Piano Health Check: Diagnosing and Treating Common Piano Issues

Piano Health Check: Diagnosing and Treating Common Piano Issues

Everything is better with music. If that’s your motto, you might have a piano sitting proudly in your home. (Along with a few other instruments!)

If you’re a proud owner of a majestic piano, you know these grand instruments require a little TLC to keep them singing sweetly. It doesn’t matter if they are old or new. A regular piano health check is essential to ensure your keys stay in harmony. 

But what does that mean? What does that look like? If you’ve ever faced one of these common piano issues, we have solutions for you. 

The Symphony of Sounds

Imagine this: you sit down to play your favorite sonata, only to be greeted by a jarring, off-key note. Don’t fret! All you need is a little fine-tuning. 

Like all things musical, Pianos can fall out of tune over time. Changes in humidity, temperature, and even regular playing can cause the tension in the strings to shift.  

Calling a professional tuner to work their magic on your piano can bring back its familiar tones and keep it in pitch-perfect condition.

Voicing Woes

Another crucial aspect of your piano’s sound is voicing. Over time, hammers can wear down or harden, affecting the piano’s tonal quality. If you find your piano sounding a bit too bright or mellow, it might be time for voicing adjustments. 

This process involves reshaping the hammers to achieve the desired tone. While some enthusiasts dare to embark on voicing adventures themselves, it’s often best left to the skilled hands of a piano technician for optimal results.

The Key to Success

Now, let’s talk about those keys. If you’ve noticed a sticky sensation or a sluggish response when playing, it might be time to roll up your sleeves and dive into a little DIY action. Dust and debris can accumulate between the keys, affecting their movement and overall performance. 

A gentle cleaning with a soft brush and a bit of compressed air can work wonders. Avoid oversaturating it with water, as moisture can damage the keys. For a more thorough cleaning, you might want to consult a professional to avoid any key-related mishaps.

Pedal Power

If you find that your sustain pedal isn’t sustaining, it’s time for a checkup. Often, it’s a simple matter of adjusting the pedal or ensuring that the connecting rods are in good shape. However, if you’re unsure about the mechanics, a visit from a piano technician can save you from pedal-related heartache.

The Case of the Creaks and Cracks

Does your piano seem to be speaking its own language with creaks and cracks? This is common, especially for older pianos that have seen a lifetime of melodies. 

Wood naturally expands and contracts with changes in humidity, leading to those sometimes disconcerting sounds. Maintaining a stable environment for your piano can alleviate this issue. If the creaks persist, it’s wise to have a technician inspect for any structural concerns.

The Dusty Dilemma

Pianos, like any cherished possession, gather dust. Dust on the soundboard, in the action, and between the keys can impact the piano’s performance. A gentle cleaning routine using a soft cloth and a feather duster can help keep your piano in top-notch condition. Remember, a well-maintained piano is a happy piano!

In the world of pianos, a little preventative care goes a long way. Regular checkups and addressing issues promptly can ensure that your piano continues to be the soulful centerpiece of your home. 

Need help finding a reliable tuner? Thinking about restoring your well-loved piano? Or maybe it’s time for an upgrade – we can help. Stop by today.

Overcoming Common Challenges in Piano Learning

Overcoming Common Challenges in Piano Learning

Some people are just music people. They have music in their blood. 

They sing throughout the day. They tap out a tune on their desk. They dance like nobody’s watching. 

It’s only natural that these people gravitate to improving their talent. Learning piano is only natural – it’s one of the most popular instruments on the planet. 

But as you settle in and take your learning to a whole new level, common challenges can appear. 

Whether you’re a beginner just starting out or an intermediate player looking to break through a plateau, it’s essential to recognize and overcome these common hurdles to progress. 

Finger Dexterity and Coordination

One of the initial obstacles many piano learners face is developing finger agility and coordination. Playing the piano requires each finger to work independently, making it challenging for beginners. To overcome this, start with simple finger exercises like scales and arpeggios. Gradually increase the complexity as your skills improve. Also, practice regularly to build muscle memory and improve finger strength.

Reading Sheet Music

Reading sheet music can be intimidating for beginners, with all those notes, symbols, and lines. The key to overcoming this challenge is to take it step by step. Begin with easy, beginner-friendly pieces that have simple melodies and fewer notes. As you become more comfortable, progress to more complex compositions. Learning to read music is like learning a new language – it takes time and practice.

Hand Independence

Playing with both hands independently can be daunting, especially for those new to the piano. Break down pieces into smaller sections to tackle this challenge and practice each hand separately. Gradually combine them as you gain confidence. Start with slow tempos and progressively increase the speed as you become more proficient. Patience is key here.

