1 – Introduction
— by Wes Flinn RPT
“Piano Talk” was originally written as Pamphlets for occasions when I sold pianos.The ideas in the pamphlets set forth the basic facts of ownership, emphasizing that a piano is actually a machine.
And, like all machines, a piano must be maintained in order to always be the machine that the customer purchased in the first place — whether purchased new or used.
Prelude: “Piano Talk” – real-life facts about piano behavior
►Introduction to Piano Talk
“Piano Talk” was written to present a real life perspective on piano ownership.The majority of piano buyers have never owned a piano before, and have made their decision to buy a piano based on some kind of fulfillment or enrichment to their lives: such as,
1) they took piano lessons when children, and haven’t practiced since, but always wanted to play piano; or
2) they have moved to home where space is now available, and always wanted a piano; or
3) they played a piano well at one time and some life-change separated them from keeping the piano; or,
4) their children are old enough to take lessons now, and, other good reasons, as well.
The most common of all reasons for buying a piano is a family decision that the children need to be exposed to a piano — and their dialog to a salesman always begins like this: “Here we are — please help us out — we need something dependable as cheap as possible — you never know what the kids will do — what if they don’t like it after we spend all this money….”
What these folks don’t understand is that the kids will probably never like the piano for sure if they don’t get a good one to practice on at home. There was an adage famous among teachers when I was in school that the sure-fire way to get your children to hate music was to make them play bad pianos! The truth that lies behind this adage is that if a student cannot repeat on their practice piano, wherever it is, at home or church or grandmother’s etc., what they have been shown to do on a teacher’s piano (usually in good condition) a young mind will automatically assume it is their fault rather than the piano, and therefore they are no good, not talented and so on — then here come the excuses and tears and anger, followed by no practice and no progress.
Whereas, if they are exposed to beautiful musical sounds they usually become fascinated and continue on to a good measure of success. Don’t ever think that children don’t know this difference between good and bad piano sound — I have seen children react in this way countless times in my teaching and selling and technical careers.
Here is the real clincher to this scenario: Try talking a child out of this mental state, try convincing them that they must love to practice because it will mean so much to them when they grow up, or when they enter that beauty pageant in high school, or get chosen to play for the Church Choir, etc. etc. Drop this idea now, because you will never win! The kid is right and you are wrong. Wrong, because you didn’t understand that each individual person has an innate ability to recognize beauty — this is God-given and does not have to be taught or explained — it may appear in graphics such as art, or in music, dance, or athletics, but it is there. The answer is to provide a decent piano for your student if you are really interested in decent payback on your investment.
My Mother was a Concert Pianist and Teacher of the highest order. She was a brilliant pianist who happened to love teaching more than all else.
She had a studio in the home where I grew up with 4 pianos – yes, 4 pianos! As a child I did not know the difference between Piano Technicians and family. I knew all their names and always wanted to be there when they came to work. And, you can imagine that with 4 pianos kept to perfection, they came often! My very first memory in life was looking at the keyboard at eye level, which was 27-inches tall”. I vividly recall demanding to sit in her lap while she was practicing. How she survived – or practiced – under this imposition is the big wonder. And she was my only teacher, as I refused to study with anyone else. She tried continuously to farm me out to “better teachers” for me. I never bought that line, and would simply leave the house on my bicycle and never make it to that other teacher. She never scolded me about this, as I’m sure she knew the reason why. She never punished with force, but she had a stare that could freeze boiling water, stronger than any stick.
Much of all this information you find here in “Piano Talk” was learned originally during those early years I shared with this prodigious Mother, her Piano Technicians, her Students and her Concerts.
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