Bought a used grand piano, the kids don't like it. : LUSENET : Everything About Teaching and Learning the Piano : One Thread

Hi. Two months ago my husband bought me a used Wurlitzer baby grand, which I LOVE! It's almost an antique, built in 1931. It's in excellent condition, with beautiful detail. But my younger students say that it's too hard to press the keys down on it. One girl, after making a mistake, says, "I can't get used to this piano."

The piano I taught on before (and still have), I inherited from my Grandmother, a Baldwin Acrosonic bench. I had it tuned when we moved it into my house after sitting for 50 yrs in Grandma's house. When the tuner tuned it, the pin block cracked half way. (I understand this was not his fault). So he could only tune it a whole note lower than usual. Once that pin block cracks all the way, the piano will not play anymore. Anyway, the piano sounds somewhat like a harpsichord, and the keys ARE easier to press down. So,I knew I wasn't going to be able to teach on this piano much longer, so I bought the grand. (Which, hey - who wouldn't want the opportunity to jump on a deal for a Grand?)

So, what do you think? Should I let the younger students keep playing the Acrosonic 'harpsichord piano', or make them learn the touch of this one? I like my new piano!

-- Deanne (, May 14, 2002


Close it and lock it. You really need to get the students on the grand. Not only will it be better for their technique, but the lowered pitch of the upright is putting incorrect things in their ears.

You will need to show them how to play to the bottom of the key using their arm weight, not just their fingers. You need to lead them to understanding of tone and how much better it is on the grand.

If you give them even one opportunity to play on the upright (and I would get it out of the room entirely), you will continue to have difficulty. I just bought a Steinway grand and my students are thrilled to make the adjustment!

-- Arlene Steffen (, May 14, 2002.

Since your grand is older, there's a good chance it isn't real stiff. But go to the piano store and play a few other grands just to make certain yours isn't extremely stiff just so you can be confident you are doing the right thing in using it to teach. Are you going to keep the other one there in your studio also?

Do some of these students play at home on keyboards? Many of mine do and they definitely have to push the keys on my Yamaha grand harder. I tell them it will make their fingers stronger. They all want to have nice strong fingers--not wimpy!!--especially the boys, but the girls too. Explain to them that the keyboards are electric so the electricity helps them play and their fingers don't have to build up and be strong.

For the ones who have uprights--explain to them that in an upright piano the hammers strike vertically. That is why it is easier to play. Show them that it's easier to move sideways than it is to move upwards, which is the way the hammers on a grand have to move in order to strike the strings. So even if they only get to play on a grand once a week, it's good for them. Then when they play at recital on some awesome Steinway or whatever, at least they have had an opportunity to play on a grand at lessons. Tell them how privileged they are to play on your wonderful piano. And the truth is that when they are awesome at their pieces they will play better on whatever instrument is there.

-- Flo Arnold (, May 14, 2002.

Hi Deanne,

If you haven't already done so, get a good piano technician (not just a tuner) to go over your new piano to make sure it is properly regulated and evenly voiced. There is no reason a well regulated grand should be difficult to play, even for a child. Yes, there is a different feel than an upright has, but stiff or heavy actions are not right. Often parts are worn, or swollen with moisture, or simply out of regulation, and fixing these issues makes all the difference in the world.

-- Alan (, May 15, 2002.

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