Pianos: The garland is always greener

The car-to-bike routine is the perfect solution in certain situations, where one appointment is in the city, and the other is nowhere near. Event hire piano tunings often involve function rooms, galleries, libraries and venues in or near the CBD. I detest using parking meters, and will usually go any lengths to avoid them, but paying for parking on the edge of the city beats being financially fleeced further in (at parking stations) if I've just dashed from another suburban tuning. See my car's blistering rear window tint? I recently dealt with that and other car dilemmas (sort of).

If the work's all right in town, even if it's raining, the bicycle easily trumps the car as the winning choice. I take fewer tools to event hire tunings and I have some sort of half-baked method for swaddling tools (and myself) in plastic if it's a wet ride. I am not expecting to find a major repair or adjustment to do in one of these swanky rooms (touch spruce). These pianos are seen so regularly that if an issue begins to develop I can report it if it's something more appropriately addressed in the workshop.


There's my old office across the way.

Sometimes it's nice to get out of town, away to the bush. Oh wait, I'm still in a waterfront function centre.

I'm preparing the piano for the long-anticipated nuptials of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie. That must see me in line for an Australian honour. Do we still have them? What, gumnuts? No, Sheilahoods.

Observing the gussying is inevitable. Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, weren't they siblings? "If anyone objects to this union, speak now." 

It's hard to see, but the lass up the ladder has one of the giant garlands around her waist and looks like a bush ballerina. I documented the silent scissor lift for the mild amusement of a fellow piano technician. Sometimes they can be a little beeping annoying. Who, colleagues? No, scissor lifts.

White supremacy. Shannon Lush's tips* for transforming bathroom grout from grimy to gleaming work a treat. The piano, stool, stage and foldback monitor have never looked whiter. Do not use bi-carb and vinegar on your piano, nor monitors.

It is a striking look. Very John Lennon, I say to the soundie, of the piano plinth, evoking John Lennon's famous all-white room at Tittenhurst Park. The soundie is pleased I've noticed the white monitors...

...designed to make the colours pop even more.

There is a lot of detail that goes into these events. Astonishing.

The view from the piano plinth to the main stage. If everyone could just tiptoe through the tulips I'd be able to hear the piano. Actually, it was rather sonically serene this day.

Sometimes the event hire pianos visit folks' private homes, if their homes are swanky enough to function as function rooms.

What's hot this season?  Verandaliers! To be fair, the chandeliers were bumped in for the event. But I can't decide which option more quickly sends the opulence-ometer (and possibly the budget) into the red. Is it installing the chandeliers, or if they had been fixtures already? These and other First World Questions keep me awake at night. That, my insomnia, and my determination to pursue my hobby of staying up past my bedtime.

Candlestick park.

I got to see twice the progress. As I tuned the event hire piano in the adjoining room I was approached by the owner of the home to tune their home piano as well. Sweet! All I had to do was trek to my car and move it to get another two-hours' parking. One job becomes two (in all the right ways).

Foliage installations that sometimes trump my garden, my street, my darn suburb, for leafiness, are de rigeur for these events. The view behind looks like a painting. Meanwhile I mourn leaves leaving, as my neighbours slew trees in a chainsaw makeover, to ensure that no leaves drop in the hallowed new pool. But I digress.

Hungry? How do you like them apples? Edible garnishes have gone too far. No apple cores in the piano, please. It's amazing, this opulent detail. Even the worms in the apples are wearing evening dress. 

"Do you, Pink Lady, take thee, Jonathan to be your lawfully-wedded...?" [Blah, blah, time passes, cutaway to Homer Simpson nibbling at the heart-shaped apple garland] "...They have declared their perpetual love to each other before the witnesses assembled here and before Granny Smith Almighty..."

When I leave to move my car I document another of life's mild irritations, the leaf blower. He had been a lot closer to the the veranda while I was tuning the first piano, which was annoying, but by now he was many metres away.

It's funny how often folk in domestic and other situations blitz all their tradie needs in one fell swoop. It's understandable, you may have to take a day off to chase this stuff. In marches a cavalcade of leaf-blowing, hedge-shearing (motorised clippers, of course) chainsawing, jackhammering, odd-jobbers, in precision lockstep, each looking more like the Arm and Hammer logo than the preceding. Then there's another little Chinese cliché vacuuming, other generalised sonic flotsam... and the piano tuner.

Armed with piano tools, earplugs, dogged tenacity and the boldness to close windows, doors, turn off fans, and gently angle to possibly schedule differently in future.

 Without being overly precious, it can be a challenge to hear the piano in the crazy detailed way a tuner must. Most people are reasonably thoughtful, and vacuuming staff might be able to start at the other end of the house (or function room). Other strategies, for me, are pushing my earplugs in more, burying my head in the piano, and mixing it up with what and where in the piano I'm tuning, i.e. working in a part of the range that is more distanced from the general range of the leaf blower lawnmower chorus, or on an aspect of the tuning that is a simpler listening task (e.g. unisons). This has limited application, because it all has to be done sometime, soon. There might be other things you can do (even non-tuning things) until the Hooverer is on the horizon (heading away, one hopes, to finally fall off the edge of the earth, or to reach the power cord's full length and accidentally unplug it - whichever comes first).

The fireplace in the (event hire) piano room. No elephants were harmed in the provision of the astonishing (yet not over-done) decorations in this house. Now, I don't know that for sure. The clement weather may have seen me miss out on using the elephant's foot umbrella holder that I'm given to believe is standard in any Eastern Sydney establishment (even the pubs).

Above the fireplace. If your relatives look like this, I think you're doing all right. Unless they're 'famous' monarchs and I'm just not up on centuries-old popular culture. I implicate too little reading in doctors' waiting rooms.

The verandaliers reminded me that I'd performed in a shed with chandeliers, in Queensland (which only partially explains it). What glamorous lives we performers lead.

In the State Library, flanked by a collection of exotic ensigns. I had wanted to sneak some artful shots on the way out, or to run around the library room using each in turn as a cape. Take an orderly place in the queue to be listed as a suspected infidel. You have progressed in the queue. Your scary independent thoughts are important to us. But by the end of the tuning, my interest in the whole idea had flagged. 

I hadn't seen that many Union Jack postage stamps in the one gaggle since a recent prestidigitation conference. I've taken the liberty of future-proofing this blog entry. I borrowed the bucket from First Dog on the Moon but I've promised to return it or buy a replacement for him from Bunnings.

*You know you dress casually when you buy the cheapest pantyhose available. Not to wear, but to indulge in Shannon Lush-style cleaning projects. No cast-offs available because I simply never wear them.

THE ACTUAL TIP: Spritz grimy grout with a blend of clove oil and water (1/4 of a teaspoon of clove oil in a litre of water). It kills mould, I'm told. Then the next day it's bi-carb with white vinegar, and a scrubber's leggings (pantyhose) for scrubbing.

If discolouration is still evident, simply pop a bucket over your head and it all disappears.

NOTA BENE - do not try this on a piano.

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