Is Your Piano in Tune?
Why is it so important for you to keep your students’ piano in tune? Does it really make a difference? Can a child even hear the difference?
Does it matter? Yes! For one thing, children can indeed hear the difference. While they probably couldn’t explain why, their ear will hear it and they will have more enjoyment (and ability) playing a piano that’s in tune. You might think of tuning the piano as one of those ways you can support your child in her lessons.
Just think about how important good equipment is to you. Consider this scenario, for example. You decide to get in better shape and sign up for a gym membership. Just like your child starting her lessons, you’re psyched and determined to do your best.
But when you enter the gym (in your new workout clothes) you notice that the equipment looks ancient. Hmm. You decide to give it a try anyway, but when you begin using the rowing machine it squeaks … loudly. That doesn’t exactly set you up for success, does it!
Just so, your child has committed to lessons and wants to succeed, so she needs the best chance of success … she needs good equipment that’s well maintained. For a piano, this includes a recent tuning, all of the keys working correctly (not missing or sticking), and the pedals functioning well.
Why is tuning so important?
If you are investing in your child’s future by giving her the gift of piano lessons, you’ll want to do everything you can to help her enjoy them and succeed. But there are practical reasons as well:
- Playing a tuned piano will ensure correct ear tuning. As important as it is to be able to read and play music correctly, a good musician needs a well-developed ear.
- Tuning your piano regularly will guarantee its workability for years to come. In fact, not tuning your piano can actually ruin its potential to ever be properly tuned.
What makes a piano go out of tune?
Several factors cause a piano to go out of tune, and humidity change is a primary reason. The soundboard expands against the strings and then contracts as moisture in the air fluctuates. This movement changes string tension, which alters string pitch … and voila, an out-of-tune piano.
How often should my piano be tuned?
How often it should be tuned depends on its age. Brand new pianos should be tuned four times the first year due to string stretch and settling. Twice a year thereafter is minimum in this climate for tuning stability and good sound. Remember, pianos go out tune whether used or not, so one that is idle should still be serviced at least once a year.
Keep your piano in great condition!
A piano is a sophisticated instrument with many moving parts. If not regularly tuned, a piano will never give you its full sound potential and will inhibit your child’s ear training. If let go for an extended period, soundboard movement and string stretch will gradually lower your piano’s pitch and cause a tension imbalance. Several tunings and additional maintenance may be necessary to restore the pitch and stability of the instrument.
So, there are many good reasons to keep your piano in tune. Consider it a gift to your musical child, and let them know that it’s just another way you take good care of them.
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Author Cecilia Rowe is the founder and director of the Music Studio Atlanta and director of Courtnay and Rowe. She has over 25 years in music education as an instructor and local business owner.