The Cold Blues of London Winters

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It has been quite an eventful winter, both for AMH Pianos as well as for the UK. The Met Office, classifies seasons either based on the Astronomical shifting of the Earth’s axes, or on the meteorological shifting of the temperature patterns. The Astronomical shifts are fairly constant, which therefore, makes the temperature shift based seasons more interesting to study. Having recently seen a Flag of London – yes there is a flag belonging to the City of London, on a very cold and rainy day, I, like my fellow Londoners, could not wait for warmer times, brighter days and sweet sunshine.

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According to the Met Office, the end of the Winter is scheduled to be on the 29th of Feb. Now that we have passed Christmas, welcomed 2016 in Conventional, Orthodox and Chinese varieties, and even experienced the full force of love on Valentine’s Day, it is time for outdoor fun, be it picnics in Hyde Park, a trip to Kew Gardens, or even some shopping around Shepherd’s Bush. The longer days also mean more tourists, more running and more outdoor musical events. Yet, one cannot feel a tinge of sadness at the passing of perhaps the season that the UK is designed for.

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We celebrate the spring and summer in so many extravagant ways: most of our sports, school holidays, events such as the Chelsea Flower Show, the Proms, or the Notting Hill Carnival,are all geared to appreciate weather that Britain is just not programmed for. Whatever the weather men say, we are still a cold country, where we build snow figures, wear anoraks and carry umbrellas, long for a hot bath, whilst cuddling up in our warm duvets by the fire at night. Any one of these activities is quite easily referred to by our culture as creature comforts. Yet as people, there must be something missing in the bleak mid winter that the woolly jumpers, winter warmers and season of Santa Claus just doesn’t generate the same excitement.

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So as I walk with my tuning tools, I would spare one last thought for the wonderful, comfortable winter. I will do that extra yard of warm-up exercise, shield myself from that cold that one last time, and adorn my warm jumper with pride, while sparing a thought to the leap year day, when the seasonal blues end. I say to you oh glorious winter: thanks for the memories, and see you again soon!

Piano Tuning in the Magic Kingdom

On one of my regular Piano Tuning gigs, I passed through the barriers at what is now known as Kings Cross International. Nothing much unusual about this journey, since I use the station routinely.

However, in my day-to-day coverage across London, it does not even occur to me that close to the Disabled Access Point, our favourite friends Harry Potter, Ron and Hermione had boarded the Hogwarts Express. From the station’s interior, right along Euston Road, the magnificent Victorian infrustructure has many sights to admire, and includes plenty of locations where the various films have been shot. This is also the location where J.K. Rowling’s parents had first met.

Kings Cross St Pancras Station

Strangers walked past me, carrying goodies and even wearing hoodies, from the Harry Potter Shop, and I did wonder, if only for a moment, as to what it might have been like servicing instruments in the magic kingdom. No people! I am not talking about Harry Potter World, which you can actually get to from Kings Cross on the train. I meant all the places where the film locations exist, such as the real Diagon Alley near Temple, or the iconic Craven Street: the street that inspired Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol (Cannon Street, or even the walk from the Lambeth Bridge to the Westminster Underground. Bringing the gift of music to so many, even for a brief moment, seemed full of mystery and intrigue, and who knew that London allows you so many chances to even go on a little treasure hunt without putting your hand in your pocket.

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Now that the day of the London Marathon is approaching, it occurs to me, whether or not, I might be able to do a treasure run, whereby I could enjoy a popular trail whilst getting fit and ready at the same time. Where should I start? I mean, what would be the safest, most interesting route from, say Greenwich, which ends at the famous Sherlock Holmes Pub? Please let me know your ideas in the comments.

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Looking Back At the Years

It has been quite a journey for me, both personally and professionally, ever since I set up AMH Pianos. With my work gaining constant coverage across London, I have been profoundly affected by the multi-cultural surroundings, which seems to exhibit novel creative and social dimensions not found in Bristol and the West Country. I feel as if the vibes of the capital have moved me; shaped my ways of thinking as well as my perspective in life. I do wonder, what might have been, had I not made the bold move of taking the world on my own terms, in new surroundings. Certainly, whatever has become of me in the last few years, has been a substantial improvement.

With my birthday on the horizon, I reminisce about my own personal development. Ever since my relocation to Hammersmith in West London, I have had the pleasure of meeting so many unique, interesting individuals, from all walks of life. I not only am tasked with looking after their pianos, they are also my friends. Being in the capital, my offerings related to piano removals and full scale general repairs have allowed me exposure to an even greater array of instruments, in different surroundings. Constant exposure to all makes and models has ensured that I am able to provide a better tuning service with the passage of time.

In addition to what I know best, I have also learned the use of social media and have even gained quite a fan following. Blogging, training for the London Marathon, and being exposed to the arts, has without a doubt, filled in many of the building blocks that nowhere else in the country could. However, in the grand scheme of things, all this is merely the tip of the iceberg.

The greatest accomplishment for me, I feel, has been my personal development on the people skills front. Each time one of my customers provide me with praise and thanks, appreciating what I have done, I feel so much taller, yet humbled. For a new place to be favourable, it is not the environment or infrastructure, but rather the people who make up the community. Being blessed to be part of a cosmopolitan, multifaceted and creative mix, I come away each day learning not just something new, but often something so out of the box. This daily phenomena is sufficient to keep me grounded, since whenever I feel like I have learnt a great deal, I also find myself thinking that I have really not learnt anything at all. Still however, there is a long way to go before world domination.

Local Piano Tuner

I have thought about a really interesting mindset; let me try to explain. When I finished moving to London, and set up AMH Pianos, I found that people would call me, and ask if I am a Local Piano Tuner!

