Sunday, December 28, 2008

My new Kohler & Campbell KC118 Piano

Ok. Here are my pictures taken from my laptop webcam. Not very good. The morning sun was a bit bright, washing out the colors but it'll do for now. Enjoy.



New Piano Arrived Safely

Well, it snowed Friday night and my backyard recieved about an inch of snow. Temperature plummeted from 50 degrees down to 19 degrees in several hours which made certain section of the road I was traveling on a bit "treachorous" as I made my way to Albuquerque, NM Saturday morning with a rented Uhaul trailer. The whole trip took 9 hours but the roads were dry on the return trip.

Here's what my piano looks like, a Kohler & Campell 46.5 inch high (KC 118) ebony piece. My piano is quite similar to the picture below.


Even though I was tired from the tip I sat down and played and practiced my piano for 4 1/2 hours going through some ragtime pieces, some classical pieces and a Jelly Roll Morton piece (at a very slow pace). I'll get photos of my new piano soon enough.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Hard of hearing kid pianist

Just because you're deaf or hard of hearing and you wear a cochlear implant or a hearing aid doesn't mean you cannot play a musical instrument, even the piano for that matter. Best time to start playing is when you're young, of course.

Here's a hard of hearing kid named Brenden who is now 9 or 10 years old and wears a hearing aid, just like me, who is just starting to play the piano. Seems like he is progressing very well from the videos I've seen and heard.

You can check out the rest of his piano videos he did over the months on YouTube, including his recent piano recital a few days ago, I believe. Who knows where he'll go with playing the piano. Maybe he'll discover ragtime or early jazz? Keep it up, Brenden. You're doing a great job! Don't give up playing the piano.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A new piano

Well, finally got around to it. After wanting my own piano after 20 years of playing old, crappy piano, I got myself a new Kohler and Campbell studio piano (KC 118 model) which is 118 cm or 46.5 in height that come with a 12 year full warranty. The piano I picked wasn't quite the upright (at least 50 inches high) that I wanted but the price was right and the piano comes with excellent play, feel and sound quality. For any serious pianists two things are important, the sound and the feel. Not to mention the amount of money you're willing to spend that could limit the selection process.

I bought my Kohler and Campbell (KC) piano in Albuquerque at a piano store that was in business since 1995 and was having a going out of business sale. Needless to say I just drooled looking at all the new and used pianos, especially those grand pianos, when I stepped into the store recently this Sunday. But my budget was limited and so I picked a new Kohler and Campbell piano brand. The picture below is a 121 cm KC piano which is very similar in style, color and height of the KC piano I bought. Until I get it this upcoming Saturday the picture below will do for now.


At the same piano store there was one excellent grand piano I played on. It was the Estonia. Price tag? Around $26,000 at a markedly reduced price. The Estonia grand piano I played on was absolutely rich and the notes resonated so exquisitely. There were others like Yamaha, Cable and Kawai grand pianos, including baby grand down to 5' 1" in size. Some were good. Others had a heavy feel or stately. Some were light, airy. Each piano was different and had a character and flavor of it's own. Each pianist's taste is different while one may prefer a particular piano for it's feel and sound while another would pick a different one not suitable to other pianists. I can distinctly tell the differences in sound quality and feel at each piano I played at the store. Even though I have a hearing loss I can certainly tell as a person who is deaf/hh. The KC118 I picked had a very good feel to it as well as sound quality which was richer in tone and vibrance. The price tag was reduced from $5400 to just under $3000 and it came with a 12 year warranty (for new pianos only).

Praying that it doesn't snow on Saturday when I go and pick it up. It'll be an 8 hour round trip towing a rented enclosed U-haul trailer. It's about time I got a decent piano. Until I save enough for a baby grand someday, I'm one step closer to getting a piano I can only dream of. For sure, I will enjoy immensely my new piano and the beautiful and exciting sounds I'll be producing in my upcoming YouTube videos for ya'll in my continuing quest to play novelty rags, early jazz and ragtime pieces. The only deaf/hh Ragtime pianist around.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Future Young Deaf Pianist

Although this blog piece is not ragtime but this deaf boy is seven years old, the same age when I started playing the piano, and he wears a cochlear implant. Maybe he'll be a future ragtime pianist? Who knows. Don't give up Elliot. You're doing well.

Monday, December 15, 2008

A Deaf Ragtime Pianist

Often I wonder how many deaf or hard of hearing pianists in the United States who enjoy playing the piano, especially in the arena of Ragtime. I simply refuse to believe that I am the only deaf/hh pianist who play Ragtime actively. There has to be a few people out there who enjoy playing the piano who happens to be deaf or hard of hearing and like playing Ragtime. Although if you go to Google and type in "deaf," "ragtime" and "piano" you'll see that my blogsite is mentioned first in a Google's search result. Not much help there but I'm sure someday something will pop up.

