Arts & Crafts with Anderson & Roe: piano mutes

We've received numerous emails asking about the following:

How do you mute the piano strings in your arrangement of Vivaldi's "Sento in Seno."

Good question! The score (which you can purchase here!) simply states: "All strings played by piano 2 (A-flat below middle C and higher) should be muted by a system of felts and weights." Not very helpful, right? 

But that's the fun of it! We love the "arts & crafts" aspect of our duo, whether it be making videos or muting piano strings, and we hope to foster this spirit of exploration when people purchase our scores. For example, in our four-hand scores, you'll note that we don't provide any choreography instructions. Figuring it out is half the fun! Besides, in the case of pianistic choreography, body types are different, and what works for us won't necessarily work for you. 

Similarly, in the case of muting piano strings, the insides of pianos are very different, and there is no way we could provide instructions to mute all the varying piano models.

That said, we'll show you what we do for Steinway D pianos, and maybe it will help you along. :-) After at least three dates with Lowe's hardware store, here are our mutes:


Both mutes are customized to fit the shape of a Steinway D's interior. There is a layer of wood, followed by a layer of foam padding, topped by a layer of red felt (red, to match the inside of the piano!). The longer mute is sliced in half (apart from the final layer of felt) to accommodate for the slight curvature of the piano's sound board.

We made weights by taping heavy washers together. The weights attach to the mutes with Velcro; this way we can easily secure the weights to the mutes after inserting the mutes in the piano. Since every Steinway D piano is ever-so-slightly different, we position the weights differently on every piano. Sometimes we squish the end of the longer mute under the iron brace for added "muteage."

Here are photos of the mutes and weights in action:


We hope our system gives you some ideas for muting your own piano! Please let us know what you do (and send pics!). Someone mentioned beanbags...