Jordan Kitt’s provides the new organ for National’s Park

For Matthew Van Hoose, the Washington Nationals’ playoff run will start on a low note. In the way that only a music professor can be, Van Hoose is psyched about the ultra-deep, bleacher-shaking registers of the team’s brand-new stadium organ.

“This thing has a ton of extra bass,” said Van Hoose, the Nats’ official organist, as he twiddled a few foghorn notes from the bright red, W-emblazoned, three-keyboard instrument that was installed last week at Nationals Park. “It’s good to have a little time to get used to it before the playoffs.”

Van Hoose was running the Viscount Sonus 60 through some test riffs during the Nats’ low-stakes final game of the regular season Sunday. This was basic baseball organ-izing: a little of Iron Butterfly’s “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” to goose a placid crowd during a visit to the mound.

But come Friday, he knows the mood will shift from the carnival calliope of regular games to the “Phantom of the Opera” drama of a post­season sell­out against the defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs. When 41,000 fans stand to shout “Charge!” at that classic stadium prompt, Van Hoose will be playing an organ of 41,000 pipes.

And just in time, the front office has equipped him with an instrument boasting considerably more musical muscle than the Hammond keyboard he was tickling before. This is an organ a guy can be proud of.

The Viscount was made to order in Mondaino, Italy; shipped to New York; tuned up in Harrisburg, Pa.; and, during the Nats’ final road trip, fitted in a former radio booth on the second floor of the press box high above home plate. Above the three tiers of keys are rows of tonal couplers (“tremolo,” “piccolo,” “vox humana,” etc.). Below are crescendo and swell pedals and, just off the floor, a fan of skinny pedal boards spreading out from Van Hoose’s busy feet. It is an instrument fit for an octopus.
Van Hoose musically responds to the action at Nationals Park on the new organ. (Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post)
He uses his eyes, hands and feet when he plays. (Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post)

“I’m thrilled,” said Van Hoose, 46, who was dinking away at a kiddie keyboard when he got into baseball at age 3 in Norfolk. “It’s kind of like going from a plastic bat to a wooden bat.”

[Waiters, students and veterans belt out the national anthem for the home team]

The upgrade included a room of his own. Before, his portable keyboard was tucked into a corner of the control room with the crew that pumps sound effects and recorded music through the stadium speakers.

Now Van Hoose sits alone, following the prompts of DJ Daniel Zacharias through a video monitor and a headset. They take turns mixing sounds into the action, a sample of “The Price Is Right” uh-oh music when the Pirates’ first baseman drops a foul ball, a little polka ditty by Van Hoose for the crowd to clap to as Anthony Rendon steps out of the batter’s box.

“Rendon steps out a lot,” Van Hoose said, looking down at the field, his hands on the keys. “He gives you a lot of opportunities for prompts.”

Van Hoose’s bench is within leaning distance of the open window at his shoulder. If he were to start rockin’ it Ray Charles-style, you could imagine him pitching himself down to the club seats.

“I really feel like I’m in the park now,” he said as fan noise and fall air wafted in.

The team wouldn’t say what the instrument cost, only that the desire for a true stadium organ came from “the highest levels of the organization” and that they acquired it through a partnership with keyboard dealer Jordan Kitt’s Music, now “the official provider of pianos and organs for the Washington Nationals.” The same model is advertised for about $20,000 on European websites.

Nats owner Mark Lerner said his family has long wanted to pump up the pipes as part of the game-day soundtrack.

“My family has always valued the role of music in the overall experience of attending a baseball game,” Lerner said. “We have always wanted to upgrade our organ, and we are all so thrilled about this amazing instrument and how it will contribute to our fan experience.”

Organist Matthew Van Hoose plays the new instrument high above the crowd at Nationals Park. (Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post)

Lerner’s 91-year-old father, principle owner Ted Lerner, was a Washington Senators fan back when Merv Conn played his electric accordion over the loudspeakers between innings.

“Ted is old enough to remember when they had marching bands at ball­parks,” said Phil Wood, a Washington baseball historian and commentator who has a picture of Conn on his office wall. “This is an ownership that cares about the traditions of the game.”

It can be hard to gauge whether younger fans, raised on walk-up music and video clips, feel the same thrill of an instrument so redolent of Cracker Jack and 50-cent beer. A brief survey of ticket holders Sunday suggests that many assume those quick organ takes on the “Mexican Hat Dance” and “Zorba the Greek” are just buttons on a synthesizer.

“I had no idea it was a real organ,” said Sadie Cohen, a fan from Fairfax at the game with her brother. “They should show him on the scoreboard.”

Wood said he settled a bet recently when a couple stopped him in the stadium. She thought the organ music was live; he thought it was canned.

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Teenage pianist faces Harvey with courageous piano performance

HOUSTON (KTRK) —
In the aftermath of Harvey, heartbreaking tales of destruction and loss across Houston were countered by those of individuals and organizations that put their lives on hold to shelter, feed, and console the thousands that lost their homes, possessions, and sense of security.

