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Joined: Nov 2006
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I have a brand new steinway baby grand and have a dilemma. When my children's friends (all under thea ge of 7) come over they either go to the piano, open it and play it or ask to play it. How do i say "no" without sounding like a crazy nut to the parents? I mean, many parents don't understand how expensive and valuable these instruments are and judge you if you try to keep their kids away from them. What polite reasons can I give to make sure those fingers and finger nails don't get near the piano?
Or.... am I a nut for not wanting them to play my piano?

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edit, double post.

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What?
Shame on you.
Teach them how to respect, enjoy and use it.

You may be suppressing the next Glenn Gould.
Or the next You.

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Let them play, by all means. We should encourage curiosity and love for music in children. But by all means also set a few house rules:

1.) Everybody washes hands before they touch the piano.

2.) No food or drink within a 20 foot radius of the piano.

3.) Touch only the keyboard; no poking around inside the piano. (Keep the lid closed to ensure that.)

4.) No rough banging.

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Growel, hiss, and bare your teeth at them. That'll keep the kids away from the piano! laugh

Seriously though teach them respect for it as a muscial instrument by playing a tune for them, and then letting them try it after they've washed their hands.

John


Current works in progress:

Beethoven Sonata Op. 10 No. 2 in F, Haydn Sonata Hoboken XVI:41, Bach French Suite No. 5 in G BWV 816

Current instruments: Schimmel-Vogel 177T grand, Roland LX-17 digital, and John Lyon unfretted Saxon clavichord.
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Just smile and say they are welcome to play but it's a musical instrument, needs to be treated with respect, wash your hands, etc. Then -- make sure they are supervised every minute! I still remember when we had to get our old piano repaired...because a child got the idea to play it with his FEET! Don't know what possessed him to do that -- he was usually very well-behaved. Needless to say I was not watching.
Put another adult in charge if you can't supervise. If that won't work (I'm picturing a birthday party with a large group), I would lock it up and re-direct them until you have the time to supervise. It doesn't have to stay locked forever, just until an adult can watch again.

I am guessing part of your fear is that your piano is brand new! I think you will relax, your kids will understand the rules and communicate them to their friends, and best of all, everyone will grow older and wiser! I have a new piano too, and I can tell you I do plenty of hovering when there are even much older children experimenting on it! The kids who play piano already know how to treat one; it's the kids who don't that have to be taught.

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If there's a lock, use it laugh

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Even kids banging on the keys, that can't hurt the piano. A concert pianist can pound with many times more force than a 7-year-old kid can.

When kids come to my house, I just make sure that they don't bring any food or drink within 5 feet from my piano. And if they have their hands clean, I let them play, poke, or whatever on the keys as they wish. A few times before, I even invited them to play when I saw them eyed at the piano.

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A grid of motion detectors and powerful lasers? A special ejection bench that reacts to key-banging? There's always the low-tech solution of duct tape.

I'm just kidding, see the smiley: smile

Seriously, I would add another rule - only one person can touch the keyboard at any given time. They need to understand that it's very rude to hit keys while someone else is playing.

Also, make it clear that if your rules aren't followed, the privilege will be removed. I haven't had to deal with this situation yet, but I'll probably err on the side of being the mean ogre when it comes to protecting my piano.

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A lock is more likely to cause damage than to prevent it.

The next most likely thing to cause trouble is hitting the keys with something other than one's hands. Keep toys away from the piano.


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All great advice.

Bottom line for me - if I had been forbidden to touch (or go near) my great Aunt's piano... I may not have ever started to play.

Good Luck with the howling mobs smile


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How about a piano party?

That way you could set aside time to show them all what the piano is about as an instrument.

Sure they all want to see the inside of the piano and the hammers working. You could explain just what goes into striking the strings, why there are dampers, why there are 3 strings for one note, what those pedals do, etc.

Then teach them all something on the piano. Something that they then can 'play' when they visit instead of nillywilly hitting keys.

Easiest is playing black keys with one finger of each hand. NOthing sounds bad. It is the pentatonic scale. You could play bass notes along with them as a duet.

You could show them how 2 and 3 black keys help name the white key notes and then the musical alphabet. They could take turns naming every white key from BASS A up. Have them repeat a note you play in all places on the keyboard.

With very little instruction, kids stop banging. Of course that is just their mental dream of making beautiful music!

This would also be letting them know the respect for an instrument and that it is not a toy.

Then when they come over, after asking, they could be permitted some time with the suggestions from other posters.

Kids really should have exposure, if you can possibly help that end.

Good luck!

LL


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I'm a big big fan of getting kids into music. My 4 year old has weekly classes at our music conservatory here. Even my 2 yr old plays the harmonica <g>.

However, all this high and mighty talk about letting them on the piano is, well, a bit idealistic, imo.

Kids can wreck a piano in no time. I have a couple of digitals laying around the house, and I have designated one that the kids can play on (an older Yamaha). I regularly have to clean it with windex and a scrubber. You can't watch them every minute. They get food all over their clothes and hands and face, and sometimes you don't even notice it at first. They move very fast, those little ones. They can be all over something in no time.