Timing and Rhythm

Maintaining a steady tempo and rhythm can be tricky, even for more experienced players. A metronome is your best friend in this regard. It helps you stay on beat and develop a strong sense of timing. Start by practicing with a metronome regularly, focusing on keeping a consistent tempo. As you progress, challenge yourself with different time signatures and rhythms.

Memorization

Memorizing pieces can feel overwhelming, especially for longer compositions. Instead of trying to memorize an entire piece at once, break it down into smaller sections and work on learning each section separately. Once you’re comfortable with each section, connect them gradually until you can play the entire piece by heart. Repetition and consistent practice are key to successful memorization.

Patience and Perseverance

Learning to play the piano is a long-term commitment that requires patience and perseverance. It’s common to encounter frustration when you can’t seem to master a particular piece or technique. Remember that progress takes time, and everyone learns at their own pace. Celebrate your small victories along the way and stay committed to your practice routine.

Finding Motivation

Staying motivated can be challenging, especially if you hit a plateau or feel stuck in your piano journey. One effective way to overcome this challenge is to set clear goals. Whether mastering a specific piece, learning a new technique, or participating in a recital, having goals to work towards can reignite your motivation and sense of purpose.

Seeking Guidance

Sometimes, it isn’t easy to progress without the guidance of a knowledgeable teacher. If you need help or are overwhelmed, consider taking lessons from a qualified piano instructor. They can provide personalized feedback, tailor lessons to your skill level, and offer valuable insights to help you overcome challenges more efficiently.

Performance Anxiety

Performance anxiety is a common challenge that pianists of all levels face. To conquer this hurdle, practice performing in front of friends and family before tackling larger audiences. Visualization techniques, deep breathing exercises, and mindfulness practices can also help calm your nerves before a performance.

Maintaining Consistency

Consistency in practice is essential for steady progress. Life can get busy, and it’s easy to let practice slip. Create a practice schedule that fits your daily routine and stick to it as closely as possible. Even short, focused practice sessions are more effective than sporadic, lengthy ones.

Playing the piano has become an important part of your life. Learning to play the piano is a rewarding endeavor, but it’s not without its challenges. 

Don’t get frustrated. Every pianist faces hurdles along the way. However, with determination, patience, and a structured approach to practice, you can overcome these challenges and continue to grow as a pianist. 

Embrace the journey, savor the small victories, and remember that the joy of making beautiful music is well worth the effort. Happy playing!

How Much Does a Piano Weigh?

How Much Does a Piano Weigh?

You only have to look at a piano to understand its weight. It combines thick hardwood, heavy cast iron plates, and more than 10,000 components to create a one-of-a-kind instrument. 

If you compare it to all other instruments, no other comes close to its sheer size and volume. You might be able to pack away a trumpet or saxophone and carry it with you, but you’ll never be able to walk away with an acoustic piano. 

Of course, how much a piano weighs depends on its size and shape.   

Vertical pianos

  • Uprights – 480-600 pounds
  • Studio – 400-500 pounds
  • Console – 350-450 pounds
  • Spinet – 200-300 pounds

Grand pianos

  • Baby – 500-1,100 pounds
  • Petite – 400-500 pounds
  • Medium – 500-600 pounds
  • Parlor – 600-700 pounds
  • Ballroom – 900-1,000 pounds
  • Concert – 700-1,200 pounds

Digital pianos

  • Digital keyboards – 25-60 pounds
  • Standalones – 100-300 pounds
  • Digital grand – 150-350 pounds

It’s important to understand that digital pianos play differently from uprights and grands. They don’t utilize strings and soundboards; instead, they use recording sensors to create a similar sound. 

No matter what piano you’re considering, it’s important to use appropriate equipment when moving it. That includes proper piano straps, padding, and other tools to move it safely and securely. It’s not just the weight that makes moving difficult; it’s also the weight distribution. While most of the weight is consolidated into the soundboard and inner workings of the piano, you also have delicate features such as the legs. One wrong move can crack or break off the legs, and cause extensive damage to the piano. 

When Should You Replace Your Piano?

When Should You Replace Your Piano?

How often should you replace your piano? Pianos are one of the most durable personal items you own. Still, they can’t last forever. What should you watch for? How will you know?

Pianos aren’t like other pieces of furniture. For many households, it’s one of their prized possessions. It may have been handed down from a favorite grandmother. They may intend to hold onto it until their children want to bring it into their own homes. 

