October 2017 Update
I have no idea where on earth the last few months have gone… my resolution to write more regularly has not yet come to fruition, I’ll keep working towards improvement. The truth is we are always exceptionally busy and very happy to be so. Since my last writing I’ve been on an enjoyable family holiday to France, seen our eldest son off to university and settled the others back into the new term. We’ve tuned fleets of pianos at schools ready for the new term and of course welcomed many new customers and pianos to our showrooms. The trees are now turning to their beautiful autumn colours, such a spectacle driving through the countryside and running through Pamber Forest near the Ash Park showroom. It is also now the start of the busiest time of year for the piano trade with darkening evenings and inclement weather driving us all into our homes. Having just enjoyed a workshop in the showroom by the fabulous Oli Rockberger I am certainly inspired to play my own piano and those in the showroom when I get a few minutes. I say this every update but we really do have some fabulous pianos including a couple of new additions to the line up.
I think the most exciting and significant development in the world of Ben Wheeler Pianos is that we are now open all day on a Friday for visitors to call in unannounced. As things have got busier we thought it was time we committed a day a week for anyone to call in. We can also acknowledge that some people may be put off initially making an appointment to see us, instead preferring to meet us and browse the pianos with the option of a follow up appointment available. So far Fridays have proved to be both enjoyable and successful with pianos being selected each Friday that we have been open. I have had some extra time to work on the pianos too, it is so important that they are kept in good shape and with the amount of pianos in the showroom this is no small task! Most commonly Michelle opens up in the morning and I take over around lunch time although this is not set in stone, what is guaranteed is that one of us will be in awaiting visitors with a warm welcome and coffee. We are really hoping that as word gets round old customers will visit us just to say hello and chat about pianos, the more people that visit the better. If you are reading this and think you would enjoy a visit to the Ash park showroom do call up one Friday, we can’t guarantee peace and quiet but we’ll be pleased to see you.
If you had called up this Friday just gone you would have found us moving pianos around to make room for a song writing/blues workshop that we hosted all day on Saturday. The wonderful Oli Rockberger visited our showroom last year and selected a fabulous Grotrian-Steinweg Friedrich. Michelle and I remember well how he made the piano sing and added his own voice to the accompaniment, a very memorable and special visit from Oli who we both consider a good friend. Oli is about to launch upon his first UK tour including a gig in Southampton on 11th October, such a talented chap I am really looking forward to the evening, see you there! Anyway, back to the workshop; Michelle spread the word and we had a group of young people in the morning followed by an adult group in the afternoon. Oli performed songs that he had written, giving the fabulous Grotrian-Steinweg 192 grand a run out, and then set about explaining the structure of a song and all considerations in the construction of a piece. In the afternoon session Oli responded to requests to talk about the basics of playing blues which had us all foot tapping. It was an extremely enjoyable day and made us all appreciate the talent and skill of Oli and the many layers of creativity that go into writing a song. We will definitely be asking Oli back again for another workshop, probably in the spring. Oli if you read this thank you from Michelle and I, you were amazing.
Pianos from all of our ranges have been selected over the past couple of months. The Haessler uprights have been much admired with the K-124 going to a local home soon to a young player who played beautifully. The other two models are both under consideration at the moment which is testament to their quality and appeal. I am actually due to visit the Bluthner factory in October to see the Haessler pianos being made, I will report about this trip in the next news update. Another German piano that we have recently added to our stock is the Wilh Steinberg. We currently have the S125 from the Signature range which is a fabulous German made upright, similarly priced to the Haessler but with a completely different voice. We also have a P121 upright from their Performance range that is manufactured in the Far East, I describe this piano as ‘ground breaking’ as it sets a new standard of piano at the price. Both pianos are well worth a try and I am delighted to have them in the showroom to offer even more selection at two different price points. I am expecting to add pianos to both ranges in time, suffice to say I am really excited by these pianos!
Piano tuning is as busy as ever. We have managed to work through all of the schools that we regularly look after with seventeen pianos in another school lined up for Vicky and Richard next week. Running the schedules is sometimes challenging, trying to keep the jobs grouped together in areas, and the diaries are constantly changing. Michelle is a great help with this side of things too, often making and taking phone calls to fill gaps or offer appointments to customers on the waiting list. I never tire of tuning pianos, the variety of life on the road, the many different pianos that we work on and the people that we meet make for a very good life indeed. As ever, I am writing this late at night so I must wrap things up and get some rest ready for whatever tomorrow brings. We had a piano delivered to a first floor flat in Winchester last week, unfortunately it wouldn’t go in so I’m preparing a smaller model to try again on Wednesday, that’s one on my list for tomorrow. Do visit us, on a Friday unannounced or another time by prior arrangement, Michelle and I will always be pleased to see you to show off our pianos and chat about our favourite subject.
All the best