I have quite a few musical instruments laying around here. Some of my mandolins cost as much as a decent small grand. My kids have learned respect for the instruments. They know what they can touch and what they cannot. With the pricey stuff, I let them play, supervised, at times -- in a happy, fun way. But they know not to touch them without my presence and specific approval.

This teaches them respect. Not letting them "have at it" at will. That just teaches them that there is no discipline in life.

My current "plan" for the kids is that they will each have their own digital piano for practicing, and there will be at least one decent acoustic piano that they can play in the house. They will be "allowed" to play the acoustic piano, on a set schedule, to the extent they do their practice time on "their own" pianos. Time on the grand will be a reward that they have to earn.

Just thought I'd offer another perspective....

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Here's yet another "different" take:

I suspect curiosity is driving this. The more you make a huge no-no to every cross-eyed look at the beast the more alluring you make it.

If you follow Monica's rules, I suspect the mob of kids might try it once and then most of them will come to think of it as a big black blob. They'll start to ignore it ....all except perhaps that one little kid for whom the light bulb just went on.

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I have videos of my children, who are now in their 20s, "playing" the piano when they were toddlers. We took the juice cups from them, wiped their hands and let them have at it.
Even though there were times when they weren't immediately supervised, they quickly learned not to bang on the keys or slam the lid.
As they approached 3 and 4 years of age, they were able to show off for their friends and show them the rules of respect of the piano.
For my wife and I, the sound of our children and/or their friends playing around on the piano was a beautiful musical experience. They quickly learned little songs,even if they were totally improvised, and enjoyed giving recitals for us and friends.
As parents, we believed piano time was far more productive and enjoyable then having them play video games.

I firmly believe that our applause and encouragement for them to play, coupled with our always ready desire to hear them "perform," bred confidence and musical appreciation. My son stayed with the piano, learned guitar, drums, harmonica, composition and digital synthesizing skills and today is quite the accomplished musician. While he may not be ready to play in Carnegie Hall, his love and appreciation of music is, nevertheless, world class.

I've chimed in before to those who are worried about mini scratches on their pianos. My response is similar to those that I post on the automobile forums: Fine pianos and fine cars are meant to be enjoyed - not treated as a hands off piece of art.

Rest assured, most sticky marks or little scratches are repairable with minimal effort.

Enjoy!


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Children near the piano? Are there no work houses in your part of the world?

Much love
Ebeneezer


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No need to feel embarrassed. Your house, your rules. You are not obliged to be piano ambassador to the world.

If they want to play: "I'd rather not, how about you go ahead to xyz room with [insert your child's name]...there are some great toys there."

If they are playing rambunctiously near the piano: "hey guys, let's move to xyz room with the toys"

If they start playing without asking: "Hey, that's not a toy"

You might try letting your kids also know that the piano room is not a play area, so that they can be the enforcers when their buddies come over.

Encouraging your kids/nephews/nieces to play, practice, etc., is one thing. Expecting that the neighbor kids banging on the keys to make some noise is going to drive a lifelong love of musicianship--as some other posters seem to be implying--is a bit of a stretch imho.

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Quote
Originally posted by Boxer:
You are not obliged to be piano ambassador to the world.
Uh Oh,

Do I ever disagree.

If we who play, who are musicians, who are owners/sellers of pianos; if we are not the ambassadors, then who would be?

In this world of TV, DVD's, Internet, Sports, cannot WE make some small difference in a child's life exposing them to a musical instrument?

Supervised and directed, positively, as seen from the posts above. Think of the poor child who can't touch a piano at their school, church, and doesn't have parents who are interested. Just WHERE are they going to be exposed to a piano?

In the village of 'it takes...', of course.

LL


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Make them practice.....

That will keep them away.

I believe people who want to keep their kids away from "the piano" view it more as furniture then a musical instrument.

Perhaps you should have purchased a Pearl River instead?


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Quote
Originally posted by lilylady:
Quote
Originally posted by Boxer:
[b] You are not obliged to be piano ambassador to the world.
Uh Oh,

Do I ever disagree.

If we who play, who are musicians, who are owners/sellers of pianos; if we are not the ambassadors, then who would be?

[/b]
Well, that would be the SELLERS of pianos, not the owners.

Stellabella didn't buy a $50,000 instrument for the purpose of entertaining the neighborhood children, or giving lessons to them. Not only is it ok to say "no", it is PERFECTLY NORMAL.

Why not nurture an interest in fine automobiles by allowing the neghbor kids to crawl all over your new $50,000 sports car? If I buy a Porsche, am I now the 'ambassador' of Porsche, obligated to let anyone who asks an opportunity to take a test drive and appreciate the handling attributes of my car?

A Piano is not a toy, and when the swarm of perfectly lovely neighborhood kids come into my home and start monkeying around near the piano, I kindly inform them of such and direct them to more appropriate activities.

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