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The Making of a Grand Piano

Steinway Piano - the making of a grand piano

You may enjoy playing or listening to the piano, but did you ever think about the making of a grand piano? The piano is a hybrid between a string and percussion instrument. The sounds are made with strings, but the strings only makes sounds when something hits them. To amplify the sound, there is a large piece of wood mounted underneath the strings called the soundboard. When the strings vibrate, the soundboard vibrates in resonance. In addition, the lid of the piano helps the sound reflect out toward the listener.

Parts of a Grand Piano

Parts of a Grand Piano

The Unique Construction of Steinway Grand Pianos

Each piano is unique, but Steinway pianos have been recognized as some of the best pianos in the world. While they have the same parts as other pianos, it is their materials, craftsmanship, and piano construction that help Steinways sound the way they do.

Below is a video tour of the Steinway factory that shows the making of a grand piano from start to finish:

Working with the Wood

85% of a piano is wood, and Steinway inspects each piece of lumber to make sure it is the top grade. The lumber is air dried for up to one year and then kiln dried to remove any tendencies for warping or cracking. The wood used is straight grain, hard wrought maple that is laminated and glued together in flat grain sets. This process enhances the vibrational characteristics of the wood. The sets of maple are about 20 feet long and are carried by a team who clamps them into position on the press by hand.

Steinway has a custom press that was designed and patented in 1880 by Theodore Steinway. This shapes the outer edges of the piano – known as the rim – into the curved piano shape we’re all familiar with and after the wood is shaped in the press it is stored upright in a conditioning room for several months, depending on size.

Bending the rim at the Steinway FactoryWorkers at the Steinway factory attach a large piece of hard wrought maple to a specially designed press. 


Inside the Grand Piano’s “Belly”

The soundboard is made from slow grown Sitka Spruce, a tall evergreen from the Northwest and Alaska. The bridge is made from vertical laminated maple, just like the rim. The bridge transmits vibrational energies from the strings to the soundboard. The iron plate, cast from one piece of iron, is placed on in the “belly” of the piano after the soundboard and bridge are in place. The job title for the person who installs the soundboard, bridge, and iron plate is called the “belly man.”

Grand Piano Plate and Strings

The soundboard, plate, and strings are installed in the belly of the piano by a worker called the “belly man.”

Final Parts and Testing

After the “belly” of the piano is assembled, the strings are added by hand and felt hammers are created. Keys are then carefully tested. When the piano is complete, it is moved to a soundproof room where a mechanical device breaks in the action over the entire scale of the keyboard. Finally, the tone is perfected by testing and fine tuning the hammers, felts and dampers by hand.

The hammers are carefully installed and tested.

The hammers are carefully installed and tested.


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Kora performances by teacher Will Dudley

Hey ya’ll,

I’ll be performing this Sunday, 1/25, with the wonderful cellist Zachary Banks at The Waypost.  We’ll be sharing the ticket with the knowledgeable and gifted Kora player Sean Gaskell, who will be joined by percussionist Bret Benraven.  It’s going to be a good old fashion Kora throw-down!   Tickets are $2-5.  The food and drinks are slammin’
Also, you’re invited to witness life through an African lens at the 25th annual Cascade Festival of African Films, February 6th through March 8th.  There will be dozens of truly rare and spectacular cinema to be seen. I’ll be playing for the Kickoff Gala dinner on February 5th.  Learn more at
Finally, come check me out at Petite Provence – 1824 NE Alberta Street – on the second Saturday and fourth Friday of each month!  Seriously though, this might be my favorite food in Portland.
Hope to see you soon,
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Musical African Adventure with Musicality Network teacher Will!

The following blog post is from Will, one of our music teachers, who recently traveled to Africa to receive advanced training in the Kora, a stringed instrument you can read more about by clicking here:


Six weeks in to my twelve week journey, it’s been a wild ride. I should’ve e-mailed sooner, and now I’m a bit overwhelmed with the task of communicating my experiences.  Let’s see….
Brikama is my home base.  A dusty town of concrete compounds with tin roofs clinking in the wind.  Roads of sand, swarming markets of color, diesel fumes and honking.  I can now get around on my own confidently, though not confidentially; white people, or “toubabs” have a celebrity status here that can be quite exhausting.  I’ve followed the family band to naming ceremonies, where they are ambushed by donators eager to demonstrate their generosity.  I’ve spent several afternoons in the bush, practicing new tunes until sunset.

