Sunday, December 28, 2008

Popularity comes with a Price

Here is an interesting article which discussed on the different brands of pianos and their prices. And how the price reflects the popularity of the brands, which is something to think about when choosing which piano to buy. Enjoy!

Friday, December 26, 2008

History of Hailun Pianos

Some background on Hailun Pianos. I have copied the articles onto this blog, so that I can always keep them even when the website changes. Haha, being kiasu. But the link is per below:=

Hailun, The International Chinese Piano Company: Huge investments in an international design team, cutting-edge technology, and extensive employee training are paying dividends in awards, renown, and rapid sales growth.

Hailun Chen doesn't dismiss the U.S. piano market's current difficulties, but he has good reason to be optimistic about the company that bears his name. At the time of a recent visit of U.S. and Canadian dealers to Hailun Piano's factory in Ningbo, China, the company was annually producing 16,000 finished pianos and many more parts for its OEM partners, and was back-ordered more than 1,200 units. Hailun Distribution Vice President of Sales Stevan Mills quipped, "Who says the piano business is bad?"

Of course, Hailun Piano's prosperity isn't tied solely to the U.S. market. Strong sales and acclaim in Europe have helped establish Hailun as a premier Asian supplier there. And the company's prospects within China are equally bright. Hailun executives estimate that within five years the global demand for pianos, led by the exploding middle class among Chinese consumers, will support production of one million instruments a year worldwide. But in addition to its success in Asia and Europe, Hailun has made an auspicious--some would say market-defying--start in North America. Facilitated by Lilburn, Georgia-based Hailun Distribution LLC, the brand is winning high praise from dealers and consumers alike.

Launched in 2006 as a joint venture and now owned by its founder, pianist and MBA holder Theresa Perry, Hailun Distribution is an elite marketing company that sets new standards for niche product placement and customer support. "As our name states," says Perry, "we are focused solely on making the public aware of these high-quality instruments and the company that manufactures them. I wouldn't represent anything I didn't personally believe in. As a piano player and as a business person, I believe in the Hailun product."

As far back as 20 years ago, when the trend in Chinese manufacturing was undeniably "cheaper, ever cheaper,"

Hailun Chen was already pursuing a different ideal. Products coming from his Ningbo Piano Parts factory became the choice of numerous manufacturers including several "prestige" brands in the West. When he launched Hailun Pianos in 2000, that ethic was even more developed, refined, and uncompromising.

In the ensuing three years Hailun limited itself to making piano backs, along with the hundreds of other parts it had already been supplying, for other manufacturers. (It currently produces approximately 20,500 backs for its OEM customers annually.) It also used that time to develop resources and further hone its manufacturing processes before beginning to produce finished instruments bearing the Hailun Pianos brand.

A capital investment of approximately $44 million helped take the company to that next level. Much of the initial outlay went to equipping the company's 430,000-square-foot factory. State-of-the-art CNC machinery, manufactured in Japan, was custom-designed for Hailun.

Other investments, even more consequential, started with the formation of Hailun's international "Dream Team" of designers. American Frank Emerson, chief scale designer and lead engineer, has 32 years' experience as a piano designer in the U.S., including seven years with Mason & Hamlin. Austrian Peter Veletsky, Hailun's senior technical adviser, represents the fourth generation of the Wendl & Lung piano making family. Now produced at Hailun's Ningbo factory, Wendl & Lung instruments are among Europe's top-selling pianos. Other team members include: Serbia's Zlatkovic Sibin, director of tuning and voicing, whose more than 20 years of experience include a longstanding affiliation with Brsendorfer; Stephen Paulello, scale designer, France's renowned concert piano designer; and Japan's Ema Shigeru, grand piano production director, who personally inspects almost every grand piano produced by Hailun.
"Hailun doesn't have the brand marketing advantage of some companies' long histories," admits Emerson. "However, we have an advantage of not having to adhere to designs created 100 years ago because that's what 'tradition' demands. Having a history of just four years gives us a lot of freedom to build a better piano."

Enlisting world-class piano makers early on was critical to establishing the company's direction and standards as well as its scale designs and manufacturing processes. Since 2000 Hailun Chen has continued along this path by painstakingly assembling a workforce commensurate with both the design team's credentials and his vision for a superior grade of Asian-made pianos. Consistent with his "you get what you pay for" credo, Mr. Chen pays his workers 25% more than workers in comparable piano factory jobs, and he is developing plans to build a 500-room dormitory to house the employees, rent-free.

Hailun's aggressive apprentice program recruits 40 engineering students per year from the Ningbo Institute of Technology. Each student works in the factory for as long as two years. Permanent jobs are offered to only the three who exhibit the greatest skill and dedication. Every Hailun worker is trained for at least one year--those involved in tuning and voicing are trained for at least four years--before being allowed to work on pianos headed for the market. Hailun employs 850 workers at its Ningbo factories and another 400 at branches and sales offices throughout China, Europe, and North America.

Another major distinction for Hailun is the way the company is structured. Determined to create a different class of Asian piano company, Mr. Chen opted to run Hailun Piano as a privately held firm, still a relatively rare phenomenon in China. His motivation? Greater control over manufacturing methods, staffing, and international materials sourcing, over all of which he sought to apply higher standards than a government-owned company would allow. For example, he can--and regularly does--reject wood that doesn't meet the company's exacting specifications.

"The materials used in Hailun pianos are the finest available," says Mills. "Whatever is the best for a specific part is harvested in Siberia, China, Europe, or the U.S. Secondly, Hailun is a limited-production line, producing around 16,000 finished instruments a year, which is not large compared with other Asian manufacturers, including the Japanese brands."

In many ways Hailun Chen embodies China's rising entrepreneurial class. He is as intense and demanding in business as he is a generous and jovial host. Believing that life without compromise is not the same as life without balance, he balances, for example, his love of wine and fine dining with the self discipline to run four miles every morning.

Hailun Chen's bold strategy--his emphasis on quality and willingness to spend more and charge more than other Chinese manufacturers--was aimed squarely at the European and North American markets. Accordingly, the "overnight" popularity of Hailun pianos in China took the CEO by surprise. "He wasn't expecting Chinese consumers to pay the higher price, at least not right away," admits Hailun Distribution National Service Manager Joe Swenson. "As the Chinese market becomes more affluent, more people are looking for a higher-quality instrument, and Hailun has already established itself as a high-quality brand."

It's been said that making one high-quality piano is easy; making thousands of consistently high-quality pianos is hard. Hailun Chen stresses that building the company's reputation demands the most stringent quality control and high levels of manufacturing standardization. In 2005 the company invested in custom-designed, five-axis CNC machinery. Use of these high-tech devices ensures consistent accuracy throughout Hailun pianos' construction, including soundboard cutting and shaping, rib attachment, pin-block drilling, and tuning pin installation. Strict adherence to instituted procedures has earned Hailun's factory the global standard ISO9001:2000 CCIC certification for quality management systems.

Hailun's design and manufacturing capabilities were most recently showcased with the debut of its new Concert Performer Series. The series comprises four entirely new models: the H-31P 52" Professional Upright and three grands--the HG198 (6'5"), HG218 (7'2"), and HG277 (9'1"). Perry comments, "To not only design but also put into production and have market-ready this magnificent series in less than two years is a clear demonstration of Hailun's world-class engineering and manufacturing prowess."

