The nights are drawing in & the season for pyrotechnics has begun across Britain. Starting with Halloween, it gathers pace, culminating with a bang at the New Year. Revered highly by the ancient Greeks & worshipped by the Zoroastrians fire has fascinated man since the dawn of time. The old traditions of history, like the Hindu wedding ceremony & the Olympic torch, all depict a harmonious relation between fire & music. So as I wander throughout London, I can just imagine the City’s historical grandeur consisting of gaslights, architecture & beautiful music – perhaps some of the finest works ever created.
European classical music has been created to grip, captivate & provoke thought. Could the creative purity remain unadulterated, not confined to today’s chart topping convention! Today’s instrument definitions have changed whilst fire remains constant. The contrast intrigues me. Classical music is deceptively simple in execution & creation, despite the complexities of the stories & human emotions conveyed. With our shorter attention spans, craving more extravagant visual displays, is our aesthetic appreciation rising at the expense of our musical concentration?
Is our changing perception evolutionary or revolutionary? Was there an event that tipped the balance to make us resonate more with transverse light than with longitudinal sound waves? Is the trend reversible? If so then what would the catalyst be? Only a few days after Guy Fawkes Night, I leave you with these thought provoking questions. Meanwhile, I am hoping for a new, more fulfilling sound leading into 2016.
Each of these areas has its own personality, offering great diversity and a colourful mix throughout the Borough of Greenwich.
I really enjoy the history of Eltham, what with the quintessentially English royal Palace, and I wish so much that I could travel back in time and see what life was like there in the Fifteenth Century!
Having moved to London recently, I make the most of what the city has on offer, and you will see me going to concerts at the 02. I have also been fortunate enough to have walked over the top of the Dome, and taken the cable car across the Thames.
I really enjoy the trip aboard the Thames Clipper along the riverbank into Westminster. I especially love this trip at night time, marvelling at all the amazing buildings and bridges lit up as you make your way to Westminster Palace.
My favourite sights include St Paul’s cathedral, the amazing Shard at London Bridge, and Tower Bridge at night time. It was fascinating to discover that Tower Bridge is classed as a ship, and has a captain manning the helm at all times.
The reason I’m writing this blog about Greenwich is chiefly the result of my time spent exploring the Borough following my recent relocation to London.
Time is such an interesting concept, and I guess the Borough of Greenwich is the modern day focal point of time, “the Prime Meridian Line”.
I have so much more to say about the Borough, what with music and entertainment over the years, but for now, it is time for me to go!
Whenever it is time to move to a new city there is always excitement about the many opportunities that one is likely to encounter when moving to greener pastures. When the excitement dies down though, the worrying begins. or anyone involved in the music industry, there are the practical considerations, including the logistics around a safe relocation of the musical instrument. These are on top of the anxiety about the relocation being worth the hassle.
For pianists, who need to account for their piano, in addition to themselves in a new environment, the following factors need to be given thought.
A piano is a large, heavy and bulky instrument. The mere thought of moving it across the city could raise ample concerns. Piano removals is unlike any ordinary furniture and fittings. It requires planning, a safe pair of trusted hands, plus an assurance that the task would be carried out safely, in a prompt and expeditious manner, without damage to the instrument or the properties it is being moved to and from. For those tight corners within a house, narrow hallways, or on the rare occasions when the piano is on the top floors, special tools such as forklifts and cranes may need to be employed, and the level of noise within the surrounding neighbourhoods would need to be minimised.
Cost of moving the Instrument
Musical treasures are very personal to their owners. The process of transporting such revered, often costly gems, is not like any other weighty luggage. Instruments like the piano need to be transported in bespoke containers, with sufficient padding and insulation. When the transport is over a sizeable distance, the carriage of the instrument needs to be performed using heavy goods vehicles (HGVs). Time and labour become important aspects, and associated costs need to be budgeted beforehand.
A piano needs to be regularly tuned every once in a while. Regular maintenance helps with instrumental longevity and personal creativity – a vital combination for any music lover. Therefore, post relocation, the job of finding the most qualified piano tuner technician begins. Depending on your final destination, the rates and operating hours of such personnel in the area may be significantly different, and finding the best, most qualified pair of hands, will demand time and effort to carry out research on this vital service. This requirement would most likely appear soon after your move, particularly because an instrument often needs a check up and professional clean following a move, which could cause the sound to be out of balance due to unexpected vibrations during transportation.
