VIEWS: 120 PAGES: 11

									                                         COURSE OUTLINE:

THE MODERN PIANO: (or, what is a piano?)

      The “Acoustic” Piano Defined
      Types of Pianos
      What is NOT a piano

THE MODERN PIANO: (and, how does it work?)

      Principle Categories of Function
      The Resonant Structure
      The Piano Action - Overview
             The Grand Action
             The Vertical Action
      The Cabinet or Case
      Constraints of the Instrument


      Buying a Piano
      Care and Maintenance – Concepts and Application
             Environmental Factors
             What You Can Do Yourself & What You Should Not Do Yourself
             Piano Services Defined
             The Piano Technician


      Tuning and Temperament
      Cleaning, Repair and Reconditioning
      Regulation Concepts
      Voicing Concepts
      Rebuilding, Remanufacturing and Restoration
      Moving and Storage


      Myths and FAQs
      Developing a Common Language

                                COURSE OUTLINE DETAILED

THE MODERN PIANO: (or, what is a piano?)

   1. Acoustic Piano defined
         a. Machine – transference of energy
         b. Tool – for expressing musical ideas
         c. Musical Instrument – percussion, string
   2. Types of pianos - birdcage, square, spinet, pso, console, consolette, studio, upright, grand, concert
         grand, hybrid instruments – Disklavier, etc.
   3. Nomenclature:
         a. Action - keys, hammers, wippens, dampers, pedals
         b. Belly – rim & beams, soundboard & ribs, bridges, pinblock, strings, plate
         c. Case - cabinet parts and hardware
   4. What is NOT a piano
         a. Keyboard
         b. Organ
         c. Synthesizer
         d. Digital piano

THE MODERN PIANO: (and, how does it work?)

Principle Categories of Function

               Mechanism for exciting string – hammer assy
               Mechanism for stopping string movement – damper assy
               Musician interface – key & keyframe assy, pedal assy
               Escapement assy – wippen
               Vibrator assy – string, terminations, bridge
               Tension holder – plate, block, pins
               Resonator – soundboard, ribs
               Tension holder – rim or case, beams, M&H “tension resonator”
               Furniture – aesthetics
               House – home for action and belly

The Resonant Structure or Belly:

   1. Design Concepts
         a. Downbearing
         b. Crown
         c. Power and projection
         d. Sustain
         e. Tone color
         f. Scale
            g. Dynamic range, responsiveness
            h. Physics of sound - acoustics
   2.   Rim and Braces (defined; materials)
            a. Inner rim
            b. Outer rim
            c. Braces or beams
            d. Mason & Hamlin: Tension resonator
   3.   Soundboard
            a. Soundboard – wood type, thickness, grain orientation
            b. Ribs – profile, grain orientation
   4.   Bridges
            a. Construction, bridgepins, termination points, bass bridge, bridge caps
   5.   Plate
            a. Material, struts, V-bar, bushings, pinblock flange, hitch pins, agraffes, Capo
   6.   Pinblock
            a. Materials, types, fitting
   7.   Tuning pins
            a. Material, sizes, threads, nickel plated, blued
   8.   Strings
            a. Stringing scale, wire gauges, wound strings, duplex scale, aliquots, counterbearing angle

The Piano Action:

   Design Concepts
      o      Leverage, mass and friction – Dwt, Uwt, Bwt, Inertia
      o      Tone and touch (ESP)
                  Evenness or consistency
                  Speed of repetition
                  Power
      o      Tone color, dynamic range,
      o      Scale

The Grand Action:

   1. Keys and keyframe
         a. Key pins
         b. Keyframe felt
         c. Backchecks
         d. Key Bushings
         e. Capstans
         f. Glide bolts
         g. Cheekblocks & keyframe pins
   2. Hammers and shanks
         a. Hammer felt and moulding
         b. Shank, flange rail, flange and center pins
         c. Knuckle
         d. Drop screw
         e. Hammer rest cushion or rail

