Apple Valley Guitar and Piano Academy
The Importance of Our Lesson Studio Piano and it's Maintenance
(How We "Baby" Our Baby Grand)
During lessons, piano students are shown how to produce subtle changes in duration (time), volume, and tone, added coloration with the "sustain" pedal, and a beautiful overall sound. These factors represent the all-important artistic aspect of piano playing, which make the difference between exciting, moving performances and those that are bland and unengaging.
To illustrate these artistic tactics, a quality, well-maintained lesson studio piano is a critical factor.
This is especially important when a piano receives heavy use by numerous students every week, which causes it to go out of tune. Eventually, this usage will negatively affect the piano's tone quality and the alignment of the hammer movement mechanism. Below is a listing of regular maintenance our piano receives to offset these problems.
Tuning involves setting the pitches of the strings for each key so they are accurate. These adjustments are made with a tuning hammer that turns the string pins embedded in the piano's wooden pin block.
A student who hears accurate pitches in their lessons learns what in-tune music sounds like, allowing them to develop critical, refined hearing skills that are the foundation of musical performance.
An in-tune piano also sounds remarkably better than one that is out-of-tune. In particular, a student can't play their best, concentrate fully on technique, or develop expressive abilities when they are distracted or annoyed by the sound of a piano that is not properly tuned.
For this reason, we have our grand piano tuned in full at least three times per year.
In addition, about once a month, we have a technician tune the unisons. Unisons are multiple strings for a particular key that must sound exactly alike in terms of pitch.
For example, middle C has a "center string" that the technician initially adjusts when setting the temperament of the piano in a full tuning. In addition, there are two outer, unison strings for middle C that must sound the same as the center one. Unfortunately, the outer strings easily drift slightly out of tune, producing a twangy or jangling tone.
Voicing involves softening the felt material of the hammers that strike the keys, so the piano's tone is rich, full and warm.
In contrast, when a lesson studio piano is played by dozens of students week-after-week, year-after-year, the hammer felts become hardened from continually striking the strings. As a result, the tone of the piano can be harsh and metallic. This is especially true in the range of keys from C3 (one octave below middle C4) to G5, which is used heavily in student music.
To eliminate this problem, a technician who preps pianos for concert artist recitals "voices" our lesson studio piano as needed.
Voicing is especially helpful when a few keys in every octave are too loud compared to the others. Without voicing, the student will have to lessen their finger pressure for the overly loud notes, leading to an uneven touch that won't work on a properly voiced piano.
The action of a piano is elaborate mechanism for moving hammers against strings in response to key movement. It also includes key dampers, which stop the sound of a key's strings when the key is released, and the "sustain" pedal that lifts the dampers for all the keys at once.
The action is the link between the the artistic mind of the pianist, the fingers that respond to its dictates, and the sound the instrument ultimately produces. Therefore, we have the action of our lesson studio piano adjusted for the best possible responsiveness given the instrument's underlying construction.
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