How to make music special again

Dark Spotify Logo
Spotify Logo

Back in the day music was something special, something you looked forward to listening to. Long before the days of TV, the internet and non-stop music in supermarkets, travelling minstrels toured the country going from town to village to manor house. In the absence of any other entertainment the event gave people occasional and much appreciated relief from their otherwise difficult and hard lives. Now that we have music on tap, at the touch of a screen or button, has music lost its special place in our hearts?

The Lute: A Medieval Guitar-Like Instrument played by a troubadour
A Troubadour playing a Lute

At AMH Pianos we are all about the music, and respect for the craft is what made me get interested to do what I do best! This is why it sometimes saddens me to see many a talented musician struggle to make ends meet. We have a lot of music that feels rather ubiquitous wherever we go. And yet, people complain about the quality of the music, the variety and genres of music on offer, and even the price of music. With a rise in music streaming services, we do not even care to own our favourite tunes anymore. Somehow, in an era where musicians have so many avenues to contact the fans and reach out to us of their own accord, it feels like something, or someone, is taking over our music, putting musicians out of business, and even adversely affecting the craftsmen who look after the musicians.

Travelling Minstrels
Travelling Minstrels

As we stand here in 2016, it is absolutely vital to take evasive action now, to prevent a decline in the importance of music in the post iPod age. For starters, we could do more to encourage our children to take up music and musical instruments at a young age. We could better educate our music teachers at PGCE level, to help them train the next Mozart, Beethovan or Elgar. We could encourage the streaming companies to give back more fairly and generously to the musicians that we love, rather than just the big names. We could provide a more technical and well-rounded level of education to breed the next generation of men and women who dedicate their lives servicing, repairing and even transporting the large aray of instruments between venues. We could make the top rated arts and music more affordable and easily accessible to the people from non-traditional backgrounds, especially outside London’s M25 boundaries. We could refuse to support piracy. And finally, we could encourage our elected leaders to encourage greater investment into the creative arts, to ensure that we have a brighter, ney, a better sounding future!!

A Spanish Musical Quartet
Cuarta de Musica

A Summer of Seismic Changes

Formar Home Secretary Theresa May becomes UK PM
Theresa May UK Prime Minister

Over the past month events in the UK and around the World have been a bit of a game changer, causing uncertainty, intreague and plenty of heated discussion across London. From Whitehall to Hackney, Golders Green to Bexley Heath, the conversation seems to have moved on to what the latest events in Westminster might entail for the country as a whole rather than the latest gossip around Big Brother and the X Factor. In many ways, whilst I carry out piano tuning, I seem to notice myself surrounded by highly opinionated conversations concerning Brexit, a new Prime Minister and potential predictions about the future.

Map of the European Union as of Oct. 2013
Map of the 28 EU states

Throughout London we have experienced ample sunshine and much higher temperatures that somehow seem to be keeping pace with the heated political climate. Things however, appear much more civilised around the UK compared to the unfortunate attacks in mainland Europe, such as the attempted coup in Turkey, the death of 84 people in Nice and the more recent spate of bizarre attacks across Germany. Incidents like these appeal to my British sense of being and I sometimes wonder whether or not we really can resolve arguments and problems just by enjoying a nice cup of tea.

A Perfectly brewed Cup of Tea
A Perfect Cup of Tea

 

I feel fortunate to be in a profession that brings the gift of music to people from all backgrounds and walks of life, bringing them together through music. Time spent servicing or transporting a piano, for me personally, equates to bringing the gifts of creativity, harmony and the celebration of life. The brilliant sunny weather during these uncertain times symbolises the hope that we as a nation will have a bright future no matter what it brings. 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.

Stretching The Human Tuned Notes

We have just celebrated Father’s Day, and are about to experience the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year. Since we have had a reasonably bright summer, with long sunny spells, hot temperatures and humid days, before the dreaded rain made its all too inevitable return, a strange thought has plagued my mind: are human limits and limitations, irreversible unlike any other inanimate object in our universe? Furthermore, do the change in our surroundings, conditions and moods depend on our exposure to whatever takes place around us? I ask this since we had been longing for good weather across London and just as soon as the Mercury climbed a bit, we decided to complain about the weather again, rather than trying to enjoy ourselves over in St James‘s Park or Greenwich. Does this culturally induced modus operandi also tell us that we are accustomed to long for the dreadful cold weather in spite of our protests?