Hailun's huge investments and high-road approach are being vindicated by some of the piano world's toughest critics: tuners and technicians. Mike Carraher and Keith Bowman had operated separate, competing businesses as piano technicians in south central Pennsylvania for 30 years when they began noticing Hailun pianos at trade shows. They were so impressed they joined forces, doing business as Performance Pianos, solely to begin selling the Hailun line from their shops. "We've worked on every type of piano," says Bowman. "Absolutely everyone we've met who's played a Hailun, whether they're consumers or other technicians--including all the techs who are members of our chapter of the Piano Technicians Guild--has had a very positive experience. With most new pianos, you have to kind of wrestle them into tune and optimum playing order. Our track record with Hailun is short, but their pianos almost seem to 'want' to be in tune."

Veteran retailers, too, are giving the brand very high marks. Despite trimming his lines over the past year, Richard Moir of Moir Pianos in Kelowna, British Columbia, took on the Hailun line eight months ago. "Hailun pianos represent an exceptional value," he says. "They sound great, and we sold them very quickly." Fellow Canadian Brian Schmidt of The Piano Gallery in Calgary, Alberta, commented, "If [piano customers] could see how much technology and attention to detail and handwork go into [making] these pianos, they'd never complain about a $10,000 or $20,000 price tag."

Hailun's slogan, "Aspire to Higher Performance," was coined to reflect Hailun Distribution's guiding philosophy. Already the instruments it represents are living up to this ideal with recognition from all corners of the piano community. Prestigious European Hailun owners include the University of Music and Dramatic Arts in Graz, Austria; Conservatoire de Paris; Henry Wood Hall in London; and Weinen Music Seminar and Musikverein in Vienna. In 2005 a Hailun piano was chosen for a performance for a European Chinese Association Peace Celebration, the first time a Chinese piano was featured at the famed "Golden Hall," home of the Vienna Philharmonic. Closer to home, Hailun is the only piano manufacturer to win China's most prestigious high-tech award, and in 2006 it became the first privately held, non-government company to receive the prestigious "China's Top Brand Name" designation. Despite its solid credentials in Europe and China, Hailun and its growing North American dealer network have only begun to win American consumer awareness. Bob Purdon of The Piano Company in Leesburg, Virginia, likens the task to the challenge Kawai faced when introducing the Shigeru line to the American market. "The great news with Hailun is that its price-value ratio is simply unbeatable," he says. "We've been selling the line for about eight months, and we've been extremely pleased. The Hailun grands compare well with European grands selling for $20,000, $30,000, even $50,000."

The Piano Company's Antoinette Purdon recalls, "The other day a man walked past all 130 pianos on our floor, pointed to a Hailun, and said, 'My wife wants that piano.' She was taken with its cabinet, a show-stopping bird's-eye maple all over the fallboard and under the lid that was comparable to the very best that Europe can provide--but at the price of a Chinese piano."

For customers who seem interested in a Hailun but remain cautious, Bob Purdon asks them during the qualification process if they think they might resell the instrument within three years. Most, of course, say they wouldn't. After acknowledging that Hailun is a relatively unknown brand, which would affect its resale value in the short term, he suggests that it is destined to be a well-known, highly respected brand in the years to come. This sales strategy reinforces the idea that Hailun's quality represents not just a great value, but also a wise investment.

"The Hailun dealer family represents a dedicated, savvy group of business people who recognize the dedication of the Hailun factory and the quality of its products," says Perry. "There is no question that we are partners in building the Hailun brand in the Americas."

Hailun Chen's goal to lead a world-class piano company won't be attained quickly or easily, but with steely resolution and courageous independence he has been advancing steadily toward it for much of his career. "Twenty years ago," he explains, "when Chinese piano manufacturers began exhibiting pianos at Musikmesse, people said, 'It's too cheap; that's not for playing; that's a toy!' The quality was far inferior to what they were used to seeing, so the Western world's first impression of Chinese pianos was very bad. That's the reason why we decided that we must do much better, making pianos that are much better than what people are expecting from a Chinese manufacturer. After much hard work, we are now making the kind of pianos we can be proud of."

Hailun Distribution LLC (770) 381-3871

Pianos Of The World
* Rims constructed of maple and basswood from China
* Soundboard made of Siberian spruce, prized for its tight grain structure
* Hammer heads made of AAA Siberian maple
* Pin block made of 17-18 plies of hard rock maple from Siberia
* Wet-sand.cast plate forged in China
* Vertical piano hammer felt made in Japan
* Grand piano hammer felt made in Germany
* Heinsworth English felt for key felts
* Roslau strings, made in Germany, for larger grands
* Mapes strings, made in USA, for smaller grands

Metronome Online

Being cheapo, I do not think is necessary to buy a metronome at this era where everything is available on the web, especially for a tool whose main purpose is to have tick tick tick sounds at the rate of the desired tempo. Hence a google search brings me to this online metronome, which I think is useful for all piano students and teachers.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Schubert Piano

In the end, I have given my dear Schubert piano to my sister, which is actually for my niece. My niece is only 18 months old, but seems to enjoy that instrument a lot. And the best part is, they also stay in Sengkang and I can always go visit my dear Schubert whenever I go their house. Hope my dear Schubert can bring lots of joy and pleasure to my niece as she plays with it.

My other sister actually also wants it, but well, for some reasons, it was given to my 2nd sister. But I am glad that the piano still stays within the family. I almost sold it away at a cheap price. Because of me, my family starts to learn more about pianos as well.

I bought a new Hailun HL125!!!

Yeah!! After months of shopping, I finally bought a new Hailun HL125 (professional model) from PianoMaster International which was delivered to my house on the 24 Dec 2008. I paid in cash and so of coz it is much cheaper than the list price. Here are the pictures:-

Saturday, December 13, 2008

My new Piano Teacher

After so many years of waiting, I finally decided to start taking formal piano lessons and also to take my piano exams. Hence, I wanted to look for a teacher in Sengkang (near my house). And after some google search on the web, I found my 2nd piano teacher. Well, I felt that going back to my first piano teacher was not feasible, since she stays in Toa Payoh and I have moved house to Sengkang after marriage. Contacts of my 2nd piano teacher is here:

I am not very interested in joining the schools that are available in Sengkang, which is either Cristofori & Sonare, maybe because the teachers are usually part-time teachers, who are still schooling themselves. Hence, they are most probably younger than myself, and hence not as experienced in teaching piano. Also, I heard that in these schools, the teachers will insist that you start from Beginners again, and may ask you to buy this and buy that during the lessons, even when the classes are cheaper. Some even says that they teach practical and theory separately. So you need to sign up for both courses to learn both, which would be more expensive than if you have just get a private teacher.

So now back to my new Piano Teacher. Guess what? She was my JC schoolmates and we were in choir together. So cool! As a teacher, after trying out 3 lessons, I think she is ok. Able to pick up my weaknesses and areas to improve. Very systematic, on doing theory, doing small theory tests, doing scales and choosing practical books to help improve my weaknesses. But the only problem so far is that I cannot take lessons on weekends, coz she is only available on weekdays. And as a working adult, it is actually quite difficult for me. But will just see how it goes...

