Saturday, 5 April 2014

Ottawa Pianos Prepares For the Kiwanis Music Festival

The month of April brings many new things to this piano store.  The much anticipated spring weather should be here, but it is not. Our technicians navigate through one last snow storm, we hope, to prepare the grand pianos for delivery to the largest music festival in the nation's capital.
Ottawa's Kiwanis Music Festival has been there since 1945 for all types of performers of all ages and degrees of education and ability to perform and be adjudicated. Many outstanding musicians have been Kiwanis Music Festival's award recipients in the past: soprano Maria Pelligrini, pianist Angela Hewitt, and of course our very own Dick Papalia who won First Place in the Open Class Accordion Category in 1958 and now the official supplier of pianos for the festival!
As I write this blog I have the beautifully sublime yet passionate  Rachmaninoff's prelude in G playing in the background by one of our students preparing for the festival. The anticipation is building! We are very proud to be part of this incredible process in a student's musical development and we wish all the students the very best!

Musically yours

Saturday, 8 March 2014

What Makes A Good Used Piano?

A Used Piano can mean many things. Pianos have been built in North America since the late 1800's. So used can be anything from a year old to 120 years old!

So lets start with very old pianos. Here are some things to consider:

A piano that is that old has gone through several generations of families and owners. Therefore the piano may have been very well maintained in one household and completely neglected in another.
The make of the piano is less important than the piano's maintenance record.

Pianos Are Like People

The lifespan of a piano is like a human beings. A ten year old piano is still very young! A well maintained 25 year old piano can be an excellent choice for a  student and a 50 year old piano is certainly not past its prime, certainly if it has been taken care of. Just ask any baby boomer! By 70 years    the instrument may have some minor to medium ailments. It will need a little TLC but it certainly may be worth it. Past 75 years a piano can still have value but do not expect the piano to serve as a work horse! Do you know many octogenarians who run olympic marathons? But older adults of course have a value and so do older pianos! 

When in Doubt Hire a Registered Piano Technician

The thing about people selling their piano is that neither the seller nor, (in most cases), the buyer, know much about pianos.  How do you decide on a fair price when nobody knows what the piano is worth?  A pre-buy inspection by a qualified and registered piano technician can save both dollars and heartache.  They will have an idea about the used piano market and will be able to discern the condition of the instrument in question.  In minutes they can tell you what a fair price for the piano would be.  Buying a used piano often involves having it moved professionally and most times the instrument will require several piano tunings to bring it back to pitch.

Friday, 28 February 2014

The Yamaha Silent Piano

What is a Silent Piano? Much attention and thought must have gone into naming a piano "Silent".  Everyone has heard of the GM company calling their car a Nova (meaning doesn't go). GM did well with the Nova in Latin America, even exceeding its sales projections. Yamaha is enjoying tremendous success with the Silent Piano.The Yamaha Silent Piano name provokes curiosity and eagerness to investigate what this is all about! Our customers prove it.

The Silent Piano is the best of both worlds in the Piano Industry. First it is an acoustic piano, a real piano;  the sound is real, the touch authentic, because it is the real thing. But a simple slide to the left with the middle pedal and the instrument is now electric. Put the headphones on and voila!

Perhaps the best evidence that this Silent Piano is being well received  by the consumer is the moment they remove their headphone and ask "Can you hear me play?" Of course we cannot hear you play! But it is that good!

That simple slide of the middle pedal to the left stops the hammer from hitting the string. Sensors under each key measure how the key was played, the volume and how long and then gives you a digital sample sound through your headphone. The fact that the digital sampled sound comes from the world renowned Yamaha Concert Grand makes even it more spectacular for the listener.

This Silent feature is available on uprights AND grand pianos!

Come in and have a listen!

Monday, 10 February 2014

Visiting Yamaha at 2014 NAMM

It is always a treat to visit NAMM and even more to visit the Yamaha Booth.
It is best summed up by this text exchange I had with my 13 year old daughter:


Yamaha Has Many New and Exciting Products This Year!

The P Series has a new one the P-255 It's the new flagship model. A contemporary portable digital piano for all musicians, suitable for practice as well as live performance.

The best things about it:
Graded Hammer action with Synthetic Ivory keys
256-note polyphony
USB audio recording/playback and USB to HOST, USB to DEVICE

Yamaha finally has a White Baby Grand Piano

A classic White Grand Piano can bring beauty to any space. This piano is the beautiful marriage of the Yamaha sound and the stunning white curves of a baby grand.

The Yamaha b3 is now available in three different finishes.

The Yamaha b3 is a 48 inch tall upright. This piano was introduced in Polished Ebony. It is now available in Mahogany and Walnut. This piano is for the ambitious performer on a budget, the b3 delivers a superior sound at an affordable price. 

 The newest thing is the Yamaha TransAcoustic Piano:

 Finally!! a volume control on an acoustic piano!!

