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Steinway & Sons to Add New Hi-Tech Pedal

Controversial feature hits sour note with piano teachers

by Marcos Johnsones
November 4, 2000

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Steinway & Sons to Add New Hi-Tech Pedal_Marcos Johnsones-Controversial feature hits sour note with piano teachers NEW YORK (PO) —   In an unprecedented move to boost sales of its highly-esteemed line of grand pianos, the famous New York manufacturer Steinway & Sons has announced plans for the addition of a new foot pedal that will allow pianists to switch to "Auto-Play" mode during the tricky parts. The mechanism is to be situated to the left of the sustaining pedal and to the right of those other two pedals that don't seem to do anything.

The new feature makes use of a high-quality sheet music scanner, conveniently located under the big top lid, and a controversial new "C Chip" technology, the "C" standing for "cheat." As a pianist plays, the C Chip follows along and fills in with the correct notes at the same tempo when the pedal is depressed.

Company spokeswoman, Melody F. Sharp, says they are simply meeting customer demands. "People both young and old don't have time in this day and age to put in the hours of practice necessary to play a difficult piece flawlessly. Our testing indicates that the C Chip actually helps students learn a new piece more quickly by demonstrating a perfect performance."

However, not everyone welcomes the new musical crutch. Earnest Lee Stern, president of the National Federation of Piano Teachers worries about students no longer making an effort to improve their skills. "This is ludicrous! The cheat pedal takes away a student's drive to succeed," he laments. "What's next? Programming your piano to practice the scales for you?"

Critics say the new pedal may well have many piano teachers playing the blues and looking for another source of tax-free income as students forego formal training and pedal their way to recital halls and piano bars.

Surprisingly, famed concert pianist Emmanuel Ax wishes he'd had a C Chip piano when he was a kid. "To think of how much time I could have spent doing other things rather than practicing those impossible runs for hours on end! I certainly would have tried out for the football team and maybe even basketball."

Ironically, Steinway's announcement coincides with a new lawsuit in which a concert pianist, recently paralyzed from the waist down, is suing the piano industry for not providing an alternative to foot pedals. In response to this, Sharp would only say that Steinway is on the cutting-edge of piano technology, as it has always been, and it is only a matter of time before computer-aided telekenisis revolutionizes the way we play the piano. By then, she says, the dissonance over the C Chip will long have turned harmonious.

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