Will 1 (1632 x 1224)

I’ve also spent weeks on the coast, near a small village called Kartong. My first week there, I was consumed by violent food poisoning – 4 days of nightmares and diarrhea.  After emerging, my teacher Moriba and I traveled to the southern border – the Halahin river – to stay with a group of sabar drummers from England.  We set up camp and head to the river front, where a group of bar owners greeted us with a performance.  “Weeelcome, Will weellcoome” they sang, as one plucked an mbira, one drummed, and another rattled.  After a painful few days, it was just the lift I needed.
The next weekend, the annual Kartong music festival.  Thousands circle a giant sand pit at the local elementary school to watch drummers, dancers, magicians, men on stilts and in traditional garb bang and swirl. Unfortunately, each night the best acts were scheduled last (around 1 am), and by the time they came on, I was more exhausted than entranced.

Will 2 (1632 x 1224)

Such slight disappointment was quickly ameliorated by more intimate performances at Modu’s lodge (also in Kartong).  One night featured a djembe, don-don quintet…  Polyrythms weave around the fire, drawing in small groups of dancers who stomp til satisfaction.  The lead singer is a young man with an old mans voice – a raspy, aching soul.A few days later, Modu hosts a sabar drumming performance.  Eight pairs of sticks and hands fill the air with excitement.  Most players are stationary, while a few come forward to converse with dancers.  Jagged and smooth, powerful yet inviting.  Another evening of ecstatic movement; I now understand the English group’s obsession with sabar drumming.

Feb 18th, all of the Brits head home, save an elderly woman named Jane, who sticks around for the next few weeks to learn kora. Speaking of which…
Lots and lots of kora.  I’ve learned a ton.  New songs, styles, tunings, techniques.  Moriba is great player and an ok teacher – a bit more focused on money than music, in my opinion – but I have dragged a lot out of him. He also is overprotective of me, seeing as I am his key financial asset at the moment, and gets very jealous when I hang out with or learn from other kora players.  In spite of this, I have found another teacher – Bunja Konte, who is more articulate, passionate, albeit less experienced.  We’ve spent many long afternoons in the bush working out new rhythms and melodies.  Just when I’m grasping my current material, a new song or variation throws me back into the grinder.  It’s wonderful…

A few days ago, Moriba and I went on an epic journey to see a great kora legend, Jeli Madi Suso.  An hour and a half bike ride into the wind with flat tires and broken pedals, Madi Susso’s performance is well worth it.  We sit in a small, well lit room in the corner of his compound.  His kora bursts with color as he plays into the sunset…

Beauty and struggle is a common juxtaposition here.  Tight community bonds and profound traditional music, amidst ubiquitous sexism, genital mutilation, pollution, and poverty. The Gambia is a complicated place.
Will 3 (1632 x 1224)

Much love to you all, I hope everything is going well in the wild west.  I’ve attached a few pics of my trip. 🙂

Here is a link to Will’s profile:

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Piano Lessons in Portland

piano1 (1200 x 857)

At the Musicality Network, we are proud of the piano lessons we offer through our awesome piano teachers. We have lots of piano teachers all over the Portland metro area who offer piano lessons – either in-home or studio lessons. These teachers are friendly, knowledgeable,  likeable, and can really help you or your kids get excited about learning to play the piano! The piano is a beautiful member of the percussion family, one of the most popular instruments for personal enjoyment and art. It is a unique and majestic instrument.

Are you looking for piano lessons for kids of yours? Or maybe for yourself? In Portland we have piano teachers all over – from Aloha to Gresham, and from Vancouver to Woodburn. Our teachers can travel to your house for the piano lessons, or you can go to their studio for your piano lessons. Either way you are going to love your piano teacher! We are so confident in this that we will give you a completely free, no obligation first lesson. If after that lesson you are not absolutely happy with your piano teacher, we will offer you an additional free lesson with a different piano teacher, until we find the one that’s a perfect fit. We rarely have this problem, because we have the best piano teachers in Portland!

Looking for piano lessons in Portland? We are your resource.

Call: 971-227-4222

Email: [email protected]

Sign up for piano lessons in Portland today!

