Diagnosing and Fixing Sticky Piano Keys

Diagnosing and Fixing Sticky Piano Keys

Have you ever been playing the piano when all of a sudden one of the keys you press sticks and doesn’t make any sound? You press down several times, and still no sound? 

You might have a sticky piano key. 

Several things can impact your piano keys and make them stick. 

There may be something between the keys. It could be as small as a particle of dust, or larger, such as a crumb of food. This can be quickly resolved by cleaning each individual key with a solution of water and vinegar. Do not get the keys damp. Instead, rub with a dampened cloth and gently rub the impacted keys. In the future, be sure to have clean hands every time you sit down to play the piano, and never eat over the piano. Diagnosing and Fixing Sticky Piano Keys

There could also be changes in humidity. Changes in moisture content can build up and trap moisture between the keys, which can also lead to creating cracks and warping issues. You can invest in humidifiers, digital hygrometers, and air conditioning systems to keep humidity at acceptable levels. It’s important that your piano is always located in a climate controlled environment, and is never stored in excessive heat, cold, or humid conditions. 

There may also be excessive moisture between the keys. If keys are warped and no longer fit side by side, it may be time for repair or restoration services. It’s more difficult to fix than simple cleaning between the keys. If this is the case, you should consider calling a professional piano technician to clean the keys and give your piano a tune up. 

Some things can be do-it-yourself projects. Proper cleaning and maintaining is something you should work at on a consistent basis. But when the job stretches beyond simple maintenance, choose a professional that will give your piano a proper check up and ensure it is in proper playing condition. 

If you have any questions about sticky piano keys or any other problems, we’re here to help. 


Since 1960, Coltharp Piano World has represented the finest pianos in Memphis, Tennessee, the Midsouth and the world. In addition to quality sales and service we offer moving services, restoration services and master piano tuning. We offer the best new, used and vintage pianos anywhere. And our prices simply cannot be beat. Come and see our newly remodeled showroom and our beautiful new concert hall. We specialize in piano restoration for the southern United States. We welcome your call.

We are located at: 4447 Summer Ave, Memphis, Tennessee 38122 Call us at 901.682.1172

Why Piano Playing Is Therapeutic

Why Piano Playing Is Therapeutic

“Where words fail, music speaks.” Hans Christian Anderson

Music has long since been a part of our lives. We incorporate songs into our culture and use them to hand down stories throughout the generations. 

New studies are now showing that music does more than bind us as a culture; it also shows dramatic lifelong improvements in everything we do: language, math, memory skills and more. What’s more, music is also being integrated into therapies, helping everyone from special needs kids to elderly suffering from debilitating diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Why Piano Playing Is Therapeutic

By definition, music therapy is an interpersonal process in which a therapist uses music to address health concerns. Music can impact all aspects of well-being: emotional, physical, mental, social, and spiritual. 

Private piano lessons or learning on one’s own via software is not considered music therapy. Yet it does show positive effects by engaging in a challenging activity; the benefits are therapeutic. It’s something that is known to be a stress reliever, and can be used for stress reduction throughout one’s life. 

When taken to the next level and integrated into a therapy program, the results can be astounding. 

Behavior – music can be mood-enhancing, helping to stimulate the senses and focus attention. It can slow inappropriate behavior and increase compliance. 

Calming – anxiety is one of the biggest challenges faced by children today. Classical music can reduce stress and ease frustration. It can also reduce muscle tension and slow down the heart rate. Studies continue to show that children with all types of special needs – autism, cerebral palsy, ADD, ADHD and more – can relax and calm down when music is integrated into their lives. 

Communication – music can help build social skills and encourage interaction and conversation with peers. Music helps people define pitch changes in speech and increase vocabulary. It can also make people more apt to pick up a second language. 

Memory – people of all ages have found that music helps them focus and puts them in a better mood for learning. We have an innate ability to memorize songs. and it stays with us for a lifetime. 

Music can be the gift that keeps on giving now and throughout our lives. Are you incorporating piano playing into your family’s life?