Books I am using now:-
1. Manuscript Book
2. Improve your sight-reading Grade 1
3. Music Theory in Practice (Eric Taylor) ABRSM Publishing Grade 1
4. Piano Scales & Broken Chords (from 2009) Grade 1
5. Keys to Stylistic Mastery (28 Late Elementary to Early Intermediate Pieces from Five Style Periods)

More Shopping Trips

Would like to share more piano shopping trips:-

Asia Piano @ Citimac Industrial Complex

The salesperson was Leonard at Asia Piano. They have a wide collection of 2nd hand pianos (I think almost all are Kawai and Yamaha pianos). These pianos are those that were manufactured for the Japan market, and they were exported out of Japan as 2nd hand pianos which are then being sold here. Hence, it is considered the "grey market". These pianos are suppose to have their original parts, with some reconditions being done. But when I looked at the pianos, they are usually very new in the inside and the felts and hammers still looks very new. This is because (what they told me) that the weather and air in Japan is cooler and drier, and hence, is actually a perfect environment for pianos, which is the reason why it can maintain the pianos for a longer period compared to those that are in more humid and hot countries like Singapore.

Back to the shopping experience, Asia Piano has different ages of Kawai and Yamaha, ranging from 1 year to the maximum of 30 years old. Leonard says that he would not sell any pianos older than 30 years, because after that might be too old. I saw a few which I like, the Kawai K3 which is 27 years old at about S$3.3k and a Yamaha U3 which is 26 years old at about $4.0k. Personally, I feel that the pianos seem to cost too much for such an old instrument though truely speaking, it does not look as old as it is. Asia Piano also offers very attractive packages like giving a 5 years warranty for the pianos they sell. And if within the first year of purchase, you are not happy with the piano which you bought, then they are willing to do a one for one swap with another pianos (regardless of brand and model) that they have. However, the maximum rebate that they are willing to give is about $500, for one that is cheaper than the original one which you have chosen, which is something which I feel comfortable. But still, I feel that the pianos are too expensive. But it is also because that it is expensive that the perks are better. As there is allways a lot of this sort of market, I did not really shortlist any one, but rather, am I ok to buy "grey market" pianos.

Robert Pianos @ Parkway Parade

There is much lesser pianos here. Mostly are 2nd hand Kawai pianos. They do not sell Yamaha pianos here. But the selection here is limited. And the Parkway Parade branch is suppose to be the one which have the cheapest pianos compared to the other Robert Pianos branches. But nothing caught my attention, so after a while, I left. And the pianos there are generally more expensive than those in Asia Piano. But they are also younger which is about 11 to 19 years old range.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Yamaha Pianos Serial Numbers

Dealers selling used Yamaha pianos may offer you misleading advice about the age of a piano. For your peace of mind, you need to check the serial number. All Yamaha pianos display a serial number beneath the top lid: in an upright piano the number is located on the upper right-hand side of the gold iron frame, whereas on a grand piano it is found at the front of the gold iron frame near the tuning pins in the front right-hand side of the instrument. Below is a list of serial numbers and the corresponding ages of the pianos to which they refer.

....Year..................Serial Number
1900-1926 .................. 10,000

1926-1934 .................. 20,000
1934-1938 .................. 30,000
1938-1947 .................. 40,000

1947-1952 .................. 50,000
1952-1958 .................. 90,000
1959-1960 ................. 120,000
1961-1962 ................. 180,000

1963-1964 ................. 300,000
1965-1967 ................. 570,000
1968-1970 ................. 980,000
1971-1972 ............... 1,340,000
1973-1974 ............... 1,740,000

1975-1976 ............... 2,150,000
1977-1978 ............... 2,570,000
1979-1980 ............... 3,300,000
1981-1983 ............... 3,680,000
1984-1986 ............... 4,210,000

1987-1989 ............... 4,690,000
1990-1992 ............... 5,080,000
1993-1995 ............... 5,390,000
1996-1998 ............... 5,590,000

1999-2001 ............... 5,920,000
2002-2004 ............... 6,060,000
2005-2007 ............... 6,300,000

Monday, November 10, 2008

More information on Digital Pianos

Comparison of the different digital piano brands:!94544F51A3069B73!237.entry

Comments & recommendation on the different digital piano brands:

Conclusion for Yamaha Digital Pianos:
The Yamaha's GH, GH3, sample dynamics, natural wood are "fancy terms to SELL you a more expensive piano"? The basic Clavinova is sufficient. The author practiced for his Grade 8 on a basic Yamaha Clavinova (15 years ago). It did him well. The difference in sound & touch is minimal, though slightly better as you go up the models. But not worth spending huge dollar amount difference for the slight improvement of touch. So maybe I will get a Yamaha CLP320 then. The YDP series are lower models compared to CLP series.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Getting a Digital Piano

After various months of evaluating, I have decided that I will get a Digital Piano instead. However, I still hope to own a grand one day. Main reason for going towards the Digital Piano route is because I stay in a HDB, I don't have a sound proof room, I can only practice at night during weekdays after work, and I don't want to disturb my hubby when he is reading his books, and disturb my neighbours. Imagine me playing and replaying the same song, part of the song, practising the scales & apreggios 4 - 5 hrs a day. Well, I think I should not disturb the peace and quiet.

Moreover, I intend to pass down this piano to my kids when they are at their learning age. Imagine one kid playing on the piano and the other trying to study. And imagine one kid practice after another, and then my turn. While, others just need some rest, some peace to study or read books.

Also, the lighter weight of the digital piano also makes moving the piano easier. As kids grow up, furnitures will need to shift/re-arrange to accomodate for each other and to create more space and so on. Moving an acoustic piano is difficult coz it is heavy, and because it is also important to choose where to place the piano. But I can put the digital piano anywhere.

However, I still hope to own a grand piano one day where we can play on it when we have mastered a song using the digital piano, to learn the techniques that only acoustic pianos have.

As for the digital piano which I am interested are the Yamaha Clavinova series. Because it looks nicer, with a cabinet and a chair that comes with it. Also, it is suppose to have the better actions which imitate that of a grand piano. And I wanted something that is not too expensive, so I am considering either CLP320 and CLP330. The main difference between the 2 models are that the CLP320 is using GH (Graded Hammer) and CLP330 is using GH3 technology. I tried both digital pianos. Actually I cannot feel the difference. But of coz CLP330 looks nicer, with more buttons, and suppose to have better technology that resembles a grand piano. But is like $500 more expensive. Is it worth it?

The difference between the 2 technology are given below.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Music Composition Book

Recently, I bought a new book from Kinokuniya at Ngee Ann City:

"The Complete Idiot's Guide to Music Composition (The Complete Idiot's Guide)"
by Michael Miller

I feel that the book is very good. It helps me to understand how to apply the Music Theory which I have learnt. But it assumes that you already know your music theory, so it does not cover them, but rather explain how these theories are applied to music composition. It even introduce different musical instruments and explains how to combine them to form an orchestra. I suppose when you can successfully compose a piece (classical or pop song), you would have master a certain degree of music theory.

Keep the creativity flowing...

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Piano Shopping Experience

Piano Master (@ Geylang East)
Piano Master gives me a very home feeling. The sales person was very nice, I can feel free to play on the pianos (uprights and grands) to compare the different pianos together. I feel very comfortable there, and had the chance to listen to the salesperson share her perspectives on choosing a piano. I played a few Chinese pop songs on the different pianos, and I like 2 pianos. Both are Hailun. The 125cm upright and the grand (I think is the 161). Both have a very thick and sweet sound. Both pianos should be able to last till my kids reach Grade 8 (if they ever reach that standard). The upright is S$3,600 which I think it is affordable. And the grand was around S$10,000 (I forgot the exact price), but is definitely out of my reach. Hence the Hailun upright is shortlisted.

