Tuning pianos is what some people call a dying art. There are not a lot of people with the skill and musicality required to tune mechanical pianos.
I feel fortunate to know a few local piano tuners who work with me and my student families to set the stage for satisfying music.
Ello Piano Service comes recommended by a colleague at The Next Step Academy. Saun C. Lee is also available to tune pianos throughout the Houston area. Finally, Action Piano has moved instruments for me, and they tune instruments as well.
According to Saun [pronounced "sohn" to rhyme with "John"] C. Lee, tuning a piano annually can help students:
Hear and appreciate sounds both at and away from the piano, which builds sensory resilience
Sense differences between moods and shades of sound, which helps with social referencing
Enhance their musical phrasing, which transfers to ease and fluidity in daily speech
Enjoy playing the piano, which increases internal motivation for home play, aka practice!
As I continue to teach lessons and stay in touch, I want to thank you for being part of my community. I have seen clearly during the pandemic that the people in my life make it rich and fulfilling: I am so grateful you are one!
In case you haven't read my first music book, you may find it on Amazon. I drafted this on an Amtrak 🚞 from New Orleans to Atanta, enjoying the wheels' rhythm, tree-screened views and time and to think and write.
If you've gotten into tidying during this home-centered time, and if you love books the way I do, you might be interested in passing some books along to readers outside your quarantine pod. Although little free libraries are fun and easy places to donate, you can also sell your books online from home through Powell's.
Finally, I am a big fan of the Libby app which lends me audiobooks and digital text on deadlines that motivate me. Find it on Amazon.
The piano keys are backward -- opposite to what they used to be. In early days of keyboarding, harpsichord manuals (keyboards) were made with big ebony keys and small wooden keys topped with white ivory. In other words, the default, letter-name keys were originally black. However, because this made it difficult at times to perceive the space between the keys, where one key ended and another began, the colors were switched to what we use today. Now that borders between letter-name note keys and their sharps and flats are clear, it can be even easier to see the twelve-note pattern that makes every musical keyboard, from piano to organ to melodica to harmonium to accordion. As I describe in my short book Piano without Tears, understanding this simple pattern can allay any anxiety around gettint to know your keyboard: As long as I can count to twelve, I can get the piano: 5 black keys + 7 white keys = only 12 different keys! There are five black keys on any keyboard, formerly five white keys. Take a look at the bottom picture above. Notice that the black keys come in groups of three black keys and two black keys in an alternate pattern: a group of two / a group of three / a group of two / a group of three, etc ... There are seven white keys formerly seven black keys. They are organized according to their position among the black keys. Notice that there are four white keys directly touching the three black keys. There are also three white keys directly touching the two black keys. Students in my playful mindful studio build a foundation of understanding by learning every single one of these twelve keys in multi-sensory ways. What do you see in this pattern? Comment to let me know :-) or write me c/o music at notearspiano dot com
I would not try to fuel my car by shifting gears. But as a new singer I did just that. Like many people, I tried to use muscles in my face and jaw to create sound.
My students learn that the body is made to sing using three different mechanisms:
Whether or not your life goals include singing, practicing extended exhales can bring inner steadiness. Start with the humming sound "mmmmmmmmmm." After a relaxed in breath, send a hum out on any tone (there is no ‘correct’ pitch) and keep going for as long as you like. When finished, enjoy the relative silence of your simple breaths.
This PDF can help you remember to try this whenever you have a spare minute and a need for peace. (Playful Mindful Stress Tamers).
Elisabeth C. Swim
Playful Mindful Music Guide