Since 1960, Coltharp Piano World has represented the finest pianos in Memphis, Tennessee, the Midsouth and the world. In addition to quality sales and service we offer moving services, restoration services and master piano tuning. We offer the best new, used and vintage pianos anywhere. And our prices simply cannot be beat. Come and see our newly remodeled showroom and our beautiful new concert hall. We specialize in piano restoration for the southern United States. We welcome your call.

We are located at: 4447 Summer Ave, Memphis, Tennessee 38122 Call us at 901.682.1172

Playing Piano And Engaging Your Brain Two Hands At A Time

Playing Piano And Engaging Your Brain Two Hands At A Time

With most actions, we perform them one hand at a time. Pick up a pencil, write a sentence, or tap out a rhythm and you’ll be operating one hand at a time. 

But when you sit down to play the piano, things get a bit more complicated. Your right hand plays one part while your left hand plays another. And for many just trying to learn, it can be complicated at best. Playing Piano And Engaging Your Brain Two Hands At A Time

Some instructors will have you practice right hand and left hand separately before bringing them together. But is it the best way?

There are two different aspects to playing hands together that make it difficult. When you play two separate pieces of music with two separate hands, each is vying for your attentional resources. Each hand has to figure out what key on the piano to strike and what rhythm to give each note. You also have to keep in mind the details like dynamics and articulation. There’s only so much attention to go around, so focusing often becomes a problem. 

Learning involves attention; if you have to give resources to two parts, it takes double the effort and more time to learn. You must focus on learning one part to success before giving time to the other part. But once you learn one part, it becomes more automatic, giving you more time to spend on the other. In some points of view, this makes sense. 

However, it’s also important to note how the brain works. The left side of the brain controls the right hand, left hand controlled by the right side of the brain. As an infant, humans have a natural tendency for mirror movements. You’ll see this in a small infant as they routinely make hand movements together. But over time, your motor control takes over, and you learn to control this through interhemispheric inhibition. And when you use only one hand, it becomes more pronounced. 

When you bring the two hands back together, it still feels a little difficult and clumsy. 

Surprisingly, there are very few studies to determine which is the best method: hands separate or hands together learning. In a study conducted by Roberta Brown back in 1933, she found that it was more efficient and more enjoyable in using the hands together approach. 

A study by Robert Duke also concluded that when pianists practiced music with both hands together method, it led to a better performance. 

While there certainly isn’t a right or wrong approach, it’s important to remember that piano is a two handed instrument. That means the sooner you bring the two hands together, the quicker you feel the music as it works together with both hands, the more effective piano player you will become. 

What’s your experience with playing piano with both hands?


Since 1960, Coltharp Piano World has represented the finest pianos in Memphis, Tennessee, the Midsouth and the world. In addition to quality sales and service we offer moving services, restoration services and master piano tuning. We offer the best new, used and vintage pianos anywhere. And our prices simply cannot be beat. Come and see our newly remodeled showroom and our beautiful new concert hall. We specialize in piano restoration for the southern United States. We welcome your call.

We are located at: 4447 Summer Ave, Memphis, Tennessee 38122 Call us at 901.682.1172

Does Your Hand Size Impact Piano Playing

Does Your Hand Size Impact Piano Playing

When you watch a professional piano player in action, you’ll see their hands zip up and down the keyboard, flying over the keys. Between their thumbs and fingers, they touch note after note bringing music to life. 

Musicians come in all sizes, male and female. It doesn’t seem to matter how large their hands are or how large of a hand span they have to stretch two specified intervals on a keyboard. Or does it?Does Your Hand Size Impact Piano Playing

The average octave placement for hand span ranges around 6.7 inches. Adding in a 9th note increases the hand span to 7.6 inches, 10th note increases to 8.5 inches, and 11th note increases the hand span to 9.4 inches. 

When you compare that to the average hand span of a woman, you’ll find that 70 percent can not comfortable span an entire octave, with an even larger majority not being able to add a 9th note to their playing ability per hand. 

For males, the playability is better, with a significant majority of males able to play an octave very comfortably, stretching to a 10th note or more fairly easily. 