Yamaha (@ Thomson Plaza and @ Plaza Singapura)
I tried the Yamaha CLP320, CLP330 and the digital grand piano series. They feel quite real. But generally I feel that digital pianos have their keys quite bouncy. But something that I don't like about CLP320 is that I cannot control the metronome other than the + and - buttons. For S$1,800, it has limited functions even though it has 3 levels of sampling. However CLP330 has better functions, but S$500 more expensive, which is quite significant. As for the digital grand pianos, the sound was very sweet. I liked the sound a lot. But they are over S$10,000, and I still feel that Yamaha digital pianos are too expensive.

I get the chance to try the Silent Pianos as well. I tried the U1. Yes, the sound is very sweet and the touch is very nice. But a silent one is S$9,000. So expensive! But since everyone likes to compare their pianos with U1 (which is suppose to be the standard pianos usually like to compare with). I looked at the hammers, very nice, but not very straight though. But clean and good.

Too bad, their grand pianos are in another glass room, which I need to ask the salesperson if I wish to try the pianos. Haha. I am not a very good pianist, so shy to request. Anyway, I don't have the intention to buy.

Luther Music (@ Excelsior Shopping Centre)
Luther Music is a shop that sells guitars and digital pianos. I tried Korg SP250, same thing, I feel that the keys were bouncy. However, it has more function buttons than the Yamaha CLP320, and it is at S$970. So much cheaper than Yamaha CLP320. But of coz, it does not come with the casing, and the salesperson told me that Korg SP250 only has 2 level sampling. I also tried the Yamaha P85 and P140. I thought P140 is good. The salesperson told me that Yamaha P140 is made in Japan, but all CLP series are made in Indonesia. And P140 is about S$1,800 as well, with more function buttons than CLP320, but also without casing. I also tried Casio digital pianos. Same thing, the keys are very bouncy. In fact, the feel is similar to the Korg one. And Casio are slightly more expensive, so I am not interested. I also forgot which Casio models I tried. But I can't find any other that is cheaper than Korg SP250. So I didn't look further.

But this shop is good in the sense that if you have a particular digital piano model in mind, eben when they do not have it available for you to try, you can ask them about their prices, I feel that the prices are generally cheaper and they can help you order, and deliver to your house.

Carrerfour (@ Plaza Singapura)
For those who are interested in Casio digital pianos, you should be able to find a few more models in Carrerfour. You can sit there and keep playing, no salesperson will come and bother you. I saw an uncle happily sitting there and played for as long as I was there trying out the different models. But no one came and disturb us. I think we were there for an hour or so.

Cristofori (@Bedok)
I tried a few pianos at Cristofori. Personally, don't quite like the feeling, coz the salesperson is using hard selling. Maybe I have the very naive look.

That aside, I tried their Cristofori pianos. For a 121cm, it was $4k+. The salesperson says it is the same as Yamaha U1, at half the price of Yamaha U1. Cristofori is a stencil brand. I am not sure what is the original brand. When I tried, I would the piano is ok, nothing fantastic, but a decent piano, with quite a sweet sound. But I still like Hailun pianos better. Moreover, Cristofori is more expensive. I tried Samick and Pearl River. Both less than 121cm (can't remember the height). Samick is about $4k and Pearl River is about $3.2k (cheaper than Hailun). Samick is also ok, but I don't quite like it's appearance, trying to be too contemporary and I still prefer Hailun's sound at a cheaper price. As for Pearl River, I heard very bad comments about it. But is not as bad as I expected. It has a very bright sound. I prefer a more thick chocolate kind of sound. And it is too short. For the same height, I can get a Hailun at 2k+. So no point considering further.

1. Grand Piano:
Too expensive. Out!

2. Upright Piano:
Hailun 125cm S$3,600 (can bargain somemore, can consider)
Hailun 120cm S$2,899 (haven't tried, but if sounds good and can bargain, can consider)

3. Digital Piano:
Korg SP250 $970 (To enable me to practice at night, but is it necessary? Can consider.)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Suzuki Method for Young Children

The information below is what I have derived based on the information which I can find about the "Suzuki Method" which is a method that is used to expose a young children to music, and developing the talent in each child. This method is "invented" by Suzuki based on his observation on how young children learn their mother tongue. And using the same concept, the "Suzuki method" has been developed.

Many young children now are using the "Suzuki method" to expose them to music. This method is used for children who are below 5 years old, when their attention span is still very short, and it is almost impossible to make the young child sit beside the piano for anything more than 15 mins. Older kids (those who are above 5 years old) will usually start to use the traditional method (which is reading scores) to learn an instrument when their attention span is substantially longer.

My personal view is that we can always expose a young child to music through the "Suzuki method" from 3 or 4 years old until they are 6 years old, before moving them to the traditional method, where it will involve taking the graded exams, reading scores and writing scores.

Suzuki Method works on the fact that children learns through copying the actions of the adults, listening and repetition. Hence, the focus is on playing the music which the children are always hearing, play music by ear, let the child learn how to play an instrument by showing how the adult does it. This is the same way how a child learn to walk and talk before able to read and write.

When a child learns to speak, the following factors are at work:
# Listening

# Motivation
# Repetition
# Step-by-step mastery
# Memory
# Vocabulary
# Parental Involvement
# Love

Encourage the child to keep perfecting the song with emotion and expression, and after they have mastered a piece, slowly move on to another one by one. The main thing is to ensure that the learning is fun.

Although there is no statistics to show that children who underwent the "Suzuki method" will turn out to be musicians when they grow up, but they will typically be able to appreciate and music when they grow up even if it means playing for leisure only.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Major Scales

Major Scales (12 of them altogether)
C Major: no flats no sharps
G Major: 1 sharp (F#)
D Major: 2 sharps (F#, C#)
A Major: 3 sharps (F#, C#, G#)
E Major: 4 sharps (F#, C#, G#, D#) = 8 flats
B Major: 5 sharps (F#, C#, G#, D#, A#) = 7 flats
Gb Major: 6 flats (Bb, Eb, Ab, Db, Gb, Cb) = 6 sharps
Db Major: 5 flats (Bb, Eb, Ab, Db, Gb) = 7 sharps
Ab Major: 4 flats (Bb, Eb, Ab, Db) = 8 sharps
Eb Major: 3 flats (Bb, Eb, Ab)
Bb Major: 2 flats (Bb, Eb)
F Major: 1 flat (Bb)
Note: All major scales has the pattern of TTSTTTS

Please practice the scales with both hands. This is useful to train the flexibility, strength and fingerings. Try to repeat the scales in pp, p, mp, mf, f, ff (which are of different loudness). Also, play the scales like you are playing a phrase. In a legato method.

Moving up with more and more # keys
To move from C major (no # & b) to G major (F#), it is moving 7 semitones up, or 5 steps up (like C D E F G) along the scale.
Similarly to move from G major (F#) to D major (F# C#), it is moving 7 semitones up, or 5 steps up (like G, A, B, C, D)
Similarly to move from D major (F# C#) to A major (F# C# G#), it is moving 7 semitones up, or 5 steps up (like D, E, F#, G, A)
Similarly to move from A major (F# C# G#) to E major (F# C# G# D#), it is moving 7 semitones up, or 5 steps up (like A, B, C#, D, E)
and so on...

