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Posted By: stellabella How to keep children away from the piano - 03/15/07 01:32 AM
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?
Posted By: kenny Re: How to keep children away from the piano - 03/15/07 01:40 AM
edit, double post.
Posted By: kenny Re: How to keep children away from the piano - 03/15/07 01:41 AM
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.
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.
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
Posted By: thunder Re: How to keep children away from the piano - 03/15/07 02:51 AM
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.
Posted By: Damz Re: How to keep children away from the piano - 03/15/07 03:17 AM
If there's a lock, use it laugh
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.
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.
Posted By: BDB Re: How to keep children away from the piano - 03/15/07 04:56 AM
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.
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
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
Posted By: J. Mark Re: How to keep children away from the piano - 03/15/07 10:30 AM
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....
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.
Posted By: oldcars Re: How to keep children away from the piano - 03/15/07 11:23 AM
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!
Children near the piano? Are there no work houses in your part of the world?

Much love
Ebeneezer
Posted By: Boxer Re: How to keep children away from the piano - 03/15/07 02:42 PM
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.
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
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?
Posted By: Boxer Re: How to keep children away from the piano - 03/15/07 03:17 PM
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.
Posted By: Boxer Re: How to keep children away from the piano - 03/15/07 03:22 PM
Quote
Originally posted by Kingfrog777:
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?
Or maybe they view it as a top-tier musical instrument and significant financial investment, and not a toy for random kids to come in and bang away on.

Which is probably why she purchased a Steinway and NOT a Pearl River. :rolleyes:
Posted By: thunder Re: How to keep children away from the piano - 03/15/07 03:26 PM
Question for BDB: why do you say a lock is more likely to cause damage than prevent it?
I do not know how to do quotes plus my answers. I hope the quote below can be understood for Boxer's notes and my reply which I will ***

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

Do I ever disagree. I am not sure how to post your notes plus my reply but will try below.

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.

***Again, politely, I would totally disagree. Sellers sell pianos, the rest of us SHARE our musical interests and help further the enjoyment of playing.

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.

***I agree that she did not purchase to entertain, but while she has neighborhood children who seem to be drawn to the piano, it would be wiser to show them that this is not a toy, but an instrument, and here is why I enjoy it...

I think what I posted above would be a positive.
---

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?

*** TOTALLY IRRELEVENT to neighborhood kids wanting to experience A PIANO !

-----
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.

***I agreed in my post above - it is not a toy, it is a wonderful instrument where one can enjoy making music. But how does one get exposed to one if not from experiencing it? Hopefully with exposure.

[/b]
Quote
Originally posted by Boxer:
Quote
Originally posted by lilylady:
[b]
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. [/b]
You made my point. Approaching the piano as a luxury item rather then a musical instrument. I cannot fathom comparing a car or "fine automobile") to a piano in any way.(except sales tactics). Their purposes are totally different.

Reminds of the guy who comes into the store. Plucks down $3000 for a PRS guitar. Then won't play it for fear of getting a nick in it. Its not a guitar to him its a work of art. A collectible. Which is ok.

Should he let his kids mess with it? A guitar is not considered something for the "family as is a huge selling point of a piano." But he should provide one they can play if they have interest rather then keep them away from it.

In the case of a piano it is usually considered and sold as "family" furniture. Teach them respect for it and let them go at it.

When parents come into the store with little kids the kids run to the pianos and they keep their kids from playing on them. I encourage them to let the kids go to town. It's something they don't see often and can make a long lasting impression.
I started piano lessons when I was 4 years old, but what sparked my initial interest? Being told that I'm too young to play. My older sister started taking lessons and I was a little irritated that she got to play, but I wasn't old enough.

One day I quietly sat there and watched her practicing for her next lesson. I visually memorized each note and how she played it. I said, "I bet I can play that song, too." They finally decided to humor me and allowed me to sit down at the piano. I played it perfectly, and twice as fast - just to make it absolutely clear how I felt about being underestimated because of my age. A few months later I played piano on a local TV show, and was participating in recitals at the Cleveland Institute of Music.

If the piano wasn't forbidden fruit, I may not have had that initial interest in playing. Your results may vary, but that reverse psychology is what worked for me, even if it wasn't intentional.
I'll bet your sister was REALLY pleased with you. wink
Posted By: Apostle Re: How to keep children away from the piano - 03/15/07 04:29 PM
What Boxer said....

IMO you are under no reasonable obligation to allow the neighborhood rascals to bang away on your new Steinway....The mere idea is unconscionable....train your own children to keep them away and intervene if necessary...designate the piano as a "no touch" zone for visiting little people. Use yellow police tape if necessary...Easily done...no regrets.....You're in charge.
Quote
Originally posted by Piano*Dad:
I'll bet your sister was REALLY pleased with you. wink
We get along just fine now as adults, many years later. smile
Posted By: TLuvva Re: How to keep children away from the piano - 03/15/07 05:55 PM
The important thing is that it is her decision and if she chooses to not allow it, it's perfectly normal and if she does allow it then that's fine too (as long as she's not sorry later).

