Piano is likely the most popular instrument for music students, especially for young beginners when choosing what musical direction to take first. That means a lot of parents will invest a great deal of money into buying an acoustic piano for their child to practice on and progress with, which is great in the long run and well worth the price.
However, many students, parents and teachers alike don’t realize how often a piano should be serviced. Once a year? Every time it’s moved? Many experts, including Ottawa-based Tuner-Technician Kazimier Samujlo, B. Mus., B. Ed., actually disagree with both answers. He recommends a piano be tuned at the change of every season. That means, in countries where the climate changes three or four times a year, your piano should be tuned each and every time.
Is it worth it, though?
The Piano Technician’s Guild (www.ptg.org) explains why it could be: Because your piano contains sensitive materials such as wood and felt, it’s affected easily by climatic conditions. Extreme swings in temperature can cause unrecoverable damage to the instrument. When the weather goes quickly from hot to cold, or dry to wet, the piano’s materials will warp and change, causing some parts to swell and contract. Ultimately, this can affect a piano’s tone, pitch, action response and touch.
On top of seasonal tunings, Samujlo goes one step further and often suggest his clients follow an all-around care routine for their beloved piano. “A regular maintenance program keeps your piano operating perfectly, makes the player happy and willing to practice more,” he explains on his website, http://www.manotickpianotuning.com.
Regular care involves the following practices to consider:
- Keeping your piano clean. Clean the keys by occasionally wiping them with a damp cloth and drying them immediately.
- Avoid cleaning with aerosol spray polishes that contain silicone.
- Maintain consistent temperature and humidity where your piano is placed. It’s important to keep your piano away from a heating register in winter, an air conditioning vent in the summer, a fireplace, a frequently opened window or outside door, and direct sunlight.
- Play your piano regularly. Tuning a piano after years of not having been played often requires more repair than just a standard tuning, such as a pitch raise. As a piano ages without being used, it may begin to develop more major problems — like rebuilding or reconditioning.
- Keep all food and drink away from the piano.
- Select your technician with care (Hiring a certified piano technician, like Samujlo, is your best assurance.)
- Never, ever, perform repairs yourself.
- When it comes time to move, use only a professional piano moving company to do the job.
On top of regular tuning, a certified and experienced piano technician will be able to help sort out a handful of problems that you may encounter with your piano. Services often include refurbishing, restringing, cleanings and appraisals to make sure your instrument looks, feels and sounds as good as new.
Kazimier Samujlo is based in Manotick, Ontario, and provides piano tuning and repair services in and around the Ottawa area. To get in touch with him, call 613-692-2701 or visit his website.