Houston’s music scene was no different.

The video below, filmed during floods caused by the hurricane, profoundly captures a small experience of what many of the city’s professional and amateur musicians faced during and after the storm.

Cuteness alert: Puppy accompanies teen’s piano performance

via WCNC.com

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Performing in front of an audience is intimidating. Luckily for 14-year-old Eli Dykes, when he takes a seat at the piano bench he has a little help from a friend.

Eli has played the piano for eight years and has performed in state-level competitions. But it wasn’t until a month ago, he had someone to accompany him.

That someone is Lovey, a 10-week-old Pointer/Spaniel mix that is currently up for adoption.

Eli’s family fosters dogs from the South Charlotte Dog Rescue. About a month ago, they took in three foster puppies, including Lovey.

“We fostered three of the five litter and they all used to sing together,” Eli’s mother, Kimberly Dykes says. “I have three dogs myself and they were the first ones ever to contribute.”

Kimberly says that if Eli started playing, Lovey and her siblings started singing.

“The first time we just laughed because he would stop playing and they would stop howling,” Kimberly says. “High notes, low notes, it didn’t matter.”

The doggy duet was surprising for the family because Lovey and her siblings weren’t big barkers. But even when the pups were outside, if they heard Eli begin to practice piano, they couldn’t help but join in.

“I used to tease Eli saying that the dogs were howling at him playing, but now that I look at the video, she really is singing along,” Kimberly says.
Read the full article here

Couple gives away piano with $600K in gold coins inside.

A hoard of valuable gold coins worth more than half a million dollars has been found inside a piano which was given away for nothing by its previous owners.

Graham and Meg Hemmings, from Shropshire,  England, donated their old instrument to a local school with no idea it was full of gold.

Its new owners, Bishop’s Castle Community College, only discovered the hidden stash after they paid a piano tuner to fix the instrument.

Inside, he found 913 gold coins that are more than a century old.

The hoard is a mixture of old British sovereign and half-sovereign pieces, and between them contain more than 13lbs of gold.

Under UK law, unexpected valuable finds can be taken into the custody of the legal system, and officially declared “treasure” if they are significant enough.

This was the case with the gold coin hoard, with the result that museums will be able to bid for the items, and the people who found them will be paid their market rate.

In this case, the value of the find was declared to be £500,000 ($640,000) – and will be divided evenly between the college and the piano tuner.

Since the Hemmings’ gave the piano away, they have no right to any of the reward – and, remarkably, don’t seem to mind.

Mr Hemmings, 72, said: “We’re very glad that the college will benefit. We knew the piano needed tuning when we moved it to Bishop’s Castle but it played well.”

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Gold found inside piano

LONDON — British officials are trying to trace the owner of a trove of gold coins worth a “life-changing” amount of money found stashed inside a piano.

A coroner investigating the find on Thursday urged anyone with information to come forward.

When the piano’s owners took it to be tuned last year in Shropshire, central England, it was found to contain a hoard of gold sovereigns minted between the mid-19th and early 20th centuries.

Investigators have determined that the piano was built in London in 1906 and sold to a pair of piano teachers in Saffron Walden, eastern England. They are seeking information on its ownership before 1983.

Anyone wanting to make a claim has until April 20, when coroner John Ellery will conclude his inquest.

If the gold’s owner or heirs cannot be traced, it will be declared treasure, and the piano’s current owners will reap the reward.

Officials have not disclosed how much the coins are worth. Peter Reavill, who assesses finds for the British Museum’s Portable Antiquities Scheme, said “it’s a hoard of objects which is potentially life-changing for somebody to receive.”

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11 Year Old Piano Prodigy Surprises Crowd

Via the telegraph

If you close your eyes you could be setting foot in a blues bar on New Orlean’s Bourbon Street.

But this is across the pond in Perth, Australia, and the pianist is 11-year-old Louis Rebeiro, wowing crowds with an impromptu performance.

The self-taught piano prodigy was strolling through the Fremantle Markets when he stumbled upon the music stall and put in a show-stealing jam session.
He was with his cousins and one of them dared him to play for everyone. He just jumped on with no reservations,’ his mother Lorena told Daily Mail Australia.

Footage shows the little legend capturing hearts with an improvised performance spanning nearly eight minutes.

Self taught is great, but so are lessons. Sign up today for Jordan Kitt’s Music School here

Jeff Goldblum and the life-changing magic of playing his Yamaha piano

Play it again, Jeff!

Jeff Goldblum, professional smooth operator, started his onstage career as a piano player at seedy cocktail lounges in his hometown of Pittsburgh. He still practices an hour every day, sometimes commandeering the ivories in hotel lobbies to stay on top of his craft. On the heels of a three-month residency at Los Angeles club Rockwell, the 64-year-old actor discusses his lifelong musical passion.