The female hand is, on average, 15 percent smaller than the male hand. And because children often start playing the piano at an early age, it is also important to realize that they will have an even smaller range than the average woman. 

Standardized keyboards are a relatively recent development and the size we commonly use today is large compared with historical context. The 6.5 inch octave keyboard does not suit the vast majority of women and children. It’s also often not the best choice for men, from an ergonomic perspective. 

Some of the greatest pianists of the past have used pianos with narrower keys. And with people who enjoy playing the piano and have a passion for improving the way they play, they often find using alternative sized piano keyboards to be a better fit. Downsized keyboards allow pianists to play more music without fear of injury. Hand position is immediately improved and power increases because the hand is compact. Redistribution of complex fingering is no longer necessary. 

As it becomes more apparent that the art of piano playing can change simply by rethinking the size of a keyboard, we’ll see more changes in the instruments we play. 

Do you have experience with a smaller keyboard?


Since 1960, Coltharp Piano World has represented the finest pianos in Memphis, Tennessee, the Midsouth and the world. In addition to quality sales and service we offer moving services, restoration services and master piano tuning. We offer the best new, used and vintage pianos anywhere. And our prices simply cannot be beat. Come and see our newly remodeled showroom and our beautiful new concert hall. We specialize in piano restoration for the southern United States. We welcome your call.

We are located at: 4447 Summer Ave, Memphis, Tennessee 38122 Call us at 901.682.1172

Benefits Of Learning Piano As An Adult

Benefits Of Learning Piano As An Adult

Many people think of the piano when it’s time to get their small children involved in activities. However, many adults could benefit as well.

Maybe you didn’t take them seriously as a child and gave piano lessons up long before you learned the mechanics of playing. Maybe it’s been a lifelong desire. In all cases, it’s important to realize it’s never too late. There are many benefits to learning to play as an adult.

One of the biggest advantages is relaxation and stress reduction that comes along with playing an instrument. Many people have high demanding jobs and look for ways to calm and settle down when they return home for the evening. Playing music facilitates relaxation and renewal after a challenging day. benefits-of-learning-piano-as-an-adult

The opposite is also true. If you have a mundane job where repetition is key, playing the piano on your off hours can put challenge into your life. It can push you to learn new things and give you a little creativity boost into an otherwise lackluster day.

Another benefit comes from learning something new. Increasingly, studies are showing that playing music can impact brain health. It’s been proven to help in all kinds of situations, from helping children test better, to improving stability in Alzheimer’s patients, to becoming a helpful therapy in a variety of cases.

It can also induce a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction from being able to play a complex instrument. Playing the piano takes time and practice to become proficient. It’s a skill that can be worked on for the rest of your life. The beauty of it also lies in the fact that for most, they can play the piano at all ages. Compare that to other hobbies, such as riding a bike or joining a softball team.

It can also provide the creative outlet you’ve needed to boost your career. One creative activity often leads to others. It can help inspire you to add magic to your sales presentations or design a new piece of computer code. It can help you discover answers to problems and find the new approach you’ve needed to move forward with a demanding customer or employee.

Is this the year you learn to play the piano?


Since 1960, Coltharp Piano World has represented the finest pianos in Memphis, Tennessee, the Midsouth and the world. In addition to quality sales and service we offer moving services, restoration services and master piano tuning. We offer the best new, used and vintage pianos anywhere. And our prices simply cannot be beat. Come and see our newly remodeled showroom and our beautiful new concert hall. We specialize in piano restoration for the southern United States. We welcome your call.

We are located at: 4447 Summer Ave, Memphis, Tennessee 38122 Call us at 901.682.1172

How To Improve Your Piano Playing Without Lessons

How To Improve Your Piano Playing Without Lessons

Have you been taking piano lessons for some time now and feel like you haven’t made any progress? Or maybe you’ve reached a plateau and feel like you just can’t make it to the next level? 

