August is rolling through! It is good to be having some students already coming back to lessons. Even though I have numerous of projects on the go, I love to see my students and enjoy the interactions with them so much. “They” say extroverts get their energy from being with people and there is definitely a large part of me that is like that. (Introverts apparently get their energy renewed by alone time, and I can appreciate that too at times).
I am working on solidifying the date for the Holiday Soiree – Sunday December 2 from 3-5 pm. Fall semester is quite short so I will be working on the programing from September onwards.
Fall semester officially begins Tuesday September 4, the day after labor day. For all students who will not have started lessons in August, their lessons will commence on that day. Sorry about Labor Monday students – if a Monday student wants a lesson that week let me know and I might be able to fit them in.
Don’t forget I am having my summer beach week, last vacation of the year, from Monday 8/27/18 to friday 8/31/18.
Over the holidays I was able to meet with Chelsea several times and have just said goodbye to her this week as she heads back to Austin for her third year. She is studying at the Butler School of Music at the University of Texas in Austin. She will not be back in time for the soiree in December but will be giving several concerts, one possibly at Croasdaile and perhaps another in Raleigh and I will have more details later in the year. She played a little of her new piece, Mendelssohn’s Variations Serieuses op. 54, so beautiful. Please go and listen to it if you are interested:
Parents and students often ask me about the difference between an acoustic and a digital piano, and why do I recommend an acoustic piano where possible. There was an excellent article in my Piano Price Point blog recently; this is an extract and you can read the whole article and see the diagrams here:
“So why upgrade? Longer keys mean better balance from front to back of the piano keys. The rotational inertia gives dynamic touch changing the feel as you play soft to loud. And finally, the spring loaded joints aid the reset. All of these work collectively to define the touch of a piano. When you compare that to a digital piano where the touch weight is simply raising or lowering a lead weight on a see-saw, the difference is significant. In addition to these touch elements, traditional pianos also have adjustable parts to refine the touch components as well.
Final considerations regarding touch: dexterity and injury. After nearly 30 years of teaching, I could tell as soon as I heard a student who had been practicing on a digital piano. How? They have not developed anywhere near the right amount of finger dexterity. You can “hear” that their technique is weak. Dynamic touch brings about correct dexterity. You can especially hear it on quick staccato passages. But the more important consideration is injury. Extended practice time on digital pianos have the propensity towards injury. I’m not a kinesiologist but I think it has something to do with repetitive loud playing on the digital piano. I believe that the force is somehow not absorbed the same way because digital pianos do not have dynamic key weight. When you come crashing down on the keys, if the static weight doesn’t change, the next absorption point is the hands and arms. The dynamic nature of the acoustic piano changes the resistance when you play and for whatever reason, I find it more forgiving.
When it comes to upgrading from a digital piano to an acoustic piano, there are also 2 sound concepts to be mindful of: The first is the continuous flow of sound which we commonly refer to as analog. The second is dynamic timbre referring to how the sound quality changes with dynamics and volume.
First, let’s look at the comparison between acoustic sound and digital sound. The acoustic piano creates sound by a hammer striking a string. The subsequent vibration is amplified by the soundboard into audible tones. How do digital pianos make sound? Digital pianos don’t actually create sound. They simply play back a digital recording of a real piano. But digital sound and live string resonance are different. Digital sound is made up of many frames per second to give the illusion of continuous sound. Natural vibration of a string is a continuous waveform that we perceive differently. I remember the first time I used Skype to speak with my parents a thousand miles away. My aging father found the technology almost baffling. It was great to see their faces and connect but is it the same as being there in person? No of course not. Both methods communicate effectively but the live version brings about a closer heart connection. A picture of a garden or being in the garden, a filmed version of a Shakespearean play or experiencing live theatre, hearing a recorded version of your favourite artist or seeing them live in concert ~ live is simply more than the digital representation. And yes I’m well aware of the fact that there are incredible creative moments that can only be achieved in the digital realm. It’s not that it lacks expression as its own form. My point is that digital piano will always and only be a facsimile of a real piano. And as it relates to acoustic analog continuous sound waves versus a digital recording of a piano transmitted through speakers, natural sound will always be the better choice.”
I know finance is the problem for so many people and pianos are expensive, but a pianist told me that the Trosa Thrift Store on North Roxboro Street often has numerous pianos in quite reasonable condition. You would need to have someone look them over for weak points but it could be a good starting place to acquire an acoustic piano. Pianos do need to be tuned at least once a year and the fees are somewhere around $140 for basic tuning.
Happy late summer everyone and be safe.