LATE NIGHT WITH JIMMY FALLON -- Episode 218 -- Pictured: (l-r) Jeff Goldblum plays the piano with Jimmy Fallon on March 29, 2010  (Photo by Dana Edelson/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

Jeff Goldblum plays the piano on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon in 2010.

Photographer: Dana Edelson/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Practice, practice, practice

“I’ve been blessed with some biggish hands, but early on, I trained my left hand a bit harder. I would take my thumb and my pinkie, place them right below the keyboard, and stretch my finger and thumb against the keyboard, and do a split with my hand. It’s like hand acrobatics. I enjoy the feel of the keys. I’m tactual.”

A Yamaha C6 grand piano, one of Goldblum's go-to instruments.

A Yamaha C6 grand piano, one of Goldblum’s go-to instruments.

Source: Yamaha

His favorite instrument

“I have this baby grand Yamaha, which is fantastic. I keep it tuned constantly. [My son] Charlie enjoys it as well—he’ll sit on my lap and bang away on the keys. And I have a Yamaha C6, with a microphone set up around it. It’s the one that they have at the Carlyle as well. Everyone seems to love it, because it’s nice and bright for jazz.”

A little help from his friends

“After I play some piano, I’m different for the rest of the day. It brings you into this community that you might not have anything in common with otherwise, and there is a way that you communicate with musicians that you can’t with anyone else. It’s changed my life. It’s a way to have a conversation that goes deep into the blood system.”

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Free pianos can be very expensive

via helenair.com, written by John Dorr, a piano technician and private music instructor

I get a lot of calls from people who just obtained a free, giveaway piano. They’ll want me to come out and tune and/or inspect it with an eye towards its restoration. Sometimes these pianos are real gems; they’ll tune up nicely and play well. Good deal! However, often a giveaway piano is given away because it hasn’t been played in years or the owner knows that it is need of some repairs and is not interested in putting any money into it.

(Non)Buyer Beware! That long-neglected piano is almost assuredly so far from being “at pitch” that a tuning will likely involve a pre-tuning pass known as a pitch, or pressure, correction — maybe two — before it’s tuneable. That’s an added expense.

An extra-charge tuning is just the beginning of the possible bad news, though. If there are repairs to be made, such as action adjustments, bear in mind that a five-minute repair on ONE key equals almost four hours when you multiply it by 88 if that repair/adjustment is needed on ALL keys. Small things necessary for your new free piano can soon become larger investments!

The above scenario assumes that you have a tuneable piano, too. Sadly, sometimes when I look at a customer’s new “free” piano, I have to inform them that it just USED TO BE a piano, but now it’s only a piano shaped object. Certain structural defects can render a good-looking piano untuneable. Pinblocks can be too loose, plates can be broken, soundboards may have severely separated ribs and cracks, and strings can be rusted, worn, and ready to break when pulled up to pitch. Some of these problems can be fixed, some are feasible; you could buy a NEW piano for the costs of some of these repairs.

If you get the worst news as described in the paragraph above, now you undoubtedly have three or four strong friends who helped you move it to your house who’ll swear never to move a piano again! Especially YOURS.

So how do you pre-check a free piano and get an idea of whether it’s useable or not? Or how much it may cost to get it to perform up to your expectations? First — don’t just the piano by its case. “Case in Point” (pun intended): I have a BEAUTIFUL old upright piano that is a “piano shaped object” only. Matter of fact, anyone reading this who aspires to make a bar, a toolbox, or other use of this piano is welcome to call me and I’ll give it to you for free.

The best thing to do with any used piano purchase, or giveaway piano, is to have a piano technician inspect it before you take it. Many people rely on their piano teachers to look at the prospective pianos and evaluate them. Truth is, there aren’t many judgments a teacher can make about the mechanics and the structure of the piano. Teachers generally just play and listen. If all the keys play well and reliably, and if the sound of the piano is reasonable, it may get no further inspection. A technician may take from 30 minutes to an hour to disassemble much of the piano to make a thorough inspection and present you with a condition report, so you’ll know what to expect when he or she comes to service it. There will be a charge for this service but it’s cheap insurance against expensive disappointments. And sometimes, the charges for the inspection may be credited against future repairs.
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Make Music Day is coming to Washington DC on June 21st!

Make Music Day is a global celebration of music that takes place each year on June 21st. Launched in 1982 in France as the Fête de la Musique, it is now held in more than 700 cities in 120 countries.

On June 21st of 2016, Make Music Day is making its debut in Washington, DC.  Musicians of all genres, skill levels and ages are urged to share their talents. Virtually any venue can participate. Registration is free, easy and commitment-free.

Completely different from a typical music festival, Make Music Day is open to anyone who wants to take part. Every kind of musician — young and old, amateur and professional, of every musical persuasion — pours onto streets, parks, plazas, and porches to share their music with friends, neighbors, and strangers.  All of it is free and open to the public.

Stop by Jordan Kitt’s Music during Make Music Day to learn how to play a song, and get a free piece of sheet music!


Or, to participate, volunteer, or find out more information, visit here!