Moving down with more and more b keys
To move from C major (no # & b) to F major (Bb) it is moving 7 semitones down, or 5 steps down (like C B A G F) along the scale.
Similarly to move from F major (Bb) to Bb major (Bb Eb) it is moving 7 semitones down, or 5 steps down (like F E D C Bb) along the scale.
Similarly to move from Bb major (Bb Eb) to Eb major (Bb Eb Ab) it is moving 7 semitones down, or 5 steps down (like Bb A G F Eb) along the scale.
and so on...

Sunday, September 7, 2008

My Views on Piano Learning

Many parents in Singapore wanted their kids to learn a lot of things, hoping that they will develop all rounded skills. And learning piano is a common thing that almost all parents who can afford this "luxury" will want their kids learn the piano. Sometimes, this is also due to peer pressure and comparison, like if who and who is learning, and by not wanting to lose to whose and whose kid, I want my child to learn as well. And there will be endless pressure on the kids to clear the piano exams as young as they can, with the highest marks possible. As there will always be comparison with their cousins, sibling and friends on who is doing better than who. Hence, some children who learn piano are very exam focussed, and they will practice the exam pieces over and over again, doing just want is needed to clear the exams. And finally when they have met the expectations of their parents of completing Grade 8 exams (for example), some will just stop playing the piano completely. Which saddens me a lot. And at the end of it, so what if you have attained the Grade 8 qualifications?

In Singapore, what are the jobs that piano playing can go into? I think most people will go into piano teaching, some might go into selling pianos, some might go into becoming a piano technicians, some who are able to compose songs may turn famous on their works, some better ones might become part of the concert team to perform internationally, and some might work in hotels to play the pianos. So come to think of it, there is opportunities for people who are musically inclined and want to pursue this area of interest. No longer like in the past, where learning music is considered as useless. As more and more Singaporeans starts to learn piano, the market is created for more musicians to be groomed and developed.

However, I feel that piano learning should be based on interest. While it is good to expose to the children to music, but there are some who are just not as musically inclined, so they hate going to piano lessons. I think under this kind of situations, we should not force the child too much. In fact, I realised that finding a piano teacher who can connect with the kid is very important, to ensure that the teacher can help to keep the child's interest in music. So it is important to find a teacher who is good (with sufficient qualifications) and have a flair for teaching. It is essential for kids to build a strong music foundation and listening skills in order to excel in this field. Sometimes, I also feel that it might be beneficial to change teachers at different point of their piano learning journey as different teachers may have ways of explaining the same thing, which can help the child to understand and derive their own ways of understanding it.

Also, I feel that we should not put too much pressure on the child when he/she is young to do the graded exams, which might kill their interest totally. Instead, work on building their skills, their music theory and interests are more important, and when they are older, slowly exposing them to exams when they are ready. At the end of it, music should be something which you enjoy and appreciates and not a paperchase kind of qualifications. I guessed all of us are already doing paperchase academically, so why add another one to it?

Friday, September 5, 2008

Things to ask for when buying pianos

These are the list of things which you can effectively ask for when you shop for pianos, when bargaining for the lower price or some throw in:-

1. Heater rod
2. Adjustable seat with storage
3. Pedal socks (3)
4. Piano cover
5. Cleaning liquid for wood finish and keys
6. Cleaning cloth
7. Guarantee (parts and labour) for 10 years and more ?
8. Buy back opportunity?
9. Pay by installments?
10. Free 2 years tunings (default is 1 year 2 times)

Piano Brands

The Piano Book - Larry Fine

Here is a link which I found on the web by The Piano Book by Larry Fine:-

This is the grouping of the different piano brands based on their track record and their performance based on feedback (I think). However, please use it as a guide only. At the end of it, pianos are all hand made one, so it is very much dependent on the skill of the technician who had assemble the pianos. So what is important is you like the sound and the piano is good enough for your use.

Piano Shopping - Things I Learnt

I have went to a few places for Piano shopping, and learnt a lot of things on pianos. Hence would like to share here:-

To recondition my dear Schubert?
I have the old Schubert, which I actually wanted to replace because after many years of playing, the action of the piano keys are not as responsive. Effectively, all the keys are still working, as in the keys will bounce back when they are pressed, but if I want to hit the same key at fast repetition, it has a limit as the key needs time to bounce back. Also, when I hit the same key too fast for some of the keys. I can hear the knocking sounds. I suppose it is the normal wear and tear of all pianos. My old Schubert is about 35 years old now. And I had wanted to recondition it, to see if I can extend the lifespan of it. However, most people advise me against it, as they says that the money spent on the reconditioning could be better spent on a new decent piano. Of what I remembered, to recondition a piano, it will need about $1k to $2k about 8 years ago. With the inflation that had happened over the years, I suppose now would already be more than that. So, if I do a calculation, it would be better off buying a new piano. Recondition is usually meant for pianos which are of very good make, and only need to change certain parts. Or when the piano has sentimental value. As for my Schubert, yes, I love it, but I am still a more practical person.

To dispose my dear Schubert?
If I were to buy a new piano, then I will need to find out ways to dispose a piano. According to the advice from the Piano Forumers, the normal way is to sell to the Karang Guni in Singapore, who hopefully will recycle the piano, since it is made of wood. However, because my piano is not in that bad a condition. Effectively, I can still play and enjoy it, so when I get a new piano, I am hoping to donate or to give it free to anyone who is keen in learning piano, but is unable to afford the cost of buying one. Or maybe, keep it and let my nieces, nephews and kids play with it for fun.

Digital Pianos vs Acoustic Pianos?
Digital pianos are electronics, where the sounds are usually pre-recorded using sampling method so as to produce the different loudness when the keys are pressed with different strengths. However, it is still digital in action, meaning to say, the dynamics which can be produced by a digital is limited compared to an acoustic piano. For the study of classical music, it is necessary to use acoustic pianos to be able to practice and learn how to control the keys to give the feeling and dynamics needed to express the piece. Some piano teachers might even not want to teach students who are using digital pianos.

Also, digital pianos are electronics which have a lifespan of say, how many times can a key be pressed before it is spoilt (like all the electrical applicances which we have at home), and the lifespan of a digital piano is definitely shorter than that of a acoustic piano, typically based on the warranty period. Once the chips are burnt, no sound means no sound. Not like acoustic pianos, because it is mechanical parts, hence it can still have sound even after many many years. So, if I am talking about normal performance, I am comparing 8 years with 30 years.

However, digital pianos have the advantage that it does not require any tuning, regulating, voicing and yearly maintenance like an acoustic piano. Also, because it is digital, it can be linked to the computer to upload and download music, translate what has been played into scores and even replay what had been played. And for the money you spend on a high-end digital piano, usually can only get you a low-end acoustic piano.

Personally, I am looking for a decent but not too expensive piano that my family and I can enjoy for many years, and good enough for my kids to take exams if they are interested, or just to play for leisure. Even if they do not play, I can still play for fun. So, judging from the lifespan, budget and my needs, I prefer acoustic pianos.

New vs Second Hand?
New pianos usually comes with warranty (for parts and labour) for quite a long period (about 10 years) from the manufacturer.

As for second hand pianos, if you are buying a reconditioned piano, where the parts has been replaced, then you will need a technician whom you can trust to go down with you to examine the piano. How well these are reconditioned depends on the parts that are used, and also the technical expertise of the person whom reconditioned these pianos. However, there are not that many piano reconditioning technicans in Singapore given that Singapore is still a pretty small country (in land area size), so I would personally not choose second hand reconditioned pianos.