Meanwhile, I am currently looking for a better piano to replace my clunky spinet piano which currently does not have any really good sound to begin with along with the odd key and hammer movements where a key or two will get stuck from time to time. Very aggravating at that! Even though with the right Ragtime music piece my washed out white piano would exhibit that bit of clinky (or clacky in this case), out of tune sound noise that'd make Ragtime playing sound a bit more, well, "authentic." But that's pushing it if you listen to my Maple Leaf Rag rendition on YouTube. So far, is the best bet and I have seen pianos for sale that looked good but the price is bit out of my range. At least I can scan the music instrument section for the El Paso, Texas area, and the Las Cruces to Roswell area in New Mexico as well.

The choices I'm looking for are studio and upright pianos. The differences?

Studio - This is the kind of piano you see in music schools and music studios. It is 45 to 48 inches in height and has a width of approxmately 58 inches. Because of its larger soundboard and longer strings, it produces good tone quality and is very durable.

Upright - This is the tallest among the vertical pianos, with a height ranging from 50 to 60 inches and an approximate width of 58 inches. This is the type of piano your great grandparents or grandparents used to play. When cared for properly, it stands the test of time and maintains its rich tone.

If the price is right and the condition of the piano is right (i.e. no missing strings, stuck keys or parts that need replacing) then I will surely get it. It's better to get the right one than not at all. Meanwhile, be sure to watch out for my upcoming videos of me playing a few pieces of Scott Joplin's. I just need to get around to video taping my pieces soon.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

K.K. Ragtime by Tom Brier

If you haven't heard Tom Brier play ragtime you won't be disappointed. Here's Tom playing "K.K. Ragtime" for the first time by sight reading this piano piece. He stumbles about 1/4 way but his effort playing this piece for the first time by sight reading is still quite impressive. This tune was composed by Kazumi Totaka for the Nintendo video game series "Animal Crossing" where it was transcribed and put into a ragtime format. In the end Tom Brier remarked, "Oh, that's cute!"

Here's the music sheet if you want a copy of K.K. Ragtime. Of course, I'm going to practice this piece and give y'all a performance soon someday.

Just be patience. I'm curious how it'll sound on my "crappy" piano with me being the only deaf Ragtime pianist around. Of course, I'm not completely deaf but hard of hearing with the help of my new Siemen hearing aid which can pick up all of the notes on my piano and finally with volume control this time since my old digital hearing aid had an automatic volume control which was maddening whenever I played the piano because it would make it soft. So, thank goodness for getting one with volume control this time.

Anyway, enjoy K.K. Ragtime. A real diddy to enjoy listening to.

ADDENDUM: Here's a YouTube version of Tom Brier playing it again on a different piano a year later seen here. Still, I liked Tom's playing in the first video. It sounded much more livelier.

But a month earlier played that piece at the 2008 West Coast Ragtime Festival with the Raspberry Jam Band playing the "K.K. Ragtime" in one of their after-hours jam session. Pretty cool with all instruments playing. Even with a bit of "K.K." vocal piece thrown in for a short time.

Here's where K.K. Ragtime got it's inspiration from.

Friday, December 5, 2008

An update...

Still practicing my Black and White Rag. I got the technicals down pretty good. Just need to work on the transition and a couple of sticking points. Hopefully in a week or so I'll have it down good for a video piece of myself playing it.

If you have forgotten what Black and White Rag sounds like watch Marty Mincer play that piece, although I will *not* be playing that fast (yet).

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Fast forward....

Ok. So, it's been 5 months since I last posted a piece and about 4 months of not practicing my piano. I have a good reason not to. My "crappy" piano is in my garage and it was just too darned hot during the summer down here in southern New Mexico. It gets to about 90 to 100 degrees and a few keys tend to stick. Since summer is over and cooler weather is making my playing in the garage a much more pleasant experience. The cooler weather also helps minimize the few keys from sticking. In fact, only one hardly sticks at all, so that's good. There is no other place to put my piano in. And because of the cooler weather I'm getting back at memorizing "Black and White Rag" by George Botsford and practicing more often to get my fingers and stride back. Next I'd like to play a Zez Confrey's piece called "Dizzy Fingers."

