Tango for Piano and Forklift

I love encountering the piano carriers. It means I can soon get at the piano and tune it. I have the utmost respect for what they do and how they do it. It's always interesting, sometimes it's gobsmacking. This might be ho-hum commonplace for some, but not for me, and I work in pianos. 

The piano is forklifted into the venue. The theatre lift is too small (very small) and this is quite regularly done, I learn. The manoeuvre is executed with balletic poise and precision. 

I stand back for safety (and wide shots!) 

Tines aligned...

..then carefully inserted.




But there's still work to do. Back-breaking work.

A very high stage sees the carriers have to heft the piano up off the dolly sans legs and lyre with the piano doonas (duvets) across the stage lip and on the stage.

For a transfer of the piano from the dolly to a lower stage or the floor, two legs and the pedal lyre are attached, the piano is carefully tilted off the dolly into a horizontal position (briefly using the pedal lyre as a 'leg') then the third leg is attached.

But today it is hefted up with pure muscle and pushed onto the stage (sliding on its doonas or 'horse blankets' as I like to call them).

Whoooshka! But still more to do. A legless grand piano horizontal is a bloody weird sight.

Just exactly how (and in what sequence) they got it from the stage floor up onto its legs is a mystery, even though I was right there (trying to make my camera work indoors without the flash). Deft and unenviable. The pedal lyre went on after all three piano legs, which is not 'normally' the case (where it's on after two legs) and then the lid, which is a heavy item in its own right.

So how are you, 497? Let's see. There, there, little one... and there, and there. You know I hardly notice the surface rust on your strings in this dull light.

I'm subsequently bursting with quips: "Won't somebody think of the piano?" - "Don't try this at home!"- "For fork's sake!" - "And you thought a forklift was a pitch-raise!" (That's one for the piano technicians - for the aural tuners with tuning forks, that's me)... 

No more quips, or you'll think I am hinting that the lift was less than balletic (which I am not). 

So we meet again, 497. Under very different circumstances. I see your lid is already open. 

I pivoted the vocal microphone out of the way, took the music rest off and dug out my tools. But something about the piano's position did not scream 'performance'. The initial microphone placement suggested vocalist-pianist. What performer would like to face the 'naughty corner' rather than the audience? I think I'll ask.

Is this piano in performance position? Yes, according to the stage plan. Really? Yes. I gently suggest that this is not the best option in this space, and I plant the seed for a rotational move of the piano so that the performer may make eye-contact with the canape-nibbling bubbly-sipping party set (or at least avoid being hit in the back of the head with canape prawn tails). I'm listened to, because I deliver my ideas passionately (and they figure I know about pianos). Approved. Right, I 'stage manage' some blokes ready for a quick but careful reposition. 

We've all played ill-conceived ungratifying gigs, why make it worse? Why suffer in silence? I often make suggestions to try to improve the situation, I can be quite outrageous, sometimes, with my (carefully couched) unsolicited hints and advice. My motivation is always to make the world a better place, or at least to make the gig a marginally better gig. That's the approach I take as a performer, and seemingly, the approach I take as a tuner!

Only when preparing for the move did I notice how the newbie soundie had positioned the piano's prop stick...

No! The long prop stick should be in the other locator cup, making a right-angle between the lid and the stick. That cup (that the stick is in) is for the short stick. Now, go to the corner of the room and face that corner... oh, wait...

Now, doesn't everyone think that is at least a little better?

I must say, 497, your surface rust is a little less becoming in this light...

I wish your strings would move more easily over bearing points and through agraffes. 

I implicate Sydney's climate, the demands of your work, and the alleged leaky drainpipe where you live.

Yes, it's just like when they turn on all the fluorescent lights at a pub, everyone instantly looks ugly, and it's time to leave. 

But I still remember that incredible morning we spent together on the beach...

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