This ironically has a very conservative vs. liberal feel to it, doesn't it?

The conservatives say it's your (rather expensive) private property and you should make no apologies about making it available or not available to the world (or an area of more concern - visiting 7-year old children).

That said, it doesn't mean that you don't support the idea of the encouragement of music to young people as the liberals might jump to conclude. In fact, you may choose to support that very thing in some other way. One that doesn't put your $50K brand new pride and joy on the line. Once that ding is in it, it ain't coming out. Then the kids are forbidden, but it's too late.

Meanwhile, the liberals feel some obligation to be the ambassadors of music lessons for the world and want you to be taught about it even if you don't know you're interested in it. But hey, piano IS rewarding, isn't it? The world should know!

I'm out of politics now, so don't try to pin either of these positions on me. My solution is to pick up an old $400 upright from a garage sale, and then let them play with that! Save everyone a lot of trouble. What's $400 more after you're down $50K already? The kids get to play, and you aren't doing your part to diminish the future of piano playing in the world while doing what may be necessary to keep your very expensive, beautiful, brand new, living breathing, instrument safe. I kept a 50s Wurltizter console that I bought for $40 (not $400) and it plays nicely and is perfect for a youngster to begin to learn to play and respect. It's just waiting for my nephews who will NOT be allowed to touch my grand until they prove they can play and more importantly respect the other instrument.

I now cover my head.
Posted By: TLuvva Re: How to keep children away from the piano - 03/15/07 05:56 PM
Duplicate post, sorry.
How did conservatives and liberals get into this thread? I must be missing something confused
Posted By: Apostle Re: How to keep children away from the piano - 03/15/07 07:00 PM
I have no idea either....

I wonder though.....I do lean to the right....
Posted By: TLuvva Re: How to keep children away from the piano - 03/15/07 07:55 PM
Yeah, that was the theory. Wonder how many that say she should not let the kids touch the piano are right leaners and how many that say let the kids play are left leaners.

Sorry, but I offered my solution which I thought was good. Didn't mean to derail the thread.

And see, Apostle leans right and he votes keep the varmits away!
TLuvva, what an interesting observation. I'm a conservative and I don't feel obligated to risk my piano for the sake of promoting piano playing.

I want to see more young people get involved with music and the piano, and I think there are other ways to encourage that (and I do try). I've seen how destructive some children can be. Many parents don't discipline their kids or teach them to respect property. Why should an expensive piano be jeopardized because of someone else's poor parenting?

Some children are respectful and do have enough maturity to be trusted with such a thing, but some shouldn't be let anywhere near a nice piano, in my opinion.
I cannot imagine not letting my kids and now my grand kids play my piano. I have very fond memories of playing 'Chopsticks' Heart and Soul, and the one you can play with rolled fists on the black keys.. Probably drove my parents crazy but they never stopped us. We now play and love it. Would we have the same love anyway? Who knows!

Certainly they need supervision but I would never put it off limits. Of course, I would never buy a piano or anything else that I thought was too 'special' to let my children touch it. We don't have an all white, off limits living room either.

Just our style, everyone has their own.
Posted By: TLuvva Re: How to keep children away from the piano - 03/15/07 10:52 PM
Been fartin' tofu lately, Roger? Just kidding. cool Really I am. But you're a lefty, aren't you?

It should be noted that the children in question on this thread are NOT the children of the piano owner but are the neighbor's children. You'd have to deal with your own children differently because they could start hiding crayons in the cabinet and otherwise sabotaging your instrument including blackmailing you for better toys come Christmas, etc.

I'd teach my own children to respect it. When your own children break things it's one thing, in fact it may even be cute (somehow). But when the yard ape down the street who's teaching your kid bad words comes in and pokes a hole in your artist's bench with the sling shot in his back pocket - that's when you velcro him to the wall and use his own weapon against him.

So far, the theory holds!
Posted By: Boxer Re: How to keep children away from the piano - 03/15/07 10:59 PM
Quote
Originally posted by Roger Ransom:
I cannot imagine not letting my kids and now my grand kids play my piano.
I do love how people on this thread are taking the question of not letting random neighborhood children play on the piano, and turning that into being an anal-retentive monster that won't even let you OWN kids play.
Quote
Been fartin' tofu lately, Roger? Just kidding.
God, I can't stand tofu. What the heck is that stuff anyway?

Left or right? Heck, I don't know. I'm none too happy with either side. We need some kind of a new approach and I don't see that happening.