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Maple Leaf Rag by Mike McConnell

Here's a video of me playing on my $50 crappy piano that I bought less than two months ago so I can be able to practice my ragtime and early jazz pieces with a full length keyboard for the first time in years (note: I had a shortened keyboard piano called the Melodigrand which was even worse than my current one). It has been too many years gone by where I didn't even play or practice my piano as much as I wanted to. Now, I am back into my piano playing by practicing 2 to 3 hours every day and the opportunity to learn new pieces such as a George Botsford's piece called "Black and White Rag" where I have almost memorized the whole piece. Just a need a few more weeks before I make my next video tape.

It has been less than two months of practicing so far just to get past my "rusty" stage first and allow time my dexterity and coordination to catch up. I'm still "rusty" but certainly much better when I first started. As you can tell in my Maple Leaf Rag piece I've missed a few notes and the tempo was not as smooth as I wanted it to be (that may be because it's very late at night and I was tired, too). You can hear the clacking noise while I play plus many of the notes are obviously out of tune. It's not so bad but I was playing it in my garage which makes the whole experience a little "echo-ey".

But here is where you can help! You can "donate" for a good cause. How?

As you may not know I am one of the very few hard of hearing or deaf musicians to play the piano, especially Ragtime. The problem is, ever try playing on a gawd awful piano? But you can help me get a better piano by purchasing some of my ragtime products at my Deaf Ragtime store and also help defray any costs for my upcoming Ragtime festival visits. One of the products available is a button seen at the top of this blog entry that says "I'd Rather Be Playing Ragtime!" Indeed. Wouldn't you rather be playing Ragtime?

You can visit my ragtime store at:

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Ragtime Undergoing Another Revival?

A question arises from me on the issue of what really constitute a “ragtime revival” and whether ragtime is an underground phenomenon like it did during the late 1800s before it exploded into scene in the early 1900s as a true rival with 1900 being the pivotal point in time when more pianists were doing and composing ragtime crediting many of the black rag timers who piqued their interests in this new music genre of the time.

Of course, nowadays I don’t think we have this “underground” phenomenon since there are many venues or festivals that take place every year in the United States for many new and old ragtime enthusiasts, and those who hear it for the very first time.

But at what point would the revival of ragtime constitute a true revival and not something that is perennially dormant only to come out when called? Would it be the number of ragtime sheets being composed be a good way to gauge the interest in ragtime? What about CD's? Or the rising number of newer and/or younger rag timers whether it’s the piano, a band, a guitar rag timer playing Maple Leaf Rag, or a banjo? Or would the rising number of ragtime festivals being held around the United States be a good gauge to determine the “revival” question? Perhaps a revival or a long, slow awakening is underway in the form of an electronic format via the internet such as using YouTube to watch and listen to ragtime being played? Or increasing number of blogsites and websites that revolve around Ragtime?

I posed a similar question in Yahoo’s Ragtime newsgroup “Elite Syncopations” and one remarked that there were more older people in the audience (live performance I suppose) than younger ones. That may be the perception but are many of these older people internet-savvy enough to download midi ragtime files or go to YouTube and punch in “ragtime” in the search engine and see the numerous pages of videos of people playing ragtime (mostly on pianos)? Who would that audience most likely be on the internet, the younger audience or older ones?

As for the number of ragtime festivals it has grown over the years with a few of them being around for more than 2 decades such as Sedalia’s Scott Joplin Ragtime Festival to celebrate their 28th anniversary this year. And recently we have the Rocky Mountain Ragtime Festival which held it’s last festival in 2005 (13th anniversary) and no longer but that doesn’t mean it won’t come back. Then we have the numerous more “recent” festivals that are becoming more established such as the ever so popular and growing Sutter Creek Ragtime Festival which will celebrate their 10th anniversary this summer. And then the smaller ones such as the Eau Claire Ragtime Festival celebrating their 10th anniversary and so on. How many of these festivals are there in the United States that celebrate Ragtime annually in the form of festivals or hosted in an era Main Street like atmosphere with familiar ragtime pieces being played that can be heard in the distance?

How do we know for sure that Ragtime is really on the upswing and that more people are appreciating it more with each passing year? And lastly but not least is how do we get the rest of the people’s attention or in this case the world’s attention about Ragtime, a timeless era and music that will never (hopefully so) go out of style.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Deafness and Ragtime Piano

You know, as I stumble along in life while I practice my ragtime piano playing I come to realize the prospect of coming across another deaf or hard of hearing ragtime pianist who are in the same boat as me as being quite slim. Not that I'm in despair over this but pretty much seeing that this to be the fact. But I could be wrong about and I hope I am because it'd be a bit far-fetched to really believe that I am the only deaf/hh ragtime pianist out there? Can't be. Naw. But if it it's so, then why? I'm sure there are those with varying levels of hearing loss are pianists but what about ragtime pianists? What is the number of ragtime enthusiasts who play the piano? It'd be interesting to see the numbers.

