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MMD > Archives > February 2001 > 2001.02.02 > 07Prev  Next

The Correct Way to Pump the Player Piano Pedals
By John A. Tuttle

Hi All -- (This posting refers only to the roll-operated, manually
pumped player pianos.)

I have a 'bad habit' ( if you want to call it that) of reading between
the lines.  More accurately stated, I attempt to understand what people
don't say by interpreting what they do say.

For 27+ years, it has been my lot in life to make sense of what people
say to me.  Quite often, they say one thing but actually mean just the
opposite.  A case in point is the following statement, "My player piano
is too hard to pump."

Now if I was a wise-guy, I'd say, "So why did you call me?  Stop pumping
so hard!"  However, it didn't take long to realize that what they really
meant was that pumping their player piano was like an aerobic workout.

Long ago I invented the statement, "Pumping a player piano should be
like taking a gentle walk on Sunday.  It should not be an aerobic

Over the years I also discovered that very few people actually know the
correct way to pedal a player piano, so I present these facts to you:


1) Don't position yourself as though you are playing the piano by hand.
2) Don't use your upper legs to do the work.
3) Don't sit on a flat bench.


4) Position yourself far enough away from the piano that your knees
   barely move when pumping.
5) Let your ankles do the work.
6) Sit on an angled bench (one designed for a player piano).
7) Relax and enjoy yourself.

Admittedly, some people still don't understand exactly what is meant
by the above statements, so I've learned another way to explain the
correct technique.  Most basically speaking, when you sit at the player
piano your legs should be in the shape of a regular coat hanger;
imagining that your knees are the part where the hook is placed.  And
if that isn't plain enough, there's a picture of the correct position
at  I've also created
another webpage which is at

My hope is that 'slowly but surely' we can educate newcomers about the
easiest way to enjoy themselves while pumping a player piano.

I hope to be able to find the time to write another web page about
'Pedal Technique'.  It honestly makes my ill when I see a person
pumping on the pedals as though they were riding a bicycle.  And
I've yet to encounter a single customer (in 7500)  who knew the term
'Pianolist'!  The next new web page will be called; "Dancing on the

In closing, and you can quote me, the surest way to improve the player
piano industry is to educate those people who own player pianos!


John A. Tuttle

(Message sent Fri 2 Feb 2001, 21:57:47 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)

Key Words in Subject:  Correct, Pedals, Piano, Player, Pump, Way

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