I just cruise along and try to have a good time. I vote on election day and forget it all in between cause I can't fix anything. I get one shot at life and I'm not going to waste it worrying about 'stuff' I can't change.

Again, just me!

Incidentally, the 'kids and grand kids' include their friends too.
Posted By: J. Mark Re: How to keep children away from the piano - 03/15/07 11:19 PM
Quote
Originally posted by TLuvva:
So far, the theory holds!
Hate to burst your bubble, dude, but I'm about as far left as you can get, and I don't want kids randomly messin' with my pianos. smile
Posted By: TLuvva Re: How to keep children away from the piano - 03/15/07 11:29 PM
You can't help it, you live in NYC. That cancels out all theories! Hey, I'm ready to move up though. Love the place. I'm getting a little old though.
Posted By: J. Mark Re: How to keep children away from the piano - 03/15/07 11:37 PM
I may live in NYC, but I'm a native of North Carolina.

Athens...that's a college town, isn't it?

smile
Posted By: TLuvva Re: How to keep children away from the piano - 03/15/07 11:46 PM
Yeah, we're definitely blue in this county! heck, we got bike lanes on our bike lanes!

Uh, blue except maybe me. f Hey, I quit it all. I (temporarily) refuse to read the papers, the news - I just don't care about anything but pianos right now. That's why I'm here. I find it much more interesting whether or not certain Italian spruce from a certain Italian forest makes a better soundboard.
Don't forget that your Italian tree has to be cut down during the last part of the waning moon phase during winter for best results. smile
Posted By: TLuvva Re: How to keep children away from the piano - 03/16/07 12:07 AM
Have we sabatoged this thread? laugh I so sorry!

Children - should be given the desire to play, but not the permission to touch. (Oh and give your political leaning with your answer).
Posted By: ftp Re: How to keep children away from the piano - 03/16/07 01:49 PM
Great responses on this thread. I think the overwhelming consensus is to teach children to respect the piano and take the opportunity to encourage them to learn to play. I didn't have such a firm opinion on the matter until I read others thoughts.

Now to other unresolved matters. Monica, will this modify your approach to your brother in law? wink laugh

M. Purney- its not just the type of tree and when, you forgot that only certified tree thumpers can tell which Italian trees should be cut down in the first place. Also proper seasoning is essential and the water for the damp chaser and even the air from where the tree was cut down need to be part of the total solution. smile
Slightly right of Ronald Reagan, here. I let my son and his friends "play" a bit on my piano. They aren't permitted to bang wildly away, though, or to have food or drink nearby. Then again, my piano cost much less than $50K. I'm not sure how I'd feel if it was a top tier instrument.
This stuff works pretty good.

[Linked Image]
I am sometimes left, sometimes right. Anyway, I allow kids to play on my piano, I just don't like them to bang on my piano just because it's noisy but not because I am afraid they would hurt the piano. When they did bang on the piano, I told them them not to do that, and they stopped. My tuner and I pound on the keys a lot more forcefully.
Posted By: maxx Re: How to keep children away from the piano - 03/16/07 03:06 PM
Get a piano cover. It seems to keep the kids off of my piano. The young kids can't quite figure out how to get it off. I have experienced being in the kitchen and then hearing horrendous sounds coming from my piano in the living room. If you will have children under 5 roaming your home, I say lock it up and cover it!
I know,I am an ogre, but they can play when I can be in the room. After all the piano is a musical instrument and not a TOY to pound on with wooden toy hammers or little matchbox cars !! or to climb on like a jungle gym............yes, I have seen this ##@@. (The parents should really get these kids out more)
I have a 7 and 5 yo and I think the answer is fairly simple and consistent (i.e. it applies to EVERYONE, not just your kids or just the neighbors kids). The rule is you respect the piano. Everyone is free to play it, but not play with/on it. The "other" kids are told the rules and as long as they follow they are allowed to play the piano. Anyone not following the rules and it's off limits. This goes for the grand and the digitals. The key point is to understand that these are instruments and not toys (but equally important to understand that they can be just as fun as toys).

I personally don't like the pretentiousness that surrounds things related to classical music, including the instruments, so I try very hard not to limit access based purely on price/appearance. I want my kids (and all kids) to grow up with music as a regular part of their lives, not as some exclusive thing. I understand that an occasional ding/scratch/mark might be the price you pay (literally) but I'm willing to pay it (but I understand that others may not).
Posted By: ilm Re: How to keep children away from the piano - 03/16/07 04:14 PM
Quote
Originally posted by Apostle:
What Boxer said....

IMO you are under no reasonable obligation to allow the neighborhood rascals to bang away on your new Steinway....The mere idea is unconscionable....train your own children to keep them away and intervene if necessary...designate the piano as a "no touch" zone for visiting little people. Use yellow police tape if necessary...Easily done...no regrets.....You're in charge.
Posted By: ilm Re: How to keep children away from the piano - 03/16/07 04:14 PM
Quote
Originally posted by Apostle:
What Boxer said....