As for second hand imported pianos, these pianos are sold and used in some other countries for 10, 20 and even 30 years. But because the weather in the foreign countries are very good, and hence ther parts are still relatively ok despite the long years of usage. However, these pianos are usually not built for the humidity and temperature in Singapore, and hence, the piano might not be able to settle in well in Singapore, and might degrade very rapidly. Hence, I personally would not choose these pianos.

However, if you are able to find a second hand piano which is preferably less than 10 years old, and had been through moderate use (not like people who are in the higher grade, had been practising on the piano), those pianos usually have very damaged hammers, so not very good buy. But for those who bought a piano, but their kids give up playing after a few years. Then ok, these are ok pianos to buy. But there again, please engage a technician to help you look through it, test all the keys, the pedals before committing. Usually these pianos still have warranty coverage as well.

So, for me, I am either open to new pianos or used pianos less than 10 years old made for Singapore use. I was also told that sometimes it is better to buy a second hand better make piano than a new worse make piano.

Difference between Grand Pianos and Upright Pianos
The difference between Grand pianos and Upright pianos is the action of the hammers. Grand pianos allows the hammers to fall into its rest position when no keys are pressed with gravity, and therefore has much lesser moving parts compared to upright pianos. In pianos, the lesser the number of moving parts, the better it is because for every error in the moving parts, the pianos keys would be affected. As for upright pianos, they are usually separated into different category like spinet, console, studio and professional. These categories are separated by the difference in height. Basically, the taller the upright piano, the better it is because, the strings are longer for vibration, they have a larger soundboard and thereby a louder sound, and the action of the hammer has less moving parts.

Another obvious difference, is that grand piano looks really magnificant in one's home. So, it is really a nice piece of furniture. So personally, of coz I love to have a grand piano, but they are much more expensive than uprights. So, sigh, my budget does not allow that. But if I come across a good one, why not?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Piano Music School at Sengkang

Cristofori Music School (Sengkang)
Blk 118 Rivervale Drive
#02-02 Rivervale Plaza, Singapore 540118
Tel: 63845505
Fax: 62449555

Opening Hours: Monday - Friday 1.00pm - 9.00pm
Saturday 9.00am - 9.00pm
Sunday 9.00am - 5.00pm
Public Holiday Closed

Sonare Music School (Sengkang Branch)
1 Sengkang Square
#04-08 Compass Point,
Singapore 545078
Tel: 65473456 / 3233
Fax: 65670884
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday (11.00am - 9.30pm)

Cristofori Music School Charges
Adult Classical Piano Course: Classes are 1 to 1 30 mins class per session 44 to 46 classes per year
Registration Fees: S$21.40

Course Fees for 1 Term (11 or 12 lessons which is ~ 3 months)
Beginners: S$256.80/term (quoted)
Grade 1: S$321.00/term (quoted)
Grade 2: S$385.20/term (quoted)

Equivalent Monthly Fees (my estimation):
Beginners: S$85.60/mth (estimate)
Grade 1: S$107.00/mth (estimate)
Grade 2: S$128.40/mth (estimate)
Grade 3: S$149.80/mth (estimate)
Grade 4: S$171.20/mth (estimate)
Grade 5: S$192.60/mth (estimate)

Sonare Music School
Adult Classical Piano Course: Classes are 1 to 1 45 mins class per session 44 classes per year
Registration Fees: S$21.40
Deposit: S$85.00 (refundable at the end of the course)

Monthly Fees (with my estimation):
Beginners: S$90.95/mth (quoted)
Grade 1: S$96.30/mth (quoted)
Grade 2: S$107.00/mth (quoted)
Grade 3: S$128.40/mth (estimate)
Grade 4: S$149.80/mth (estimate)
Grade 5: S$171.20/mth (estimate)

2 exams per year:
1. Feb/Mar
2. Aug/Sep

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Piano Maintenance

The Piano Care information below is from:

A piano brings a lifetime of enjoyment to you and your family. As you might expect with any investment of this size, a piano requires periodic servicing to provide outstanding performance year after year. But to understand what maintenance is required, it's important to understand the nature of the piano. The beautiful, natural sound of a piano is due to the remarkable blending of such materials as wood, metal, buckskin, and wool. Together they create a uniquely timeless sound that no other instrument in the world can duplicate. While electronic synthesizers may approximate the sound of an acoustic piano, they cannot approach the true beauty of the real thing.

How should I care for my piano's wood finish?
As with any piece of fine furniture, keeping drinks off finished wood surfaces is a simple rule always to follow. New piano finishes generally require only occasional cleaning with either a dry or damp cotton cloth. Older piano finishes may benefit from an occasional polishing with a good quality polish, but frequent polishing is not recommended.

What is the piano's action and why does it need maintenance?
When you look inside your piano, you'll find a cast iron plate or "harp" strung with steel and copper-wound strings over a large expanse of wood which is the soundboard. If you look closer, you'll discover an intricate system of levers, springs, and hammers connected to the keyboard. The complex system which causes a hammer to strike a string when you press a key is called the piano's action. It is a marvel of engineering composed largely of wood and wool felt. This mechanism needs to be responsive to every nuance of the pianist's touch -- from loud, thunderous chords to soft, delicate passages.
When a piano leaves the factory, each of its parts is adjusted to a tolerance of a few thousandths of an inch. Because the wood and felt parts of the action may change dimension due to humidity and wear, the action must be serviced occasionally to maintain its responsive qualities.

How does humidity affect my piano?
Extreme swings from hot to cold or dry to wet are harmful to your piano. Dryness causes the piano's pitch to go flat; moisture makes it go sharp. Repeated swings in relative humidity can cause soundboards to crack or distort. Extreme dryness also can weaken the glue joints that hold the soundboard and other wood portions of the piano together. Moisture may lead to string rust. A piano functions best under fairly consistent conditions which are neither too wet or dry, optimally at a temperature of 68 degrees F and 42 percent relative humidity. Using an air conditioner in humid summer months and adding a humidifier to your central heating system will reduce the extremes of high and low humidity. Room humidifiers and dehumidifiers, as well as systems designed to be installed inside of pianos will control humidity-related disorders still further.

What is voicing?
A piano also periodically requires a service called voicing. Because the tone changes as the felt hammers wear, periodic voicing of the hammers is necessary so that your piano will have an even, full tone throughout the entire scale, and produce the widest possible dynamic range.

How often should I have my piano fully serviced?
The three components of musical performance that need to be adjusted periodically are pitch, tone, and touch. Tone is maintained by voicing
, and touch by servicing the piano action, called regulation. Piano tuning is the adjustment of the tuning pins so that all the strings are of the proper tension (pitch), to have the correct sounding, musical intervals. An out-of-tune piano or an unresponsive touch can discourage even novice musicians. Regular maintenance also can prevent expensive repair in the future. Most manufacturers recommend servicing at least two to four times a year to keep the piano sounding good and working properly each time you sit down to play. This is especially important the first year of your piano's life. Some tuning instability should be anticipated during the first year because of the elasticity of the piano wire, combined with the piano's normal adjustment to the humidity changes in your home. A piano which has gone a long time without tuning may require extra work in pitch raising. But most importantly, be sure the regular servicing of your piano is performed by a qualified piano technician.

