[QUOTE]Originally posted by jen7:
Wow! I had not checked this recently. Thanks for all the tips and answers! I had not considered about the action of the piano. I do know that my piano is easy to play, so the weight must be on the light side... however, my teacher's is extremely difficult to play. It's like I can't distinguish between soft and loud much at all, and so I play with a tighter hand. This has always frustrated me! How do you find out what the weight action is, and what are repetition springs all about???
According to Steinway & Sons, their action should be weighted between 50 and 54 grams (50 in the upper treble, and 54 in the lower bass). I prefer it a bit lighter. The only way to check this is to put weights in the "sweet spot" on each key. That is the amount of pressure necessary to depress the key and create a sound.
Some teachers (I know of several) have deliberately had their technicians make the actions heavy. One I know has 60 grams as the average, another around 75 grams, and my tech tells me of another who has 100 grams. Yikes! Why? I have no idea other than to put the student in a position of playing a "poorly" maintained piano; or to demonstrate that the student needs to strengthen their fingers. In reality all this succeeds in doing is create more physical tension in the hands since it is the velocity with which you depress the key that creates the volume, not how hard you strike the key.
Also some teachers have their hammers fluffed so that the sound is dead. This narrows the dynamic range with which you can play. The voicing should be brilliant, yet not to the point of becoming brittle. This is very subjective and would require an entire chapter in a book to describe. Next time, bring a large screwdriver, a small mill b*stard file and a voicing pin with you.
The repetition springs are what cause the keys to return to their original position. On a Renner action, this can be adjusted to a point by means of a screw. The problem is that you frequently have to make this adjustment. On older Steinway actions they used animal tallow (lard) as a lubricant - this hardens with age and causes friction. The faster the key returns to its original position, the easier the piano is to play, and the more detail you can bring out. Concert artists know this trick -- Alicia Dela Rocca was known for being very critical about key repetition. It is very difficult to make the correct adjustment in the upper register, where it is most needed. Upper register trills should be just as easy to play as those in the mid-range. My piano is a bit sluggish above high C, and I complain about it daily.
For a permanent fix on the repetition, you simply pay the beaucoup de dollars and have the springs changed for stiffer ones.
Note: This information is for a grand, not an upright. I don't know anything about uprights except if I had to have one I'd get a Yamaha.