The Differences Between Playing a Piano and a Keyboard

The Differences Between Playing a Piano and a Keyboard

One of the most common thoughts parents have when enrolling their kids in piano lessons is whether to buy a piano or a keyboard. Can you learn to play the piano on a keyboard? 

The short answer is: yes. While there are subtle differences between the two, which we’ll get into in a minute, the two often work interchangeably when learning to play. But that doesn’t mean you can run down to your local discount store and buy an electronic toy. There are certain characteristics a keyboard will need in order to make your skills transferable. 

Do pianos and keyboards sound the same?

There is a big difference between a piano player at your local symphony, and a keyboard player in your favorite rock band. Does that mean one is better than the other, or the two can’t be interchanged? Not at all. A sophisticated keyboard is designed to play like a piano. Because it’s digital, it will also have the possibility of replicating other sounds, like percussion, synthesizers, or horns. It also has the ability to easily save music directly to your computer, or even send it to your YouTube channel. For computer geeks, that can be a big benefit. 

What are the significant differences between the two?

When comparing the two, the biggest thing to watch for is the action. Action is the response a key has when you press down. If you play a key on an acoustic piano, it has some resistance – a weighted feel. In order to learn how to play, it’s important that a keyboard has that same weighted feel. It makes your skills transferable from one to the other. 

You should also pay attention to the range of keys. A traditional piano has 88 keys. Keyboards often go down in key numbers in order to save on space and size. A standard piano has 88 keys. Some keyboards will eliminate an octave or more, going down to 72 or fewer. 

If you play a keyboard, does it discourage you from moving to an acoustic piano?

Not necessarily. But again, it’s important that you pay attention to quality. If the two aren’t interchangeable, the skills you learn on a keyboard won’t transfer to an acoustic piano. It will mean you’ll have to relearn hand and finger placement, as well as how the keys spring into action. 

What’s the right choice for you?

It’s easy to fixate on the price. But it’s equally important to remember that playing the piano is a skill you can carry throughout your life. In order to learn the craft, you have to have the proper tool. If you aren’t sure, stop by and let us help you understand the differences between pianos and keyboards. We can let you feel and hear the differences, and make the right choice for your needs. 

5 Accessories You Need For Your Piano Right Now

5 Accessories You Need For Your Piano Right Now

The more we stay at home, the more we come to appreciate the little things. 

Music falls into that category. Where we once spread ourselves thin, running from event to event, barely fitting it all in, we now have time to sit back and think about what’s important. 

If you’ve taken a second look at the piano sitting in your living space, and are dedicated to music a bigger part of your life, there are a few accessories you should invest in now.

Piano stool or bench

You can’t pull up a chair and play the piano correctly. Different players need different heights. If you have an uncomfortable seat, it can impact your posture and hand positioning. It can also lead to poor technique. 

Music stand

Depending on the piano you’re using, it’s important to have the right music stand in the right place at the right height. For grand pianos, you can get sophisticated and decorative. For a digital keyboard, something portable may be your top requirement. It’s important to get one of high quality that can withstand years of use. 

Light

Piano practice doesn’t always occur in the middle of the day with perfect natural lighting. That’s why having the right light is so important. Can you see the music without squinting, moving forward, and losing your good posture? Does it add or detract from your music room? With so many options in piano lighting, find the one that’s right for you. 

Headphones

Think headphones are only for keyboards? Think again. With many of today’s pianos, headphones aren’t just optional, they’re required for easy practicing. How many times has your household been too busy to practice? By putting a pair of headphones on, you can practice anytime without disturbing those around you. 

Metronome

All levels of piano players will benefit from having a metronome. It allows you to stay on track with tempo, and improve the way you play through difficult selections of music. It’s great for learning pieces on your own, but is equally important when practicing to play with a larger group. It ensures you’re playing at the proper rhythm. 

Do you have the right piano for your needs? Do you have all the accessories to ensure your piano playing is on target? If not, we can help. Give us a call today, and we can help you outfit the perfect music room for your needs. 

How To Clean A Used Upright Piano 

How To Clean A Used Upright Piano 

If 2020 has done anything for us, it’s taught us all to clean a little harder. Thanks to the coronavirus, we’re scrubbing, sanitizing, and organizing more than ever before. Even things we’ve forgotten in the corner are seeing new life as we move them, clean them, and do it all over again. 

But what about that used upright piano you brought into your home? You can’t throw it into the dishwasher. You can’t spray it down with a hose. 

Is there a right way to clean a used upright piano? 

Dusting – Dusting is the best course of action for your piano. Don’t let the dust settle in, inside or out. Every week, keep the surfaces dust-free to prevent buildup of harmful particles where they shouldn’t be. You can use a dry cloth or a duster to gently cover the surface. 