IMO you are under no reasonable obligation to allow the neighborhood rascals to bang away on your new Steinway....The mere idea is unconscionable....train your own children to keep them away and intervene if necessary...designate the piano as a "no touch" zone for visiting little people. Use yellow police tape if necessary...Easily done...no regrets.....You're in charge.
Posted By: ilm Re: How to keep children away from the piano - 03/16/07 04:16 PM
I was trying to get the above post by Apostle on my reply. I agree with the comments.

Originally posted by Apostle:
What Boxer said....

IMO you are under no reasonable obligation to allow the neighborhood rascals to bang away on your new Steinway....The mere idea is unconscionable....train your own children to keep them away and intervene if necessary...designate the piano as a "no touch" zone for visiting little people. Use yellow police tape if necessary...Easily done...no regrets.....You're in charge.
Do people think it is okay to touch someone else's piano because of how big and "in your face" it is? Would anyone think it is okay to pick up someone's violin without asking or strum on someone else's guitar? I know my brother keeps all of his guitars right out in the open ... do smaller instruments have the same allure? I won't even bring up clarinets or saxaphones. This is such an interesting thread to me and I think it goes beyond just children being curious. I've seen my share of adults in someone else's house start plunking away on a piano. I guess I am wondering, in a long winded way, what makes the piano such a "community" instrument.
Posted By: TLuvva Re: How to keep children away from the piano - 03/16/07 10:25 PM
I hate the whole "wash your hands" thing. It's like "now go wash your hands sonny" AND THEN BANG ON THE PIANO.

Yes, I think they should wash their hands of course, but that should be about the fourth thing you say after I'll kill you if you bang on it, I'll kill you if you scratch it, I'll kill you if you touch anything but the keys, oh, AND WASH YOUR HANDS.

And why won't anybody just say that it's a good idea to have a second piano (the $400 model) in the rec room or the basement or the kids room and let that be the one they destroy. That's a very cheap and effective way to encourage piano while not allowing them to touch the nice one.

To think kids won't damage a piano is like pretending your son won't destroy his car when he takes it to college. He will. Or rather, his friends will.
Quote
Originally posted by bitWrangler:
I have a 7 and 5 yo and I think the answer is fairly simple and consistent (i.e. it applies to EVERYONE, not just your kids or just the neighbors kids). The rule is you respect the piano. Everyone is free to play it, but not play with/on it. The "other" kids are told the rules and as long as they follow they are allowed to play the piano. Anyone not following the rules and it's off limits. This goes for the grand and the digitals. The key point is to understand that these are instruments and not toys (but equally important to understand that they can be just as fun as toys).

I personally don't like the pretentiousness that surrounds things related to classical music, including the instruments, so I try very hard not to limit access based purely on price/appearance. I want my kids (and all kids) to grow up with music as a regular part of their lives, not as some exclusive thing. I understand that an occasional ding/scratch/mark might be the price you pay (literally) but I'm willing to pay it (but I understand that others may not).
Common sense always prevails......
Well I guess I'll be the dissenting voice on this one---probably because I don't have children.

I wouldn't want a hoard of little people crawling all over a prized posession of mine either.

You don't owe their parents an explanation and you are not obligated to foster a love of playing in other people's children. If it were me, I might even go so far as to put a big red price tag on it with the words "You break it, you buy it" written in big letters.

Guess I'm just not much for putting your things at risk to foster random children's development.
Posted By: ilm Re: How to keep children away from the piano - 03/17/07 12:08 AM
No TLuvva - I disagree. No one should have to think of going out and buying a second piano just for others to play instead of the nicer piano. Besides that, kids/people are still going to want to touch the nice piano, maybe as a comparison to the second cheaper piano.
Posted By: Cultor Re: How to keep children away from the piano - 03/17/07 12:42 AM
First situation: a bunch of kids are playing around with the/my piano. They do not want to hear any music. They just want to strike the keys as hard as possible. Oh, bad thing. I don’t like it.
Second situation: the little daughter of a friend of mine, just 5 years old, sits quietly on a chair and hears the music. I can feel she's moved. Oh, I want this little girl to play the/my piano! No doubt.
I think that kids, as grown persons, are different and can’t be treated equally. To me, music is kind of a religion and we need truly initiated people just from the very beginning.
A discriminatory approach? Yes.
I get parents in the store looking to buy a first guitar for their child everyday. They always want the cheapest guitar they can get because they are afraid the kid will not stick with it.

They buy a really inexpensive guitar that does not stay in tune, is tough to play, and sounds terrible...the kid soon quits. The parents then feel "justified" they did not spend any more.

