Becoming an All-Steinway Institution doesn’t just mean new pianos for rehearsals and performances but new technology as well.
Weatherford College’s new grand pianos are equipped with Spirio R technology, which is operated through an iPad and allows musicians to record on the piano and playback music.
“It’s a great learning tool because you actually hear yourself play, and musicians don’t get to hear themselves play,” WC Fine Arts Dean Duane Durrett said.
WC Master Pianist and Artist-in-Residence Hyeyoung Song said she asks students to record their performances already, but the technology offers better quality.
“They should listen to their own performance; it feels so different when they play and when they listen,” Song said. “This piano perfectly reproduces a live performance, visually and audibly, so I expect it will be really beneficial for my students.”
Pianists can also use Spirio technology to edit their playing by changing notes, speed and keys, Durrett said, though college staff has not been trained on how to do this yet.
The technology also allows the piano to play music from renowned pianists, like Duke Ellington and Van Cliburn, the exact way that they played a song, Durrett said.
WC administration started the quest to become an All-Steinway Institution—meaning all pianos are of the Steinway and Sons brand or Steinway-designed— in the spring and achieved that goal last month.
“Ninety percent of the concert halls around the world will have Steinways in them,” Durrett said. “Having the Steinways for [students] to practice and perform on is just preparation.”
WC piano student Katy Spencer said she has gotten to practice and perform using the new pianos and spoke positively about the experience. Spencer has used the new technology since it was first introduced but said she hasn’t used it in her personal practice time yet because it’s still so new. She said the new technology should be helpful especially to pianists who compose music because it allows them to save their work and add to it.
The new technology can lead to piano students being able to self-evaluate, Spencer said.
“For the piano students, to see it being played back, you can catch your own mistakes, see where you can make notes more connected or more separated, just really view the pieces as a whole and really achieve the excellence,” Spencer said.
For vocalists and piano accompanists who are working on a performance, the technology features can also allow the accompanist to record their part for the vocalist to rehearse with on their own, Durrett said.
“Accompanists are hard to schedule sometimes but this way, we’ve got our accompanist,” Durrett said.
Spencer mentioned this aspect of the technology as something she’s excited about using.
“I am also a voice student at the college so it has great potential for me because that means that my accompanist can come in, play my pieces one time and then I can go in and practice without her,” Spencer said.