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Thursday, 19 December 2013

After the Tuning...

When tuning is finished, a tuner likes to be able to play the piano - after all those octaves, chords and repetitions, it is a relief to hear it sounding so much more like a real piano! Different tuners use different pieces for this kind of mini 'encore' at the end of the 'main program'.

At the moment, for my 'encore' I have been working on my own versions of Danny Boy and Waltz for Debbie. Both these pieces open themselves up to endless improvisation and encourage constant rethinking - fresh approaches seem to queue up for recognition.

Today, I noticed something I was not previously conscious of: The subtle changes from my more usual rendition were shaped by the piano I was playing!

The particular piano was an old Bluthner upright. Any tuner will tell you that these old pianos have a remarkably good tone. This one was no exception but although some neat action-work had been done, the action response was less than good.

I do not pretend, even to myself, that my technique is so very good - a better player than myself could easily make this old bird sing with its intrinsic beauty. My point today is that for most average players, if they are working on a piano in similar condition, fatigue will very quickly discourage persistence.

Today, after my 2 party pieces, I was done. The piano was tuned, my pieces were played and I'd had enough. By contrast, The other day I tuned a Knight K10. After tuning, and my little 'encore' was duly played, I was just warming up! I continued playing until I had to pack up my kit to get to my next call. When I stopped to put the piano back together, there was a little applause from upstairs - and an invitation to stay, and play all day! The difference was that the Knight was in excellent playing order, the Bluthner was not. 

If we want young players to know the spark of inspiration, to feel the rush of piano-creativity running through their fingers, we ought to provide the kinds of pianos that have the 'keys' to the kingdom of piano-playing!

Tuner's Journal


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