Some don't want to even get involved and just want the $250 Guitar Pak. If I sense they are truly interested I'll convince them to spend ALL $250 on just the guitar and give the kid a fighting chance. They usually buy the more expensive guitar and a few "accessories" as well. ONe can get a decent guitar today with all the tooling and technology available for $300.

The point is why buy a piece of junk for the kids to bang on in the cellar when one has a nice piano already? What can they possibly do to ruin a piano? Whether one has a $5000 PR or $50,000 Steinway its all relative. The $5000 piano represents just as huge an investment to one family as a $50,000 piano to another.

Keep kids away from things that will hurt them not things that will open their minds. Whatever unlikely accident "happens" to the piano can be fixed. The effect of denying a child access to express themselves making their own brand of music cannot be and they will remember it.

Teach them to respect the instrument not avoid it!!


Those of us who grew up with plastic on the furniture, lampshades, and towels no one could use know so well how anal people can be about things.
Beethoven used to spill ink all over the keyboard, and also have a cold bucket of water splashed over the head from time to time. Apparently, did more good than harm to music.

hope the instrument isn't there just as decoration...
Posted By: TLuvva Re: How to keep children away from the piano - 03/17/07 12:22 PM
Mr. Broadwood probably gave Beethoven that piano.
Posted By: TLuvva Re: How to keep children away from the piano - 03/17/07 01:03 PM
Also, anything you use to make a living gets put in a different category. I have expensive cameras that get banged up because they help me make money. That's different.

I do hear and agree with Kingfrog about cheaping out and acquiring an instrument that is so bad that you lose any inspiration to play it. And I realize that 5K to some is equal to 50K to others (actually 5K is NEVER equal to 50K - I don't care who you are, but I hear what you're saying) but to say that...

"...denying a child access to express themselves making their own brand of music cannot be..." is puke and all I can say is go change your obviously wet bedsheets. The kids can express themselves all they want in the backyard! laugh

Deny them access I say! Make them earn it! You may ultimately create more desire in this way. It's not a right, it's a privilege.

Signed, Ronald Reagan cool
A quick note about locks: When I got my key, the dealer begged me not to ever use it. If someone tries to force open a locked piano, the finish on the fallboard can crack from the stress. Less risky to just leave it unlocked.
i was told that there is not much a child can do to harm a grand piano. so when i got my first grand i let my three younger siblings(all under 6) pretty much do what they wanted within moderation...a couple of weeks later and it had a peanut butter sandwich fall peanut side down on the keyboard and a strange rattling that started every time i played.thankfully they had only droped a couple of pencils in the open part of the lid that goes over the keys but i thourghly learnt my lesson and know have some stict ground rules.
Nice thread, pity I had missed it..

My advice would be: you make the rules, the neighbors' kids follow them or get kicked out of the place and amen.
That your kids follow your rules, is understood.

Every kid, to whom rules and consequences are shown in a clear way, understand that; unless he is either disturbed or has enjoyed a "non-authoritarian" education, in which both cases I suggest not to allow him in your home in the first place. All the others might be treated to a little performance from you, follows by an invitation to approach the instrument themselves...

I on the other hand do not agree with the idea to buy a cheap digital that the children are allowed to destroy. My experience as a child is that I was told how to handle things in no uncertain way, and I would learn it very naturally, as I learned that after the day follows the night; if banging on a piano is a no-no, a child clearly told will very easily understand and act in consequence; but he will need a very firm guidance, the clear idea that it is as you say, period or he might be tempted to "test" you, are children are sometimes prone to do, so if a child will bang on the piano after you have told him not to do so the problem is likely to be you, not him.