AFamilyWalkingOnTheMillenniumBridgeInLondonOnFathersDay

It is no surprise to admit that we all need and deserve a little bit of a change sometime. That is exactly why we all have holidays, vacations and the occasional fun night out, a human tune-up if you will. Yet while objects have an instantaneous tendency to reset following servicing, you often hear people talk about not winding down till the end of their holidays, or needing a vacation away from a vacation. We often talk about getting that same level of restoration as, say a piano, and yet the temptation to share pictures of one’s lunch or drinks on Facebook or the next random memory on Twitter is often too hard to resist when there is no reason whatsoever to repeatedly stab our phones during our time off. Using the concept of cadence, could it be that modern humans are just not designed to attain satisfaction at either ends of the note that is our existence without an expert psychologist involved? And does this less than 100% human harmonic rhythm reflect anything on the order that we crave out of our own energetic chaos?

Metronome

There is ample semblance in the human body: the beating of the heart, the flow of blood, the way our lungs operate, and even the seven year cycle that our skin follows to replace each and every cell with a brand new one. We put routines in the way we work, sleep and adhere to conventions, laws and the year round calendar. So perhaps, it might be time that to perform like clockwork, we have to allow ourselves to be more observant of our own beings, and schedule time with our own thoughts and serendipity with some regularity. Even if we as humans, are unable to reach our theoretical limits, we can at least try to be the best at what we do best.

CalendarWithAScheduleOfEvents

What do you think about the concept of a fully reversible human experience? Can we modulate our own frequencies? And does our energy have any connection with the seasons and the calendar of holidays and important dates? Please feel free to get in touch.

May’s Daze

It’s the beginning of what we may regard as the only summer we are going to probably get in the Capital, possibly in the UK. We have been blessed with exceptional weather as of late, which means that it is time to go have a picnic in Hyde Park, chill out at lunch at St. James’s Park, or do a bit of Window shopping around Oxford Street. On a good day at the weekend, one may even fancy a boat ride, departing from Embankment, Westminster or Tower Hill piers. It is also the final stretch for the universities, after which hard working students will get a break for summer. All this amounts to tourists, bustling activity or nights out near near Soho, or a gig or two at the O2 Arena near North Greenwich. Music, Wimbledon and longer hours of daylight are what we have to look forward to in our fine city. Life is good for everyone, just like it always has been since the dawn of time, right? :D

Wimbledon Ticket Queue

May 1st is the Maypole, or Maple Day. Across Europe, the day is marked with celebrations of Pagan and Christian traditional festivals. May 1st is the official mark of the Pagan Spring, and marks roughly the mid-point between the Vernal Equinox (March 21st) and Summer Solstice (June 21st). This means there are plenty of reasons for you to have your piano tuned, and AMH Pianos is here to help with anything and everything relating to pianos. Over time, the Roman Republic has celebrated Floralia, the festival of flora, whilst Christian Europe has celebrated Beltane, the festival of fertility, and the Walpurgis Night, the Christian Reformation of the Germanic region to coincide on the day.

MaypoleDayFestival ChildrenDancingWithInstructor

In cosmopolitan London, we had bonfires, Maypole Dancing and even some spectacular flower displays. I even learnt that in Northern Europe, it is a day when women would leave a rose on their admirer’s doorstep, where they may/may not reveal their own identity to the object of their affections.

May day Demonstration

Over time though, this day has become more synonymous with the labour movement, and symbolises the struggle for many workers to have better working conditions, fair pay, reasonable working hours and a two day weekend. We should not forget the fact that many people lost their lives and suffered wrongful imprisonment or unfair treatment for the struggle for human rights and a consequent increase in life expectancy. I am personally thankful to those improvements, which have allowed me to set up my business, get assistance with difficult tasks, and therefore expand my services to include piano removals, repairs and servicing. We should never forget the need for a fairer world.

FridayThe13thHorrorQuotes

Whilst in the month of May, we also encountered Friday the 13th last week. The concept of bad luck originated with the French Army, whose troops marched over a hanging bridge in unison, causing the bridge to collapse at resonant frequency. However, we have now attributed the day to all things bad luck, scary or even intensely creepy. Whilst luck is important, my final thoughts in this piece are that it takes a lot more than luck to succeed in life, or at whatever you do. Hard work, resilliance, honesty, a positive and friendly attitude, and a commitment to improvement, are all qualities more akin to Maypole day than Friday the 13th.