Here are some of our awesome piano teachers:

Piano Lessons in Portland

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The Musicality Network Free School Concert Series – Concert 3: King Elementary School


Photo by Christa Gutschenritter

By Stephanie Shea, Musicality Network Manager and Saxophone Instructor

Listen to audio tracks from some of our school concerts here:

Martin Luther King Jr. School is in the NE Portland neighborhood of Alberta Arts (which happens to be my neighborhood as well as that of guitar instructor Will Dudley, brass instructor Jackie Sauriol and accordian/piano instructor Susie Schmitt). One thing I love about living in Alberta Arts is the diversity. But there’s also the effect of gentrification and a rise in the cost of living here that has affected many families. This school has faced a lot of challenges due to years of disinvestment, low expectations and a dwindling student population. However, things began to change in the fall of 2010 when the district brought in principal Kim Patterson and received a substantial School Improvement Grant from the U.S. Department of Education. Although enrollment is still about half of what it was in 2006, the school is now on an upswing thanks to principal Patterson’s efforts.

Principal Patterson recognized that the arts are an important tool to improve student behavior and parent involvement. And thanks to a public-private partnership called Turnaround: Arts, Martin Luther King Jr. School has been able to test the hypothesis that high-quality and integrated arts education boosts academic achievement, motivates student learning and improves school culture. It was only after we’d performed there and I was researching the school for this blog that I discovered what an important part we’d played in Principal Patterson’s mission. I saw that the Musicality Network was among many visiting artists last year including Sarah Jessica Parker, the Oregon Children’s Theater and the Metropolitan Youth Symphony. What an honor!

When we arrived to perform, the staff was welcoming and we had an excellent stage area. It was special to me to be involved in a school that is part of my neighborhood and I really appreciated the diverse ethnic backgrounds represented in the student body. This was the first school concert that Will Dudley brought his West African Kora and performed a solo piece. It was here that I realized that we could really do more than just play music at our school concerts—we had the ability to share a bit of different cultures through our selection of instruments and songs.

Throughout the school concert series we discovered the students were such thoughtful listeners, and the students at King were perhaps our best audience, though I hate to pick favorites. One of the best parts of the concerts is a brief q and a session with the kids. They wanted to know how long we’d been playing, how we play our instruments, was it difficult to play, what are our names, what is the band name and one of my all time favorite questions, “are you magicians?”

Well, I think most musicians will tell you that music is a powerful force. And to me what makes it such a special art form is that the players and the audience can become immersed in a common experience together. When you combine instructors whose passion it is to share music with children and an audience of kids who are eager and open listeners, one word does come to mind — magic!

However, the special feeling at this school did not end with the concert. On the way out as we crossed through the playground to the parking lot, several students came running up to us to tell us how much they liked the concert. Jackie was carrying her euphonium and they begged her to play it. This says a lot about the quality of instructors we have here at the network. Jackie didn’t think twice to stop what she was doing — for all I know she had to be somewhere. She then proceeded to delight the children by playing on her euphonium and showing them some of the sounds it could make. Watching this interaction and the kids’ enraptured faces, I could not have been more proud to be friends and co-workers with Jackie as well as part of the bigger entity of the Musicality Network.

This is part three of a five-part series where I’ll talk about the experiences of the Musicality Network instructors at each of the schools we performed at this school year. There was something uniquely beautiful in each school concert!



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Drum Set Lessons in Portland

Do you like to hit things with sticks?
You are probably a good candidate for drum set lessons then! Drumming typically refers to someone playing a drum set, as opposed to a percussionist, who could be playing all manner of instruments in addition to a drum set or drum kit (these are interchangeable terms). Drum set lessons can help you improve and become the great drummer you have been dreaming of becoming! Drum set lessons with an accomplished drum teacher are crucial for those wanting to improve in consistency, cadence, style, and complexity. Learn from the best drum teachers by signing up for drum set lessons today!

Here are some of our great drum set teachers!

Tired of stagnating with your drum set lessons? Feel like you aren’t improving playing the drum set – or that you have gotten stuck in unhelpful ruts? A skilled drum set instructor can help you along the way!

If you feel like the kid in this video – a little unsure of yourself…got some talent but don’t quite know where to go from here…nervously looking at others not quite sure what to do…

…then you need a drum teacher to help you through!

