Piano Sound Production

Piano Sound Production

The modern day piano comprises many different things:

A keyboard made of 88 wooden keys covered in plastic. Black keys make up sharps and flats and are narrower and offset back from the white keys. 

A mechanism called the action that provides for hammers to strike the strings when the keys are pushed. 

All 230 strings are corresponding to individual keys to produce sound when they are struck. Strings are struck in groups of two or three to produce sound. Piano Sound Production

A pinblock is used for tensioning and tuning individual strings. 

The soundboard is created from wood to withstand vibration when the strings are struck. Vibrations are coupled to the soundboard via the bridge, a curved piece of wood and metal that serves as the displacement node for the vibrations. 

During the action process, when a note is played, the action lifts the damper felts from the strings so they can resonate when struck. The string will be struck by the hammer that is determined by how hard and how quickly the key was struck. The return of the hammer occurs immediately after the strike so as not to interfere with the vibrating strings. 

Thinner, shorter strings are used to produce higher sounds, with the strings thickening for the lower sounds. Two strings typically are used for upper notes, with two strings used to create lower sounds. 

With all of these pieces and action occurring all at once, things can go wrong to impact the sound quality. 

Inharmonicity – piano strings can be “off” by as much as one half-tone, with this changing over time. If one plays two notes an octave apart, the inharmonicity of the second octave will cause the sound to be “off” to a listener. To “solve” this problem, octaves are stretched, meaning that a note up an octave will be tuned slightly more to the frequency of the octave below. This ensures you “hear” the sound correctly. 

Aging – piano hammers are covered with felt, with the purpose being to spread out the impact of the hammer strike. These felts dry out, harden, and disintegrate over time. This serves to emphasize a decreasing quality of sound. 

Polarization – pianos are never a perfect instrument. The mechanism changes all the time. And while the action is built with vertical motion, eventually horizontal motion occurs as well, throwing the sound “off.” 

Think your piano isn’t producing the proper sound? Call us today. 

Why Adult Piano Lessons Help With Aging

Why Adult Piano Lessons Help With Aging

Want to keep your brain young and healthy? Want to bring a little bit of fun into your life?

Consider piano lessons. 

Many people believe they reach an age where they no longer can try something new. Where their ability to learn new skills is too difficult a task to take on. It’s simply not true. The real problem lies in that most don’t want to go through the awkward first steps of struggling to bring something new into their lives. They don’t want to embarrass themselves in front of their peers. Why Adult Piano Lessons Help With Aging

But developing new skills is vitally important in maintaining cognitive strength. And there is no time limit to starting. 

Learning to play music helps to guard against cognitive decline, memory loss, and the loss of being able to distinguish consonants and spoken words. And it’s not just a child this helps. It helps the first time learner, no matter what age they begin. 

Musical training helps to create lasting neural pathways in the brain. Learning and practicing give a person motor control and coordination, as well as listening skills that can boost the brain’s capacity later in life. This impact has been measured through a study that shows professional musicians have significantly more gray matter than non-musicians. And because music requires both the left and right brain for processing, it stimulates many different parts of the brain in a variety of ways. 

Music also helps reduce the difficulty many older people have with discerning conversations in noisy situations. This skill is most likely derived from the preciseness required and developed during music training. Memorizing notes, playing tunes, and improvising throughout the process helps tie cognitive skills together. 

In order to keep your body fit as you age, exercise is an important skill to take on in a variety of ways. The same holds true with your brain. If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it. 

The damage done to cognitive function by age can be reduced by stimulating the mind and encouraging the brain to continue to work in new ways. How you do that is up to you. 

Learn piano today. 

7 Reasons Music Is Good For Our Brains  

7 Reasons Music Is Good For Our Brains  

Want to keep your brain healthy? Step away from the television. It’s even a good idea to turn the radio down. 

Researchers are still discovering all the ways music enriches our brains, but the impact is undeniable. We know now that music plays a big part in helping our brains stay healthy and connected. We’re developing therapies and enrichment classes around music because of the differences it makes in people’s lives. 7 Reasons Music Is Good For Our Brains  

It’s not just listening to it; it’s playing it. Taking an active role in making music. 

Playing the piano offers something for everybody. You can play whether you’re 5 or 95. It’s a form of enjoyment that lasts for life. Need a reason to bring the piano in your life right now?