KeepCalm&GoodLuck

Have you got any of your own stories from the bank holiday? Did you face any bad luck, or even good luck, contrary to the expected trends of Friday the 13th? Do you have any favourite melodies for the month of May? Please feel free to discuss in the comments. And from AMH Pianos, I wish you lots of good luck!

The Marathon Circle Of Life

Personally, I really did not know what to call this piece. I felt a sea of emotions over the last couple of weeks, from elation, to sadness, to pride, and everything in between. Watching yet another month pass into our history books, I would like to take some time to just contemplate as to what really happened in the capital in addition to my work. This is important, because what happened, will have an ever-lasting impact in the whole world. Let’s tackle each emotion, and feeling one at a time.

Queen's 90th Birthday

First off, let’s talk about pride. Saturday 23rd April was of course St. George’s Day. The man, most widely known as the Patron Saint of England, can still inspire the best among all of us; a sense of real pride to be English, and British. From Oxford Street and Picadily Circus to Westminster, Whitehall and the entire boroughs of Southwark and Greenwich, it felt like I was living in perhaps the greatest city on the planet, at the heart of the greatest country on Earth. Couple this with the Queen’s Birthday, and Barak Obama’s historic visit, there were troops seen marching near Hyde Park, St James’s Park and near Buckingham Palace. There were men and women with Union Jacks milling about. There was definitely a greater buzz on the streets of Hammersmith and Fulham, around Knightsbridge, and it seemed like even my lovely customers were getting into the national spirit as I visited them to carry out tuning and maintenance jobs on their pianos. I just could not help but think of how many pianos have been manufactured in, and sold by, Britain, as a sense of joy flowed through my veins that whole week.

LondonMarathon2016RunnerDressedAsAGiantShoe

Next up, came the London Marathon. As I mentioned in my last blog entry, this was a record year for the London event, where over 247,000 applicants put their names forward to take part in the event, which finally totalled a very cool 36,000 runners. I guess pride and elation would both go hand in hand here, since it was none other than Major Tim Peake who provided the countdown to the start of the race, right from his International Space Station hangout. While so many people ran a great race, including an actual giant shoe, I felt partly disappointed not to be able to run it myself due to some niggles. Still, there is always 2017, and I certainly hope to run the event, and would really like to thank Metro Blind Sports for their support throughout my campaign. Finally, my condolances to the family of the late Army Captain David Seath, who lost his life during the Marathon, and a well done to so many of you who battled adversity to show your strength and determination in reaching the pinnacle of human endurance as you crossed the finish line near the Embankment.

DJ Derek

This conveniently brings me to the one emotion we dread as human beings: sadness, caused by irreversible loss. As news about DJ Derek from my old haunts around Bristol filtered through, about his funeral last Friday, and the details of his mysterious yet tragic death kept becoming clearer, I could not help but mourn the loss of a West Country icon that stood for diversity and cross-cultural integration, in an era where there was none of it. The following few days then further brought bad news for the Arts. First, we lost the extremely versatile and talented Victoria Wood due to cancer, at the not-so-old age of 62. Then, as if that news had not quite sunk in, we lost Prince. This one was of particular sadness to me. Not only was he extremely innovative as a musician and an artist, he was also just 57, and from the time where in order to succeed, you did not always have electrickery at your disposal; a great voice and all round talent had to be your instruments. From the amazing patriotic highs, to the extreme lows of sadness and bereavement of some of the most iconic figures of their generation, gone in an instant within the space of a week.

Prince PicturedIn1986

So as we approach a rather cold end to April, and make our way towards the bank holiday, I wish to take a moment of introspection. And I ask that whether you had the chance to fly the flag around London Bridge, watch the London Marathon near the Cutty Sark, or pay tribute to your favourite stars of yesteryear around Brixton, there is just one truth to the matter. Life is too short! Therefore, take every opportunity to strive to be the best at whatever you do, so that your name and deeds become your ever-lasting legacy. Have a great bank holiday from AMH Pianos and be sure to pay your tributes in the comments.

VictoriaWood 1954-2016

What’s Inside A Piano Tuner’s Brain?

Now that April has nearly approached the half way point, I can’t help but wonder where does time fly by. Just how quickly 2016 seems to be zooming away from us! The days are brighter, the air is warmer, and from Richmond to Covent Garden, there are certainly more people on the streets. It is hard to believe that not so long ago, I set up AMH Pianos, and it has turned out to be perhaps the best decision of my life. I have had the opportunity to travel across London, meet amazing people from so many walks of life, and have received a lot of love and praise from so many of you, for which, I thank you immensely.