Drum set lessons start at just 28.00 per half hour! Drum set lessons can be done at the teachers’ studio, or at your home. We want to help you improve on the drum set, and our teachers are friendly, patient, and excited about music! These are the types of teachers that you want to teach you or your kids music! Friendly, personable, likeable, knowledgeable.

So give us a try! We offer a completely free first drum set lesson. Don’t like the teacher after the first lesson? Try another! We want to find the perfect drum set teacher for you. Chase the dream of being a great drum set musician by getting lessons today!

Call: 971-227-4222
Email: [email protected]
Contact Form:

Here’s our main drum set lessons page:

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Get excited about piano lessons, Portland! :)

I want to help you realize the dream of piano lessons, Portland! 🙂

You’ve always dreamed of learning to play the piano – of finally buckling down and taking private piano lessons with an honest to goodness TEACHER! But you’ve been afraid, hesitant.

“Am I too old?”

“Can older people even learn music?!”

“I don’t want to look like I don’t know what I’m doing…”

“Maybe I will fail!”


We’ve all been there. At a place where we felt like pursuing something, but there were a list of reasons which had kept us back – til now. How do we overcome these obstacles? I think we have to have the foresight to look into the future and evaluate what is important based on the fragility and beauty of life.

For instance, when a person gets so old that they are bedridden and near to death, you don’t often hear them say “can you bring me my portfolio so I can check out my stocks just one more time?” or “can you bring in all those awards I won so I can take a good long gander at them before I kick the bucket??” or “can you get me the internet so I can go browse facebook one last time?”

No. People generally on their deathbed want to be close to God, their family, and close friends – incidentally these are the important things in life. They want to listen to music – maybe to sing. They want to taste the beauty of life, because it is that beauty which makes life WONDERFUL!

So, if you have been surfing Facebook a lot, remember that playing an instrument can be one of the most edifying, enriching, and fulfilling experiences you will ever partake in. (before you quit surfing FB will you head on over to our page and click “like”? 😉 thanks!)

So, you need piano lessons, Portland! That book you have looked at won’t teach you piano unless you are pretty much already an experienced musician. Those youtube videos are no good. You need a person in the room with you helping you get better. Piano lessons are FUN, if you have a great teacher. And at The Musicality Network our teachers are known for being friendly, personable. The type of teacher you would want to help you as you explore piano lessons. Private piano lessons are inexpensive – again you have to find the right source though. Piano lessons at the Musicality Network are just 28.00 for 30 minutes, and 40.00 for 60 minutes – this price is the same for all of our teacher (we have over 40 piano teachers in Portland)

Here is a link to our awesome piano instructors in Portland (and surrounding cities):

So let’s talk about piano lessons, Portland! Still need convincing? Call us and our staff will talk you through this difficult decision which must be made. Portland, face it, you suck at piano. You aren’t going anywhere in your piano life. You need someone further down the path to show you the path to improvement. You need to grow. We can help you do this! We offer a free first lesson with any of our over 40 piano teachers in Portland.

Maybe you feel like this little girl when it comes to playing the piano!

All this girl needs now is some piano lessons! 🙂 She clearly has the desire and motivation to play. Do you?

Here is a link to our piano lessons page:

We want to be the place you turn to find your next piano teacher. Looking for in-home piano lessons? We have teachers in your area who can travel to you!




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Flute Lessons in Portland

Flute Lessons in Portland – check out our great Flute Instructors today!

The flute lessons we offer are unique at the Musicality Network – flute lessons with flute teachers you can trust – in your home or at the flute teachers’ studio. We have flute teachers all over Portland, including Tigard, Beaverton, Clackamas, Gresham, and Vancouver! Flute lessons will help your son or daughter improve in school music classes, whether orchestra, jazz band, or another ensemble or solo. Our great flute instructors give one-on-one flute lessons for kids and adults. Our teachers will help you connect with your instrument, learn to love playing it, and progress towards your goals in playing music. Flute lessons in Portland can be found at the Musicality Network – where our motto is “Great people make great teachers”

Sign up for flute lessons today! One of our flute instructors will contact you and set up a completely free first flute lesson. After the flute lesson, if you are interested in continuing lessons with that teacher, we will email you the billing info.

Check out some portland area flute teachers here :

And our main flute lessons page :

Contact us today to start flute lessons!


[email protected]


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