It is also important to consider if there will be sufficient space for you to place your piano in the residence you are moving into in the new city. You have to ensure that the building you are occupying has enough room for all your personal belongings as well as your instrument. Spacious surroundings lead to richer sounds, plus personal comfort and prevention against accidental damage.
It is important to carry out research and ask plenty of questions about your new surroundings, particularly before finalising your relocation plans. Fortunately, with the advent of modern technology, there are a vast array of resources available online, to get you started. At AMH Pianos, we are always here to help you should you require industry leading piano removal services. For any queries you may have about transporting your piano, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
Playing the piano is fun until it is time to have it tuned. Finding anyone in the service industry can be a very confusing frustrating experience for pianists. It is imperative that you select the best tuner for your piano. You can’t just go by appearances and if you don’t even know where to start searching, you could easily be conned by someone who doesn’t know much about pianos or even how they are tuned and maintained. Looks can be deceiving.
It is important therefore to do your research on the person that turns up to tune your piano. Check that they can provide documentation proving that they are certified to do the work. That way you will be assured of quality service. There are many reasons why you should verify the qualifications of your tuner. They include the following.
Once you have ensured that your tuner is bona fide, you can relax in the knowledge that you are putting your piano into capable hands. Entrusting your priceless instrument into the wrong hands would be a waste of money; it would also put your initial investment at risk. You need to rest assured that the expert will do what he/she is trained to do, to give you the best tunes on your piano, which may be worth just about anything in the whole wide world.
It is always good to verify the qualifications and identities of service providers that we allow into our homes. For reasons of personal safety and security verifying the identity and credibility of the individual or organisation is even more important in a large city like London. Top rated professionals, as a matter of pride, would always aim to provide you with value for money. They will also ensure that work is carried out in a safe and expeditious manner with the personnel having the appropriate insurance cover.
In 2015 it is remarkably easy to ascertain information about the person you wish to employ for tuning or repairing your piano. In fact, a growing number of people are beginning to provide reviews and comments to assist you to make the right choice. A few minutes of research can save you time, money and hassle in the future.
You may already be familiar with the importance of having your piano tuned regularly. However, one common question is always directed towards me: How often should I have my piano tuned? Conventional wisdom, as well as textbook training generally gears men and women within our profession to give a piano a bi-annual once over. However, this figure is only a theoretical guide, and not the be all and end all. Real world factors, the environment, and even your level of interaction with the instrument, all play important part in determining the level of care that is essential for your piano’s optimum health.
Your piano is made of different materials, both metallic and non-metallic that contract and expand according to seasonal variations. Changes in weather impact each material differently, and the difference in thermal expansion/contraction values, heat absorption, and consequently the continuous effect of climate change on the inter-connected instrument components,, inevitably takes its toll on the overall sound and tonality of your piano. Couple this with the often unavoidable presence of thermostats, central heating systems, air conditioners and coolers, and night storage heaters within our homes, schools and other buildings housing the piano. The perfect pitch cannot be maintained ad infinitum, unless of course, one was to simulate something akin to a temperature controlled lab surrounding the piano.
Perhaps however, the most important factor within the whole equation carries more weight than any other points discussed above: Humidity! Not only does the presence of high humidity causes the instrument to lose its level of sound, the exposure of your instrument to high humidity and moisture can cause ever lasting damage to the instrument.
Below are some of the factors that will ensure you only need to have your piano tuned twice a year.
Finding the perfect and stable environment for your piano will ensure that you only have it tuned twice a year. Look for a location where there is no air conditioning, fire place, radiator, direct sunlight or any type of heating devices. Place your piano away from outside walls and in a place where the humidity doesn’t change all the time.
• Material and humidity
The primary material of your piano is wood: one that is highly affected by small seasonal changes in humidity. Humidity change also contributes somewhat to the natural heat related material expansion and contraction. This swelling and shrinking can cause cracks within the wood and affects the tuning stability of your piano. Placing your piano in a location where humidity is stable, and minimal, will ensure that the tuning of your piano lasts longer and on the whole, stays relatively close to the twice yearly tuning cycle, whilst curtailing the need for full scale restoration.