Chelsea Flower Show

Let’s talk about something different today. I have obviously talked about your interactions with me on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus. I have tried to describe my thoughts and feelings about what I have encountered when travelling from Bromley and Bexley to Ealing, or Hackney, or Westminster on the London Underground. We have even discussed some of the areas that I have grown to love, like Lewisham or Greenwich. However, what I want to discuss is my interactions with your pianos. Yes with time, as I tune or service your musical instrument, with regular visits, a certain familiarity and profile of your piano builds up in my mind. This is very important to me, and ultimately benefits you. Why would this matter, one might ask. After all, a piano is just a piano, and is meant to do a particular task by design.

Piano Collections- Final Fantasy V Cover

The answer is quite simple: each piano is different, not just in appearance, but also by its profile. These differences stem from the make and model of the piano, its surroundings, condition, maintenance, frequency of use and age of the instrument, just to name a few. Just as an example, say I have to perform a tuning of the instrument, and I have noticed that the top two octaves appear to sound flatter than normal. Naturally, I would correct these deficiencies during my work, and my classical training allows me to gauge exactly how these octaves should sound post tuning and repairs where appropriate. Now imagine, I notice the exact same deficiencies for the same instrument upon my follow up visit. Over time, a better picture of the piano builds up in my mind, and therefore, upon a regular visit, I would instantly know where I would need to pay attention to, and I would put into place the necessary steps to help prevent these from happening faster. This process helps me carry out the work more efficiently and quickly, thereby saving you time and money.

Piano Tuning HammerLever and Mute Kit

If you browse through my FAQ page, you would notice some tips and tricks to help better maintain your piano. I strongly believe that the best work is carried out when there is a good working relationship between me and you, as well as a good working knowledge about your instrument. Developing a mental profile about your piano provides me with more experience, and helps me strive even harder to provide you with great results.

SteinwayEbony Grand Piano

If I can be of any assistance, or if you would like to book a tuning, repair, servicing or removals, please do not hesitate to get in touch. I look forward to hearing from you soon!

Easterly Spring From Your Top Rated London Piano Carer

The Big Ben Clock At Westminster Houses of Parliament

As the clocks jump forward, the weather brightens, and with spring, young men’s (and women’s) fancy turn to thoughts of love. I feel it is time once again to check in with everyone of you, who have made me feel so welcome since my arrival in the capital. There is plenty of exciting news to bring to you. We have some extraordinary success to celebrate as a company. Since all of you have supported me through so many good times, and stood by my side to help overcome adversity following my relocation and the establishment of my own piano tuning and removals business, I feel that this entry is to all of my service users, my friends, my guides in an otherwise scary and vicious world.

London2012 Olympic Games Venue

During almost the last two years, we started AMH Pianos from very humble beginnings. What I possessed, were merely my ambition, ideas for a great service, and the skills needed to provide the service, together with my faith and belief in my own abilities to stand and deliver a high standard of work, even at the toughest of assignments. Now, just before, Easter, because of all my well-wishers, I feel that what I see before me is not short of an amazing miracle. I am so honoured and humbled by the fact that after blood, sweat and tears, we have finally attained the top spot on Google when searching for a Piano Tuner in London. I am incredibly touched by all the wonderful positive reviews and wonderful feedback given to me by so many of you from all walks of life. We now cover most of Greater London and now even cater to the residents of Islington, plus Hackney, and from South Bromley to Wapping and all around Tower Hamlets and Newham, there is a strong chance you would be catered to with that same level of commitment that is expected of AMH Pianos. More improvements to our services and presence is on the way very soon, and of course, we appreciate your feedback. and contact

TheBigLondonEasterEggHunt

By now, you may possibly be wondering about the purpose of me writing this entry. You may most likely be trying to connect all the themes within here: Easter, Spring, London, Daylight Savings, and Piano Maintenance? I can assure you that there is a connection indeed. A joyous Easter miracle, lifting me to the top of Google’s summit, could not have come at a more opportune time than the start of spring. And as the clocks move forward, I feel that with your support and generosity, my work, skills, and standard of service will continue to move forward, taking giant leaps ahead to usher in brighter days and healthier musical instruments across the city of London. Wish me Luck!