Every piano player reaches that point. That’s not the point to become frustrated and quit. Instead, it’s time to start something new. How To Improve Your Piano Playing Without Lessons

Calendar Your Practice Time

It’s easy to let your practice schedule fall to the wayside. Instead, concentrate on making it a bigger part of your life. Schedule the time you’ll practice and play each week. Dedicate similar time slots throughout the week – every afternoon for 20 minutes when you arrive home, for example. Stick with it as much as you can. 

Create A Plan

Don’t sit down and play the same old thing. Instead, create a plan to help you move forward. What music have you wanted to learn? What would keep you motivated? The key here is to not only motivate you forward and help you learn new skills, but also to help you master old skills that may still be lacking. 

Improve Your Reading Skills

How well do you read sheet music? If you have been playing mostly by sight, or still feel weak in reading music, practice and understand concepts of musical notation. Learn advanced musical notations such as dynamics, tempo, key and time signatures, clefs, etc. 

Practice To Improve Finger Placement

Scales may seem a bit repetitious, but they are designed to help you find proper finger placement. Practice two or three scales as a warm up before each session, going up and down the scales at least five times. Ensure you stretch and feel each note to connect with it. 

Improve Your Musical Ear

Listen to slow, simple songs and attempt to hear the notes. Give them a name and see them on the keyboard. Then transfer your knowledge to the piano and attempt to play. Don’t worry if you’re slow at first. Just do a little every day, and you’ll quickly discover how well you begin to hear sounds and learn how to recreate them yourself. 

Practice Your Favorites First

Don’t stick with music you may have used during a lesson. Instead, scan the Internet or head to your favorite music store and buy sheet music that interests you. Then play these songs first to help strengthen your musicality. Steadily increase the difficulty of the pieces you select and play to help you become better at playing. 

Make Use Of Modern Technology

Have you ever done a search online for piano apps? You’d be surprised at how many apps exist that reference music. From sheet music, to metronome devices, to software pianos, to complicated games, to designing music on your own, you’ll find a variety of things that can hold your interest even when you aren’t sitting in front of the computer. 


Since 1960, Coltharp Piano World has represented the finest pianos in Memphis, Tennessee, the Midsouth and the world. In addition to quality sales and service we offer moving services, restoration services and master piano tuning. We offer the best new, used and vintage pianos anywhere. And our prices simply cannot be beat. Come and see our newly remodeled showroom and our beautiful new concert hall. We specialize in piano restoration for the southern United States. We welcome your call.

We are located at: 4447 Summer Ave, Memphis, Tennessee 38122 Call us at 901.682.1172

Tips For Being A Better Church Pianist

Tips For Being A Better Church Pianist

Even if you’ve been playing the piano for years and consider yourself to be an expert piano player, there are some things you should consider in order to become a church pianist. Church music is designed to add to the choir and the service, not dominate. 

To be a better church pianist:

Puts heart into the musicTips For Being A Better Church Pianist

Church music needs to be soothing and relaxing. It doesn’t need to be difficult or complex. Work with other members to develop a program that enlightens the topics at hand. If you play joyfully and from the heart, it will show in the final results. 

Practice, practice, practice

During a service, there will be a lot of distractions. You’ll be accompanying singers as well as following leads from other members of the program. Practice in advance so that you know your music really well. Be comfortable with the surroundings so you can be more flexible in the way you play. 

Learn the songs

Because the choir and the band often follow a pianist’s lead, it’s important to come out strong in your performance. Start with songs you know and are familiar with. Work them to the point that you play them well. Then continue to add songs over time. If you memorize chords, there is less likelihood of making mistakes. 

Choose appropriate songs

Like any music, church music has different tones. Light and uplifting or powerful and to the point all bring different meaning to a service. Be sure you match the tone of the day to add even more to a service. 

Be creative

Being creative is a part of a pianist’s nature. But that doesn’t mean you have to make things overly difficult. Simple transitions can often be the best to build interesting bridges between songs and music. 

Play to complement the voice

In many cases, you won’t be the sole sound. You’ll be complementing voices in the choir or even other instruments. Be aware that you are a part of a team. Practice to ensure the right voice appears at the right time. 