   3. Wippen
         a. Jack – escapement
         b. Repetition lever, repetition springs
         c. Drop leather
         d. Flange rail, flange and center pins
   4. Dampers
         a. Damper wires and heads
         b. Damper felt
         c. Guide rail
         d. Underlevers, flange rail, flanges and center pins, top levers and sostenuto tabs
   5. Pedals, pedal box and trapwork
         a. Pedal rods and trap levers
         b. Sustain pedal, pitman and damper tray
         c. Sostenuto, monkey and sostenuto rod
         d. Unacorda and keyframe spring

The Vertical Action:

   1. Keys and keyframe
         a. Keybed
         b. Keyframe, keyframe felt
         c. Key pins
         d. Key bushings
         e. Capstans
         f. Action bracket studs
   2. Hammers and hammer butts
         a. Felt and moulding
         b. Hammer butt and catcher, flange rail, flanges and center pins, shanks
         c. Hammer rest rail
         d. Spring rail
         e. Action brackets
   3. Wippen
         a. Jack and jack spring– single escapement
         b. Backchecks
         c. Stickers and abstracts
         d. Damper spoons
         e. Flange rail, flanges and center pins
   4. Dampers
         a. Felt and block
         b. Damper levers and wires, flange rail, flanges and center pins, spoon felt
         c. Damper springs
   5. Pedals and trapwork
         a. Trap levers, dowels, springs
         b. Sustain pedal and damper rod
         c. Sostenuto, mute, etc
         d. Soft pedal
   6. Types of vertical piano actions
         a. Spinet – indirect blow, compressed
         b. Console – direct blow, compressed or full
         c. Studio – direct blow, full
           d. Upright – direct blow, full

The Cabinet or Case: (aesthetics and function)

   1.   Fallboard, keyslip, cheekblocks
   2.   Music Desk
   3.   Lyre
   4.   Rim or Sides
   5.   Top
   6.   Kneeboard, toe and bottom board (verticals)
   7.   Lidprop
   8.   Hardware – hinges, casters
   9.   Finishes – Types, Care

Constraints of the Instrument

   1.   Dynamic range – ppp to fff
   2.   Repetition – or, how fast can this baby play?
   3.   Power and projection
   4.   Grand vs. Vertical
   5.   Small vs. large piano
   6.   Historical vs. modern



   1.  Read “The Piano Book,” by Larry Fine
   2.  Establish your price range
   3.  How will it be used (frequency and intensity, concerts?)? By whom? And where put?
   4.  New or used?
   5.  Grand or vertical?
   6.  Which brand?
   7.  Shopping
           a. Where to look
           b. Evaluating pianos – what to look for and look out for
           c. For comparison - play and listen to a very-high-quality, expensive instrument
           d. What to expect from a piano dealer
   8. Hiring a technician to inspect a piano
   9. Do you need a piano dolly for frequent “in-house” moving?
   10. Moving and storing a piano


   Environmental factors:

   1. Relative Humidity
         a. Defined

        b. Seasonal changes
        c. Problems (Excessive, Insufficient, and/or Fluctuating relative humidity)
                 i. Tuning instability
                ii. Structural damage – cracks, loose glue joints, rust and corrosion
               iii. Action (or touch) problems – “sticking keys”
2.   Temperature
        a. Effects on pitch
        b. Response and duration of effect
3.   Climate control
        a. Controlling the room climate
        b. Installing a climate control system for the piano
4.   Sunlight
        a. Effects on pitch
        b. Damage to cabinet and keys
5.   Piano Placement
        a. Heat vents, radiators, and wood stoves, drafts, sunlight and windows, laundry room,
            basement, kitchen or bath proximity, sight lines
        b. Musical issues – basement as dungeon, central or peripheral location (TV, computer)
        c. Sight lines for accompaniment and for chamber playing
        d. Room acoustics
        e. Dolly or truck?

