Friday, October 28, 2011

Grand Piano Restoration: Ebony Sharps Refinished

I use this process because it is fast, works well, and gives good results. First the ebony sharps are cleaned with white vinegar to remove all dirt and grime from use. At times this type of verdigris is hard to remove. In that case a stronger cleaner such as Methyl Hydrate is used. With any type of chemical cleaner such as Methyl Hydrate, always make sure you have proper safety gear available; gloves and a respirator, along with good ventilation or use these products outside if possible.

I like to use the alcohol pigmentation stains in the new aerosol spray form. I find them really quick and easy; spray on the key top, let the alcohol flash off for a minute and then wipe the excess away. Allow thirty minutes to dry before spraying a top coat of satin lacquer.

 Usually the keys in the center of the piano have the colour worn away below where the ebony sharp is attached. This will show as bare wood when the key set is played. I use another new product that is a felt marker pen with the alcohol pigmentation stain and lacquer together.

Here are a few photos of the process and the finished product. Starting the photo album at photo 136.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Grand Piano Restoration: Keyboard Repairs

Once the action rack is separated from the key frame, the key set is removed and the key frame checked against the key bed for warping or other types of damage.  I usually bed the frame empty once or twice just to see how the key end blocks are set up and, once tightened down, observe if they interfere with the bedding of the frame in certain areas.
When the key frame is seated well into the bed, the key frame is then removed and rebuilt with the usual replacement punchings on front and back rails, along with bolster cloth or key end cloth. When replacing cloths, by using the same grade of materials or close to the original, and by taking into account overall wear, this keeps the adjustments to a minimum when regulating after cloth replacement.

The key set is completed in the usual way; replacement back check felt and buckskin, key bushings replaced top and bottom, and the original ebonies are re-ebonized and coated with a satin or flat finish. The original ivories, if still found on the instrument, are cleaned, whitened, and polished.

Here is a photo album of the various repairs to the key frame and the key set. This the same photo album starting at photo 126.

Keyboard Repairs

Also here is a photo album of key bushing repairs.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Grand Piano Restoration: Damper Felt Replacements

With any restringing job completed  the price includes replacement damper felt. Along with all of the dirt and oils collected by the felt over years of service, the original felt work will be worn in a particular pattern that would not fit well over the new strings. I find it best to install new felt so the new wire can form its own pattern in fresh materials. 

Replacement damper felt can be found in bulk or in pre-cuts; either way is a satisfactory replacement. Some times when replacing felt work one can discover a cut or length of felt that is not offered by the supply house standard pre-cuts.

 There are several felt guillotines sold by the piano supply houses, and all of them do the job of custom cut felt in much the same way. I use the guillotine quite a bit as I make my own backing felts at times out of non- traditional reds and other colours.

Once the replacement felts are ready for install they are glued into place with hot hide glue. After 24 hours the dampers are ready to be reinstalled into the piano. Because the damper wires were marked with a scribe previous to removal the installation goes quite rapidly.

Here are some photos of the damper replacement process and one of the felt cutters.

Same photo album starting at photo 118

Replacement Damper Felt

Monday, October 10, 2011

Musical Legacies

Music at the University of Western Ontario has followed a unique and interesting past; evolving into a Faculty in 1968; today it is one of the top centres of musical excellence in Canada.

Early beginnings were in 1903 with the formation of the Conservatory of London. The institute of Musical Art was opened in 1919 to teach “the art and science of music, voice, culture, and expression.” The institute operated under the auspices of the University of Toronto and Toronto Conservatory.

Music classes were offered by Western in 1934 which is the same year that the Institute was incorporated as the Western Conservatory of Music. The Sunday Nine O’clock Series was launched the following year, generating interest in music education at the university.

The principal of the four-year-old Western Ontario Conservatory of Music was appointed Director of Music for the University in year 1938. When the McIntosh Gallery opened in 1942, the conservatory offices were moved into the building. During the 1943-44 academic years, 12 students were allowed to take a music course for academic credit.

In 1948, with financial assistance from the A.E. Silverwood Foundation, the Music Teachers' College was established to provide a level of professional training at the University of Western Ontario.

Three levels of instruction were established; secondary level instruction at Western Conservatory, Music Teacher’s College at the collegiate level, and the Department of Music in University College.

Music continued at the McIntosh Gallery, but space became increasingly cramped. Nine years later, in 1957 the Silverwood Foundation presented the residence and grounds  to the University of Western Ontario, as a permanent home for the Music College in memory of A. E. Silverwood, who was governor of the University from 1930-1954.

In 1957  the Music Teacher’s College relocated to “Goodholme” as the residence was known.
In 1961 the name of the college was changed to College of Music when it became part of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Even today the building is still known as the “Silverwood Block.”

Seven years later on July 1st 1968, as a result of the re-organization of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the College of Music became a separate facility. In 1971, the construction of the Music Building on campus was completed.Following a generous donation from Dr. Donald Wright in October of 2002 the Faculty of Music was renamed the Don Wright Faculty of Music.

With more than 500 undergraduate students, 110 graduate students and more than 100 teachers, the Faculty is small enough to foster the development of close-working relationships with professors and colleagues, yet large enough to support a full symphony orchestra, fully staged opera and musical theatre productions, prize-winning choirs and a top-notch wind band program.  Today UWO produces more than 300 concerts each year, most of which are free and open to the public.

The Don Wright Faculty of Music also houses the world renowned Piano Technical program which migrated from George Brown College in Toronto during the mid to late 1980’s.

Goodholme is situated within King's University College, a sprawling, park-like campus at the University of Western Ontario. Together with several other historic buildings, including St. Peters Seminary, it contributes to the serene atmosphere of the property. 

Goodholme is a fine example of the Tudor Revival style of architecture executed on a large residential scale. Characteristic of this style, the house features steeply-pitched rooflines and tall windows. It is composed of stone, half-timbering and stucco. Other elements that typify the Tudor Revival style include the multi-paned windows, the decorative carvings on the projecting window bays and the dormer windows on the façade and all elevations. Also of note is the recessed entry on the façade, which features a projecting stone arcade and covered driveway.

Here is a photo album of how Goodholme looks today. 

 Silverwood Block