All churches have different services and arrangements, so it’s important to be enthusiastic and energetic as you approach each new service. You’ll quickly become an integral part of the team. 


Since 1960, Coltharp Piano World has represented the finest pianos in Memphis, Tennessee, the Midsouth and the world. In addition to quality sales and service we offer moving services, restoration services and master piano tuning. We offer the best new, used and vintage pianos anywhere. And our prices simply cannot be beat. Come and see our newly remodeled showroom and our beautiful new concert hall. We specialize in piano restoration for the southern United States. We welcome your call.

We are located at: 4447 Summer Ave, Memphis, Tennessee 38122 Call us at 901.682.1172

Tips For Boosting Summertime Piano Playing

Tips For Boosting Summertime Piano Playing

Summertime means stepping away from the daily rush we experience all year long. It means vacations. It means slowing down. It means having fun. 

But that doesn’t mean it’s time to forget everything you’ve spent the past year learning. If you’ve been adding piano lessons into your weekly routine, how do you ensure your child stays at his or her best during the lazy summer months? Tips For Boosting Summertime Piano Playing

Start A Reward Program

Kids often have things they want while they are away from school. Maybe it’s something from the store. Maybe it’s a trip to the amusement park. Work out a system where practice earns stars. If they earn enough stars, they can turn them in for prizes. It’s a great way to teach them about savings too. 

Download an App

Even when you’re traveling and on vacation, make piano playing fun. Check out one of the many piano apps you’ll find for your phone or tablet. Be sure to pack headphones for in the car or on the airplane to ensure everyone stays happy. 

Track Progress and Set Goals

Life is slower in the summer months. That might mean notching down piano learning goals too. But you can still set goals and help your child achieve them. Select songs they’ve wanted to learn and motivate them to practice a little each day. Be enthusiastic; how about a concert on family night? This is the time for them to have a little fun with it and learn things that will keep them happy on those long, boring days. 

Team Up

Chances are friends or cousins are having a hard time sticking to a schedule too. Why not team up for double duty practice and playing? Encourage your pianist to have a friend over to practice songs together. Duets are exciting when you have a friend to giggle with. 

Piano playing is supposed to be fun. And the more enjoyable you make it throughout the summer months, the more they’ll be ready to hop back into the normal routine come fall. 


Since 1960, Coltharp Piano World has represented the finest pianos in Memphis, Tennessee, the Midsouth and the world. In addition to quality sales and service we offer moving services, restoration services and master piano tuning. We offer the best new, used and vintage pianos anywhere. And our prices simply cannot be beat. Come and see our newly remodeled showroom and our beautiful new concert hall. We specialize in piano restoration for the southern United States. We welcome your call.

We are located at: 4447 Summer Ave, Memphis, Tennessee 38122 Call us at 901.682.1172

Piano Tuning Facts and Myths

Piano Tuning Facts and Myths

Can upright pianos be tuned to concert pitch?

A piano is designed to accompany every instrument you’ll find in a band or orchestra. Band instruments are all designed and tuned at concert pitch so that they are harmonious together. Now imagine trying to play a piano that wasn’t tuned at that level – the instrument will sound awful. To play instruments together, it’s important that they are tuned at the same level. Grand or upright, all pianos have the capability to be tuned to concert pitch. To ensure a player “hears” what they are playing correctly, staying in tune is an important part of the process. Piano Tuning Facts and Myths

What is pitch raising?

Pitch raising usually comes into play when a piano hasn’t been tuned in a while. It’s the process of gradually stretching out the strings when they are badly out of tune. It is similar to tuning in that every pin must be turned or tuned. A string relaxes on average about one-half as far as it is stretched during pitch raising, and should not be stretched more than ten cents per tuning. If badly out of tune, it may require multiple tunings to bring it back to concert pitch. 

Will pitch raising hurt the piano? 

If your piano is still in great shape, pitch raising won’t hurt the inner workings. It is important to work slowly, however. A technician will be able to tell how out of tune your piano is and what it will take to bring it back into tune. Excessive tuning or pitch raising at one setting may break strings or break bridges or the soundboard, so it’s important to take your time bringing it back into tune. 