Basic Rules of Piano Care
Keep your piano in tune. It was specifically designed to be tuned to the international pitch standard of A-440 cycles per second. Your piano will sound its best and give you and your family the most pleasure when it is tuned regularly and kept in proper playing condition.
Keep your piano clean. Keep the keyboard covered when not in use to prevent dust from accumulating (although ivory keys need some exposure to light to prevent yellowing). Clean keys by occasionally wiping them with a damp cloth and drying them immediately. If accumulated debris can't be removed with a damp cloth, try wiping the cloth on a bar of mild soap or moisten with dishwashing detergent before wiping. Do not use chemicals or solvents to clean piano keys. Call a qualified piano technician to remove anything from the keys you can't wipe away.

To maintain the piano's finish, you may wipe the case with a damp cotton cloth to remove fingerprints, or polish with a reliable emulsion-type, water-based solution following the manufacturer's instructions. Avoid aerosol spray polishes that contain silicone. Your technician may suggest a specific brand name.

The maintenance of the inner working of the piano and regulation should be left to a qualified piano technician. Resist dusting the inside of your piano, oiling the moving parts, or using moth or insect repellents. Your piano technician will take care of all internal problems.
Try to maintain a fairly consistent temperature and
humidity control in the room where your piano is placed. It's important to keep your piano away from a heating register in winter, an air conditioning vent in the summer, a fireplace, a frequently opened window or outside door, and direct sunlight.

Play your piano regularly. You'll get the most enjoyment from it and also reach your potential much faster. A disadvantage to idle pianos, assuming they also suffer a service lapse, is that a detrimental condition or environment can't be identified, and an escalating problem can result in damage that might not have occurred with regular service. Tuning a piano after years of not having been tuned often requires a pitch raise. As a piano ages, it may begin to develop more major problems which your technician can help you assess. You may look into rebuilding or reconditioning the piano.

Keep all drinks and standing liquid containers off the piano. Should spilled water reach the action, notify you piano technician immediately. In many case, once liquids are spilled, the damage is irreversible which is why prevention is the safest rule to follow.

Select a piano technician with care. It's not only important that the service person be competent to perform tuning, regulation and repairs, but also that the person be someone you feel comfortable calling with questions concerning your piano's performance. Hiring a Registered Piano Technician who is committed to comprehensive service for your piano, and not just an occasional tuning, is your best assurance.

Do not perform repairs yourself. Though a problem may appear easy to solve (such as replacing a loose key ivory), a qualified technician will have the proper tools and parts to make repairs quickly and correctly. It's important to remember that unsuccessful amateur repairs are usually much more expensive to fix than the initial problem and may decrease the value of your instrument.

Use only a professional piano mover to move your piano. You will avoid injury to yourself, your instrument, and your home.

History of Schubert Pianos

These are some information I found out about Schubert Pianos:-

There is a company named Borisov in Belarus, Russia that was established in the 1930's. However, The Schubert Piano Company went out of business in 1937. Pianos that were manufactured before 1996 were Russian-made instruments before they discontinued European manufacturing. In 1996, they changed their name to Tri-Con Music Group and outsourced production to China's Pearl River Piano Company. The real name is Tri-Con Music Group, Inc. Pianos that were manufactured after 1996 are Chinese piano using the Schubert label.

Chinese companies are pretty new in the manufacturing of pianos and their quality is not quite up to par in comparison with Korean and Japanese makers. Some Japanese and American companies have begun to outsource production to China for its cheap labor. These companies tend to produce a better product than the Chinese national companies that are recent start-ups.

If you like the way the instrument sounds and feels (after a good tuning, that is), that would be a good sign to keep it. Please have a technician look over the instrument and service it so that it's ready to sell or enjoy in its best possible condition.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

To Upload Music

Use boxnet to upload the recordings, found here:

You have to register to get an account, but it's free, and they don't have all those annoying ads you can get with other free file-hosting services. However, .wav files are pretty big, and may exceed the boxnet limits. It's best if you can convert the .wav files to .mp3's. Audacity can do that for you; it's a free recording program, though make sure you also download the (equally free) Lame utility, because you need that for the mp3 conversion.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

My Notes on Piano Selection

Below are some notes which I have gathered. Hoping to get a good new piano to replace my old Schubert:-

General Notes
1. Minimum height of 121cm can be used until Grade 6 and sometimes to Diploma.

2. Steinway and Yamaha pianos are typically used for concert performance
3. Buy used pianos when you have a technician to help you check the pianos before you buy (someone you trust)

4. S$2,000 to $3,000: Can get older Kawai or Yamaha or other japanese brands.
5. S$1,000 - S$1,800: Can try yahoo auction or ebay for any good deals.
6. S$600 - S$1,000: May get reasonable gem and ask techie to help you tune it up.
7. S$500 and below: Test pianos for child who don't know if interest will last
8. For working adults, get a moderate range piano like S$3k to S$4K: to enjoy good sound and touch pleasure on what a good piano should delivery.

Japan-made Pianos
1. Yamaha U1 (expensive and sound might be too bright): $9k for new ones
2. Kawai K3 (mellow): $7.5k for new ones

3. Atlas at Piano Master: $3.4k for new ones
4. As a guideline only for original used piano:
eg: Yamaha U1: S$8000 (new), S$6400 (5yrs), S$4512 (10yrs), S$4096 (15 yrs), S$3277 (20 yrs), S$2621 (25 yrs), S$2097 (30 yrs)

Chinese-made Pianos
1. Hailun can provide better Chinese made pianos: HL125 at $3.6k for new ones
2. Pearl River Pianos (Cristofori)
3. Perzina Pianos (the best Chinese made pianos in Group 3A based on grouping by Larry Fine)

Korea-made Pianos
1. Young Chang Pianos
2. Samick Pianos

Continental Pianos
1. Continental pianos are good for higher grades but might not be suitable for due to humidity issues.
2. Wendl and Lung (W&L) is also solely distributed by Master Pianos International, with the same manufacturing background as Hailun pianos. (Austria)

Methods to Test Pianos
1. Hit the last left note firmly. is the sound firm and deep and still have sweet resonance? If not, forget it.
2. Run all the keys including the black ones (take your time) in 3 modes, soft, medium and hard. are all the notes have the same tone, color and loudness? If not, forget it.
3. Are any keys sticky? Like the key takes some time to lift up after pressing? Old Yamahas are known to have this problem. If yes, forget it.
4. Open up the piano and check the hammers for thickness and evenness, strings, frame and tuning pins for rust, the board for any small cracks...

Bottom Line
1. No point getting a cheapest piano but sounds bad. Not good for ears and learning.
2. No point getting a new piano, won't help the learning speed. But if one can afford, why not?

Pictures of My First Schubert Piano

This is my first piano which was delivered to my house in 9 Jun 2000.
I bought this piano from my Piano teacher at S$450.
It is Schubert, first deliver to my teacher's house in 24 Sep 1973.
It is 101cm height, 132cm length (85 keys), 48cm depth. It is a console upright piano.