Right Brain, Left Brain

Studies now show that when a person is involved in making music, the white matter between the brain’s two hemispheres increases. This means greater communication between the two sides, which can mean faster communication and a greater approach to problem-solving skills. 

2.Brain Function

More white matter also makes a person better at making decisions, processing and retaining information as you learn it. It can keep you on course when having to change based on mental demands. 

3. Speech Processing

Understanding the parts of music can also help you understand verbal communication on a stronger level. Both music and speech rely on the same neural pathways for processing, which means you may become sharper at language skills including reading. 

4. Memory

Making music helps increase your brain function, including the ability to remember. It allows you to store and use information for recall, which can translate to other activities and help improve your retention overall. 

5. Focus On Emotions

Tuning an instrument and learning how it works with other instruments can put you more in tune with subtle emotional cues of those around you. It can help fine tune your relationship skills. 

6. Increases Motor Skills

Playing an instrument requires stellar hand-eye-ear coordination. It can help musicians at all ages complete complicated tasks throughout life. 

7. Slows Brain Aging

Studies are showing that the more music you bring into your life, the more adaptable your brain is to the aging process. Speech improvements are made and stick with you for life. Even those who haven’t studied music for ten years or more still remembered more sensory information, including auditory, visual and tactile data. Studying music helps. 

What would learning to play the piano do for your life?

Practice Sight Reading Piano Music

Practice Sight Reading Piano Music

The definition of sight reading is:

To read or perform without previous preparation or study

In reality, we all sight read every day. Pick up a new book and read it for the first time. That’s sight reading. It’s easy for us because we understand the English language so well.Practice Sight Reading Piano Music

But what happens if you pick up a book in French (providing you’re not also fluent in French)? The concept of sight reading is a little trickier. But if you study French for a bit, you can pick out some words you know. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

The same happens with music.

If you’re not a musician, understanding music may seem like a foreign language. That’s because it is. You might not understand where the notes lie on the staff, or the difference between bass and treble clef. But if you study it for a while, it becomes easier.

Mastery comes with practice. You don’t stick with the easy things; you expand and add more difficult concepts to your skill set all the time.

You can do that easily by training online. If you want new material, update your training materials so they don’t become stale. Look for sites online that have graduated exercises so that you don’t become bored at too easy of a level.

You can do that by purchasing method books. There are many books designed specifically for sight reading. They each take you through the practice methodically where each exercise builds on the one before. As it builds, it adds something new each time.

You can change it up every day. What makes you a successful sight reader is keeping it fresh every day. Read and play the music once. Then move to another song. Don’t jump beyond your skill level, yet focus in on things that will make you grow.

Be sure to look at the music all the way through before you play it for the first time. Not things like key signature, changes in clefs, and the dynamics of the piece. Look for chords and determine where they are. Also note the trickiest part of the piece – a series of sixteenth notes, for instance – and determine the speed you’ll need to play at to accomplish it all.

Then play, from beginning to end. Don’t stop if you make a mistake. Just keep playing. You’ll get better and better at it each time you try.

How People Judge Music

How People Judge Music

Think about music for a moment.

Music is something we listen to. It’s an auditory activity. We pop earbuds into our ears and listen to our preferred songs. We hit a few buttons in the car and listen to preselected music stations, all chosen for our preferred listening habits.

But is music just for listening? Do we judge what music we like simply by what we hear?

It’s not always the case.How People Judge Music

While music is auditory, we associate music with visual preferences. Watch your favorite musician in action. You enjoy the performance just as much as you do the music.

It also impacts musicians at every level of performance.

Classically trained pianists that compete regularly are often judged differently depending on whether judges have audio or visual access. It’s not just amateurs or non-professional musicians that judge it differently; seasoned judges view it differently as well.

When we see someone perform, we judge more than the music they create. We judge their passion, their creativity, the way they move, the theater they put into their performance.

Overall, humans have evolved to weigh visual information heaviest. We rely on visual cues to identify different traits. While you may be able to hear great playing in a recording, when you add in body movements, costume design, even performance backgrounds into the picture, it can sway how a person really feels.

Music is truly an art form, one that can change and grow depending on the person it’s impacting. Get into it. Let yourself go. And enjoy all it has to give.

How Piano Tone Is Created

How Piano Tone Is Created

What does it take to make beautiful music?