Yet even though pianos come with the stigma of strength and longevity, they are delicate instruments that will wear down over time. Each piano is built from more than 10,000 pieces, all working together to create a classic design. Wooden parts are connected to metal wires, held together by adhesive glue. Even with proper maintenance and repair, it won’t last forever. 

Here is an example of the average lifespan. 

Year one

Your piano needs a lot of TLC during its first year. With wood and metal recently formed and fitted together, it requires consistent tunings during this time to ensure it stays in proper condition. Without these tunings, it will need more repair, including voicing and pitch correction, in the future. 

Year two to year ten

With proper care in the first year, the piano stabilizes by the second year. As long as your piano acclimates well to the surroundings, and isn’t placed in a volatile environment, (humidity swings, drafts from windows and doors, direct sunlight, etc) it should settle in and require regular tunings. The tone may change as the hammers flatten or change their shape from the constant wear of moving against the strings. Voicing is a part of a regular maintenance plan. If you work with a piano technician regularly, they will be able to offer guidance on keeping your piano in the best shape. 

Year ten to year thirty

Maintenance is critical as your piano settles in. If it’s a high-quality piano, it should wear in nicely as it’s well cared for. Hammers will continue to wear over time. The action will start to wear depending on how often it’s played. This is where well-cared-for piano ages well compared to one neglected and pushed aside. With temperature variances and humidity swings, soundboards can crack, strings and pins can rust, and the finish can dull. 

Year thirty to year fifty

This is where a piano wears down. Hammers wear down. Action starts to fail. Tonal quality disappears. Even with regular tuning, a technician may start to recommend repair and restoration. 

This is where people start to wonder if replacing your piano is better than making significant repairs. This is where it’s time to ask questions:

  • Does the piano hold significant meaning to me:
  • What does a reconditioned piano look like? Is it worth it to me?
  • Would I be better with a new piano? 

This can be a difficult decision, especially if there is an emotional attachment to the piano. 

Need help? That’s what we’re here for. 

We can help you make the right decision to suit your needs. Whether repairing the piano you have, or purchasing a new or used one to suit your needs better, we have the answers you’ve been looking for. 

Are Piano Lessons Really Worth It?

Are Piano Lessons Really Worth It?

Many of us are rethinking where we spend our time. We’re getting back to simpler times, where we spend more time at home doing things we love. 

Does that include making music? Are you contemplating bringing a piano into your home? Are piano lessons really worth the time and effort? 

Hobbies are what give us inspiration for a life well lived. From cooking to sports to making music, it can be a stress reliever as well as keep us motivated. 

Yes, you can learn piano on your own. But should you? Are piano lessons really worth it? This guide will help you evaluate your options and determine if lessons are the right avenue for you. 

Learning has changed over the years

As adults, many of us were introduced to music at a young age. Your parents may have placed you in piano lessons in grade school, or introduced you to music through your local school band. 

Do you remember playing and practicing prior to the internet? Chances are you visited a home in the neighborhood where someone provided lessons one day a week. You learned based on how well that person played. You didn’t have opportunities to “shop around” for the best instructor. Unless you thoroughly loved making music, and pursued it in school, your hopes and dreams grew or died based on how well that person performed their instruction. 

That’s no longer the case. Thanks to the internet, you have the opportunity to learn in any style that works for you. Want one-on-one instruction? Prefer video challenges? Want group format? Prefer to make a game of it? All of that is possible … and more. 

We also have YouTube. If something challenges you, with a little research, you can find videos that will describe how to overcome your questions in a matter of minutes. You can quite literally improve your playing by learning from the best of the best, all over the world. 

Piano lessons today are all about refinement. They’re about getting you the instruction you need, when you want it, in the format that works best for you. 

Today’s lessons include

Are piano lessons worth it? They are if you want to improvise. Luckily, you can find different lesson types in whatever manner works best for you. 

  • Individual instruction
  • Group format
  • Video lessons
  • In person classes

You can find instruction for free on sites like YouTube. Or you can receive master coaching from some of the best piano players in the world. 

Your first step is deciding now is the time to take up the piano, and make piano playing a bigger part of your life. 

Should I Refinish My Piano Myself?

Should I Refinish My Piano Myself?

Are you a do-it-yourselfer? Do you enjoy little projects around the home? 

The piano you brought home from your grandmother’s house may be the perfect thing to tinker with on the weekends. 

Or is it? 

If you’ve been asking, “should I refinish my piano myself,” we have a few thoughts to help you along. Restoring an old piano may seem like an easy thing to do. We have a few words of advice. 