The Yamaha Piano Company again has proven to be a leader in the newest technology. This piano manufacturer has introduced the U1TA a fully strung piano with Yamaha's SILENT Piano function. TransAcoustic technology allows the U1TA to produce a uniquely layered acoustic/digital sound and also lets the pianist conveniently control the volume. This technology turns the soundboard into a loudspeaker and all sounds, acoustic and digital, are generated through it. 

This piano is going to be perfect for small performance venues as well as for condominium owners who may need to use the headphones! 

Yamaha Canada's Mike Voelkel Product Manager and Keyboard Product Specialist

Yamaha never stops improving! 

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Who is the Expert?

An Expert-Really?

A bit of a Rant

Would you consider someone who drives a car an expert on Cars?
Would you consider someone who brushes their teeth an expert on Dentistry?
Would you consider someone who uses the Internet an expert on Computers?
So why would you consider a piano performer or an instructor an expert on Pianos?

Sometimes logic just goes out the window! Find an expert, a true expert. Find a piano technician. Find a reputable dealer and ask around, ask friends and co-workers. Arm yourself with some knowledge and then trust your judgement,  your instincts and make up your own mind. We all have an ear we just need to trust it!

A wonderful customer came into our showroom. This customer is very successful and regarded as brilliant in his chosen career. He is not a piano technician. He brought in a piano teacher to choose an instrument for his home. I welcome everyone into our showroom to try our pianos as we all have different opinions and tastes. But my opinion on the sound quality of a tuned piano and someone else is just that, an opinion.      An opinion cannot be better than another's. It is just different.

If a customer is unwilling to make a decision and needs an expert then I suggest you consult an expert: a piano technician!

Oh! The kicker : the expert teacher was on the clock and getting paid for her opinion-Really!

But that is just my Opinion!

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Musical Gifts For Every One!

I am going to start with the babies. No wait, I am going to start before that! By 20 weeks into a pregnancy the baby's ear is developed!  So when I mean there is a musical gift out there for everyone I do think it is possible. There is no available research that listening to music in utero makes a baby smarter but music can be used to create a relaxing ambiance for a new expectant mom.  iTunes cards,  CDs, and any electronic device to play them on is a good idea.

For babies Music Gifts are a great idea, just make sure it is nothing too annoying for the parents, unless of course that is part of the plan. Music can help soothe, entertain and teach the baby. Try different styles: lullubies, upbeat children's songs or classical music. How about a Munchkin Mozart Magic Cube (this is the coolest music toy we ever owned) or a Little Tykes Zylophone or a musical plush toy. 

Toddlers like repetition, they like what is familiar. So be warned if you are going to choose music, you will be hearing it A LOT! Choose wisely! We enjoyed  Elmo and the Orchestra ( you can find it on iTunes) There are so many musical gifts available for this age group; rhythm sets, sing along DVDs (Disney has some good ones)

Older children that play an instrument can always use a metronome, flash cards to help them learn their notes, maybe some easy music books.

The Classical Kids series that include Mr Bach Come to Call, Beethoven Lives Upstairs and Vivaldi's Ring of Mystery are great stories to listen to. You can find them on Amazon my favourite is Tchaikovsky Discovers America.

For the family; how about a piano? Can you see it now the delivery of a Baby Grand Piano on Christmas Eve with a big red bow?

The Gift of Music can be achieved in so many ways. How about organizing a group of friends to go caroling around the neighborhood, while you are at it collect some canned foods for your local food bank.

If you enjoy performing bring your music books to a seniors home. Play for them!

Music is everywhere during this beautiful season. Make music part of your Christmas.

Wishing you a Christmas filled with happiness, peace and music!

Musically yours, 


Sunday, 24 November 2013

Christmas Time at Ottawa Pianos

The season starts early around our store. Our teachers eagerly anticipate the First of November.  Why? You ask,  we start displaying our Christmas Music that day. Remember people, it is not like the movies, students will have been working on that holiday piece for a month or more in order to create that feel good Christmas Magic we all dream about. Teachers also take this opportunity to add a larger sight-reading component to the lesson. Buy the book parents! ALL students will try and sight-read the other Christmas music! It is painless learning. My suggestion; get a Christmas Song book that is a level below what they are actually playing at and watch with pride as they master the songs! You do not want to hear Jingle Bells in July do you?

November is also a GRAND month at Ottawa Pianos. I know it sounds a bit cheesy but its true! We deliver many grand pianos to our customers this month. Our Grand Piano customer in November has been planning this purchase for quite some time.  They have researched pianos and are confident in the decision they have made.  We are proud to be their final choice. 

December comes fast, and the grand piano concert rentals should all be organized. This year the short-term grand piano rentals has already hit an all time high. School recitals, Christmas parties, concerts at Embassies and Churches are soon to be in full swing. Take advantage of what the nations capital has to offer. The Ottawa Citizen has a fantastic list of what is out there:

Mid December panic may have started to set in, what to buy that musical person in your life stay tuned, next week I promise to post some ideas.