petrof, Seiler, Bluthner, August Forster, etc.), and his store's prepping of these fine instruments is the best you can find anywhere. His reputation as a dealer is simply unparalleled.



He does focus on the higher end acoustic pianos and as with most things, you do get what you pay for. However, due to his special way of doing business, Woods Pianos are of the highest quality, while his pricing is moderate as compared to other dealers selling instruments of a similar caliber.



Woods Piano Company does ship nationwide. Joe is also great at giving piano buyers service and helpful information. So if you have an interest in high end quality acoustic pianos, check out Woods Piano Company where they can at least help you sort out what type of instrument might best meet your needs.


See this video on the piano soundboard.








For more information about pianos, see this Piano Newsletter Site - Piano Talk Online and a Colorado Piano Site - Colorado Piano Buyers Guide.

Eight Keys to Buying a Piano - Key #1 - An Introduction

I have been passionate about pianos for as long as I can remember. Over the years of working on pianos (I've been a registered piano technician and a performing pianist for over 25 years) and in talking with my customers I've seen over and over again that buying a quality piano can be a challenging and daunting task. So I've finally decided to put together this Piano Buying Guide - to share with you the essential keys I've learned over the years to make sure you buy a quality instrument that will bring you pleasure for a lifetime.



An Introduction to Buying a Piano - You Get What You Pay For



Never get a piano simply because it is cheap or free. In the absence of an accurate appraisal, you may succeed at first with an inexpensive front end acquisition that soon after turns into a rear end headache. I have seen too many people under such circumstances giving up on their excitement and enthusiasm towards playing the piano simply because they made a poor buying choice. You should consider the purchase of your next piano to be a major acquisition that requires careful consideration. As with most major purchases, you do get what you pay for. If you want to buy a piano that will work well and last for many years, you should to expect to pay at minimum $3,500 to 5000 for an entry level console/studio piano and $10,000 to 12,000 or so if you are looking for an entry level grand piano. Of course you can expect to pay a lot more if you are looking to get a more precious brand like Steinway, Bosendorfer or Sauter but this gives you a basic range to start with. If you see a new piano for less than this, chances are that it just won't measure up to your needs over time.



A Retailer to Check Out - Woods Piano Company



A dealer that I highly recommend is Joe Woods, of Woods Piano Company. Joe sells the highest quality pianos (Steinway, Mason & Hamlin, Yamaha, Petrof, Seiler, Bluthner, August Forster, etc.), and his store's prepping of these fine instruments is the best you can find anywhere. His reputation as a dealer is simply unparalleled.



He does focus on the higher end acoustic pianos and as with most things, you do get what you pay for. However, due to his special way of doing business, Woods Pianos are of the highest quality, while his pricing is moderate as compared to other dealers selling instruments of a similar caliber.



Woods Piano Company does ship nationwide. Joe is also great at giving piano buyers service and helpful information. So if you have an interest in high end quality acoustic pianos, check out Woods Piano Company where they can at least help you sort out what type of instrument might best meet your needs.

See this video on the piano soundboard.







For more information about pianos, see this Piano Newsletter Site - Piano Talk Online and a Colorado Piano Site - Colorado Piano Buyers Guide.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Harlem Stride Piano - Early Jazz Performances - 1920's Music

Performing the Early Jazz Style - Harlem Stride

by Eben Goresko

About eight years ago I began a quest to broaden my piano
performance repertoire into the early jazz,
Harlem Stride style. I previously studied jazz with a number of teachers and listened
extensively over the years to a wide range
of jazz greats from Charlie Parker
on through Mile Davis and into the present.



After hearing Fats Waller's piano solo performances I
was blown away. I decided from then on to learn to play
as much of his music as possible. I proceeded to work up
to the task at hand by transcribing his solos, through
intensive listening and review of his
performances. As a practical matter all of this required
on my part a total revamp of my playing approach and
style.


I will write further about early jazz, Waller, and what I
have learned about performing his music. This is my
most recent recording and performance of "Handful of Keys".
It is one of the great piano solos in history of jazz.



Handful of Keys




I also have included for contrast and as a change of
pace, my most recent performance of a Judy Carmichael Arrangement of Hoagy Carmichaels's
"Lazy River".



Lazy River



You can get additional information about pianos on a number of different sites that I have built. Piano Talk Online is a piano site that has a variety of articles and resources that relate to piano maintenance, playing, history and Colorado Piano Buyers Guide is a rich regional piano site that has exhaustive information about buying and selling pianos and other related resources.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Piano Talk Online and Colorado Piano Buyers Guide Blogs

Hi:

I'm Eben Goresko. I am looking forward to talking about a broad range of topics pertaining to pianos; the past, present and the future. So stay tuned!

See my piano site Piano Talk Online and my colorado piano site, Colorado Piano Buyers Guide.