Sunday, March 18, 2012

Piano Forums - The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

We all need community. Especially those of us who play piano. After all, it’s mostly a solitary activity. With that in mind, there aren’t a lot of forums where the focus is on the ‘king of instruments.’

But fear not. There are two ‘biggies’ out there you should know about.

The first one is called PianoWorld and it is the biggest, most active piano forum out there. It’s run and owned by webmaster Frank Baxter. Frank, himself an amateur pianist has been running these forums for over 10 years.

The good thing about these forums is they’re very active. In fact, there are more ‘members’ here than anywhere else. The bad thing is it’s pretty much all about classical piano. Of course, this would not be bad if you’re a classical pianist. But for those who enjoy jazz, pop, or even new age music, the pickings are slim compared to those who post on topics related to classical music.

Which brings me to ‘the ugly’ side of PianoWorld. I used to be a member there. Until I got banned for speaking my mind. I didn’t break any forum rules but I wasn’t well liked. Why? My theory is they didn’t want to hear what I had to say about piano playing in general. But if you know me and read my posts, articles, and other piano musings, you know what I have to say can be controversial and even threatening to those who have devoted most of their lives to playing classical piano.

But I encourage you to check it out for yourself. Find them at

After PianoWorld comes Pianostreet. I don’t know who runs these forums but let me start with the ugly first - the entire site is done in reverse type.

What’s that you ask? It’s white text on a black background. Guaranteed to burn your retinas out after just a few minutes of viewing. In fact, white text with a black background is probably the worst design mistake you can make. Why? Because it’s the hardest of all design styles to read! And assuming you want people to visit, read, and eventually post, it’s really, really stupid.

Now, the bad. It too is mostly classical. And I really don’t understand why. Surely there are more ‘pop’ pianists out there than their classical playing counterparts. But it’s probably due to the fact that classical pianists love to chat about minutiae like, hand tension, fingering, dynamics - pretty much anything you can think of that would lead a classical pianist to perfect his art.

In fact, there are two major contributor’s there who do nothing, and I mean nothing but argue with each other over said minutiae. I won’t name them, but if you visit, it won’t take you long to discover their identities.

As far as ‘the good’ goes, there is a sub forum where people can post improvisations and the like via video. I have a few there and received some nice comments. But once again, if you’re not into the classical scene, the pickings can be slim. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

You can find the Pianostreet forums at

Edward Weiss is a pianist/composer and webmaster of Quiescence Music's online piano lessons. He has been helping students learn how to play piano in the New Age style for over 15 years and works with students in private, in groups, and now over the internet. Visit now and get a FREE piano lesson!


  1. Even if you aren't comfortable with the font, color, plethora of bickering, they do offer at least one helpful feature: search.

    Here, you can specify a topic, name, composition, composer, player, etc. and enter it in the "search" bar. You will receive a list of posts about your topic. Some may contain dross, but most will offer you viewpoints that may be more helpful than simply Googling the topic. For example, would like suggestions on playing a piece by Schumann in a stylistically appropriate way? Would you like to read comments about the compositions, recordings, appearances, etc. of, say, Dick Hyman? Try the Search Bar in these piano-related fora. In fact, it's a good idea to do that BEFORE you post your own question about your topic; it may have been covered quite heavily on the Forum in the past.

    Steve Marcus
    Manager of Sales, PianoForte Chicago, Inc.

  2. What's wrong with discussing or even arguing about "minutiae?"

  3. There is nothing wrong with discussing "minutiae" ~ but there are many routes to playing well. And as many critics as routes. And as many styles as there are critics and routes.

  4. What's wrong with it? Nothing if you're into minutiae. :)

  5. There's nothing wrong with classical, in fact I play mostly classical myself. but one thing I've noticed on these forums is that the classical players can be a bit snobbish and turn their noses up at anything pop or jazz... which prompts a lot of eye-rolling from me.