After several comments from customers asking about my "shop" I have decided to change the name of my business. Yes, I have a small shop where I can do repairs, but I guess some think I have a storefront somewhere, possibly selling pianos as a dealer! As much as I would enjoy that it just isn't the case. I am a piano technician that does 99% of my business on site in homes, churches and schools. Because of this I have decided that "Scott's Piano Service" says what I do better than the name "Scott's Piano Shop". 

Nothing else has changed. You will see the name slowly switch over in my marketing (business cards, ads, the calendars you get at the end of the year) and a new website is coming. In fact, it is already live.

It is a bit slow this time of year for the Piano Technician. School is out, families working in their yards, going on vacations and priorities have changed. However you should not forget to take care of your piano year round. Keeping it in tune and maintaning proper humidity is important all the time.  Besides, your kids might practice year round if the piano is in tune!

If you are going to put off the tuning until Fall when school starts, get your appointment booked now. I will send out reminders a couple days before your appointment so you won't forget.

Enjoy the nice weather!
I got an email from a piano teacher in Sioux Falls SD asking if I would help promote the 3rd Annual Grant Piano Competition. I am always willing to support anything to do with music, especially piano music so here is the info.

The date of the Competition is March 22, 2014 at the First Congregational Church, Sioux Falls, SD. Following the competition the winning participants will perform a concert to benefit the Children's Miracle Network.

Details can be found at  Grant Piano Competition website

It's been cold here in Minnesota and I am not one to get involved in Winter activities such as skiing, sledding, snowmobiling or even taking the trash cans to the curb. So I have been catching up on a few favorite TV shows on the cold cold nights. One new favorite has been Dr. Who. I watched it a few times bake in the 1980's when Tom Baker was the Doctor. I didn't think any other actor could come close to what he did but now I understand the whole concept of regeneration and how that works so well with having a new actor, new face, new personality. It also gets me thinking about one of my favorite sci-fi concepts...Time Travel. Dr. Who, the crew of the starship Enterprise, and even Marty McFly have all traveled through time. They used starships, police phone boxes and Deloreans to move through time. I wondered what I would use to build a time machine. The answer was obvious. A piano! 

Why not? Every piano is already a time machine. Just listen to the sounds of Mozart, Rachmaninoff and Gershwin coming from a piano and it's like you are going back in time. The music they composed can be played anytime, sounding fresh and new with each note. I grew up listening to my father play a lot of the great piano pieces and remember them fondly. The music travels through time on the piano and each new generation hears it as a new composition, bringing joy and inspiration to people all over the world. 

So, if you have a piano sitting in your living room that hasn't been played for a while, go dust it off, get out the piano books you used a a kid in 1974 and start playing. Play anything! You will find it can transport you to the 1800's to hear music by Frederic Chopin or back to 1968 when you play Lady Madonna by the Beatles. You will be surprised at the places your piano can take you.

Oh, and if it sounds like it is from a saloon in Deadwood in the 1880's, give your local piano tuner a call and he'll make sure the Flux Capacitor is working properly so you can keep traveling in time for years to come.

Thanks Ralph Covert for the inspiration of the title of this post. If you have kids, check out his Time Machine Guitar, coming soon to a PBS station near you!

Tomorrow it will be August. Hard to believe that several schools will be starting before the end of the month. That means right now is the perfect time to get your piano tuned and ready for the school year. Pianos in schools and in private homes will start getting dusted off (Wait, you DID practice all summer, didn't you?) and it will be much more enjoyable playing if they sound good. 

It is also important to maintain steady temps and humidity where you keep your piano. A humidity level around 45-50% is ideal but not all of us can keep that year round, especially in Minnesota where we have some of the most extreme changes in seasons of anywhere in the country! We have high humidity and hot temps in the summer, dry and sub zero in the winter. Not good for an expensive piano. One simple solution is to buy a humidity monitor and use either a humidifier or dehumidifier depending on the season. Here is the one that I carry in my tool bag to get a reading when I am tuning.

It's inexpensive (around $10) and has an easy to read display with humidity being the larger of the numbers (the other being temperature of course). Another option is to have your technician install a Dampp Chasser which will keep the relative humidity just where it needs to be year round for your piano. If you want pricing on this let me know and I can show you how it works.

Whatever you do, just don't let your piano get in the condition of the one in this last picture!