• Professional piano tuner
Finding a good, capable professional to tune your piano is another way of avoiding unexpected tuning. A qualified piano tuner will tune your piano and let you play for at least two hours straight or even more. If the sound quality stays constant after this initial test, as long as other factors are stable and you do not carry out a move of the instrument, you will only need to have a professional tune it twice a year to preserve its tune.
Even though a piano that is well maintained and kept under favourable, stable climates, may demo good sound over a calendar year without being tuned, it is advisable to have a professional tune it twice a year. The good quality of the keys will be maintained and your piano will remain well preserved; besides you will avoid repair costs in the future.
The modern music industry has seen a huge revolution whereby electronic keyboards have dealt a death blow to pianos. A few years back, there used to be a certain enjoyment that came with a musician stringing together the strings of a piano to bring together the song’s message. Playing piano in those days was an art that could only be learnt by the best and most talented.
Distinguished musicians made a career statement by choosing the piano as their instrument of choice. They learnt how to play it at the feet of the best teachers in the world and then translated this knowledge into powerful musical notes that were known to resonate in the hearts of their listeners.
Today however, the industry has seen the advent of electronic keyboards. These keyboards have diminished pianos completely because of many reasons. One of these reasons is that electronic keyboards are easy to learn about. There isn’t much for musicians to learn because some even guide him/her on where to press to make the kind of sound they want.
Electronic keyboards can also accommodate a memory card. Musicians have turned to this method largely. They acquire pre-recorded material from somewhere else and insert it into its slot. When they are performing they only pretend to be playing the notes.
They are very user friendly because you do not need a teacher to guide you. There are many applications on the internet that have been made to teach first-timers how to play the keyboard. It isn’t hard to follow the simple instructions they give though.
Electronic keyboards have really done a number on pianos. They would need a lot of effort to catch up if they ever will.
If you would like to know more about this topic or talk to musical experts, log on to http://www.tuningpianos.co.uk. This is the chance of your lifetime.
People love freebies too much. Some have even come to love free things with an un-understandable keenness. People have almost learnt to wait for free things all the time, so much so that they begin to expect them automatically. Many people then have been quoted asking whether fixing their pianos is part of the process that includes tuning of the pianos.
The answer to that very common question is a No. The reason is that fixing of pianos is done whenever a piano has been damaged in any way. That is the scenario that calls for a specialist to repair it. If it is found to be beyond repair, it is then thrown into the lot where recycled materials are thrown.
Tuning though, is a gradual process that takes place regularly where an expert seeks to align the pitch and keys properly. Such an expert has the musical ear to know how to align and tune the keys, so that they produce the notes in the best way possible.
Another huge difference between fixing pianos and tuning them is in the costs. Depending on the kind of damage that is being fixed, the cost could either be extremely high or extremely low. Tuning though, is a uniform process that may not vary very much in costing unless the demographics are too far apart. This is not a frequent occurrence. One cannot replace the other and it cannot complement the other.
Fixing pianos is quite demanding and takes quite a bit of time; therefore it cannot be considered to be part of the tuning process. The two are very different processes and they also require different specialisms too, to some extent.
The issue of whether or not it is good manners and proper etiquette to tip piano tuners, is very controversial. No one seems to agree on how the issue should be handled. There is no “one size fits all” here. Some feel that the tuner should be rewarded for his/her effort while others believe it is too much for them to expect gratuities; and there is another group that does not lean either way.
People usually have no reservations tipping other service providers, like valets, butlers, concierge staff or even hairdressers. Yet they seem to have a particular hangup when it comes to people within my industry. I wonder what difference there is between these individuals except their professions of course. Be that as it may, they are still service providers, and if it is right to tip some, then I think it is right to tip them all.
Due to the heated exchanges that ensue whenever this controversial topic is discussed, many have learned to resort to diplomacy when the subject is too much for them to handle. It is then you will hear them concur, saying that the choice should belong to the individual receiving the service, to decide whether to tip or not.
For most service users, it appears that there is an unwritten rule: it’s ok to tip the tuner if they are self-employed but not if they are working for a large agency. It is not understood where these sentiments originated but since these make people feel better about not tipping piano tuners, there is nothing more that can be said. After all, the customer is always right. However, to reward good service, is an age-old incentive for even better receipt of provisions in the future.