Deeper cleaning – Pianos and water don’t mix. Because a piano is a delicate instrument, never place anything around or on it that can damage the surface. A glass of water, a bottle of juice, a can of soda, a potted plant – keep everything that could potentially damage the surface of your piano away. If you want to remove smudges or spots, use a well-ringed out damp cloth, ensuring it dries quickly to avoid damaging your piano. 

Polishing – It’s recommended that you don’t use polish on your piano. They are bad for the piano finish and can do more harm than good. For complete guidelines, always check with your piano’s manufacturer before applying any product. 

Now let’s talk about the keys. This is the one part of your piano that will need more than a simple swipe of a duster. Touching them every day can release oils and grime to the keys. Clean them with a damp cloth. Be sure to ring all the water out, leaving it barely damp to the touch. You don’t want water seeping between the keys, damaging the internal workings of the keyboard. Use a separate cloth for the white and black keys, to keep the colors true to the keys. 

When you open up the top of either your upright or grand piano, you might find a dusty mess waiting for you. A vacuum with a hose attachment will be your friend as you keep it clean. Be careful as you move throughout the piano, being careful not to knock any pieces loose. You can invest in a can of compressed air to reach into tiny places. Pay attention to any damage you may find. If you haven’t paid attention to the piano in years, or have recently purchased it from someone else, you might find a variety of things inside that shouldn’t be there. Any of these things can cause extensive damage, and may require repair or even refurbing your piano. 

Not sure if you want to do it yourself? Have questions about the extent of damage you find on the inside of your piano? We can help. Give us a call today. 

Should I Cover My Piano When Not In Use?

Should I Cover My Piano When Not In Use?

This is a question we get a lot around here. And it makes sense, you spend a lot on purchasing the right piano for your home, protecting it seems only natural. 

In most cases, it isn’t necessary to cover your piano. If you have a grand piano, covering it can be quite a chore. Especially if you play your piano regularly, covering and uncovering it each time can take away minutes that would be better off playing. 

If you do have a grand piano and are worried about keeping the inner workings in the best possible shape, it’s better to close the lid when you are done playing. This can help with the integrity of your piano, and protect wood and strings from dust and humidity. Air conditioning can be especially hard on it. You can’t completely stop your piano from being impacted by the elements, but closing the lid reduces exposure, and can slow the aging and degradation process. 

Your piano is designed to be inside your home and be played. With proper cleanings and tunings, it can last for decades. You can’t stop exposure to the elements, even if it’s covered or you close your lid. Aging and wear happen naturally. 

But there is one thing you should do before you place your piano in its final resting spot, and that’s paying attention to the way sunlight streams into your home. Sunlight is possibly your piano’s worst enemy. 

Sunlight can wear down the finish, warp wood, and tighten the tension throughout your piano. It can cause the soundboard to crack. It can degrade the finish, taking away your piano’s classic good looks. While you should consider moving your piano to a better location, covering it to protect it from the sun’s rays would be the next best step. 

Do you have other questions about your piano’s condition? 

Caring For Your Piano During COVID-19

Caring For Your Piano During COVID-19

Now that you’ve been staying in place for a few weeks, has cleaning taken on a whole new meaning? Do you find yourself scrubbing everything down daily, lugging out the bleach to ensure everything is clean? 

Before you take a rag to clean and disinfect your piano, let’s talk about safety. 

COVID-19 has made us more aware than ever that our fingers can be weapons. If you head to the grocery store, for example, and pick up germs, everything you touch in between can spread the bacteria. That’s why handwashing is so important. 

It’s also why it’s important to clean and disinfect the things you do touch regularly. Like your keys, your doorknobs, light switches, and remote controls. 

While you can use a spray cleaner on a light switch or doorknob, don’t try that on your piano keys.

Caring for your piano takes a different strategy than other fixtures in your home. 

First, it’s important to know what your piano keys are made of. “Tickling the ivories” became a catch-phrase because piano keys were once made out of ivory. The practice of using ivory in piano production was banned decades ago, but that doesn’t mean ivory piano keys are completely gone. If you have a piano that’s been handed down from generation to generation, there’s a chance real ivory was used. 

Real ivory is porous, which means they can get dirty quickly. You’ll also find they give off a yellowish color as they age. Ivory is very distinct in how they look and feel; you’ll see horizontal lines flowing from the key’s head to tail. You’ll also see the distinct veneer covering the wooden key placement underneath.

Plastic keys may try and imitate this look, but you can tell the difference. Plastic keys are molded in entirety, making them more durable and affordable to manufacture. 

Black keys are made from plastic or ebony wood. They are polished to give a sheen. 

No matter what type of keys your piano has, remember liquid is an enemy, not a friend. Less is more when it comes to cleaning. Never spray any cleaner directly onto the keyboard. Liquid can seep in between, settle there, and do extensive damage. 