Today I made a Sausage Fatty. It is about all the cholesterol you will need for the rest of the year but if you want to risk it give it a try. It was delicious!This would be great for tailgating if you make them up in advance and wrap them in wax paper. Just get to the tailgate lot early enough so it has time to cook! Better take a few because everyone nearby will want to try it.
Weave the bacon together.
I did this one 6 slices by 8 slices. Lay 
out the 8 slices then pull back every 
other one, lay another across, then put 
them back. Continue this for each slice 
and you get the weave.

Season the bacon. (Like it needs any help)
I used Jim Beam Spicy Bourbon Rub.

Take one package of Jimmy Dean  sausage. 
(You could use any brand, but I like the song Big Bad John so I used Jimmy Dean.)
You can flatten it out between two sheets of wax paper. Square it up so it will fit on the bacon. 

(Or "rectangle it up" to be more accurate.)

Add cheese and cooked bacon, or use 
bacon bits. It is important to put bacon 
on this layer because it needs more bacon flavor.
Some recipes add pepper jack cheese 
and sliced jalapenos. Knock yourself out.

I rolled up the sausage first then pulled the bacon weave around it. Seemed to work pretty good that way. 
The ends just seemed to stick down due to the 
massive amount of sticky fats in the sausage and bacon.

Put it on the grill and add more seasoning. Keep the temp between 250-300 to cook it slow. 
I threw in some pieces of hickory to give it a 
smoky flavor. Also, it didn't sit over the coals. I use charcoal trays to get the indirect heat. It cooks more evenly that way.

When it is done it will be crispy on the outside and 
will smell like something delightfully sinful. 
You can check the internal temp if you want. It took just 
under 2 hours at around 300 degrees

Slice it up and take only ONE piece at a time. 
You won't believe how filling it is. 
After you go back for seconds you 
will want to take a nap.

After looking around at all the options I finally went with Bluehost to host my new website. I have used Yahoo in the past but they haven't really done much for upgrades in the last few years so I don't know how committed they are to webhosting in the future.

I tried Wordpress and even though I finally figured it out I don't think I will be using it on this site, unless I can get a little better at setting things up for different pages. I always have that option but in the meantime I am using some Weebly templates. Pretty easy drop and drag editor that looks pretty neat and clean.

Some features I will be adding will be a Paypal link so some customers (Schools and Churches) can pay their invoices online if they wish. I already am set up to take credit cards when at a job so trying to make it as convenient as possible with payment options.

Stay tuned for more!
Yesterday I went to visit a new customer. She had a piano that had not been tuned "for quite some time" and she had just bought her daughter a used piano. I was not sure what to expect, but after arriving at the first stop I saw a small spinet that didn't look that bad. Looks can be deceiving of course and I started digging in to see what challenges I had before me.

The first thing I did was take out my A440 fork and struck it on my knee. I played the A on the piano and had to look to make sure I didn't hit the wrong note. It was over a half step flat! I played a few other notes, and even attempted a chord or two. The sound that came out reminded me of those western movies with a saloon piano. I couldn't recall ever doing a piano this bad, even though I had done much older ones. I went to talk to the owner of the piano to tell her some options. She had said in her email that she couldn't afford to do a lot other than tune it right now. After a little discussion it was decided that I would tune it a half step flat. She was just learning and no one else played.

Before I started I pulled off some keys that were sticking. My suspicions were correct and soon I had 78 cents and two guitar picks to give her and the keys were all in working order again. I took my small shop vac and cleaned up the dead flower petals and other garbage that had accumulated over the years. Soon I was deep into the tuning and amid the frustrations that always go along with an instrument like this I managed to get it sounding much better. I was not happy with it but there was not much more I could do at this point since gasoline and a match were not an option.

She came in to hear it and while I played a bit she had a huge smile. Her friend that was teaching her piano sat down at it while I was putting away my tools and raved about how wonderful it sounded. I guess it's all in the eyes of the beholder. While I knew it would never sound like a nice concert grand, I still push myself to get the best out of a piano. I could tell the customer was very happy and even though I new it would still need another tuning soon, I suspected that she wouldn't be able to tell and would probably not hear from her until next Spring. I have to remind myself sometimes that most people just want a piano to play occasionally and don't notice all the things that annoy a professional musician. I grew up with a Steinway B in the house since my father is a keyboard professor so I knew what a seasoned professional expects from a piano. However to this customer I think she was very pleased and I hope it allows her to learn and enjoy playing music.

The second piano (her daughters) was not nearly as bad and only had 41 cents in the keys. She didn't know the history of the piano but I suspect it was neglected for some time too. All in all it was a successful visit and I hope mother and daughter are soon playing songs for each other showing what they have learned.