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"I always make sure that the lid over the keyboard is open before I start to play." -
Artur Schnabel, Australian pianist, asked the secret of piano playing.


40. Piano Key Will Not Depress on Grand
Or, Pencil Extraction

It sounds like I am just padding the book with this topic. I am serious. The most common cause of grand pianos balking is pencils. The pianist uses the pencil to mark music, compose great masterpieces, or scratch has back, and the pencil eventually rolls off of the desk and into the piano. This is easy to do if you, or some other yo-yo, bumps the pencil just as you have pulled the key cover (fall board) half way closed. The pencil falls onto the fall board in such a way that it rolls instantly right on into the piano.

Open the grand piano as instructed in Chapter Five  to the point that you lift out the key cover (fall board). With a flashlight, look into the front of the action. Is there a pencil way back in the action wedged between the tops of the key levels and the bottom of the action? That's your problem.

Of course it can be other objects also. It could be Billy's magenta Crayon, his Lego block, or his mummy's teaspoon. It really is fun to lay bits of junk on the top of the key cover and flip the key cover up quick. The stuff just disappears, like when drop your dolly into the mail box. If you have little people, it would be real smart to ask your tuner to get you a key to lock your grand piano. After you hear that E-flat KLINK in the living room, it's too late.

The other item that causes havoc is paper clips used to mark pages in hymn books and sheet music. They like to fall down between the keys, and they can really stop the music. Also, consider moving your office off of the piano top and back to desk in the corner.

  On to task 41