So far, I've managed (almost) to memorize two pages of Zez Confrey's novelty "ragtime" piece "Black and White Rag." Barely two weeks but practiced every other day on it. The third page should come along nicely soon enough. I'm in no hurry but I'm putting the time (3 to 4 hours a day) into practicing my ragtime pieces. And I'm enjoying it, too.

As for my videos, they'll be coming soon. I have not made any yet but I plan to put up videos of the Maple Leaf Rag, Original Rag (with improvisation that I think you'll enjoy), The Entertainer, Black and White Rag, Ragtime Dance, The Cascades and few more. Until I fully re-memorize the pieces and my "rustiness" is gone I'll proceed to put them up. Maple Leaf Rag will likely be the first one up. Just be patience folks.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Ragtime Musical Performance with available interpreter

Here's a chance to see a play called "Ragtime" and the theatre is provind sing language interpreters for those who may require one.

"RAGTIME" Musical Performance at Manatee Players
The Manatee Players are thrilled to announce that "Ragtime" performance will be signed for the deaf and hard of hearing on Thursday, May 22, 2008! RAGTIME is a nostalgic and powerful portrait of life in turn of the century America. It’s based on E.L. Doctorow’s distinguished novel RAGTIME.

The location is at 102 Old Main Street, Downtown Bradenton.

Tickets are now on sale! $23 includes facility fee, $11 for student/teacher (be sure to inform that you are deaf and need sign language interpreter). For more information, contact Box Office at 748-5875. Sign Language Interpreting Services provided by VisCom.

Check out for more information.

Also from the Manatee Players website,

The Manatee Players are thrilled to announce that one performance of each show this season will be signed for the deaf and hard of hearing! This is in the positive response from the signed production of BIG RIVER last season. Dates for these Thursday evening performances are:

OKLAHOMA - September 13
NOISES OFF - October 18
SWING - November 15
THE WIZARD OF OZ - December 20
CATS - January 31
BEST SELLER - March 13
ALL SHOOK UP - April 17
RAGTIME - May 22

Sign Language Interpreting Services provided by VisCom

Tickets for these performances can be reserved by calling the Manatee Players’ Box Office at 941-748-5875. All performances are at the Riverfront Theatre, 102 Old Main Street in downtown Bradenton.

Go to the Photo Gallery section to see aerial photographs of the new Manatee Players Performing Arts Center under construction at the corner of 3rd Avenue West and 7th Street West in downtown Bradenton!

Location of these plays are in Bradenton, Florida which is about 50 miles south of Tampa. Check out the Google map for directions.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Welcome to Ragtime Piano!

Welcome to my blog, Ragtime Piano! I will soon add more details and graphics to this site as I move ahead. I have been playing the piano since I was seven but over my adult years it has been an off and on affair with my piano playing (due to having a crappy piano) and other interests that have gotten in the way of my playing ragtime. Right now, I have a slightly "better" piano (still crappy, tho) and I have gone back to playing ragtime piano 2 to 3 hours a day and re-memorize the many of my Scott Joplin favorites and other ragtime pieces.

Just to let you I'm not your typical ragtime pianist. You see, I have a hearing loss (moderate-severe) ever since birth and I wear a hearing aid in my right ear while my left ear is basically no good. Despite that I seem to be one of the very few, if any, deaf ragtime player and through this blog I will make an effort to make myself known as one. Though I have played at a few public events in the past I plan to make myself available to the public once again. Currently I am playing and memorizing a popular ragtime piece called "Black and White" by George Botsford (1908). Listen to the piece here. Or review the entire music sheet in electronic format for your perusal. I am also in the process of playing Jelly Roll Morton's "Finger Buster" which is an extremely fast Jazz piece but that one will take awhile while I get my piano playing affairs in order and to speed but first it's the "Black and White" piece and others I'd like to get a hands on such as "Dizzy Fingers" by Zez Confrey.

I expect to make videos of myself playing some of these pieces as a way to keep myself enthused and motivated. Meanwhile you can help me out in my quest to improve my ragtime repetroire and goal to attend a Ragtime festival and get a better piano by going to my Cafepress store "Deaf Ragtime" and order one of the many ragtime products. In fact, the button you see at the top is one of the many ragtime products you can buy.

So, now it comes down to this. If a deaf or hard of hearing person like me can play ragtime piano, so can you! Even if you're not deaf.

UPDATE: Here's a YouTube version of "Black and White Rag" by Marty Mincer, ragtime pianist. This is what I'm working on just recently and I'm doing well so far. Just to give you an idea what the finger action looks like for those who want to see the piano playing visually.