Pianos are complex instruments with over 10,000 pieces in place. While you may see hardwood, keys, and pedals on the outside, inside is an intricate array of wires, bolts, wood, and other components all linked together to create an instrument. 

On the outside, you may notice dingy wood, dusty keys, and maybe a cabinet waiting for a new coat of paint or stain. That seems easy enough. 

But stripping it down takes a lot of work. It means stripping off all the lacquer finish, and sanding it down. Will the keys be protected while you do that? What about the strings?

To restore a piano the right way means taking every piece apart and ensuring its quality.

  • The action frame
  • The keyboard
  • Hammers
  • Soundboard
  • Dampers
  • Pins
  • Treble strings
  • Bass strings
  • Legs
  • Wheels

Do you wish to restore your piano to its original condition? That can involve hunting for the right parts, finding as close to the original as possible. 

Do you understand the nuances of ensuring the soundboard is installed correctly? Are the strings adequately tightened? Are the hammers properly adjusted? 

Most people don’t have the necessary skills to ensure every piece of the piano remains in good working condition. 

Should you refinish your piano yourself? Only you can decide. 

If you want to leave it to a professional, we can help you restore it to its original glory, and make it an instrument you’ll be proud to display for years to come. 

Piano or Technology? Which Offers Your Child More Benefits?

Piano or Technology? Which Offers Your Child More Benefits?

You don’t have to look very far to determine how we’re incorporating technology into children’s lives. From birth on, we focus on technology. Ever seen a child under one with a smartphone in hand? Whether they’re watching videos or listening to sounds, they’re already enthralled with these handheld devices. 

But is that for the best? There’s no denying our culture pushes STEM on kids from the time they can walk. But are they missing out on something greater? 

Can music still benefit humans? Is piano still a skill set that benefits a child’s life? Should you bring piano or technology into their daily activities? Are there enough reasons to bring both to life? 

Today’s kids will pick up digital skills; it’s required in the classroom. They get it whether you introduce it or not. 

But piano brings a lot of other benefits to a child’s life, all of which can help them for a lifetime.

Piano playing helps develop intellect

The mere act of learning music, understanding how notes come together to create sound, can help develop and improve a child’s IQ. They become better at focusing, which means they focus better at school and work activities. 

Piano playing improves listening

There’s a lot that goes into playing the piano: hand-eye coordination, music reading, and listening to name just a few. They also have to listen to the instructor and put new skills into play. If you teach piano early in life, it’s a skill that will help them for a lifetime. 

Piano playing provides stress relief

Unlike sports, piano is a skill that can last a lifetime. There’s something calming about sitting down at the keyboard and losing yourself in a song. You can’t do that kicking or throwing a ball in your seventies or eighties. Plus, there is significant evidence that music theory helps with memory as you age. 

Piano playing boosts self esteem

Whether they showcase their work individually, or join a band and create music together, this is one way children can express themselves creatively, and enjoy the process. It’s a great way to teach kids that if they set goals, they can accomplish anything. And hear the outcome after a little hard work. 

There’s no question technology will be a part of your child’s life. It’s the way of the world. 

Music offers additional benefits you can’t find in a computer keyboard. Whether they’re dreaming of starring in the next pop band, or you simply want to instill a lifelong love of music, piano may be the perfect way to achieve your goals. 

It Doesn’t Take Natural Talent To Be a Great Piano Player

It Doesn’t Take Natural Talent To Be a Great Piano Player

Too often, we associate creative hobbies and artistic endeavors to be associated with natural talent. You’ve either got it or you don’t. 

Child prodigies only make this belief even stronger. When children become known around the world for their talents before they are even in their teens, we ask ourselves: Should I even pursue my love of making music?

In short, yes. 

Sure, prodigies will always continue to amaze us. That’s the definition of being a prodigy. But that doesn’t mean you can’t pursue your love and do amazing things with it. You can play for enjoyment, or pursue it further and make it your career. There is more than enough room for everyone that chooses to bring music into their lives. 

You don’t need natural talent to be a great piano player. 

What you need is the mindset to become a great piano player. 

If you set your mind on becoming the best piano player you can be, you’ll have what it takes to put it in your life, for life, and do what it takes to get there. 

Do you think Warren Buffet had a knack for investing? Or Elon Musk had a talent for building better cars? Or the Beatles just knew how to create great songs?

Nope. How each and every one of them got there was with practice. And patience. And the ability to never give up. 

How much practice do you need to be great at playing the piano?

The answer is: Is there a time when you don’t have to practice to be at the top of your game?

