Monday, March 7, 2011


Why should I tune my piano?

One of the skills that a piano student should learn is called 'Ear Training'.  A good piano student can hear when the note is on pitch.  A piano student can also hear when the correct note or the wrong note is played.  A good ear helps a piano student to play better and sing better.

A student who plays on a piano that is out of tune gets used to hearing notes that are off pitch.  The student can't hear the small differences in pitch and misses the advantages that a good ear could provide in helping them play. Students who play on a poorly tuned piano are more likely to sing off pitch.

How did my piano get out of tune? 

Pianos maintain a better pitch than most stringed instruments but that does not mean that a piano always stays in tune. There are many things that can cause a piano to go out of tune.  Temperature changes, humidity changes, moving a piano and the pounding of hammers on strings can cause a change in the pitch of a piano.  It is said that technically most pianos loose their perfect pitch 24 hours after they are tuned. . 

How often should I tune my piano? 

A piano should usually be tuned twice a year. A good rule of thumb is to tune your piano two weeks after you turn on your furnace in the fall and tune it again two weeks after you turn your furnace off in the spring.  The piano needs two weeks to adjust to the change in temperature before it is tuned.

New pianos should be tuned more often during the first year. Plan to tune your new piano four times during the first year.  Performance pianos are tuned before each performance.  Pianos in recording studios are often tuned several times a week.

Who should tune my piano?

It is important to find a piano tuner who will tune your piano correctly.  A piano tuner who does not know what he is doing can ruin your piano.  Look for a piano tuner who is Registered Piano Technician and a member of the Piano Techncians Guild.  See their web site at:   Registered Piano Technicians are required to pass a series of tests.   

What does it mean to have my piano 'regulated'? 

Having a piano regulated means to have the piano technician check the working, moving parts of the piano to make sure that the piano works correctly.  Regulation helps to prevent or fix strange noises, broken pedals, sticking keys and many other problems.  A piano should be regulated at least once a year. 

What does it mean to have my piano 'voiced'?

The more a piano is played, the more the felt on the hammers becomes worn and hardened.  This affects the 'voice' or sound of the piano.  A technician can work on the hammers to keep them from compacting.  This will help to maintain the original sound of the piano. Voicing should not be done until a piano has been tuned and regulated.  A piano should be voiced about once a year. 


"Hope you don't think this is Billy Joel unplugged.  I'm a piano player.  I am already unplugged." - Billy Joel

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


As a piano teacher, I am often asked, “Should I MAKE my child take piano lessons?”

I like to answer the rest of the question with a story about my daughter, Elizabeth.


Elizabeth did not like sports. Elizabeth did not seem to have a natural inclination for sports. I could not convince her to sign up for any sport. I asked myself, “Should I MAKE Elizabeth sign up for something?”

I finally decided that I wanted Elizabeth to know how to play a sport with a team. I recognized that Elizabeth might not be a good candidate for an upper level, competition team. So I signed her up for a neighborhood soccer program. I decided that I would MAKE her do it because this was a life skill that would help her.

Elizabeth was angry and upset. She cried and screamed to convince me that I should not MAKE her take soccer if she did not want to. I explained that she could quit when she had mastered the basics. I had to literally drag her to soccer practices and I bribed her with pizza to get her to kick the ball through the goal.

Eventually Elizabeth found that she liked playing defense and she was pretty good at it. Elizabeth played soccer for quite a few years. She learned the basics, continued to play on the neighborhood team and eventually quit. She never loved sports with a passion but she did find that her experience with soccer was basically a positive life experience.


I MAKE all my children take piano lessons. Some of them did not like it. Some of them did not have a natural inclination for music. I had difficulty convincing each of them to sign up.

I finally decided that I wanted each of them to have a basic knowledge of music and the piano. I recognized that most, if not all, of my children would not be concert pianists. So I signed them up with neighborhood piano teachers. I decided that I would MAKE them do it because piano playing is a life skill that would help each child.

Many of my children were angry and upset. They cried and screamed to convince me that I should not MAKE them take piano lessons if they did not want to. I explained that they could quit when they mastered the basics. I literally had to drag my children to piano lessons and I bribed them with their driver’s licenses.

Eventually each child found that they liked piano. Each child found that they could be pretty good at it. Each child has now played for years. Some are better than others but each learned the basics before they quit. Some of them do not love the piano with a passion but each found that learning to play the piano was basically a positive life experience.


In reality, anyone could survive and be successful in life even if they never learned to play soccer or piano. But I want something more for my piano students and my children.

William Jennings Bryan once said: “The way to develop self-confidence is to do the thing you fear and get a record of successful experiences behind you.” This is the reason to MAKE your children take piano lessons. So that they can add to their collection of successful experiences and be greater than they would have been otherwise.

So should you MAKE your child take piano lessons? YES!

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