I have to ask them, "What actually makes a Local Piano Tuner?". I am Based in Hammersmith, and my working area is all across London – please check my Areas Covered Page to find out where I serve.

I think the Idea of a Local service is very undefined, and near impossible to actually qualify, for example:

If I got on the Hammersmith and City Line from Goldhawk Road, for a job in and around London Bridge, I would then consider myself as being local to Camden, Greenwich, Southwark, Lambeth, Wandsworth at this point of my working day.

Also, If I had a job in Ealing, traveling  up on the Central Line from Shepherds Bush, I would then be Local to Richmond, Hammersmith & Fulham, Kensington & Chelsea, and so on. There is a definite pattern here. Can you see what I am talking about?

Is there some kind of an invisible, “local area distinction”?! And if so, could someone please explain to a new London resident like me what these are, and why? I am aware of so many people with their crash pads in London, working  in London during the week, and getting away for the weekend.

I am also aware of Piano Tuners, who don’t live in the city, but come and work in London for a couple of days, and then head back home, which happens to be outside the Greater London boundaries.

Can there be such a thing as a London wide Local Piano Tuning Service?
I believe that in the 21st century, we are all living in a "Global Village". Still however, if you were to operate more than five miles from one's home in London, you may not be considered local anymore.

I wonder, how far is the average commute in the City, and are these people looked at as being non Local at their place of work?

Scratching head trying to work out what the answer really is!! My own personal view is that to be truly considered local, anywhere, the key is to develop close ties with the area, community and activities within that area. Least of all, this would begain you respect from the people for your efforts

Please call on us: AMH Pianos- Local London wide Piano Related Services.

Piano Tuning Cost

As a fully qualified Piano Tuner, I sometimes wonder, how much are my skills really worth in 2015?

I trained for three years learning all aspects of Piano tuning and Piano Repairs, developing my skills to a very high standard. Only after rigorous training at the Royal National College (RNC) and after acquiring a Dip AEWVH did I started acquiring on the job experience, perfecting my skills and technique over many years.

The costs of piano tuning in London ranges from £50 up to £100. In spite of my highly competitive rates, I get customers who regularly try to haggle over the price with me when they call. Is it me, or would these same people argue over the costs of their cars being fixed at a high end dealership? “Will you give me a ten percent discount on your pricing?”, is what I regularly encounter at the time of bookings. I consequently try to laugh it off, saying: “Yes, you can have a discount, if you are willing to bring the piano to me for tuning.” . Sadly, the service users do not normally get the joke.

A piano tuning takes at least one hour, plus  naturally there is the travel time and cost of getting to and from the clients home to consider. Travelling across London generally takes more than the time spent at the clients' home, all whilst transporting my tools and keeping these in good working order..

There are certain tradesmen, who charge a call out fee, before they start any job,  and this is considered as standard practice. So why is the craft of a Piano tuner, not consider to be a highly skilled professional trade? Lots of people would attempt basic electrical work around the house themselves. And yet, how many would actually try to finely tune a concert grand piano? Or for that matter, how many could even attempt sound restoration and instrument servicing on an ordinary domestic upright piano?

Please take a look at my website to see the quality of work, and how professional a service we offer. You can expect nothing but the best, most affordable name in tuning and repairing pianos, and we can also offer removals of pianos in and around London.

I take great pride in my work. Therefore, an affordable and friendly service request for AMH Pianos will always aim to hit the right chord for your instrument, and indeed your pockets.

 

Living In West London

After moving to London around two and a half years ago, I am so impressed with the transport network within the city. In fact, I would go as far as saying that this is the one city of the UK where public transport really works. Living close to Goldhawk Road tube Station, I feel blessed with the amount of underground lines and travel options thatI can link into, in order to carry out my work as a Piano Tuner.

There are five underground lines within a ten minute walk from my home, near Hammersmith Broadway, where I can link into the District and Piccadilly Lines. being able to use these lines to access Central London, Kensington and Chelsea, Westminster, linking to London Victoria station, and trains to Wandsworth, Lewisham, Greenwich, and further afield into South East London, and South West London and beyond. The choices are plentiful, making it possible for me to get to my required destination on time and with the appropriate assistance if required.

The District Line from Hammersmith, passess through Kensington and Chelsea, Westminster, linking into Waterloo, and Waterloo East, where I can link in with the overground stations, that serve places like London Bridge, Deptford, Bexley heath, and all over South East London. The Piccadilly Line links in with stations to Ealing Broadway and Cock fosters. Going north, I can link into stations like South Kensington, Hyde Park Corner, Kings Cross St. Pancras, which is a great inter-connecting station to all parts of London where I work.

As someone who is Blind, I find it so much easier to move across London, than it was to travel around the West Country. Thanks to the work done by TFL, I am able to live an independent life and offer the services for AMH Pianos.

In praise of Greenwich

Thought I would offer a little insight into some of the areas in which I tune pianos throughout London.

One of the Boroughs I enjoy working in is Greenwich. I love the history of the place, and the mix of districts within Greenwich: Abbey Wood, Blackheath, Charlton, Eltham, North Greenwich, Thamesmead, Westcombe Park, to name but a few!

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!

Moving to a New City with Your Piano

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.

Travel arrangements

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.

Servicing

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.

Space

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.

In Summary

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.

The Importance of Certification and Verification

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.

Ensures quality service

If a tuner is a certified practitioner then he/she has been vetted to take care of your piano. Such measures include a criminal records (DBS) check, as well as membership of industry organisations. Professional bodies include The Association of Blind Piano Tuners and the Institute of Musical Instrument Technology.

Ensures value for your money

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.

Security purposes

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.

Conclusion

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.

Having Your Piano Tuned Twice a Year

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.

• Location

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.