And yes, I am approximately where Mr. Wolfowitz is (a bit more on the right, perhaps), so there might be something in TLuvva's theory.. smile , though I would not have any problems with children staying there and "discovering" the piano with me present....
Quote
Originally posted by Jesika_Mesika:
i was told that there is not much a child can do to harm a grand piano.
Whoever said that obviously never had kids wink There isn't a thing made that a kid can't destroy given enough time and/or curiosity (just ask my parents smile )
I suppose that kids can destroy almost anything, but I never made the piano off-limits to my kids. The first was a small stencil grand, which was replaced when they were 7 and 5 respectively with a rebuilt/refinished Knabe 9'. Neither ever did any damage to the instruments. I would suppose if your approach to parenting is l'aissez faire, you deserve what you get. Mistakes will be made, and problems corrected. It goes with the territory. If you cause damage, you will be made to be responsible in some meaningful way. I remember my daughter and a friend at the age of 6 throwing "GAK" onto the ceiling of her bedroom. The problem with "GAK" is that it was fun to play with, but it leaves oil spots wherever it contacts something. SO...my daughter and her friend got to repaint the ceiling in her bedroom at the age of 6. We had no more problems with throwing stuff onto the ceiling after that. My son, now 23 brought my truck back with a large dent in the bumper and fender. Guess what he's doing today? There again there was the time that I caught him trying to pry open the pop-up headlights on my freshly painted Corvette 20 years ago. I could have gone ballistic, but instead we got out a small brush and carefully painted in the chips that the screwdriver had nicked. Cars are now one of his passions. I wonder whether I could have killed that passion then and there with a different reaction at the age of 3.
Actions have consequences for all parties. I say that it is better to create a teaching moment if possible. The ground rules concerning how to treat a piano need be made early on and well understood. I wouldn't want to be responsible for killing a child's passion for music early on.
Quote
Originally posted by John Pels:
... my daughter and a friend at the age of 6 throwing "GAK" onto the ceiling of her bedroom. The problem with "GAK" is that it was fun to play with, but it leaves oil spots wherever it contacts something. SO...my daughter and her friend got to repaint the ceiling in her bedroom at the age of 6. We had no more problems with throwing stuff onto the ceiling after that. ...
What's truly amazing about that story is that your daughter didn't end up throwing GAK onto the ceiling every week! "Let's see, what color and pattern should I paint the ceiling this week?"
We have items in our home (eg. electronic equipment) that I would definitely not allow my child's friends to play with, even though our child knows how to handle the same item carefully and respectfully.

Why wouldn't that same concept extend to any item of my choosing, including an expensive piano?
BTW, we are buying a M&H BB for our child to use and I doubt SHE will allow other children to play the piano. She knows how much it costs and she understands it was a really big purchase for us. If something happened to it, it would upset her as much as her parents.
Quote
Originally posted by brenda100:
BTW, we are buying a M&H BB for our child to use and I doubt SHE will allow other children to play the piano. She knows how much it costs and she understands it was a really big purchase for us. If something happened to it, it would upset her as much as her parents.
Two words for you, piano insurance .
bitWrangler,
Maybe that's more advice for the folks who let their kids friends play the piano at their home. Our daughter is 13, not 7, so that makes a difference, too.

Tell us why it's not enough to include it on the homeowner's policy. I'll check the link you gave, too.

You are a wealth of info!
brenda100, this all falls under the "forbidden fruit" scenario. My daughter had many friends play our piano and we never had ANY problems with any of them between the ages of 6 and 18. Our piano's initial investment was modest. The whole family contributed in time to its restoration. Since all had a vested interest, it was revered. It took us two years to complete. We all took pride in our efforts when it was rolled out onstage at a local college to give it's first performance, featuring my wife and myself. I'm sure that my daughter conveyed to friends outside the family how it should be treated.

It doesn't mean that the kids didn't play around it and under it making "forts" and all those things that youngsters do. I would say that if your daughter prevents other folks her age from playing it (assuming of course that they CAN play), they would likely think that she's well beyond strange and would likely fail to associate with her in the future. I played pianos in every home of everyone that I knew as a youngster. I don't recall EVER being denied the privilege, and they varied in quality from old dinosaur uprights to concert-grand Bechsteins. Don't lose sight of the purpose of the piano after all.

As to "electronic equipment" being off-limits, I feel the same way. Both of my kids had very good audio equipment as youngsters, lots of records, then CD's and systems that their friend's parents would have coveted at the time. No boom boxes and modular junk. To this day they both value high-end audio. Lessons are learned early in many ways.
Quote
Originally posted by brenda100:
bitWrangler,
Maybe that's more advice for the folks who let their kids friends play the piano at their home. Our daughter is 13, not 7, so that makes a difference, too.

Tell us why it's not enough to include it on the homeowner's policy. I'll check the link you gave, too.

You are a wealth of info!
Depends on the specifics of your homeowners policy. Some possible benefits of going with a company like Heritage:

- cheaper to insure (e.g. most folks are paying around $250/year for pianos in your price range).
- replacement cost (Heritage covers full replacement cost, not all HO policies do).
- broader coverage (Heritage covers almost everything except Acts of War, your HO policy may exclude certain types of damage (e.g. flooding)).
- they specialize in insuring musical instruments, so there are probably less likely to be snags when filing claims.

Again, none of the above items may be an advantage for Heritage depending on the nature of your existing HO policy. I'd highly recommend you check out the website and compare their coverage against what your HO policy states (call up your agent if you need clarification).

If you read my earlier postings you'll see I'm big into letting the kids explore the instrument, within specific boundaries. Though it is an investment, I (and my wife) feel it's meant to be used and not just admired. That said, since we're fortunate to have multiple pianos, we generally steer any visiting kids towards one of the digitals unless they are old/mature/aware enough to understand and appreciate a good grand.

I'm glad you find my ramblings helpful smile
bitWrangler,
It sounds like you and I take the same approach to piano usage. We expect ours to be used, not just admired. I would not mind one of our daughter's friends playing it with at least one of us there to answer any questions. She has friends who are very sweet and responsible, pretty much like she is.

