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Stage crew education

  • 1.  Stage crew education

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 03-07-2024 09:42

    Hi gang,

    I'm meeting with the stage crew to train them on how to handle pianos. So far I have the following list of topics, and would appreciate any further suggestions, no matter how specific or general.

    Piano moving around stage

    Wheels (and brakes) vs stage trucks

    The Pianomover

    Food and drink

    Adhesives/gaffer tape

    Stuff on top of or near the piano

    Piano lid, music desk

    Thanks!



    ------------------------------
    Zeno Wood
    Brooklyn, NY
    ------------------------------


  • 2.  RE: Stage crew education

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 03-07-2024 09:54
    Hi Zeno,

    How nice, a chance to train stage crew! Good list. I would add a couple of small items.

    Covers - I train crews to never let the covers go on the floor, where they pick up dust and grit. I teach them how to roll it with the soft inside surface wrapped inside, then it goes onto a chair or table.

    Locking casters - emphasize "snug is good, tight is bad" on the locks on the big brass wheels. They strip too easily.

    Rarely, a crew member will put the long lid prop into the short prop hole when lifting a lid. It may pay to show the difference. We think it's obvious, but it happens. 

    Kathy





  • 3.  RE: Stage crew education

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 03-07-2024 09:57
    Zeno

    If the piano has a climate control, be sure you include that making sure the system is plugged in 24/7.

    When you schedule to give those instructions to the stage crew, unless there is one full time permanent person in charge of the crew, be sure you schedule the same speech every semester, because stage crews change constantly. Don't assume the old crew will pass along information to the new crew. 

    Wim





  • 4.  RE: Stage crew education

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 03-07-2024 10:23

    Hi Zeno,

    All good supplementary points from Kathy and Wim. To those, I would add something that may seem obvious to us but--I assure you--not so much to rest of humanity: The front lid must be folded back before the lid is raised. It is unfortunate that in advertising and media, pianos are sometimes depicted without this detail being minded (putting enormous stress on all of those little screws in the long hinge).

    Also, could you please go into more detail about what, specifically, you tell them about moving pianos around, on stage or elsewhere? Probably you include admonitions to 1) have pianos covered whenever relocating them; 2) to only push pianos from structurally strong parts (i. e., the rim, not the lid or key cover or key slip); 3) make sure that wheel brakes are off before pushing, and the like.

    Alan



    ------------------------------
    Alan Eder, RPT
    Herb Alpert School of Music
    California Institute of the Arts
    Valencia, CA
    661.904.6483
    ------------------------------



  • 5.  RE: Stage crew education

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 03-07-2024 10:00

    Piano Covers

    Locking the fallboard and lid with key

    Cable locks on Covers

    Proper Lid Prop Placement (Short/long), which cup under the lid is for which prop stick

    Stowing Music desk properly so lowering the lid doesn't smash it

    Checking lid hinges, tightening screws, hinge pins

    Leg bolts and leg mounting hardware check for tightness

    Integrity of stage flooring- no cracks or carpet seams

    Checking the power cords to damppchasers when in storage



    ------------------------------
    Paul McCloud, RPT
    Accutone Piano Service
    www.AccutonePianoService.com
    pavadasa@gmail.com
    ------------------------------



  • 6.  RE: Stage crew education

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 03-07-2024 12:07

    Regarding pushing the piano around:

    Though retired, I still work with the local high school for their quarterly choir and band recitals for which their pristine 7' Yamaha gets moved from the choir room to the auditorium stage.   Enroute, it must pass through two double doors.  Fortunately these doors don't have the removable central post with the little anchor stub protruding from the floor; I've repaired several lyres which were sabotaged by those stubs.

    However, passing through the door jambs is fraught with the potential to smash the case and lid -- especially when the piano is piloted by four energetic and inattentive students.  My instructions to the students are:  "Place your hands on the lid and case here at the widest parts when you go through the doors." 

    The first time I gave those instructions, the choir teacher was horrified.  He said, "But the students could smash their hands or fingers!"   
    "Exactly my point!" was my reply.



    ------------------------------
    John Rhodes
    Vancouver WA
    (360) 721-0728
    jrhodes@pacifier.com
    ------------------------------



  • 7.  RE: Stage crew education

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 03-07-2024 12:16

    Thanks to all!  Some good topics that I needed to be reminded of.  Here's what I came up with.  Hope you find it useful.

    I see that the formatting is all undone.  I'll make another post with the word doc as an attachment.

    --------------------

    Orientation to Piano Handling for Stage Crew

    Current price of new piano: S&S D = $217k, Yamaha C6 = $80k

    Moving – push. 

    ·         Not on keyboard or keyslip etc.  Structurally sound parts.

    ·         Go slow.  About 1/3 as fast as you think is ok. (Show picture of piano upside down)

    ·         Avoid cracks/cut-outs in stage (show the broken leg)

    ·         When passing through doorways or narrow spaces: spotters on both sides, go even slower.

    ·         Electric/audio cables

    Wheels/brakes (large brass type)

    ·         Tighten brakes when parked, loosen brakes when moving.

    ·         Tighten = go to point of contact and then just a little more.  NOT as tight as you can!

    ·         Loosen = ¼ turn.  NOT 3 turns!

    ·         "Snug is good, tight is bad"

    ·         Try to leave large brass piano wheels pointing forward or backwards, not out or in.

    Trucks: (spider dolly/stage truck)

    Trucks: "Pianomover"

    ·         Placement of rubber bumpers underneath piano

    ·         Raise bumpers via threaded stem. How close to piano beams and bottom of keybed, then engage jack

    ·         Hydraulic jack – don't press the red button no matter how inviting it is.