Instead, always use a damp cloth and ensure you work one key at a time, leaving no moisture behind. We recommend one part white vinegar to two parts water. Do not use bleach of any kind, as that will dull, strip, and damage the keys. 

You can also make it a rule that hand washing is necessary before anyone sits down to play. That will reduce the chance of any trace germs settling onto your keys. And eliminate the chance of germs settling in.  

Caring for your piano with the coronavirus on everyone’s mind doesn’t have to be a demanding chore. Use common sense to ensure your piano has a very long life. 

What About Room Placement – Piano Basics

What About Room Placement – Piano Basics

Thinking of buying a new piano? Did you know room placement – where you place your piano – is equally as important as the piano you purchase?

If you place your piano in the right spot in your home, it greatly impacts sound quality. It also gives you better performance overall. And if your piano is happy with the conditions, it will increase playability and longevity for years to come. 

Before we talk about what you should do, it’s worth mentioning what you shouldn’t do. 

Don’t do these things with your piano placement

Because pianos are sensitive to the environment, it’s important to place them where they won’t be subjected to direct sunlight or other elements that can change the overall structure of the instrument. Even a few hours of direct sunlight can cause wood to heat up and start to expand. It can dry out the soundboard, weaken joints and connections, and cause the outside to fade. If direct sunlight is unavoidable, add in shades or drapery and keep them closed during the brightest portion of the day. 

Likewise, a steady stream of cold or heated air can have the same effect as direct sunlight. Never place your piano near a window, or near a register or vent. This can cause drastic fluctuations in temperature over a short period of time, and alter the internal parts so severely they’ll need replacing. 

Good room placement includes these things

Most people place a piano where it fits best in a room, given their furniture placement. It’s a good idea to rethink it before you bring your piano home, to ensure good performance. 

For example, if you place a piano in the central hub of your home, will it interfere with other household activities? Will your child be able to practice if others are doing homework? Will practice seem like a chore, or will it be a pleasant experience? 

Playing should not only sound good to those who are listening, but also help the one playing develop a good ear for music. Carpet will help mute the sound, whereas hardwood provides a deeper, fuller sound. 

Also, remember your piano isn’t another piece of furniture, designed to hold things for storage. Placing objects on or near your piano can damage it, both inside and out. 

Trying to decide what piano to buy? Wondering about room placement, and where your new instrument will sound its best? We can help. Stop by today and we’ll answer all your questions, and help you make the perfect choice for your home. 

Why Consider A Piano Appraisal

Why Consider A Piano Appraisal

A piano isn’t like other instruments. A piano is an investment in your future. 

When you take the time to find the right piano for your needs, it involves a variety of steps and thought processes. While you may be just starting out and looking for your first piano, you still want something that will last for years. That means finding a piano that sounds good and has playability for years to come. 

To get the right piano, it takes time to find the best one. It can also take quite a lot of money. 

  • If you’re ready to sell, how much is your piano worth?
  • If you’re ready to buy, are you getting a piano worth the price tag? 
  • If you’re insuring a piano, do you know how much it’s really worth? 
  • If you’re trading up for a better piano, are you making a fair trade?

For all of these reasons and more, it might be time to consider a piano appraisal. 

Having a piano appraisal can be a good thing for all parties involved. 

For the seller, a piano appraisal can:

  • Show a buyer you’re serious about being transparent on how much a piano is worth
  • Find the fair market value of the piano
  • Provides an overview for all the technical questions a buyer might ask – this can be especially helpful if you’re not knowledgeable about the inner workings of a piano

For a buyer, a piano appraisal can:

  • Help you ensure you’re getting the quality piano you’re buying
  • Verifying the current market value is what you’re paying
  • Understand the quality to have a better idea of what maintenance you’ll have in the future

You’re ready for a piano assessment if:

  • You want to determine how old your piano is
  • You need advice on whether to sell, refurbish, or dispose of your piano
  • You want to know how much it will cost to rebuild your piano
  • You want to determine the fair market value to insure your piano
  • You’re thinking of selling or trading your current piano in

No matter where you are in your piano buying or selling process, we’re here for you. Give us a call today. 

Keep Your Piano Healthy

Keep Your Piano Healthy

A lot of things can impact your piano. The air supply. The weather. The way you play. The condition of the room. 

If you’re bringing a piano into your home, and you want it to remain in good condition for years to come, there are multiple things you should do to keep your piano healthy. Here’s where to start. 

Think about placement

Do you have a spot picked out inside your home where you anticipate placing your piano? Take another look at that spot. The wrong spot can have a detrimental impact on keeping your piano in good playing condition. The inner workings can’t take extreme temperatures or variances in air quality. Therefore you should avoid:

  • Placing a piano against an outside wall
  • Placing a piano underneath a window
  • Placing it next to a door on an outside wall
  • Placing it near vents and registers
  • Placing it near a fireplace
  • Placing it near a window or door that is opened frequently
  • Placing it in direct sunlight

And all of these can cause the wood in the inner workings of the piano to expand and contract quickly, risking cracks in the overall structure of the piano. 