The true leaders in every industry, every niche, understands that to be great, you have to work at it. Again and again. 

When you stop, you start losing your skill. You start seeing your talent fade. 

So the only question you need to ask now is: How great of a piano player do you want to be? 

Should I Let My Child Quit Piano Lessons?

Should I Let My Child Quit Piano Lessons?

Starting your child on piano lessons is often the easy part. You invest in a piano, you buy a few music books, you hire a piano teacher. 

But months or even years in, your child isn’t thriving. She doesn’t enjoy it, and it’s more of a chore than a fun activity. You’re tired of forcing the issue. Should you let your child quit piano lessons?

That’s a top many parents struggle with each year. After all, with dozens of activities to choose fro, and an increasingly rigorous school day, is piano worth it? 

Should you let your child quit piano lessons?

Here are a few things to consider as you’re making your decision. 

What is she really learning?

If you talk regularly with her piano teacher, has she noticed a change in behavior? Can they help to change what she’s learning? 

Many kids start out with specific goals in mind. Maybe they want to play the piano like their favorite musician. But when they get into the everyday learning that starts at the beginning, it can be boring and humdrum. 

Talk with the instructor. Would she benefit from changing to a different class? Maybe group lessons would get her excited again. Maybe switching out the songs that she’s playing. 

Especially at the beginning, it’s important to investigate different ways of accomplishing the goal. Is there a way to entice learning in a new way?

Evaluate goals

Sometimes kids get too busy, and they grow tired of having an overstuffed calendar. This may be time to sit down with her and discuss what’s really important. 

Some kids love music. They want to explore it from different angles. But because they are over-scheduled, they lose interest and grow weary. Find out what your child really loves and put other things aside. It may also be time to add other fun activities that surround her interests. 

If she truly does love music, how can you get her involved in other ways? Can she play the piano with a band? Or how about joining a local musical – it’s a great way to show off her talents. Kids often don’t know how they can use their skills. It’s up to you to give them options. 

Talent

This often has to do with self-doubt. If your child wants to quit because she thinks she doesn’t have talent, it might be time to consider what’s going on. Is she a perfectionist? Is she scared of playing in front of people? 

Most musicians aren’t born with talent. Talent comes from years of practice and determination. 

Talent can also be determined by goals. Do you want to be professional? Or do you just want to play music for your own enjoyment? Two different paths. 

For most, the concept of playing the piano is all about self enjoyment. And if you enjoy what you’re doing, what else matters? 

Can A Grand Piano Be Stored On Its Side?

Can A Grand Piano Be Stored On Its Side?

People invest in grand pianos for a variety of reasons. The sound and quality. The beauty of the instrument. For the way it looks in your home. 

You can’t walk into a room with a grand piano and not be aware of its presence. It commands attention. 

Yet for as much as you love your piano, there are times when you’ll have to move it. 

Maybe you’re having new flooring installed, are renovating your home. 

Or maybe you’re moving to a new home, but it will be weeks or months before your piano has a new home. Storing it is the only option. 

But storing a grand piano isn’t an easy task. If only you could prop it up on its side. It would take far less room. 

Can you store a grand piano on its side? 

Moving a piano

Grand pianos are one of the largest items you will ever bring into your home. The only way to get it into your home is to prop it up on its side – it’s the only way it will ever make it through a door. 

What’s more important than turning it onto its side is to ensure it’s safe during the process. 

  • Ensure nothing is inside that could damage the inner workings of the piano – pens, bobby pins, pencils, small toys. Anything that could damage the strings, soundboard, or other equipment. 
  • Protect all edges of the piano during movement. Use blankets and bubble wrap to ensure all edges are safe. 
  • Never roll a piano on rollers. Instead, make sure you have the appropriate workforce available to safely lift the piano throughout the moving process. 

Storing a piano

While it’s okay to move a grand piano on its side, storing it is another manner. When you tip a grand piano sideways, it puts pressure on the inner workings of the piano in a way that isn’t intended. For a short time – while moving it – your piano will adjust and be okay. But for an extended time period, it can start to cause damage. 

Your piano should be stored the right way, and that includes upright instead of on its side. It should also be placed in a temperature controlled space, rather than in a garage or storage unit without heat or air conditioning. It should also be covered to prevent a layer of dust.

And unless you have experience moving a piano, rely on the professionals instead. It’s one of the heaviest and bulkiest pieces inside your home. Despite its size, it’s also one of the most delicate. Leave it to the professionals to ensure your piano is ready to play when you move it back into place.