Even the best singer in the world didn’t start out that way. They sang because they enjoyed it. They sang with their favorites songs on the radio. They signed up for the school musical. And somewhere along the way a coach jumped in to help refine their music, hit the notes that made their voices sound magical. And they keep refining to this very day.How Piano Tone Is Created

The same goes with a piano. Piano refining is about creating beautiful piano sound. Piano tone doesn’t happen at the time a piano is built. Piano tone isn’t something that’s set and never needs work again. Piano tone is something that is acquired through work and restoration, over and over again throughout the life of a piano.

And it happens whether it’s with a newly built Steinway or a decades old piano you take loving care of every day.

Why?

Every time a key is pressed and a hammer jumps into place on a string, a system is put into play. If any part of that process isn’t pure precision, the tone of the piano is “off.”

This is where tone regulation comes into play. It’s a multi-step process. It includes:

  • Piano hammer voicing
  • Piano string voicing
  • Piano action regulation

Piano Hammer Voicing
Each time a key is pressed, the hammer strikes the string. This “whack” bends the string ever so slightly before returning to its original state. Piano hammer voicing defines how much pressure is behind the hammer when it hits the string, and how the bend in the string takes place during that contact. To regulate hammer voicing takes a variety of accomplishments, from steaming the hammer felt, to hardening the hammer, to adding or removing hammer weight, and more.

Piano String Voicing
Piano string is a stiff, taut wire. The wire is connected and wrapped around various bends and loops as it connects the pieces together. These bends and turns must occur in a certain way and be consistent to have the string vibrate in a certain way. If the turns or connections are off, the tonal effects will be anything but pleasurable.

String bends must be consistent throughout the piano. Notes use more than one string in order to produce sound; if one of the strings is off, it will impact on sound quality. String voicing is performed on all pianos, from the brand new to the decades old. Without consistent string voicing, tonal quality will always be off.

Piano Action Regulation
The piano action is the series of levers that connect the keys to the hammers. The way the hammer contacts the string defines the quality of the tone. The speed at which the process takes place also has impact. This is where action regulation comes into play. Different accelerations create different tonal qualities. With even a tiny adjustment in the speed, a tone can be dead on or completely off. Furthermore, if the action doesn’t provide precision connection between the hammer and the string, connection isn’t perfection and the result can be noisy and harsh.

For all of this to happen in unison, it takes a specially trained technician to fully adjust every part, every step of the way. With 37 steps in the process, it’s important to have an expert who knows how to retain tonal quality every time.

Is Music Therapy The Answer?

Is Music Therapy The Answer?

The more we use music in a variety of daily activities, the more value we are discovering it has in our lives.

A project out of the University of Cambridge is looking at the impact music has on a variety of things in our lives.Is Music Therapy The Answer?

Can music control your empathy and learning styles? Can the type of music you listen to and prefer be an indicator of how your brain thinks? Can your musical engagement show how you prefer to interact with those around you?

Yes.

Have you always seen yourself as an empathizer? Someone who has a good ability to tap into the feelings and thoughts of others? Chances are you prefer romantic, relaxing, unaggressive and slow music such as soft rock.

Are you a systems person? Have you always leaned towards sciences and math? You probably listen to music for the structural qualities of it. You prefer sophisticated music with a flair of a rhythmic beat, classical compositions, or traditional. Jazz.

These traits carry on throughout our lives.

More importantly, they can help us through the good times … and the bad.

Ever played or listened to music to relax after a long day of work? Or to help you study for a big test? Or to help you adjust to tragic news?

Music may be the key.

Have a child with autism? A spouse with depression? A mother with Alzheimer’s?

Music may be an answer.

We’re on the cutting edge of finding out the answer music has in our lives. The best way to benefit from all that is left to discover is to bring the joy of music to your life right now.

Has playing the piano been a lifelong dream? Why not make it a reality today.

How Playing Digital Piano Will Effect Your Skills

How Playing Digital Piano Will Effect Your Skills

How Playing Digital Piano Will Effect Your SkillsDoes your child have a desire to learn the piano? Is there a reason to choose acoustic pianos over digital? After all, if their dreams are being a part of a rock band some day, chances are they’ll be playing digital pianos for life.

But what about learning? Is there a reason to start with an acoustic piano? How will playing digital pianos effect your skills overall?

Right now, digital pianos are the best they have ever been. And digital pianos are reasonable substitutes for acoustic pianos. The new technology and lots of R&D have made high end digital pianos closer in sound and playability, and will provide a lifetime of opportunity. And in many ways, digital pianos make good instruments for a student to learn with.

