First off, What is love. Let's use Webster's to define that: "Love - strong affection for something." What is affection? Again, Webster's; "Affection - tender feeling." There we go, We have "tender feeling" for the piano. Or, more aptly for what the piano does for us.
So then, how do we love thee let us count the ways.
We don't have to tune them. (unless your a piano tuner)
We don't have to hold them between our chin and shoulder. (Have you seen those contorted violinists?)
No chin or finger calluses.
Pianos don't go in our mouths. (Who isn't grossed out by those woodwind mouth pieces?)
We don't have to carry them around.
They have their own music racks.
There are no frets, finger holes, levers or valves to memorize. Or worse yet, we don't have to guess where the note is. (You know...the violin family.)
If you stay on the white keys your in C major and A minor. (Can't beat that)
Piano players get to sit while playing.
Pianos double as beautiful tables.
They follow classic furniture styles.
They use the same note pattern for each octave.
They come in all different colors.
Our pets like to loiter around them.
Pianos represent family tradition.
Now, let's continue. How many instruments allow you to play not only the melody but also harmony, rhythm, and even percussion parts all at the same time? How many fingers do you have? For that matter, two, three, even four or more people could play a piano all at the same time. If you had your friends gather 'round the piano and pluck some strings with guitar picks you could increase the number even further. A piano symphony!
So far we've discussed mostly objective facts about pianos. Consider some things on the subjective side. For many, the love for pianos is a result of what comes out as we play. There are little nuances of each piano. Like a loved friend or mate, we come to know all it's little idiosyncrasies. We know it will respond a certain way when treated like this or that. We memorize it's faults and put up with them for the joy of it's beauty.
Then there are the memories carved into pianos. We point out all the nicks and damage like a sailor proud of each scar. They become memory aids for the family history; This key was chipped when Sarah fell and broke her arm. She was ten years old. Now she lives.....and our memories flow out. Or, That dent happened when we left Minnesota to escape those brutal winters. Then there are the sentimental memories like; My grandmother cherished this piano. I'll never forget her playing it on those summer nights when I was just a little kid.
Unlike trumpets or violins that get stashed in the closet to hide away for years, pianos are on display for all to see. They can be admired until the day we die.They help us cope with life. Like a soul healing conversation with a cherished friend, we can sit to play and release our emotions into the air to float away if only for awhile. We push the keys and we become artists. We keep coming back to tickle the ivories and tickle our minds and hearts.
Thank you, Mr Cristifori for helping to bring us the Piano Forte, the soft and loud.......................music at our fingertips...........play on.
Cristofori and his Piano Forte
The Piano Forte (soft loud) is the first popular design of a keyboard instrument using mechanical hammers to strike the strings. The inventor of the Piano Forte was Bartolomeo Cristofori di Francesco about 1698.
This story came to me by the way of a person who was actually at the event. I take some creative license in description but not in facts--except for changing the names and places.
It was a beautiful evening in Athens, Greece, at the Theater of Heradicus Atticus. My informant was at the 2,000 year old theater to enjoy a performance by Ivan Smirnoff, a well-known Russian pianist. The piano sat alone on the stage, its lid propped up proudly. The lights dimmed and a hush came over the crowd. Mr. Smirnoff entered and took his seat. He began to play and then, as if the piano spoke to him, he stopped, lifted his hands, stood up and walked off stage. The audience was shocked. What had happened? Was Mr. Smirnoff ill? Did he hurt one of his hands? Did he need to use the facilities? As it turned out he was offended. Apparently the piano tuner had left the instrument in a condition that was not worthy of his performance.
What would happen? Would the Greeks have to go back home, play their bouzoukia, and drink Ouzo in sorrow? The powers at hand put a most aggressive solution into action. It was probably the most impressive offensive ever launched for the sake of a piano and its Maestro. As piano tuners we have all gone on our emergency piano service calls. You know the ones—“Help, I have a recital tomorrow and the B above middle C won’t play!!!” Or, “We have a concert tonight. Can you tune the piano in the next few hours?” This was far different. Or was it?
A helicopter (yes…really) was dispatched to find Mr. Karras, a well-known and skilled local piano technician. (It makes you wonder who was in the audience that night.) Anyway, after locating Mr. Karras by Greek swat team, he was escorted through the streets of Athens on a motorcycle, the police clearing the intersections to make the way open. He arrived safely on stage, wearing his casual clothes, tuning kit in hand. Can you imagine what was said? “Do your tuning, Mr. Karras, before this audience of thousands and Ivan Smirnoff, who must give his performance. He was not satisfied with the previous tuner’s work. Make it right!” So, like a pro, Karras did his job, patiently tuning all 88 notes. After about an hour he finished and stood to the side. Smirnoff took his place at the bench. The tuner stood by with his tuning hammer in his hand. Smirnoff was now playing to check his work in front of the audience of thousands, who were all anticipating the outcome. Would he walk off stage again? After a few moments Mr. Smirnoff stood up from the piano and moved over to the tuner. The audience sat on the edges of their seats. Mr. Smirnoff got down on one knee, bowed his head and spread out his arms to Mr. Karras, as if addressing a king in his court. Within seconds the audience rose to their feet in thunderous applause that seemed to go on forever. Gracefully the tuner bowed and left the stage. Mr. Ivan Smirnoff then played marvelously to the delighted audience under a beautiful Grecian night sky!
Now you may ask; why won't our customers show this gratitude after we finish our work? As a matter of fact they do. The next time a customer gives you a great big “thank you” and a strong handshake, a bag of cookies or sandwich and a soda to go, a warm smile after checking your work, or a nice tip discreetly stuffed into your hand as you walk out the door, remember Ivan Smirnoff who was not about to execute his fine performance on a piano unless it was properly prepared by a skilled piano tuner. Keep learning and keep up the fine tuning performances.