March 2011

Piano Service

If it is a Piano, we do it!

2211 Curtiss St. Downers Grove, IL 60515

Monday – Friday           9AM-7PM
Saturday                       10AM-4PM
Sunday                           by appointment

Back to Teaching
Rules and Commandments

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.


Cognitive scientists will tell us that interrupting the visual flow if information is a significant determent to learning. Looking for the score to your hands back to the score breaks up the information flow into your memory, creating a garbled mess. It is critical for the mastery of playing, that the fingers and arms learn to judge distances without the aid of the eyes. Make the mistakes and learn from them, but do not let the eyes become the crutch of the hands.


Ask anybody whose job involves a significant amount of problem solving and one of their most important techniques for solving intractable problems is to look at the problem from as many different angles as possible. Sometimes it is only after looking at a problem from a fresh perspective can we find an answer.

In music learning this can take the form of studying melodic development or harmonic patterns, especially if this material had been neglected up until now. It could also mean memorizing a passage backwards, ie, the last measure, then the next to last measure and so on until the passage is learned.

As teachers we are ideally teaching our students as many techniques or methods as possible because if we are successful, these students of ours will continue to play and learn music long after lessons have stopped. They need as many tools as we can give them.


“Dear ANR…”

“I have been told by me teacher that I should only use a tuner who uses a tuning machine and I have been told by another teacher that I should only use a tuner who doesn’t use a tuning machine. What is the truth?” Pat

I am glad you asked.

Here is one way to consider the answer. I play a great sounding 7’ Steinway and Sons grand piano that I rebuilt to my own specifications. It has a huge bass and clear treble. Now, with this tool, I can play beautiful music without any effort and I will never make a mistake. Right? Of course not! The piano is simply a tool, a very good one, but still a tool, just like a hammer. It is up to the user to use the tool adequately and with skill to be successful.

Whether a piano tuner uses a Electronic Tuning Device (ETD) or they tune with only their own ears and mind, their success has less to do with the tool they use than the skill they bring to the tool. I have seen tuners who were using an ETD execute a beautiful tuning and others who I wished they hadn’t touched my pianos. I was left wondering if they actually listened to the mess they made of the tuning.  The same goes for aural tuners. Virgil Smith was one of the finest aural tuners I have ever met; people would fly him all over the country to tune their pianos. Other aural tuners would be better off with an EDT. It is more important to check the tuner’s skill and experience than to look for any particular tool in their tool box.


Why Rent a Piano?

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:


One of our Pianos

Conover Pianos 

The founder of Conover pianos, J. Frank Conover, was a very successful wholesaler of pianos in the mid and late 1800s.  Certainly after 3 years of apprenticeship under Albert Weber (founder of Weber pianos) and three years of studying music theory and acoustics, he was a well-learned and well-versed man in his trade. One of his most successful days as a salesman included the sale of five Steinway grand pianos and two Steinway uprights at retail price.  Conover excelled in selling pianos, but building pianos was his passion.  This is why he and his family sold their piano stores, moved to New York, and opened a piano factory of their own.  Conover wished to sell pianos with superior tone quality so he did extensive studies on soundboards and string vibration and set out to make pianos that had exceptional tone.

In 1890, Conover merged with the Cable Piano Company.  The New York factory was shut and the business moved to Chicago.  Conover then worked on scale and redesign of the Cable pianos, but also kept giving special attention to their grand pianos which boasted the Conover name.  Conovers from their early eras of production were of great quality.  Their factory in Oregon, IL on the Rock River is still standing.

Today, you might find the name Conover-Cable on a piano, but you will find that instrument to be drastically different from the Conovers of old.  Many changes in ownership and production have caused this name to not equate with its old reputation.  Here at ANR piano, we often seek out the gems from the past and give them new life so you can enjoy them too.  

We have just finished completely rebuilding and refinishing a Conover 77 from……. It has a new soundboard, pinblock, strings, damper felts, keytops, hammers, shanks, flanges, etc. Come and play a piano built by a master in the golden age and rebuilt by another master with great love and respect.

Come and visit!