Think about daily habits

Depending on the size of your piano, it may take center stage within your room. Grand pianos often have a commanding presence, and change everyday living space into full-fledged music rooms. 

Yet don’t turn your piano into a clutter station. The only thing that belongs on a piano is sheet music. Don’t be tempted to put a flower vase on your piano; pianos and water don’t mix. 

Skip placing books, picture frames, or even nicknacks on top; it can take away the sound quality of the instrument. 

If you do smoke, avoid smoking near your piano. The soot and smell can impact the tonal quality and looks of your piano. 

If you don’t play regularly, you may even wish to consider closing the lid to protect the piano keys, and consider a piano cover to ensure the finish stays protected. 

Every piano is unique. With every piano, it’s playability is determined by the instrument itself as well as how well it is treated inside your home. Take care of your piano, keep your piano healthy throughout the years, and it will last you for generations. 

How To Clean Your Piano Key Tops

How To Clean Your Piano Key Tops

Take a good look at your piano. Where’s the biggest potential for dirt and grime? If you said the tops of the 88 keys, you’re correct. 

Every day you sit down and play, touching them with your finger tips. Some will get more of a workout as you touch it again and again and again … hello, middle C. 

How do you keep them looking their best? How do you keep them playing their best? 

Read on to learn how to clean your piano key tops the right way. 

First, take a moment to determine what the key tops are made of. If your piano was built before the mid 1950s, there is a potential for the key tops to be made of ivory. After 1956, the US officially banned the use of ivory, meaning pianos built or imported after this time are made of plastic. 

Ivory doesn’t add value to your piano. However, it does change the way you keep the key tops clean. 

Start by using a damp cloth that is wrung out well. Excessive moisture can penetrate through the porous ivory surface and loosen the adhesive that is holding it in place. Once this occurs, it can start to damage the wooden piano surface underneath. 

Use a natural or light colored cloth as it can transfer pigment to the ivory keys. Use two different cloths, one for the light keys, and one to clean the black keys. 

When cleaning plastic or synthetic key tops, follow the same course of action. Use a light, natural cloth for cleaning. Use a mild detergent or cleaning solution to remove dirt and grime. 

Always wipe the keys down from back to front instead of side to side. This ensures any moisture rolls off the pianos rather than falling between the keys themselves. Work a few keys at a time, ensuring they are properly dried before moving on to the next set of keys. 

Killing germs is equally important, especially during cold and flu season. You can take a small drop of antibacterial soap on a small damp cloth and wipe down the individual keys. Don’t use too much soap or you’ll be left with a sticky residue. Be sure to follow with a damp cloth to ensure the tops are clean. 

Avoid using things like rubbing alcohol or other harsh chemicals as they can penetrate through the key tops and destroy the keys themselves. 

When was the last time you cleaned your piano key tops properly?

The Must-Have Accessories Every Piano Player Wants

The Must-Have Accessories Every Piano Player Wants

Whether you’re trying to find the perfect gift for the piano player in your life, or are trying to outfit your own music room at home, it takes more than a piano to be a great player. Like every hobby, playing better means purchasing several piano accessories that will help playing and practice to be even better. 

Piano Stool

Yes, you can sit down to play the piano on anything. But if you want better practice, and ultimately want to become a better player, the piano stool is an important part of the process. Without the right piano stool, you’ll have poor posture and hand positioning at the keyboard, which can lead to back and arm strain, and eventually carpal tunnel. The right stool allows you to play more comfortably for a longer period of time. 

A Stand

Depending on the piano you select, you’ll need a place to put your music rather than leaving it strewn all over a table. Be sure it’s wide enough to handle the music you wish to play. If you’re investing in a digital keyboard, you’ll also have to select a keyboard stand. Is portability important? Or do you prefer something more permanent within your home? 

Headphones

It’s not just digital pianos that allow you to use headphones while you’re playing. Some acoustic pianos now offer you the option of being able to use them too. Headphones are a great way to allow you to practice night or day, without interrupting other activities within the household. It’s also a great way of practicing through rough spots without the embarrassment of having those around you hear your mistakes. 

A Metronome

When you have a metronome nearby, it allows you to develop tempo with every song you play. It can be difficult working through more difficult pieces. A metronome helps you build up to the tempo you choose, and allows you to stay consistent throughout the song. 

Do you have the right piano for all of your needs? We can help. Stop by today and see our full line of pianos. There’s something for everyone, at every skill level, and for every taste. We can help you choose based on your needs and desires.