I will definitely want to be supervising when my nephews decide they would like to try it. These are the same ones who throw unopened christmas and birthday packages across the room. eek Even my mother-in-law has scolded them, and I never thought I would hear that from her. They do this no matter where they are, even with their parents in the room.

It all depends on how well-behaved the kids are. The person who began this post seems to have a situation of unruly kids and parents who don't really have a grip on how to handle it, so it puts it in her lap. The visiting parents don't always appreciate having someone else correct their children, even if done in a kind way. She has a real dilemma or she wouldn't bother posting the question.

Your advice on insurance is very good. All of us need to consider how we wish to handle that question. It's worthy of its own thread IMO. Thank you for bringing it up for us!
Posted By: kluurs Re: How to keep children away from the piano - 05/09/08 03:37 PM
Even if you're the best ambassador in the world, I would support that suggestion that was previously made to have a quality piano cover for your piano. Frankly, I cover the piano when I'm having a mob of people who are over - and music is not the focus. Little children - same difference.

Otherwise, wine glasses may end up where you wouldn't like to see.

Years ago, I had a close friend who put a glass of orange juice on my new piano. I asked her not to do that. She reacted like I was some kind of weirdo. About one minute later she accidently spilled the orange juice on the piano... People always asked what became of that woman...
Posted By: Agilita Re: How to keep children away from the piano - 05/09/08 07:53 PM
If you let kids play your digital piano, you'll get very familiar with the accompanying manual. My grandkids delight in doing things like changing the language on the display screen.
Posted By: MrsSV Re: How to keep children away from the piano - 05/09/08 08:58 PM
First of all, so what if "they" think you're crazy. It's your house, your piano and they are NOT your kids. Do these same kids walk up to your TV and turn it on?

Close the fallboard and tell them the piano is sleeping.

Their love of music does not rise and fall on their being able to "touch" your piano.

My Estonia was bought for my young daughter- she uses it liberally- knows to have clean hands and no food/drinks near it. She cares for her things as I care for mine- WITH care. She used to have a tendency to get a bit uptight when kids come over. I tell whoever comes over (IF the fallboard is open)...wash your hands, dry them real good and enjoy (and daughter is happy to let them have fun). The point is, people should have real respect for others possessions.

We don't put our feet on the couch with our shoes on. Some little kid runs inside, jumps up on the couch with his shoes on- parent present or not I'm going to say "take your shoes off and put them by the door". Does that discourage them from being comfortable in my home? It's my home.

It amazes me that people would think of allowing their kids to "have at" someone elses things, especially without being told it's okay? That's todays parenting in action. We're supposed to be teaching our children how to behave.
I'm not a parent. However, I've heard many times that "if you can't afford to have it broken, it should not be in the house."

I think everyone will agree that kids are unpredictable. No matter what you tell your or the neighbor's kids, the piano is still probably at risk. My suggestion is to get an armoured case around that thing.
"I think everyone will agree that kids are unpredictable."

I disagree.

We were three brothers, and I have seven cousins. All of them extremely predictable in this respect.

Tales at school of my generation also testimony of how differently children were raised at that age, the idea of "if you can't afford to have it broken it should not be in the house" simply unthinkable.

I remember not being allowed to go alone in the reception room until I had, to the judgement of my parents, the age of reason (say, 5 years, might have been less).

After that, I was allowed and never broke anything, never even thought of doing anything like that.

You see, in those days punishment was swift and, most of all, certain. This made, in our case, punishment unnecessary in the first place.

But mind, with 6 I was already allowed to hold crystal flutes in my hands, or other expensive objects.
Teach your children well.
I don't really plan to get into a discussion about how to raise or discipline children. But I would like to say that no matter what, it isn't always about breaking things purposely or through misuse. Sometimes kids are just clumsy - or who knows. To say otherwise would be a severe oversimplification of the matter.

And so, your story does illustrate what I really mean, in all seriousness. To keep something away from the kids, you just have to completely isolate it (in your case, your parents put all of the fragile items in the reception room).
"Sometimes kids are just clumsy - or who knows".

True, but that's much more true of adults (see the orange juice example above), whilst it is very easy to put things "outside of the reach of children" (an entire reception room, for example.....)
God, I love this thread! What a great topic; thank you Jesika_Mesika for reviving it.

So stellabella, what did you end up doing? And how has your Steinway fared over the last 14 months, since you first raised the question in March of 2007? I'm in utter suspense. smile

I'm also in the camp of Innominato et al ideologically, in that no one has the obligation to share any item with the neighborhood children, even if (yes!) it's a PIANO.