What you can do yourself (and things you should not do):

1.   Vacuuming the piano (Grands string area / top of plate only)
2.   Cleaning and polishing the case, keys and hardware - products to use and to avoid
3.   Removing foreign objects
4.   In case of spills – get it dry now! And call your technician.
5.   Play it!
6.   Accessories
         a. Lighting
         b. Benches – overloading, height, cushion, adjustable
         c. Heel prop for kids
         d. Casters and caster cups
         e. String covers, sound reduction

7. The music desk - overloading
8. The “prepared” piano – how to and how not to
9. Emergency unison tuning
10. Move the piano out from the wall or across the room.
11. Look at your piano from a “technical” perspective and evaluate the tone and touch.
12. Budget and schedule for regular service by a qualified piano technician

Piano Services Defined:

1.   Maintenance schedule
2.   Tuning and pitch correction
3.   Cleaning and repair (including vacuuming)
4.   Regulation
5.   Voicing
  6. Reconditioning
  7. Rebuilding/remanufacturing
  8. Restoration
  9. Refinishing and touch-up
  10. Moving and storage
  11. Appraisal

  The Piano Technician:

  1. Tuner or technician?
  2. Where to find – university, yellow pages, piano teachers, piano store, local orchestra,
  3. The Piano Technician's Guild, Inc. – RPT or Associate?
        a. The Piano Page:
  4. Area of expertise
        a. Tuning only
        b. Tuning, repair, regulation, voicing, concert prep
        c. Tuning, repair, regulation, voicing, concert prep, rebuilding (partial or full)
        d. Rebuilding, repair, regulation only
        e. Restoration
        f. Players, harpsichords and fortepianos, electronics, reed organs, pipe organs?
  5. How to evaluate a piano technician
        a. Work habits, experience, attitude, communication and interpersonal skills, promptness and
            common courtesy
        b. Handling of tools, case parts, other objects in your home or studio
        c. Tuning, Tone, Touch
  6. How a piano technician learns the profession.


Tuning and Temperament:

  1. Overtone (or partial) series
  2. Beats and coincident partials
         a. Unisons
         b. Octave types
         c. Major and minor thirds, fourths, fifths, major and minor sixths
  3. Temperament
         a. The problem
                  i. Just (pure) and tempered intervals
                 ii. Syntonic comma
                iii. Pythagorean comma
         b. Historical solutions – dealing with the “wolf”
                  i. Pythagorean
                 ii. Meantone
                iii. Well –temperament
                iv. Equal temperament
         c. Chamber playing – pianos, woodwinds, brass, singers and strings
  4. Pitch standards through history
  5. Unisons and Stability
6. Problems in practice:
      a. inharmonicity and “stretch”
      b. false beats and other extraneous noises (duplex)
      c. poor scaling and small pianos
      d. bass strings – mismatched, buzzy
      e. poor voice – hard hammers, unevenness
      f. room acoustics – Doppler effect, effect on voice and touch
      g. instability
      h. pitch correction – “it’s gotta be in tune to be tuned?!?”
      i. hazards of pitch raising
7. Aural tuning and electronic tuning

Cleaning, Repair and Reconditioning:

1. Cleaning
      a. Soundboard
      b. Case
      c. Strings
      d. Action
2. Common problems (and most likely culprits):
      a. “Sticky keys”
      b. Buzzes, rattles and squeaks
      c. Blurbling (double striking hammers)
      d. Poor repetition
      e. Unevenness in musical voicing
      f. Capo/duplex noise
      g. String breakage
      h. Pedals don’t work well
               i. “Soft” pedal isn’t soft enough
              ii. Sustain pedal doesn’t sustain or is uneven
             iii. Sostenuto pedal
      i. Can’t play it softly – notes dropping out
3. Common Repairs
      a. Flange repinning – wobbly or sluggish parts
      b. Replacing broken hammer shanks
      c. Adjusting pedals
      d. Replacing broken strings
      e. Aligning hammers to strings
      f. Spacing rubbing parts
      g. Adjusting springs
      h. Needling and reshaping a hammer
      i. Tightening screws, repairing stripped screws
      j. Regluing parts
      k. Adjusting “leaking” dampers
      l. Removing foreign materials
4. Reconditioning
      a. Action and Keys
               i. Rebushing keys
              ii. Reshaping hammers
             iii. Rebushing and Repinning flanges
             iv. Cleaning and Lubrication
              v. Replacing keytops
             vi. Strengthen springs
            vii. Dampers
           viii. Steaming parts
             ix. Bolstering knuckles & wippen cushions
       b. The Belly
               i. Strings – Cleaning, seating, spacing, leveling
              ii. Tuning pins – crimp beckets, tighten coils, level pins, CA glue to tighten
            iii. Tightening plate screws
       c. The Case
               i. Clean and polish case and hardware
              ii. Touch up finish
            iii. Tighten screws

