Classes

Class


Educating piano owners and piano technicians is as much an opportunity to disseminate information as it is for me to learn from others.

Mario Igrec offers the following classes for pianists, teachers, students, and piano dealers. Inquire about having a class presented to your group or institution.

Click here to browse Mario Igrec's classes for the piano technology trade.


Our Love Is Here to Stay
What the Acoustical Piano Gives Us and Why It Is Indispensable to a Serious Musician

(1.5 hours [1 period] or 3 hours [2 periods])

The acoustical piano is increasingly being replaced with electronic instruments. In this class the pianist and piano technician, Mario Igrec, explores the qualities that set the acoustical piano apart from its substitutions, and explains the properties that make the piano so universally applicable. Why is the traditional piano a better choice for music instruction and for the development of refined musical sensibilities? What is the difference between grand and vertical pianos? Is there a danger in deliberately homogenizing the sound and touch by creating a piano brand monoculture in institutions of higher learning? Join Mario in exploring these and other questions that reveal why the real piano has shaped so many musical genres, and why in today's increasingly virtual world it has so much to offer.

BENEFITS OF THE CLASS

Enhance the understanding of the unique benefits of using an acoustical piano for learning, teaching, and performing.


Keeping It Singing
How to Love, Protect, and Maintain Your Piano

(1.5 hours [1 period] or 3 hours [2 periods])

Made mostly of wood, felt, and leather, the piano rapidly reacts to changes in humidity, and requires care and maintenance that most machines and appliances in our lives don't. Humidity greatly affects two major systems in the piano, the belly and the action. We'll start this class by considering how you can keep the belly, which affects the piano's tone and tuning, in optimal condition. Are cracks the end of the soundboard and how does soundboard crowning really affect tone quality? What makes one piano sound rich and melodious while another sounds percussive but dead? Why are some pianos so tonally uneven? Is it true that a soundboard inexorably deteriorates past its 10-year peak? We'll also look at why the piano goes out of tune and how you can have it in tune longer with less frequent tunings.

After considering options for addressing belly issues and tuning instability, we'll look at how the piano mechanism—action, keyboard, dampers, and pedals—reacts to humidity, how it wears out, and how you can prolong its life and keep it in great working condition. What should you do when the hammers wear out and get loud? What options do you have for replacing the hammers and other parts? What options do you have for adjusting the touch? How long can you expect the replacement parts to last? If humidity has such a profound effect on the piano, what should you do to control it? What is practical, how much do solutions cost, and how much ongoing maintenance do they require?

We'll end by considering the best ways to clean the key tops, keep the case clean and polished, prevent the strings from tarnishing, and clean the soundboard. Every piano requires care, but with just a little attention your piano can be a pleasure to use and provide decades of service and musical enjoyment.


Three Centuries of the Piano
How the Piano Shaped Music, Society, Technology, and Entertainment

(1.5 hours [1 period] or 3 hours [2 periods])

Most people think of the history of piano as a single, straight line from Cristofori’s invention to the modern piano. But is that really so? We'll explore the sources of early piano types and what generated the need for a keyed instrument capable of expressing dynamics. In what direction did instrument makers take the piano in Haydn's and Mozart's era? We'll look at the role of the dampers in early pianos and the musical reasons behind the development of the pedals (and devices that preceded them). What types of actions existed and did they develop from primitive to complex, as one would expect?

After a brief detour into the bizarre realm of hybrid keyboard instruments and tonal effects reminiscent of the modern-day synthesizer, we'll step into Beethoven's world at the turn of the 19th century. There we'll observe the rapid and profound transformation of the piano into an industrially produced instrument that deeply changed music, music publishing industry, technology, and economy. An engine of progress, the piano propels various countries during the 19th century to the position of technological and industrial dominance until America takes over, providing fertile ground for the ultimate transformation of the piano into its fully modern form. We'll look at the family that contributed the most to that transformation, and observe how the piano has democratized access to music, ushering in a new model of personal consumption of entertainment.

What changes has the 20th century brought, how did the reproducing and player technology prolong the piano's rein, where is the piano today, and where is it going? How have the changes affected the performer, the listener, and the overall musical sensibilities? We'll look at a few technological innovations, some successful, some flops, and consider the main forces that have contributed to the displacement of the piano as the primary entertainment device.

BENEFITS OF THE CLASS

  • Increased awareness of how the piano developed from its inception to its current form
  • When the piano came to its own
  • How did the musical style and piano support each other in 19th century
  • The social significance and rise of the modern piano
  • Understanding the developments in piano design and attitudes during the 20th century
  • Trend toward homogenization of touch and tone.

About the Instructor

MARIO IGREC, the author of the 2013 book "Pianos Inside Out: A Comprehensive Guide on Piano Tuning, Repairing, and Rebuilding," is Chief Piano Technician at the Juilliard School. He was Chief Concert Technician at Faust Harrison Pianos in New York, taught at North Bennet Street School in Boston, and served as head piano technician at Louisiana State University. As an independent concert technician and master rebuilder, he has worked for Richard Goode, Jon Kimura Parker, Garrick Ohlsson, and other renowned pianists. Himself an award-winning pianist, with a Master of Music degree from Stony Brook University, he brings to the field a unique perspective that bridges piano technology and pianism.


Please send comments and inquires to info@igrecpiano.com