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I guess I’m a huge fan of Maurice Hinson. It seems like most of the piano related reference books I have are written by him and I’ve enjoyed every one of them at various times. In a previous newsletter I mentioned Hinson’s The Pianists Dictionary, which is a great dictionary for all of your musical terms and how they relate specifically in your piano playing. Today I’d like to mention The Guide to the Pianists Repertoire.
As you can imagine, this is a rather thick book meant for reference purposes only. Do not attempt to read it as a novel! In this book, Hinson gives us a comprehensive list of over 2000 composers and their works for solo piano. Each selected work is briefly described and rated on its difficulty level. Hinson also mentions if a piece may be hard to find or out of print and how to contact the publisher. You may wonder about different editions of pieces, the length, or the date of publishing – Hinson has got all of these details covered and so much more!
Guide to the Pianist’s Repertoire is such a useful book for those who want to explore all of their options in piano music, for those who are curious as to what to tackle next or those who are interested in tidbits about pieces they are currently playing. Hinson has done the job few have ventured to do. He has captured the whole essence of piano literature in one book. What a feat!
After having significantly curtailed my teaching activities for many years, I have recently begun to take a few more students. This has provided me an opportunity to re-examine the pedagogical principles I developed years ago with a fresh perspective. I never approached piano teaching from a purely piano-centric position. Many years ago there was a book titled: All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum. I would change this to: Everything I Need to Know to be Successful in Life, I learned at the Piano. I ordered my teaching from a life’s principle orientation. I didn’t teach a student how to practice, but rather how to learn. We looked at the role that discipline plays in a successful life and how the single discipline of musical study can train us for larger disciplines in life.
I have to admit that many of my students weren’t always appreciative of what I was trying to do. Though parents (those who paid attention to what was going on) were often thankful for the work I did.
Over the next year or so, I thought I might share some of my principles. I would welcome any thoughts you may have. I laid out my principles of practice within a set of 10 commandments and 15 rules. The commandments are largely attitudinal and the rules are more practical. There is some overlap and redundancy but sometimes students need to hear the same principle expressed differently for its meaning and importance to become obvious.
Commandment #1) THOU SHALT NOT KID THY SELF.
In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Polonius gives his son Laertes the advice to above all else to be true to himself. Honesty with one’s self is a lifelong process. In the world of music practice it can begin with the simple step of writing down how much you practice. Even if you never total the time or even give it a second look, you have established a measure from which to judge your efforts.
Goal setting is critical for any endeavor. If the requirement is to have a piece up to tempo by a certain date, one can break down the steps necessary for the accomplishment. If these intermediary steps are not met, one must be honest with one’s self that the larger goal is likely not to be met unless additional effort is made. If a secure memory is the goal and little has been committed to memory a week before the deadline, don’t kid yourself, security is not likely to be the outcome.
You will bear the complete responsibility for your success or failure for the vast majority of your life. While a student, it is easy to be dependent upon your teachers to order and plan your goals. However, you are a student for only a short time and will have to order and plan your work for decades after your student years. Honesty with one’s self, both in goals and discipline, is the beginning of that responsibility.
Rule #1) LIMITED TIME FRAME.
We have all heard the axiom “A job expands to fill the time allowed.” This can be expressed differently: “Limit the time to the work.” One of the inherent flaws in the weekly lesson template we all use is the lack of tight time limitation. If something is not mastered this week, there is always next week, or next month or even next year. This can be mitigated with recitals, festivals, and competitions. However, even with these we still can put off our work until most of the available time is gone.
In my own playing, once I took my first church job which required me to have hymns, preludes, postludes, etc. ready every week without fail, I found my ability to learn a significant amount of music quickly an absolute necessity for survival. At first, I was not terribly successful and relied upon the art of “fake” more than I should have. But through the years there has been more “play” and less “fake”.
With hundreds of pianos in homes around Chicago we get asked this often. For some people purchasing an instrument may not be an option for them. Here are some of the reasons people have rented pianos from us:
How the Kimball Piano Company started is a real rags to riches kind of story. It is about a poor farm boy from Maine who was trying to make his way up the ladder to prosperity. W.W. Kimball started his career as a real estate and insurance salesman in Iowa in the mid 1800s when the piano industry caught his attention. He felt there was quite a possibility of making money in supplying goods to the pioneers who were ever westward moving. Convinced that selling pianos was his next step to fortune, he founded W.W. Kimball & Co. in Chicago, IL in 1857 and soon thereafter became one of the largest sellers of keyboard instruments in the United States. By the 1880s, a shortage in merchandise clued Kimball in to his next business venture – piano production. In 1886, Kimball started manufacturing his own pianos and the early 1900s brought the company to its peak.
Difficult times would soon come for the company though. The Great Depression, changes in demand for pianos, and changes in management in the company all took their toll on the establishment. The company was sold to Jasper Corporation in 1959 and piano production was moved to Indiana. Jasper became known as Kimball International. In 1966, Kimball International bought the world renowned Austrian piano company, Bosendorfer. In the 1980’s they also bought Krakauer, a respected American piano company, as well as a number of other companies that dealt with supplies they needed for production. Today Kimball International is a fortune 500 company, but most of its involvement is with furniture making, custom cabinetry, electric assembly, and plastics. The company ceased their production of pianos by 1996 claiming the demand for their pianos was not good enough to continue.
During its many years of piano production, Kimball also produced pianos with the following names: Conn, Jasper-American, W.W Kimball, Hinze, Harrison, Schuerman, DeVoe & Sons, Whittaker, Becker, La Petite, Krakauer, Whitney.
Tuning – Pianos need to be tuned every 6 months to a year to keep them in good condition. How long has it been since your last tuning?
Moving – Get your piano moved from room to room or to a completely new location. Wherever your piano is going, be sure to move it safely.
Rental – We do in-home rentals and event rentals. We can help you get a piano that will fit your occasion. We have rented for weddings, corporate events, restaurants, churches, recitals, theaters, schools, and much more…
Refinishing – We can work with you on your color preferences and help you get your piano looking brand new.
Rebuilding – We can breathe new life into your tired old pianos! From key tops to soundboards, whatever you piano needs, we can do.
Consignment – Selling your piano may go faster if it has some space in our showroom. We’ve had nearly 100 successful consignments in the past 4 years!
Storage – We can store your piano in our shop for a monthly fee.
Accessories - Caster Cups, Benches, Polishing Kits, Lamps (must order)
At ANR Piano, we welcome you in our showroom and hope you enjoy trying out each of our pianos! It’s our policy that we do not hover over you or try to give you a sales pitch. We can help give you direction and answer your questions if you need, but we want YOU to pick out your piano. So please, come in and play, (or if you prefer we will play) any or all of our pianos and let us know if you have questions. Otherwise, the decision is yours!
Behind our showroom is the shop where we service, rebuild, and refinish pianos and you’ll probably walk in finding us hard at work back there. We may even have dusty clothes and dirty hands, but we’re glad to have you come in. We might even give you a quick tour of the shop!