If you have contracted the services of a piano tuner, it is up to you to decide whether the work they have done for you deserves a tip or not. If it does, tip them graciously, and you can expect your reward in return.
When a piano tuner comes into your home to tune your piano, it is essential that you provide a conducive environment for him/her to do their work in peace. If you distract or fail to support them you will have failed yourself greatly, with your instrument and your pocket bearing the most damage. There are many things that you can do for them. They don’t necessarily have to be huge tasks. After all, it is the small things that matter. These things include;
When piano tuners come to your home to work for you, it is vital that you provide a serene environment for them. This kind of atmosphere will enable them to concentrate on the task they are carrying out. If there is noise they will keep on getting distracted and this loss of concentration could have serious implications on the task at hand.
When service people are within the confine of your home, they are like guests. It is therefore polite for you to cater to their needs. If they need a glass of water give them one and if it’s meal time give them food although it is not expected or required of you. It is all just a matter of common courtesy.
Ensure that there are no distractions during the period that the tuner is doing work on the piano. Dust it for him/her beforehand and make sure there are no objects placed on top of it. Also restrict your activities to other rooms in the house, and away from the piano’s proximity to accord the tuner time to work in peace.
It is important to support tuners when they come to your home to work on your piano. It helps to make their work easier to some extent.
The cosmopolitan metropolis, our capital, has spawned many talented artists across all creative disciplines. As our population diversifies post world war II, we continue to embrace the fusion of styles, creating something entirely new representing the globalising, hybridising melting pot that is London. Extending our geographical reach across Europe, and further widening the net to the Middle East and North Africa, is it possible to separate London’s modern style, whose boundaries have been blurred into one another throughout history?
I notice an interesting modern musical phenomenon with a clear north-south divide. Music in southern Europe appears to have more of a pop variety, whilst the northerners lean towards heavier beats, culminating in the Scandinavian heavy metal craze. I can extend my argument by pointing to the boundaries of Europe where the style, to this day, retains its old world musical roots. One only needs to take southern Spain, where the music has Flamenco overtones (itself originating from the migrant Indian Gypsies), and Arabic and Hebrew styles due to the Muslim and Jewish communities respectively. Similarly Greek and Turkish music maintain their links to medieval classical music, as does the music of the Balkans and other southern European states. Note that Middle Eastern and North African music still sound similar to Klasma and Raga, that continue to be popular and prevalent long after their creation close to 1000 years earlier.
Now observe how Germanic, Celtic and similar northern European music has a more rock influence, with heavier, louder beats and a slightly classical melodic overlay. Additionally, notice how central European music appears to blur the boundaries between northern and southern styles, both in composition and performance. Interestingly, Scandinavian music continually produces heavy metal musicians in the modern charts, with acts like Lordi, even winning the Eurovision Song Contest.
Why this divide? Music is after all still performed using familiar instruments and mainly composed and taught in our curriculum using the piano, an instrument that has stood the test of time and heavily influences music across Europe and its surroundings regardless of genre. Certainly the northern regions experience extreme cold, whilst southern Europe and the Middle East can get temperatures in excess of 40c. Let’s also examine the more fast-paced, task-oriented life-style of the North, compared to the South’s relaxed, more leisurely approach. Surely these factors would affect the artists and adoring public alike. Factor in the industrial revolution, resulting in some of the most advanced infrastructure and social reforms on the planet in Northern Europe and Scandinavia. In contrast Southern Europe is presently experiencing a recession and a consequent drop in living standards. Returning to the arts, notice the linguistic precision English, German, Danish and Swedish and contrast this to the expressive richness of Italian, Greek, Turkish, and even Arabic and Hebrew. There is a musical connection, surely!
The Middle Ages had a more expressive way of doing things, longer attention spans and a depth of perception, since there were less things to do and even fewer advancements to compensate for human error. Hence the greatest classical musicians can be linked to this era. If these observations were to continue, would sound bytes replace symphonies? And does this mean that the next wave of musical geniuses will come from Southern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa? Finally, what conclusions can be drawn about the emerging culture of London as the population continues to rise and diversify and styles and roots constantly merge into each other?
Whatever your style and preference, talk to AMH Pianos about how we can help you get the most out of your piano. Also, the opinions and views of my readers are always highly appreciated. Have a great and wonderful 2015.