instrument

Taking care of your piano is something that goes beyond lessons but teachers would do well to remind their students how to maintain their piano, keep it clean, in tune and in the best condition possible.

Before the actual playing, a piano beginner should learn a few basic needs for every pianist.

Teachers need to remind students that the place where you play your piano matters, that keeping it in tune is a must, dealing with rust, dust as well as knowing what things to avoid.

Here are a few tips on how to keep that piano in perfect condition for playing.

Piano Placement

This is something every pianist needs to consider, not just to play comfortably, but to avoid anything that may affect a piano in a negative way.

There are a few things that cannot be close to a piano:

  • Fireplaces
  • Radiators
  • Air vents
  • Heaters
  • Air conditioners
  • Gas Heaters
  • Stoves

Remember that a piano is mainly made up of metal and wood so it needs the right type of care to avoid the wood from swelling from humidity.

Swelling can cause the wood to press against the metal parts which is not good for the instrument.

If there is no way to avoid these issues, there is the possibility of having a humidity control system which regulates any changes in humidity with a built-in humidifier and dehumidifier, keeping the humidity level controlled.

Maintain Piano in Tune

The most common concern is, how often should I tune my piano? Well this depends on a few things but the general rule is a minimum of 2 times per year.

However this can change for a number of reasons, the first one was already mentioned and that is humidity and temperature.

A common misconception is that playing a piano frequently is what makes it go out of tune, but it’s not.

Still even if the piano is in perfect temperature conditions, it will most likely go out of tune as the strings stretch.

It’s really easy to know when it needs a tune, just noticing changes in the usual sound is enough, from buzzing and twanging, to changes in pitch or tone.

Another big reason for a piano to go out of tune is when it is moved from one place to another, which makes sense and happens to most string instruments.

Always keep your instruments in tune, otherwise you won’t be able to play it properly.

Also, the more time you let your piano be out of tune, the worse it’s going to get, and you need every key to play the note it’s supposed to

How to Maintain Your Piano Clean 

maintain

Of course part of the maintenance is to keep it clean by removing any rust, dust or anything that shouldn’t be there.

First of all, something that is very important to everyone these days is disinfecting, so how do you disinfect your piano keys?

Well according to steinway.com these are the right steps:

  • To disinfect your piano — the keys are the most important part. Over-the-counter hydrogen peroxide available from any pharmacy, is safe for piano keys.
  • Dampen a cotton pad with hydrogen peroxide and use the pad to wipe down the piano keytops (back to front) between players.
  • Use diluted alcohol-based disinfectants, do not use bleach-based disinfectants or any product containing citrus.
  • If using a spray or liquid bottle, use disposable pads or soft cloths. Put the disinfectant on the towel and not the piano.
  • Always follow up with a dry towel and never leave any liquids on the piano or keys.

Then comes the general cleaning part.

Voicing and Regulation

Regulation is approximately 37 adjustments per key of the pianos action mechanism to enable it to play as it should, this is without any noticeable change in sound quality.. 

This fixes many issues such as wear and tear to the action, excessive expansion and contraction of the wooden parts, loss of strength in the steel springs, normal felt compression, damage from moths or just general neglect.

Voicing on the other hand is an altering of the tone quality within each note throughout the piano by adjusting the tension of the hammer felt. 

That said, voicing is something that may give different results depending on the pianist’s preference, but it is a much needed part of piano maintenance nonetheless.

Things to Avoid!

Some of these above  warnings may be a little obvious but it doesn’t hurt to include the obvious, and there is no such thing as caring too much about your piano.

Once your piano is clean, in tune and ready to go.

Also, avoid this becoming lost in time, don’t forget your piano maintenance as well as teaching your students about it. 

With MTH you can easily get reminded about it as a calendar event, even if your week is full with lessons!

 

 

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If you ever wondered how music was made around 10,000 years ago, now we have some answers thanks to archaeological research.

It’s important to have in mind that music or sounds for that matter, have changed in terms of its use, meaning that melodies and musical creations haven’t always been for entertainment or as something we have in our daily lives in order to help us keep going. Before CDs, mass media and musical institutions as they are known today, there were other uses for music, but just as it is today, music has always been a very human thing.

10,000 years ago in southern Africa, there were artefacts that can be easily considered some of the first musical instruments in the world, some resambling flutes, bells and even pianos.

There were two types of instruments found.

Aerophones

Aeorophones are musical instruments that produce their sound by air, this is, making the instrument vibrate making its way into sound.

Bone Tube

These instruments were made with bird bone and were very similar to flutes, but couldn’t be used to play several tones, just one.