Regulation – Concepts and Guidelines

1. Goals of Regulation: E S P – Evenness, Speed, Power; Wide dymamic range and color palette
2. Escapement
3. Leverage, Mass and Friction
      a. Inertia and mass
      b. Balanceweight, downweight and upweight
      c. Friction
      d. Static and dynamic measures
4. Aftertouch
5. Overview of Regulation procedures – Circling around towards the target
      a. Vertical
      b. Grand
6. Quick and Dirty – “needs to be done yesterday, you say”
7. General guidelines (vertical and grand)
      a. Hammer blow
      b. Let-off (& drop)
      c. Backcheck distance
      d. Key dip
8. Considerations: Venue, climate, player(s), frequency of service

Voicing – Concepts

1. Goals of voicing
2. Describing tone
3. Tone color, hammer hardness, and partials
4. Voice and dynamics
5. Hammer voicing and piano voicing
6. Volume, Sustain and Projection
7. Voice and musical styles or genre
8. Una Corda voice
9. Venue and room acoustics
10. Voice and tuning
11. Voice and regulation
12. Overview of voicing procedures
Rebuilding/Remanufacturing and Restoration

1. Rebuilding/Remanufacturing
      a. Design considerations
                i. Venue
               ii. Market value
             iii. Technical constraints
      b. The Belly
                i. Replacing vs repairing the board
               ii. New bridge or old bridge
             iii. New board design?
              iv. Replacing the block vs using old block with oversize pins
               v. Restringing with new vs old string scale
              vi. Plate modifications – duplex angle and length
             vii. New agraffes
            viii. New damper action
      c. Action
                i. How far do you go in replacing parts?
               ii. Geometry and mass issues
             iii. Gotta be a genuine “Your Brand Here” part?
2. Restoration
      a. Reasons for restoration
      b. Limitations and constraints
                i. Obsolete action parts

Refinishing and touch-up

1. Types, lustre and properties of finishes
      a. Lacquer
      b. Polyester
      c. Oil, wax
      d. Water-based finishes
2. Touch-up

Moving and storage

1. Moving pianos
      a. Do it yourself? Or hire a professional?
      b. Equipment – dolly, skidboard, pads, straps
      c. Grands and verticals
      d. Safety
      e. Protecting the piano
      f. Protecting the location – hardwood floors, carpets
2. Storing pianos
      a. Climate control
      b. Critter control
        c. Insurance


1.   Wholesale value
2.   Retail or market value
3.   Insurance valuation
4.   Depreciation


1. Myths and FAQs
    What makes a piano go out of tune?
    How often should a piano be tuned?
    Is electronic tuning OK? Is aural tuning OK?
    How do I clean the piano and how do I clean under the strings?
    What do I use to clean the keytops?
    How do I take care of the finish?
    “Pianos cannot be put against an outside wall”
    “You need to play the piano to keep it in tune”
    Playing on a “bad” or “heavy” piano as a practice technique
    Does learning about the technical aspects of the piano get in the way of playing it?
2. Useful Words
    Blurbling
    Blocking
3. Conventions:
    Naming notes – A0 through C8
    “Bass section” means that section of piano strings that contact bass bridge (but sometimes refers
      to all wrapped strings) but does not refer to the bass clef
4. Just because a piano has a problem doesn’t mean the piano is a bad piano.
5. “Is there any section of this piano that you do like?”
6. Interplay, interweaving of pianists’ perception – tone-predominant or touch-predominant?
7. Concert logistics and scheduling with your technician.
8. Technician’s job is to help you feel more comfortable with your instrument so you can focus on
    the music. The piano “disappears”, and all that is left is the music.


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