Prepared Piano

A “prepared piano” is a piano that has been modified with objects placed in it in a very special way as dictated by a composer of a “prepared piano” composition. This is a valid practice, but may only be done as prescribed below, and only on a piano designated by Piano Shop technicians and under their supervision.
Non Traditional Piano Use Guidelines
Prepared Piano Policy

1. All structural changes to any piano must be approved by and, in most cases, performed by a Piano Shop technician. This includes removing the lid or other case parts and attaching anything to strings or soundboard to modify the sound.

2. Marking strings. Small stickers may be used on dampers or agraffes to mark notes. Please purchase stickers that are easy to remove such as the small colored dots. Care must always be used when touching dampers as they are easily bent. Never use masking tape or any other adhesive that may leave a residue. The performer is responsible for removing any stickers immediately after any performance. There should be nothing applied directly to the strings. This includes white-out, tape, stickers, nail polish, etc. In some cases chalk may be used to mark steel strings but never the copper-wound bass strings.

3. Striking and plucking strings. Strings may be struck or plucked with fingers or guitar pick. (Since oil from the skin can tarnish strings please wash hands well before touching any string.) Other devices must always be of a material that will not mar or scratch strings. On steel strings, only materials that are softer than the steel string may be used, such as brass or aluminum. Copper-wound bass strings must also be struck or plucked with a material softer than the copper. Acceptable material includes wood, plastic, rubber, etc. Piano Shop technicians are available to help the performer select materials that will not damage the piano. In some cases, literature calls for the insertion of screws or mutes between piano strings. Again, a material softer than the string must be used, such as brass or aluminum.

4. Extreme volume. There is a fine line to be drawn between passionate musical expression and outright banging on a piano. Please use good judgment when playing above a forte. Harsh playing is damaging and will not be tolerated.

5. Common sense. Most damage to pianos can easily be avoided by using good judgment. Please consult with the Piano Shop technician before using unconventional techniques. Usually, an alternative can be found to satisfy both the performer and this policy.
Remember that a “prepared piano” is a special preparation required for a “prepared piano composition”, and except for this unusual circumstance pianos should only be used in the “normal” way.

Steinway School

All -Steinway School Definition

The All-Steinway School designation is given to an institution directly by Steinway & Sons.
An inventory analysis must be submitted to Steinway & Sons before approval can be granted.
Requirements to become an All-Steinway School
1. 90% or more of the acoustic pianos owned by an institution must be Steinway & Sons, Boston or Essex pianos.
2. A Steinway approved maintenance program must be in place. It is important to the reputation of the institution as well as to the reputation of Steinway & Sons that all pianos in an All-Steinway School be kept in performance quality condition. If this stipulation is not met, Steinway & Sons reserves the right to remove the All Steinway designation from this institution.
3. Steinway pianos are to be placed in the performance spaces and piano teaching studios and, preferably, in piano major practice rooms.
4. Steinway-designed pianos are to be placed in all other teaching studios, classrooms and practice rooms.
5. Pianos not designed by Steinway & Sons (i.e. historical instruments must be handled with discretion).
6. The institution cannot participate in any loaner programs from another manufacturer.
7. Existing inventory that is to be considered for qualification as an All-Steinway School must be in good condition which will be determined by a Steinway factory representative.
8. All-Steinway Schools are subject to periodic inspection by a Steinway factory representative to be sure that the pianos are being maintained in accordance with Steinway standards. Steinway & Sons may request that an inventory analysis be conducted periodically.
9. An approved number of technicians who service All-Steinway Schools are required to participate in the Steinway & Sons Technical Programs.
10. All-Steinway Schools in the Americas must maintain an inventory of at least 10 pianos.
*Steinway & Sons reserves the right to amend this definition.

Piano Tuning, Regulation and Voicing

Piano Tuning, Regulation and Voicing
by Jack Houweling
There are three basic areas of piano maintenance: Tuning, Regulation, and Voicing
Tuning is adjusting the tension of the piano strings to bring them all to the proper pitch. The fourth A (the A above middle C) is a starting point on the keyboard, it is set to 440 Hz. or cycles per second. Every thing else is tuned in relation to the A. Proper pitch is important for ear development.
Regulation The piano keys and action (the mechanism inside the piano) are made of leather, wood and felt and will compress and change shape with wear. They need fine adjusting to bring back for proper function. This will improve the playability of the piano.
Voicing deals with the tone quality of your piano. From bright to mellow the tone can be changed with voicing. Softening or hardening the hammers is one part of the process to change the tone. A technician can voice and change the tonal personality. There are many words used by technicians and piano players to describe the sound of a piano. here are just a few ….dark, tinny, crisp, tubby, muddy, weak, metallic, woody, rough, and clean.
How does your piano feel? What does your piano sound like? The degree of changes is dependent on the piano design and condition. Talk to your piano technician she can bring out the best in your piano.

When to tune….

When should you tune your piano?

by Jack Houweling on August 8, 2010

Most piano manufacturers recommend tuning two to four tunings a year to keep the piano sounding good and working properly.

An out-of-tune piano or an unresponsive touch can discourage even novice musicians. Regular maintenance also can prevent expensive repair in the future.

Most piano components react to climatic changes and to normal wear. Professional care and periodic adjustments are necessary to maintain the natural excellence of your instrument.

Some tuning instability should be anticipated during the first year because of the elasticity of the piano wire, combined with the piano’s normal adjustment to the humidity changes in your home. A piano which has gone a long time without tuning may require extra work .

Regular service and a qualified piano technician will give you the most out of your piano.