Clay Whistle

A clay whistle is as simple as it gets when it comes to musical instruments, and it eventually evolved into clay ocarinas which had a bit more flexibility in terms of sounds.

Ivory Trumpets

An ivory trumpet was mostly made with elephant teeth, which then were carved, hollowed, perforated and polished.

The first of its kind was discovered more than 100 years ago:

This trumpet was collected in the Southern Sudan by John Petherick in 1858’ ; an account of his travels in that year is given in his 1861 volume, Egypt, The Sudan and Central Africa, when his expedition passed through Bongo, Shilluk, Nuer, Raik Dinka, Mundo and Zande territory. Petherick’s collection was shipped back to England in 1859. It was subsequently acquired by Pitt Rivers, perhaps via auction as Petherick is known to have sold some of his collection through Mr Bullock of High Holborn, London, on 27th June 1862

Idiophones

Idiophones also produce sound by vibrations like most instruments, however the vibrations isn’t produced by air, it is however produced by direct physical contact. These include concussion, friction, percussion, pluced, scraped, shkan stamping and shaked.

Thumb Piano

This is an instrument that works mostly like a piano and it’s considered a percussion instrument.

This instrument eventually became te Mbira which is made of a row of metal strips, used as key, attached to an open-ended wooden gourd or hollow resonator.

According to australian.museum:

Mbira was used in ceremonial functions such as weddings, funerals, and in honour of significant people, as well as for religious purposes, to call on spirits and seek their advice. When calling on spiritual ancestors, the tribe would perform a religious ceremony which involved continuous singing, dancing, and playing music until the spirits appeared. The ritual would temporarily stop in the presence of the spirit, and begin again once it departed. Thus it was necessary for the mbira to produce a sound that would ‘project into the heavens’ and attract the spirits to earth.

Musical Bells

These are just bells, as simple as that, but, the interesting part is to see that they were used at that time.

According to an article from theconversation.com:

Musical instruments are seldom found in the archaeological record and are not easily identifiable, so there is a lot of debate among researchers when it comes to identifying these instruments from the archaeological record. Some instruments may not have been musical instruments per se but rather sound-producing implements that were used to convey certain messages or used for ritual purposes.

 

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From the very beginning of music lessons, the voice is our first go to, tool to learn about notes harmonies and scales. This is an essential part of reading music and training your musical ear. However, the voice as an instrument is also the cause of many insecurities, such as not liking how it sounds, not having a wide range or just not feeling comfortable with others listening. The first step in order to overcome this, is to understand why it’s so important to control this natural instrument, what is vocal range and learning how to find your own voice through trial and error.

Why Sing?

There are two answers to this question, with the first one being the obvious one, which is that you want to be a singer. However if you are interested in playing instruments and don’t want to focus too much on singing, it’s still an useful instrument to have when getting involved with music. First of all, it’s the instrument you’ll always carry with you, to master this natural instrument is to carry melodies with you at all times. Secondly, singing is often an integral part of music education. Teachers involve students very easily by making them sing certain melodies or read sheets, not only does this improve the dynamic of the class itself, but it helps to develop a musical ear, remember musical structure of music writing, and reading.

Vocal Range

The vocal range determines roughly your range as a singer based on your lower note and your higher note,according to The New Harvard Dictionary of Music these vocal ranges classifications are:

soprano: C4 to A5
mezzo-soprano: A3 to F#5
alto: G3 to E5 (and contralto as F3-D5)
tenor: roughly C3 to A4
baritone: A2 to F4
bass: F2 to E4

The soprano and tenor are considered to be high voice, baritone and mezzo-soprano mid voice and alto and bass low voice.

This of course is not permanent, the vocal range can expand with practice and time, it can also be smaller if for example the vocal chords suffer some kind of strain, damage or not enough practice.

In order to know your vocal range, it’s as easy as playing notes to see how far can you go, and then find where you stand, this can help you know where you feel comfortable singing and what you want to improve. It also helps to know your vocal range so that you can look for singers with a similar tone to practice.

Finding your Voice

It happens many times to students that they want their voice to sound in a particular way, and they get frustrated because the only thing they find is something different than what they want, and something different than their usual speaking voice. This is important due to the fact that our singing voice is different than the regular speaking voice, because of this, some effort has to be put in order to find this new singing voice, and this requires patience.

Knowing your vocal range and listening popular singers will definitely help, however the best way is always to practice and record yourself, you may not like what you hear, but like any other instrument, you need to tune your vocal chords, and learn how to use them.

Even if you’re not very interested in being a professional singer, there is a chance that, while trying and learning the basics, you find a comfortable way to sing and you may discover an unknown talent, so long as don’t strain your voice, experiment with different techniques and get to know your voice.

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