Useful materials for Adult Beginners

Below are some of the resources which I used for my Piano Learning Journey (updated as of Jul08), which I find them very useful in your step to step learning:

1. Alfred's Basic Adult Piano Course Lesson Book (Level 1)
2. Alfred's Basic Adult Piano Course Lesson Book (Level 2)
3. Alfred's Basic Adult Piano Course: Adult All-In-One Course (Level 3)
4. A Handbook of Music Theory (Grades 1 - 5) By Loh Phiak Kheng


Piano Shops in Singapore

Emmanuel & Sons (Mr Kwan)
New Address: 124 Mackenzie Rd

10 Owen Rd Singapore 218846
Telephone: 6100 0111
(at Little India, opposite Mustafa Centre – shows new and pre-owned pianos)

The Piano Passion
5 Coleman Street #03-05
Singapore 179805
p: 63366872

Luther Musicworks
5 Coleman St #02-08
Excelsior Shopping Centre Singapore 179805
Tel : 6569 4919

Mun Kai Piano Company
1 Coleman Street, #B1-47,
The Adelphi, Singapore 179803
Ph : 6883 2030 ;
Fax : 6333 4118
Email :

Renner Piano
No.1 Sophia Road #01-09/10
Peace Centre Singapore 228149
Tel: +65 63370216 , +65 63383302 , +65 63368396 ------------ (General Sales/Infomation) --------- (After-Sales Support) ------------- (The Store Manager) ----------- (Web Admin Matters)

Hailun Piano (better China make)
Blk 1016 Geylang East Ave 3 #01-143 Singapore 389731
(Opp Paya Lebar MRT & S’ Post Centre)
Tel: (65) 6747 7695 Fax: (65) 6747 9163

Blk 1016 Geylang East Ave 3 #02-147 Singapore 389731

Authorised Dealer:
Stellar School of Music: Blk 214 Bishan Street 23 #B1-223
Pro Musique: 159A Thomson Road Gold Hill Plaza

Robert Piano (Robert Piano is the offspring of Keller)
Millenia Walk
9 Raffles Boulevard #02-33/36A,
Tel:065-63339495 Fax:065-3334553

Parkway Parade
80 Marine Parade Rd, #03-07/08,
Tel:065-63441903 Fax:065-63447345

176 Orchard Rd. #04-01
Tel:065-67374667 / 67322969

The Paragon
290 Orchard Rd, #05-49/51, S(238859)
Tel:065-67320031 Fax:065-67326001

Cristofori Music (Showroom & Music School)
Blk 3014 Bedok Ind Pk E #02-2148 Singapore 489980

Telephone: (65)-62439555
Fax: (65)-62449555

109 North Bridge Road,
#04-01 Funan Digitalife Mall S(179097)
Tel: 6338-0009

21 Bukit Batok Central,
#02-04/05 Bukit Batok Community Club, S(659959)
Tel: 6899-6748

Asia Piano
190 Clemenceau Ave #03-22
Singapore Shopping Centre Singapore 239924

Chiu Piano Co Pte Ltd
301 Up Thomson Rd #02-06
Thomson Plaza Singapore 574408
Tel : 6454 7679

8 Kaki Bukit Rd 2 #04-01
Ruby Warehouse Complex Singapore 417841
Tel: 67478302

Music Companion
2 Jurong East St 21 #04-31K
IMM Bldg Singapore 609601
Tel : 6569 0648

Raffles Piano Pte Ltd
11 Empress Pl #01-00
Victoria Memorial Hall Singapore 179558
Tel : 6338 1723

Shelley's Piano & Instruments
Blk 1003 Toa Payoh Ind Pk
#07-1515 Singapore 319075
Tel : 6255 2222

Wagner Petrof Piano Pte Ltd
170 Up Bt Timah Rd #01-16
Bt Timah Shopping Centre Singapore 588179
Tel : 6293 9886

L J Liew Piano Co
1 Orchard Rd #02-02
Orchard Towers Singapore 238824
Tel : 6737 6328
Fax: 6736 1300

Klassique Musik Pte Ltd
271 Bt Timah Rd #02-19
Balmoral Plaza Singapore 259708
Tel : 6333 6486

Music Companion
2 Jurong East St 21 #04-31K
IMM Bldg Singapore 609601
Tel : 6569 0648

Music Lodge
170 Up Bt Timah Rd #01-16
Bt Timah Shopping Centre Singapore 588179
Tel : 6762 6378

The Piano Connection
35 Selegie Rd #02-04
Parklane Shopping Mall Singapore 188307
Tel : 6336 0097

Alliance Piano
100 Jln Sultan #02-43
Sultan Plaza Singapore 199001
Tel : 6392 1868

Gramercy Music (S) Pte Ltd
Main Office / Showroom

291, 293, 295, Tanjong Katong Road Singapore 437076
Tel : +65 6345 3815
Fax : +65 6440 4513
Email :
Business Hours :Tuesday to Saturday ( 10.00am - 8.00pm )Sunday ( 12.00pm - 6.00pm )
Monday and Public Holidays Closed
Bus Services nos: 10, 31, 32, 40, 76, 135, 149, 197
From Paya Lebar MRT Station : (3rd Bus Stops from the Paya Lebar MRT Station)

No.21 Kim Keat Road #01-02Singapore 328805


Sonata Music House
Main Office
Blk 140 Teck Whye Lane #02-353 / 357 Singapore 680140
Tel: +65 6765 3174
Fax: +65 6762 5035
Opening Hours Tue and Sat (9am - 6pm) Wed - Fri (9am - 9pm) Sunday (9am - 4pm)
Closed on Monday and Public Holiday

Branch Office
190 Clemenceau Ave #05-16 Singapore Shopping Centre S(239924)
Tel: +65 6333 4658
Fax: +65 6333 1526
Opening Hours Tue and Thurs (11am - 6pm) Wed and Fri (9am - 9pm) Sat (9am – 6pm)
Closed on Monday, Sunday and Public Holiday

Beethoven Creative Music & Art
2 Pandan Valley #01-211 Acacia Ct Singapore 597626
Tel: (65) 6468 5223

Century Piano
177 River Valley Rd #02-36 Singapore 179030
Tel: (65) 6339 2363

City Music Co Pte Ltd
1 Sophia Rd #02-12/13 Peace Centre Singapore 228149
Tel: (65) 6337 7058

Eason Enterprises
Blk 1 Rochor Rd #02-612
Tel: (65) 6294 7522

En-Rich Arts
110 Up East Coast Rd
Tel: (65) 6241 5100

Ephraim Music
61 Kaki Bukit Ave 1 #06-19 Singapore 417943
Tel: (65) 6842 5208

Shelley's Piano & Instruments
Blk 1003 Toa Payoh Ind Pk #07-1515
Tel: (65) 6250 8521

The Piano Connection
35 Selegie Rd #03-09 Parklane Shopping Mall Singapore 188307
Tel: (65) 6336 0097

Keller Piano Co (Pte) Ltd
176 Orchard Rd #04-01 Centrepoint Singapore 238843
Tel: (65) 6734 7855

Music Lodge
Blk 103 Jurong East St 13 #22-204 Singapore 600103
Tel: (65) 6567 9945

The Piano Music Galleria
2 Sin Ming Rd #01-08 Sin Ming Pl Tower 1 Singapore 575583
Tel: (65) 6454 8622

The Pianoman's Shop Pte Ltd
1 Jalan Anak Bukit#B2-16
Bukit Timah Plaza Singapore 588996
Tel: 6465 4465

Fax: 6465 2465

Abral Lim - Operations Manager: H/P: 9845 3505
Andy Png - Piano Tuning/Servicing: H/P: 9852 9555
Raymond Koh - Music Consultant: H/P: 9654 1541
Linda Wong - Executive: H/P: 8123 9400

Zodak Music Shoppe
360, Balestier Road #03-01
Shaw Plaza Singapore 329783
Tel: 6255 5450 / 6784 4266

Contact Person: Eric