    ·         Key must be closed when raising jack.

    ·         Key slowly released to lower piano.  Maintain control, not sudden.

    ·         Try to leave large brass piano wheels pointing forward or backwards, not out or in.

    ·         Keep key in closed position when done lowering.

    Tapes/adhesives

    ·         Please don't use gaff tape, duct tape, etc.

    ·         Polyester finish more durable than lacquer

    Food & drink

    ·         NO!

    Stuff on top of and near the piano

    ·         Piano is not a table.

    ·         In storage, make sure that stand rack and chairs won't be pushed into piano

    Piano bench

    ·         Don't drag it

    ·         Lift by handles

    ·         Hold close to your body

    ·         Piano music desk

    Piano lid

    ·         Don't move piano with lid up

    ·         Long stick, short stick, which holes

    ·         Usually long stick for solo piano, short stick for accompaniment.  Ask.

    ·         Front flap should be open before raising lid

    ·         If requested to remove lid: tap out hinge pins with needle-nose pliers and hammer.  Careful not to scratch side of piano

    ·         Lift lid straight up before moving.

    ·         Have a place to put the lid before moving!  Table with blanket is good.

    Piano cover

    ·         Fold with white cotton innards facing in

    ·         place on chair or table, not on floor

    Music desk

    ·         Sometimes artists want it removed.  Make sure to put it back the right way (felt/leather strip facing keys) or it will be embarrassing for crew to walk out on stage to put it right.

    Fallboard lock

    ·         Don't lose it! (Put label on it so people will know what it is and where to return it if found)

    Piano technician needs

    ·         Please have piano in place before tuning.  The more time piano has on stage to acclimate (lighting/heat/humidity conditions), the better chance the piano will stay in tune.

    ·         Please be kind to your tuner!  Tuners are generally happy to work around you but certain things make work very difficult: noise, vacuum, genie beeping, music being played.



    ------------------------------
    Zeno Wood
    Brooklyn, NY
    ------------------------------



  • 8.  RE: Stage crew education

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 03-07-2024 12:30

    Adding the cost of the pianos is a nice touch!

    When you say to push only on "structurally strong parts," we piano techs know what that means. But to the unwashed masses, it might be a good idea to explain where those spots are (specifically, the bass and treble corners at the keyboard ends--this is where most of the weight is, and I feel there is more control when pushing from that end). Three people are preferred, two at the keyboard corners and one at the tail end. If I had a dollar for every time I have had to move a piano alone, we could all go out for a nice meal!

    Alan



    ------------------------------
    Alan Eder, RPT
    Herb Alpert School of Music
    California Institute of the Arts
    Valencia, CA
    661.904.6483
    ------------------------------



  • 9.  RE: Stage crew education

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 03-07-2024 12:53
    "Polyester finish more durable than lacquer"   But it chips easily and is much harder to repair. 

    Is it possible to print those instructions and hang them somewhere where they can be viewed by the crew?
    Or send them to their cell phones. 

    Wim








  • 10.  RE: Stage crew education

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 03-07-2024 12:17

    You can put neon signs flashing on the piano, but people will still set their water/coffee etc on the music desk or lid!  The guest artists also have to be told to not do this.  At Univ. of Nebraska, we had a silver medalist from the Van Cliburn fest/competition several years ago. I walked in to find him (not much English speaking) putting his water on the music desk.

    I had to go to him, take the water  and set it on the floor next to him and wag my finger.

     

    Of all the people, I would have thought he was respectful enough to know better.

    Stage crew should be educated to know a spilled drink in the piano could cost thousands of dollars and much time out of service.

     

    Crew should also know to never move a piano alone, especially going through doorways. We recently had to spend some serious bucks getting damage done on the side of one of our D's .

    Good for you to teach! Good luck!!

    Paul






  • 11.  RE: Stage crew education

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 03-07-2024 12:27
      |   view attached

    Attached is my cheat sheet for stage crew orientation.



    ------------------------------
    Zeno Wood
    Brooklyn, NY
    ------------------------------

    Attachment(s)



  • 12.  RE: Stage crew education

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 03-07-2024 12:33

    Don't leave a vinyl cover on the surface of the piano if it's lacquer.  Or put a piano bench with a vinyl top upside down on the piano.  Vinyl will soften and bubble a lacquer finish.

    No solvents used on plastic piano keys, including Goof-Off and similar.

    No furniture polish on polyester finish.  Only use proper polishes on polyester.

    Never do any work above the piano even with padding.  If they have to reposition lights, etc., always move the piano. 

    A piano lid is not a workbench or desk.  Always pad the surface.



    ------------------------------
    Paul McCloud, RPT
    Accutone Piano Service
    www.AccutonePianoService.com
    pavadasa@gmail.com
    ------------------------------



  • 13.  RE: Stage crew education

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 03-07-2024 14:25

    All great comments and a terrific thread,  thank you! I would admonish you to never allow student crews to remove or replace lids, only seasoned veteran professional stage hands, and maybe not even then. At the three universities I have been a part of I Immediately saw the consequences of this on all the pianos coming into my care. It had even been attempted by faculty...... long ugly scratches all over the top of the rim, etc. Remember, putting the lid back on is much more difficult than removing it!



    ------------------------------
    David C. Brown RPT
    Garland TX
    tunermandb88.com
    ------------------------------



  • 14.  RE: Stage crew education

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 03-07-2024 15:22

    Paul, nothing like going into a high school to tune their Steinway and find foot prints and paint splatters from students standing on it to paint sets.



    ------------------------------
    Larry Messerly, RPT
    Bringing Harmony to Homes
    www.lacrossepianotuning.com
    ljmesserly@gmail.com
    928-899-7292
    ------------------------------