And I'm especially in agreement w/TLuvva where practical matters are concerned. If I had 60 grand to spend, I'd take $2000 of it and also buy a decent used vertical for the kids to play / put at risk, because I *would* be one of those few parents (again, the prerogative is mine) who'd want to encourage the neighborhood kids to "find the piano"...

Just not my $50k+ piano.

And no, I wouldn't stick the poor kids on some evil contraption with lousy action. Having been there myself as a kid, I'd see to it that even I could play on it comfortably before I'd turn anyone else loose on it, especially the precious youngsters from down the street.

My kids: different matter anyhow. There I'm in the 'privileges earned' and 'case-by-case basis' camp as far as the $50k+ unit is concerned. Which should be no great/long-lived hardship anyhow, since ultimately I'm either going to be able to trust them with it or I'm not.
The answer is PIT BULLS! laugh
Just curious... I'll duck later...

Why is it that some people think kids have more rights that adults do?

Why is it that these same people allow their kids to have more rights than adults do?

Why is that these same people let their kids run through churches like play rooms, houses and stores, playing on items that are not theirs, toys that were never purchased and basically terrorize everything else in sight with no respect for what is NOT theirs?

I would never walk into someone else's home and run right up to their piano and start playing or pounding on it. It is NOT mine. I did NOT ask permission to do so. Now, if I had, and they said, certainly, because, I can play the piano, then by all means, now it is okay.

It seems to me it's a matter of teaching respect for others property. Ask and perhaps you will be allowed to "play" the piano. And, perhaps the answer will be no to which the child should totally and the parent too, respect that decision.

Maybe we don't feel as adults like hearing that noise at this moment in time and would rather talk instead of listen to kids "banging" on it?

Ok, I'm hiding under my bed now. Tell me when it's safe to come back out again. laugh
Jerry,

You are safe from me:). From the time my kids were very small, I could take them anywhere. Antique malls, stores and other people's homes and never worry about them touching things that did not belong to them. A lot of "rules" in our house were non-negotiable, particularly when they were very young and specifically if it was any sort of safety issue. They could not wander off in stores, be out of my visual range outside etc.

Respect is taught at home. I think most parents do...then there are the others. Those amok kids you see in stores catch your attention. The ones behaving well don't draw the eye as quickly. Adding that - at one time or another every parent has had do deal with a child that just fell apart in public.

Debbie
Posted By: pragya Re: How to keep children away from the piano - 05/11/08 04:37 PM
hey
i am plaannin to buy a piano for my 9 yr old daughter and settled on a kawai because of its easy availability. i wanna know how good a company kawai is for pianos especially upright ones
Posted By: Mat D. Re: How to keep children away from the piano - 05/11/08 10:47 PM
Quote
Originally posted by J. Mark:
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.
J. Mark...I agree with you. I teach (taught) my child respect and restraint, but I cannot control what his little friends might do with my prized possession..."little Glenn Goulds" not withstanding. Also, I wouldn't want the added pressure for my son to bear if something were to break on the piano thanks to a 'less than respectful' playmate.

Having said that, my son was always allowed to play any of my musical instruments with my permission (I never denied him), but he did need permission first. Today, he has great respect and love for all musical instruments including his beloved Martin acoustics and John Mayer Stratocaster!!

Mat D.
Posted By: Jethro Re: How to keep children away from the piano - 05/12/08 01:42 AM
Coolkid70 wrote:
Quote
I'm not a parent. However, I've heard many times that "if you can't afford to have it broken, it should not be in the house."
That line also works if a parent wants to drag their kids along to your next house party.

GUEST: "Can I bring little Harry to your party as well?"

ME: "Well, if you can't afford to have it broken..." thumb
A friend of mine once studied with a concert pianist (who has since died), who's name was Ed. He had this cute little dog, who would faithfully listen to Ed for hours on end while he practiced. But a soon as Ed would begin playing a piece by Prokofiev, the dog would abruptly get up and leave the room. True story.

Maybe the same might work on children. Just a passing thought, and of course, just kidding.

I think Monica's advice is spot on (although I'd place item #2 as item #1).
Jethro:

Quote
That line also works if a parent wants to drag their kids along to your next house party.

GUEST: "Can I bring little Harry to your party as well?"

ME: "Well, if you can't afford to have it broken..." [Who Me?]
I was actually referring to having your own kids. If you don't have any, I'm sure that anything goes.
Posted By: Zom Re: How to keep children away from the piano - 05/14/08 03:14 AM
I'd say just put some covering over the main top part of the piano so they don't scratch it and make sure they know not to ever have liquids near it but other than that....let them play it! I'm glad my parents always let me noodle on it throughout my childhood, even though what I was playing was either total nonsense or some completely simple little riff I'd make up now and then...when I was 17 after having had a few piano lessons I got obsessed and now I think life would be a lot less fun without being able to improvise on the piano every day. Who knows your kids might be like that...so go easy on 'em
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