How long does a piano stay in tune once it is tuned?

A lot factors into how long a piano will stay tuned. Any time pitch raising is completed, the piano will go out of tune within the next 6 to 12 months. Because it required extensive work, it is more likely to stretch back out of tune. It’s important to stick with a schedule until your piano stabilizes – retune your piano within the first three months, and every six months to follow. 

Is a piano that is played frequently more likely to be out of tune than one that isn’t? 

How frequently a piano is played has little to do with how quickly it will go out of tune. A piano that is played can often stay in tune longer because it stays in motion. In either case, it’s important to realize that to ensure your piano stays in good working conditioning, maintenance is an important part of the process. And tuning is a part of that process. 

How can I ensure my piano stays in tune?

Regular maintenance. In ideal circumstances, your piano will be tuned at least once per year to keep it tuned and up to pitch. Your piano should also be played at least once per week, playing to keep string tension uniform and the relationship between octaves even. Also keep your piano on an inside wall, away from drafts, direct sunlight or moisture, which can lead to more damage.

What questions do you have about your piano?


Since 1960, Coltharp Piano World has represented the finest pianos in Memphis, Tennessee, the Midsouth and the world. In addition to quality sales and service we offer moving services, restoration services and master piano tuning. We offer the best new, used and vintage pianos anywhere. And our prices simply cannot be beat. Come and see our newly remodeled showroom and our beautiful new concert hall. We specialize in piano restoration for the southern United States. We welcome your call.

We are located at: 4447 Summer Ave, Memphis, Tennessee 38122 Call us at 901.682.1172

Piano Sound Production

Piano Sound Production

The modern day piano comprises many different things:

A keyboard made of 88 wooden keys covered in plastic. Black keys make up sharps and flats and are narrower and offset back from the white keys. 

A mechanism called the action that provides for hammers to strike the strings when the keys are pushed. 

All 230 strings are corresponding to individual keys to produce sound when they are struck. Strings are struck in groups of two or three to produce sound. Piano Sound Production

A pinblock is used for tensioning and tuning individual strings. 

The soundboard is created from wood to withstand vibration when the strings are struck. Vibrations are coupled to the soundboard via the bridge, a curved piece of wood and metal that serves as the displacement node for the vibrations. 

During the action process, when a note is played, the action lifts the damper felts from the strings so they can resonate when struck. The string will be struck by the hammer that is determined by how hard and how quickly the key was struck. The return of the hammer occurs immediately after the strike so as not to interfere with the vibrating strings. 

Thinner, shorter strings are used to produce higher sounds, with the strings thickening for the lower sounds. Two strings typically are used for upper notes, with two strings used to create lower sounds. 

With all of these pieces and action occurring all at once, things can go wrong to impact the sound quality. 

Inharmonicity – piano strings can be “off” by as much as one half-tone, with this changing over time. If one plays two notes an octave apart, the inharmonicity of the second octave will cause the sound to be “off” to a listener. To “solve” this problem, octaves are stretched, meaning that a note up an octave will be tuned slightly more to the frequency of the octave below. This ensures you “hear” the sound correctly. 

Aging – piano hammers are covered with felt, with the purpose being to spread out the impact of the hammer strike. These felts dry out, harden, and disintegrate over time. This serves to emphasize a decreasing quality of sound. 

Polarization – pianos are never a perfect instrument. The mechanism changes all the time. And while the action is built with vertical motion, eventually horizontal motion occurs as well, throwing the sound “off.” 

Think your piano isn’t producing the proper sound? Call us today. 


Since 1960, Coltharp Piano World has represented the finest pianos in Memphis, Tennessee, the Midsouth and the world. In addition to quality sales and service we offer moving services, restoration services and master piano tuning. We offer the best new, used and vintage pianos anywhere. And our prices simply cannot be beat. Come and see our newly remodeled showroom and our beautiful new concert hall. We specialize in piano restoration for the southern United States. We welcome your call.

We are located at: 4447 Summer Ave, Memphis, Tennessee 38122 Call us at 901.682.1172