  • They have metronomes built in, to help students learn and internalize time.
  • They have recording capabilities, that allow you to record and play back to review your accuracy.
  • They offer the ability to experiment. With all the different sounds and tools a digital piano will come with, it can keep a new student captivated for a very long time.
  • They offer a headphone jack, which means a student can play anywhere without disturbing those around them.
  • They offer music on a budget. A high end digital piano is more than affordable. And taking into account they don’t need tuning, it can provide you with a good investment for the months ahead.

While digital pianos offer many things, it is important to remember that there are certain things you will never be able to learn on a digital.

  • Digital pianos come close in emulating the sound and feel of an acoustic piano, it will never be as good as the real thing. If you want full control over sound quality and composition, you’ll only learn from the best – on an acoustic piano.
  • Digital piano pedals have not replicated the abilities of acoustic piano pedals. You won’t find the same gradations of sound quality.
  • Playing a grand piano is a different experience altogether. If you want to be classically trained and move into a professional status, you’ll have to learn on an acoustic piano. It’s hard to get into the same zone with digital as you can with an acoustic.

Looking for the perfect piano to bring into your home and begin learning the skills of playing piano? Stop by today. Compare your options. And decide on the perfect piano choice for you.

Why Piano Wires Brains Differently

Why Piano Wires Brains Differently

Playing an instrument has many benefits. Science continually is proving the good that comes from introducing music into your life from a very young age.

But is there a difference between instruments? Does playing a drum have the same benefits as playing piano? Evidence is consistently showing that piano is different.Why Piano Wires Brains Differently

Piano is the ultimate instrument when it comes to skill. It takes two hands working simultaneously together while navigating 88 separate keys. A piano player can play up to 10 notes at a time, creating a mirage of sounds independently based on which note they press.

Because a piano player must use both hands equally, they have to overcome right of left-handedness. In most people’s brains, they invariably show domination on one side or the other. But in pianists, the higher the level of playing, the more demonstrable their symmetry is. Because they consistently use both hands equally, they strengthen both sides of the brain on a regular basis. Meaning they reduce domination in one side over the other.

The frontal lobe is responsible for decision making. It has a minor role in problem solving, language, and social behavior. Because all parts of the brain are more equal, each of these skills is called upon throughout the day. Pianists integrate all areas of the brain more efficiently, and can tap into spontaneous creativity when applying it to daily tasks.

When piano players play, blood pumps to each region of the brain more than average. It helps refine motor skills, making the entire thinking process easier. More blood flow means less energy is needed to concentrate. And more of what we do every day comes naturally. Like creative and purposeful interaction. Better communication. Better multi-tasking.

And the good news is it doesn’t matter when you begin. Give your child the gift of piano when they’re young, or take up piano as a hobby as you head into retirement. Either will give you every advantage of improving your brain.

So You Want To Play Piano In A Band

So You Want To Play Piano In A Band

Your teen has been hinting around they want to start playing the piano. It could be they want to play in a band.

Being in a band is cool. They envision themselves as the next member of Rolling Stones. But before they ever head out on tour, music has to become a part of their lives.So You Want To Play Piano In A Band

Playing piano in a band is different than playing for yourself. You have to rethink the way you play.

Rarely will you be playing things you learned, and instead will be making things up as you go along. You improvise. You invent.

Which means the art of playing comes to be. You start thinking as a “we” rather than a “me”. You have to compliment every other member of the band in order to create a sound that works together.

Because of the wide variety of sounds on a digital keyboard, they are often tasked with creating many different sounds. Learning traditional piano is important, but it also becomes beneficial to understand how to incorporate other sounds as well. The challenge is to play those parts as if you are the other instrument, not as if you are a solo pianist.

It takes training.

It takes practice.

If you are playing like a guitarist, you have to build chords like a guitarist. If you are playing like a horn player, you can’t play multiple notes at the same time.

You also have to be a better listener, a better ear player. Like any skill, the more you do it, the better you will become. Playing by ear is often called upon whether mimicking popular music, or creating new sounds. Chords come together and compliment each other throughout the song. As you listen to others, it becomes easier to implement your own ideas.

Is your teen ready to start up a band? The first step may be to get them into music. A quality digital piano is the best place to start. Stop by today and we can help you find the perfect instrument.