Street Pianos in London

When I travel around the city I enjoy coming across interesting things, whilst Tuning a Piano in Herne Hill, I came across a Street Piano at the Herne Hill Station.

I got interested in the concept, finding out there are lots of Pianos still across the city. 

Originally Play Me, I’m Yours is an artwork by UK artist Luke Jerram, which has been touring internationally since 2008.  More than 1500 pianos have now been installed in over 50 cities across the globe, from New York to London bearing the simple invitation Play Me, I’m Yours.  



In 2012 the City of London Festival celebrated its golden anniversary on a grand scale, presenting Play Me, I’m Yours with 50 golden street pianos spread across London landmarks and beauty spots. 


In cities like London, hundreds of perfectly good, working, second-hand pianos get thrown away each year. Luke Jerram transports dozens of these pianos annually, to countries where the instrument is rare and more valued, for the public to enjoy.


Most of these pianos were donated to good causes at the end of the presentation, but some of them are still available to play including three at St Pancras International Station, two at Canary Wharf and one at Herne Hill Railway Station.  


The piano I came across is located in the underpass next to Herne Hill Railway Station just off Railton Road. It is currently being looked after by local residents.  The piano is locked at night so is only playable during the daytime.

Piano Tuning – Who’s pulling your strings

I sometimes find the conversations I have with clients really interesting especially when it comes to Piano Tuning. The customer will call me up and ask “How much is it to get my Piano Tuned”? like most things in life the answer is not so straight forward. It really depends I reply,
– When was the Piano last Tuned?
– How old is the Piano?
– Has the Piano been moved recently?
– Is the Piano serviced on a regular basis?
– Do you play the Piano alongside other instruments?

These points need to be considered, as mentioned there can be lots of different forms of Piano Tuning. If a Piano is not tuned regularly, at least once a year, the pitch of the Piano can drop, which means the Piano will need a pitch move, or a double tuning. This is also important, when the Piano is being used with other instruments, as they are tuned to concert standard pitch A440.

The client can also say, “the piano hasn’t been used much”, which makes them think, there is less work to get their Piano back in tune. Piano Tuning is only one aspect of Piano Servicing, within a Piano there are hundreds of moving parts which enable the Piano to function. Should there be issues with Keys not working and or playing correctly, this is not Piano Tuning. The Action within the Piano may need Regulating, this is finely regulating the moving part of the action within the Piano making sure the keys play and the hammers respond, and create feeling. When playing the instrument. These aspects are separate to each other, which means, Piano Tuning and Piano Repairs are two separate things and need to be considered when calling a professional Piano Technician.

Camden Town – the center of piano building

As a piano tuner whilst travelling around London doing my work, I really like looking into the history of music so let me share with you what I know about Camden and its past. Did you know for example that it was once the heart of piano building?

The piano was first demonstrated not anywhere else but here in London by Charles Dibden, who lived in Camden Town and is buried in the churchyard between Bayham Street and Camden Street. Strangely enough the piano industry should later have grown up in his own back yard.

At that time Camden Town was a very suitable centre for piano manufacture and the Regent’s Canal could be used for transporting heavy and bulky goods like pianos cheaply. Camden Town was also near the rail-heads of King’s Cross, Euston and St Pancras, so transport conditions by water and rail were ideal. Soon the area became a centre of the piano industry.

In the golden days besides manufacturers there were small-part makers, such as french polishers, makers of piano castors, piano stool makers, piano movers, piano tuners and of course salesmen. All of them earned their living in and around Camden Town and long the Canal.

Sadly in the 1900s German competition became very tough and by 1912, German exports of pianos and piano parts were sixty-five times as large as Great Britain’s. Germany dominated the piano industry rather as Japan was to dominate the electronics industry after the Second World War.

In the 1960s, the Koreans had begun to make pianos and started using modern machining accuracy. They were machining parts to 3 microns, so that every part fitted first time and the skill and time of the fitter were no longer required as pianos could be assembled, not fitted. The drop in production costs was enormous. Soon even the Royal Academy of Music began buying Korean pianos.

Areas covered across London

Please visit our gallery page to see the areas we serve. Here you will find out more about areas covered by our services and please do not hesitate to get in touch with AMH Pianos to find out for yourself the magic of great sound and excellent customer service. As a blind piano tuner I am more than happy to travel anywhere and I tune pianos throughout London.

Hope to hear from you soon!

Andy

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