Spruced Up - Pianos About Town

The heady world of event hire pianos continues to provide entertainment, adventure and... oh, yes... gainful employment. Many a wild spruce chase around the city's venues, pubs and function rooms, often on my bicycle, because the favoured precincts are usually impossible (and/or expensive) for car parking.

I log models and serial numbers to keep track of where and when I encounter the various pianos in the event hire fleet.This proves handy if there are problems with a piano and helps me determine (or speculate about) the condition of the piano's tuning. Sometimes I see the same instruments within days. The environment and time available for tuning can sometimes be quite comfortable, while at other times it may be a compromised rush. I try to 'bank' a little during the former, in the hope that it will aid the latter. 

How's my 'ride to work day'? I kept gently pedalling through the voluminous indoor spaces of these former railway workshops. When I began to spy event-themed clues (catering and floral arranging activities) I knew I was homing in on my target. Finally, a piano. Schlepping miles through these spaces on foot carrying tool bags is for the mugs, eh? Even wheeling my bike feels better than that (because I put the weight in the crate).

Here the lighting fixtures (in the process of being adjusted) were so low that I had to watch my head every time I moved. Oh, my First World Problems!

It's more perilous than the photo might indicate, particularly if you find it desirable to stand while tuning. 

Piano as plant stand. Same piano, different venue and day. I usually take the time to quickly suggest that the piano's lid be closed until 'show time' (or the need to insert microphones, in some cases). It will definitely be closed, I'm told, because the flowers need to go on it. Flowers? My recommendation: protect the surface. 'Yes, we normally use two cloth napkins.' 

Give way to pianos. I do not wish to be chalking piano-shaped outlines on busy city streets.

In a moist marquee with a seemingly soggy piano. This serial number snap strikes me as strangely arty, then I realize I've inadvertently activated one of those wanky filters that I didn't know existed on my photographic device.

In this clear-walled marquee the humidity soars, but at least the rain can't reach. There are puddles everywhere onstage, with my 'old' office, the Sydney Opera House, pointing (and sniggering) in the background.

I'm glad there is a path beside the cobblestones.

Ideally, I urge clients to finalise the piano's position before the carriers leave.  

Another odd office. How's my 'ride to work day'?


I noticed the pleasing continuation of the background lines in the reflection of the piano as I tuned. 

Abrasive asphalt surfaces everywhere, with nowhere safe to place the very shiny piano's removed cabinet parts. I straddle the upper front board across two of my bags, and gently rest the fallboard in this soft shrub. I care! Look, is that the lesser Yamaha YUX sleeping in the bushes? Shhhh!

The piano's celeste (muffler) rail propped on my trusty transport.

After sunset the filming and live recording for an interactive multi-media artwork app can commence. Before the evening is done this little piano tuner (and the piano carriers) have dutifully signed their actors' release forms after being included in the piece.

Speaking of pianos on the street: on tour in Melbourne I witnessed this sparklingly eccentric busker. His playing is very interesting. Everything is full-handed stride-style, yet often the tunes are Rolling Stones or Nirvana numbers - strangely compelling.

His piano is covered with a bit of plastic and stashed in a (still outdoors) nook when he knocks off.

A deck-style umbrella is part of his rig (out of shot). Suffice it to say that this is not an event hire piano.


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