Holiday parties mean festive foods, gifts galore, and guests gathered 'round the piano singing carols. But whether tickling the ivories, or planning to give or receive a piano this season, it's still important to know how to maintain its appeal and the quality of its sound for years to come.
Jim Vogelman, President of JMV Classics, a Florida-based piano design company that specializes in creating unique, custom art case pianos, offers helpful tips on piano maintenance:
Maintaining one's piano may also help maintain one's well-being
Recent studies show that active participation in music learning can preserve a person's mental and physical health, so whether playing or listening to the piano during the holidays, one can expect to experience the joy of the instrument as well as the joy of the season.
Tuning: The amount of tuning depends on use and environment. We advise that a new or restrung piano may take up to four to six tunings during the first year, but in general, it's best to have it tuned at least twice a year. A good rule of thumb is to tune when the seasons change. If planning for a professional pianist at a holiday party, be sure the piano is well tuned and in good working order.
Polish: If the piano has been protected using a high gloss finish, dust with a soft, dry cloth, free of chemicals. Use a cloth dipped in mild dish soap and water to clean, but wring the cloth tightly and follow with a dry, soft cloth. For satin finish, dust with a soft, dry chemical-free cloth. Any high quality polish or lemon oil can be used as a wood preserving step, especially if holiday cheer might be spilled during the festivities. For the hand painted finish of an art case piano, we recommend employing a highly skilled, professional art cleaner, as these finishes can be as delicate and important as any fine work of art and as treasured as any museum quality piece.
The Keys: Keep keys dust free, but clean only when necessary, using a moist cloth, then immediately wipe dry. Never spray keys with a commercial cleaner--too much moisture may cause the wood to swell. This season, best to keep children's sticky fingers or hands heavy with hors d'oeuvres at bay!
Humidity: Humidity is perhaps the single most potentially destructive climate challenge for a piano. Damp chasers only work when the piano lid is closed. For areas where high humidity is a way of life, air conditioning or a dehumidifier in a closed space is always the best solution, especially if used on a regular basis. Once a month, open the piano lid for a few days while the A/C is running to allow for dry air circulation. In dry weather, open the lid and the windows, allowing fresh flowing air to circulate around the piano.
Maintaining one's piano may also help maintain one's well-being," Vogelman says. "Recent studies show that active participation in music learning can preserve a person's mental and physical health, so whether playing or listening to the piano during the holidays, one can expect to experience the joy of the instrument as well as the joy of the season."