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Suggestions for Musical People.

An important suggestion is in regard to the care of a piano. Presuming that you have a good instrument, one which you prize for its workmanship and finish, as well as for its musical qualities and companionableness, it is worthy of careful treatment. You should keep it in a room where the temperature varies as little as possible.

It should not be exposed to a draught or dampness from a window, door, or outside wall, and it should not receive the direct rays of heat from the register or stove or the hot sun of summer.

The air of the room should not be too dry.

Potted plants in the same room with a piano will supply about the necessary amount of moisture.

Dusting a piano is a matter of taste, but it should be done with a chamois skin or silk cloth—never with a feather duster or a woolen cloth.

It is, however, quite important that the keys of the piano be kept clean. The insensible perspiration of the fingers combined with the unavoidable atoms of dust produce the soil sometimes seen upon the ivory keys. A cloth dampened with water, or water and alcohol, will remove this effectually.

If it can be avoided it is better not to place books, music, or bric-a-brac upon the piano, as it tends to deaden the tone of the instrument, and often causes sympathetic rattling and jarring that is sometimes mistaken for a defect in the piano.

We do not care for the ornament of a piano scarf, though that is a matter of taste.

While it is commendable to see music and books worn out in service, we do not like to see them destroyed by careless or rough usage. Keep the music on a stand, stool, or music-case conveniently near the piano.

One can judge of a pianist’s musical taste by observing his collection of music. One is sometimes filled with regret to see the musical pabulum upon which some households are fed, consisting, perhaps, of “Russian March,” “Maiden’s Prayer,” “Arkansas Traveller,” “Iron Boots Quickstep,” “Silvery Waves,” etc.

A musician is in some measure judged by his repertoire. See to it that it is all that could be desired.

It is well to give some care to the appearance of the hands and finger-nails. The hands should be free from soil when displayed upon the keyboard, and the nails reasonably short and free from black rims.

While at the instrument avoid all unnecessary movements. Do not sit with your back to the keyboard at any time, and, if possible, do not turn your back to your auditors while playing.

See that your music is in order upon the rack before beginning to play.

It is better not to roll sheet music for carrying, but place it between the lids of a folio.

When one is asked to play or sing, if he intends to comply, it is better taste to proceed at once without hesitation, excuse, or preamble; afterward do not remain at the instrument for further invitation. If the desire for more of your music is sincerely expressed you will be able to perceive its genuineness, and, if possible, respond.

It is courteous for a gentleman to offer to turn the leaves of the music for a lady while she is playing, but to do this well without hindering rather than helping the performer requires no little tact and ease of manners. One should be quite sure that he can follow the music so as to turn at the right instant, and without displacing the leaves and embarrassing the player.

Duet playing is very profitable and entertaining practice, but many persons are not successful in the r61e of accompanist. A dispute often arises over the selection of the parts, primo or secondo, first or second piano. In duet playing one needs to exercise much patience and forbearance, and not be disposed to criticise or dictate to the other.

Criticism of another’s performance is sometimes beneficial to both the critic and the criticised, but one should be sure that he is thoroughly well qualified to fill the role of critic and to handle his subject with success, and then it should be done in a kindly spirit, with the sincere intent of benefiting rather than injuring.

Discriminate applause is appropriate and expected in the concert-room, but should not be boisterous or ill- timed.

Never omit a movement or passage from a composition because it is more difficult or less pleasing to you than the rest, as is the custom with some players who are more sentimental than serious, and are in no sense devotees of the art for art’s sake. It is in bad taste, an injustice to the author, and may easily be detected by even mediocre critics, and so will do you the discredit of at least being frivolous.I. J. Cogswell in The Musical Visitor.

 

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