The Seat of Learning

On a normal day in London, my piano tuning, and full-scale repair work takes me to some interesting places around the city, right from South Bromley and the southern edges of the capital, to Temple Fortune towards the far north, and from everywhere in between. Whilst every service job always adds experience to my resùmé, and experience and practice are never to be taken for granted by anyone, I always think back to my time at the Royal National College of the Blind in Hereford, and the importance of formal learning about my craft. A specially tailored classroom, focusing on a skill or specific subject, can add character, discipline and life-long transferrable skills to one’s toolkit, in turn leading to a more enhanced experience when doing what we do. My years at the RNC have allowed me to gain a specialised craft, gain valuable insights into the industry and consequently, earn a livelihood.

LondonSchoolOfEconomicsMainEntrance

During work hours, I always tend to encounter a wide range of students, from all backgrounds, subjects and institutions dotted across London. There are plenty of world-class universities and specialist colleges through out the city, making the capital perhaps one of the largest student populations anywhere in the world. A collection of young, bright and eager minds, often embarking on challenging academic disciplines, possibly away from home, or even their country for the very first time, appear to be taking on the world. These young people, whether studying at top rated universities like University College London or Imperial College, or a specialist institution such as the Royal Academy of Music or RADA, will be our future doctors, engineers, service providers and world leaders. A competitive city such as London, will always attract the sharpest, brightest young minds, with the promise of a better life for them and their families. Whatever the discipline, one must never discount the value of top quality education and the struggle to improve one’s own wisdom and knowledge.

SouthbankUniversity

Whether I am boarding a train at , or performing instrument relocation around one of the student halls of residence near Kings Cross, these young and dynamic students always seem to have bright ideas, ambition and interesting thought patterns. They make great conversationalists, full of aspirations and optimism. Despite all the stories and negative press around student life, the growing student debt and acts of decadence, one cannot help wondering how many of these generously paying customers for our city’s economy would gain plaudits in the media for studying all night, conducting innovative research, contributing to charities and causes, living away from home comforts for the very first time in the face of adversity, or just learning the best way to balance demands and expectations in the fast paced world we inhabit. Sometimes, it is just too easy to fall under the spell of sensationalism based on other people’s expense, is it not?

BirkbeckCollege UniversityOfLondon

So at the beginning of a sunny spell, here is to all the students, from Colindale to Croydon. Here is hoping that the sun always shines on your creativity, boldness and future success. After all, we would all be dependent on your work in decades to come. Make us proud!

GoldsmithsCollege MainBuilding

The Cold Blues of London Winters

MetOfficeLogo

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.

FlagOfTheCityOfLondon

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.

LordsCricketGround St.JohnsWood

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.

SomeToolsNeededForPianoTuning

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!

Just Warming Up

London Marathon 2016 Logo

Training for the upcoming London Marathon is not easy! In spite of having already run a considerable amount, just packing in the miles, as any experienced runner would tell you, is simply not enough. There is a range of factors requiring constant ongoing attention; overall fitness, diet, rest and sleep and even the right kind of shoes and sensible clothing depending on the weather. Then again, did I forget to mention AMH Pianos, and the wide area that we cover on a fulltime basis?

BlindRunnersInARace

Yes it is a gruelling often draining regime from start to finish, literally. Even a standard practice run, lasting a few miles, is able to burn up thousands of calories – thousands more than normal. So why do it? Why should one such as myself pay good money and spend months, training for an event that was first commemorated to honour the sacrifice of a lone Greek soldier who ran a distance of 26 miles to inform the Athenians about an impending Persian attack close to the port city of Marathon? Why endure physical hardship when, at the same time, tuning and moving pianos presents me with physical exertion in the first place?

Metro Blind Sports Logo

With over 36, 000 runners participating each year, everyone has their own reason. Some do it for charity whilst others take it upon themselves to prove to their peers and loved ones their own unique abilities. Even more astonishingly, a sizeable group of people do it for a living, hoping to emulate national and international milestones. My sole reason: Metro Blind Sport, a charity of usually understated importance that is battling on perhaps a vital issue blighting the disabled community as a whole: physical fitness. Many people may or may not realise that a blind or partially sighted person may be limited in their overall mobility, which in turn affects their social wellbeing, quality of life and even mental health. Exposing myself and other blind and partially sighted people to a world of physical fitness and adaptive sports is the sole aim of this small London based charity.

As promised I will continue to keep my readers posted on the progress of my training, meanwhile I would appeal to my readers to please donate generously to this wonderful

cause. My Justgiving page will follow soon.