Thursday, March 13, 2008

Turning my attention to acoustics...

I am surprised at how my attention seems to unfocused right now. I want to FLY through my Alfred's book... note, for example, my stated goal to have The Entertainer done by May 1. Seems a little unrealistic at this point. I also am on the hunt for a Faber All In One Book One, but haven't found one locally. (And I don't feel like paying an extra $16 to ship it to me on a timely basis... of $3 to ship it to me in, like, a month. That bites.) On top of actually wanting to learn to play piano, which is plenty as it is, I am also giving a great deal of thought to our next instrument. Let's hit on all these.

I haven't been able to get too much practice time lately, so I am still on Brahms' Lullaby. I haven't yet made it through the whole piece without an error or hesitation. But I was surprised to learn from some posters at pianoworld that the Brahms is not in the regular Alfred's Book one. Rather, it appears midway through Book Two. The reason I am surprised to hear this is because it has quite a bit in common with Cafe Vienna, which I am using as a sort of warm-up these days. I think it makes much more sense here than later. Anyway, I think I am about an hour's worth of bench time from being able to put Brahms Lullaby to bed (sorry, I couldn't help myself there).

The main reason I am interested in the Faber and Faber book is to vary the music. I complained earlier about the boring, repetitive nature of the Alfred's pieces. I am hoping that the Faber book may give me a little bit of variety. On the downside, if I undertake two method books, it might slow my progress in both. Of course, maybe that is not such a bad thing.

As you know, we are not about to rush out and replace our old piano with a fancy new digital. Therefore, I have turned my attention to the longer-term purchase, which would be a new (well, new for use, not necessarily new) acoustic. I have Larry Fine's Piano Book, which is apparently THE SOURCE for information on piano purchases. The book is absolutely mind-boggling in its detail of how pianos work, how retailers and distribution networks work, and what to keep in mind when considering a piano purchase. I am about halfway through it, having skipped a lot of the technical details, but here is what I have learned so far:

  • If you are considering uprights (which I am), avoid short ones, for reasons of sound, action (the internal workings, that is), and resale. If you can, start with 48" models, and work up from there (although there seem to be a handful of shorter but very expensive uprights whose innards are exceptionally designed, and make up for shortcomings of stature).
  • If you are considering used pianos (which I might), absolutely, positively DO NOT purchase one without first having a tech inspect it. And make sure the tech has no stake in the outcome of the decision.

This particular edition was written 8 years ago, and published in 2001. There are annual supplements to it, which correct or update out-of-date information. While the book itself is ubiquitous (there is one in our library, and at every Barnes & Noble and Borders I have visited in the last week), the Update... not so much. Can't find it anywhere. This morning I finally broke down and ordered it off the web. (For good measure, I also ordered Alfred's Adult All-In-One Book Two. You know, in case I finish the first one. Did I mention my lack of focus?)

The 2000 vintage Larry Fine seems, to my casual reading, to be EXTREMELY suspicious of Chinese pianos, which were barely trickling into the USA at the time (from what I gather). Those that made it here seem to have suffered some serious manufacturing, perhaps even design defects. I am very keen on getting the supplement, because I am told these pianos have come a long way in a very short time. They may be part of the conversation before this is all over.

I think we need more clips here. Jillian has a piece in her Schaum book that I want to capture, if only for the comedy of how fast she plays it. Maybe I can get that posted next time.

1 comment:

2ndsoprano said...

Re: Sheetmusicplus- I have ordered a lot from them, and always choose the cheap shipping. I usually get my stuff within a week or so. They generally ship pretty fast.