When it comes to taking care of my piano, I am very deliberate and intentional about that.
Which is why I get really angry when I see most people using the piano lids to cover their piano keys.
When you invest in a new musical instrument, you want to ensure that you take care of it in the best possible way.
And an expensive piano is one instrument that you can actually mess up the sound if simple maintenance rules are not followed.
One question I keep getting all the time is Should piano keys be covered?
And the answers is NO – using the piano lid to cover your piano keys is actually bad for the piano
One thing you should know is that the keys need to breathe and keeping them closed with the lid is not good for them and can cause the growth of mold and humidity
Humidity and molds usually affect the wooden structure of the piano and if care is not taken can also affect the sound of the piano.
One thing you can do for yourself is to use piano covers that are made from proper materials and designed to protect and keep your piano from suffocating
Many piano covers you can get today come in a range of luxurious velvet and besides the functional benefits also look really beautiful.
Why you need a dust cover on your piano
Dust is actually a huge enemy of digital pianos and generally digital equipments overall
But digital pianos are susceptible for two reasons
It has electronic components that do not do well with getting dried out or caked with dust and can over time cause corrosion on those components
Dust actually causes the mechanics and the key action to get clogged up over time.
Think about how thick dust can collect on surfaces and the ground in your homes or offices, then you can imagine how that will feel like in between the keys of your piano.
This will cause the mechanics of your keyboard to become less fluid and sticky and not work as good as you want
The solution to all these problems is using a dust cover
This is especially important if you are using an acoustic piano or slab pianos which do not come with any covers.
Dust covers come in a variety of shapes and sizes
There are the ones that are a little bit longer so they drape down over the instrument or the ones that are only 3 or 4 inches in height that only cover the height of the instrument itself.
You can get generic dust covers and in some cases manufacturers also make dust covers themselves to fit the shape and size of your piano
But the easiest way to deal with this is to simply take the measurements of your piano keys and then get a generic one which is just slightly larger than the dimensions of the piano that you have.
In my opinion, I will highly recommend that you do this if you have the digital piano that is of the slab nature
Do this even if you are not moving it around and even if the room you have it placed in is not a particularly dusty one.
One thing you can count on is that over the course of many years, the accumulation of dust will definitely shock you and will work it’s way between your keys and cause issues with the electronics or the fluidity of the mechanical action.
So here is my one tip, if you own such a piano or even if your piano does not come with it’s own dust cover.
Ensure that you get one to help keep your piano working smoothly for a long time
How To Lengthen The Life of Your Piano
Now we have determined that you need dust covers to ensure that your piano does not pack up on you.
Here are some other tips to keeping your piano running smoothly and perfectly for a very long time.
1. Leave the key lid open on your piano
Keeping your piano closed when not in use is a good habit to have … 70 percent of the time. Dust and air particles can build up into a sticky mess between piano keys, causing mobility issues.
However, if the lid remains closed for too long, mold growth can occur inside the piano. This is especially true if your piano is kept in a dark or humid room.
Keep the keylid up a couple times each week during daylight hours. Indirect sunlight and proper air circulation will discourage mold growth inside your piano.
If you have a keyboard, invest in a properly fitted cover. Mold is generally not an issue here.
A gentle once-over with a vacuum cleaner attachment can help fight off dust buildup.
2. No drinks or liquids at the piano
Do I really need to stress this point?
Fluids and liquids are a big NO around digital instruments such as pianos
If liquid spills and seeps into the piano keys and reaches the interior then it might cause a major fault.
Also it can mess with the piano’s exterior and finishing
Make sure you use a dry cloth and wipe up excess liquids from the keys surface.
Also ensure that you do not press the keys while doing this
If the amount of liquid spilled is too much, then contact a professional technician as soon as possible.
If it is an electric piano, make sure you unplug from the power immediately.
Do not attempt to shake the keys dry as this might push the liquid farther into the components and cause more harm than good.
3. Ensure the humidity is at an ideal level
Pianos are very sensitive to fluctuations in humidity levels.
High humidity will cause the wood to warp and low humidity will cause cracking in the wood.
So what do you do?
Try to keep the humidity at a balanced level
Monitor your indoor humidity levels, and regulate them with a humidifier or dehumidifier. 40% humidity is ideal.
Keep the piano away from heater vents and windows, and close the door of your piano room if it is near a kitchen or bathroom.
Close any windows in your piano room to prevent condensation. This is especially important for your electricpiano.
4. Regulate the temperature around your piano
Like humidity, temperature is another enemy of your piano
Cold climate can weaken certain parts of the piano and if you continue using it during these conditions, the parts might snap and break
High temperature also can affect the strings and can loosen the felt on the hammers.
In my opinion, the ideal room temperature should be between 20 – 22 degrees centigrade
Here are some tips to ensure that you regulate the temperature
Make sure your piano is not close to any exterior walls. It should be at least 2 feets away from the walls.
Regulate the room temperature with an air conditioner or a heater
Make sure all doors and windows are closed and never allow direct sunlight to fall on the piano. This can damage the interior and also cause discolouration or cracking of the piano’s finish.
Piano keys should not be covered as this can cause the growth of mold and humidity issues on the keys.
What you want to do is to ensure that you regulate the temperature and the humidity
This will ensure that your piano lasts for a long time and the keys do not get clogged up with dust.
For ages, it is a norm to place your piano on an inner wall.
However, only a few people know that there are specific logical reasons behind this trend.
In an upright piano, the majority of sound comes from the backside of the instrument. The soundboard is open and exposed from its back. So, being against an inner wall ensures that the sound reflects.
Inner walls usually keep your upright pianos away from air vents, windows, doors, and direct sunlight. This way, your instrument, a machine, stays away from everything that could damage it or reduce its lifespan, i.e., humidity, temperature fluctuations, and direct exposure to the sun.
Can You Place A Piano On An Outside Wall?
It is not common to find pianos on an outside wall.
An outer wall is generally the warmest area of your house because it is the closest, most exposed to the sun.
It means that if you place your instrument, made of wood and metal, next to this wall, you’re putting it in a danger zone.
Not only will your piano be exposed to the sun, but it will also face significant temperature changes throughout the day.
As a result, here are a few side effects that you might notice if you place your piano on an outside wall:
The primary reason why inner walls are preferred is keeping the piano away from the outside environment and changing temperatures.
However, if you can ensure the same safety on an exterior wall, you are more than welcome to place it there.
Besides, an outer wall is better than no wall.
How Far Can A Piano Be From A Wall?
Placing your piano on an inside or outside wall doesn’t mean that it should be completely attached to it.
There are several reasons why there should be some distance between your piano and the wall.
One: If there is some leakage in the wall and rainwater leaks inside, it won’t trickle down to directly contact your instrument.
Two: any sudden temperature changes on the outside will not directly or quickly affect your piano.
On average, you want to keep a distance of at least 3 inches between the wall and your piano.
Tip: When you are about to place your piano next to a wall, feel the wall with your hands, and if it feels significantly cold, don’t put your instrument there. If it feels warm or near room temperature, go ahead.
Can You Place A Piano Near A Window?
Absolutely not! Windows are a direct opening for sunshine, wind, humidity.
You want none of these things coming anywhere near your piano.
When it rains, snows, or it’s generally humid outside, the moisture enters the room and contacts your piano directly.
Since the exterior is wooden, humidity stimulates wood to swell up, changing the shape of the material and the pitch your piano produces.
Similarly, direct sun exposure and changing temperatures can, directly and indirectly, affect the instrument’s wood and metal.
As a result, you will notice all the side effects we discussed above.
Even if the window is shut, it is still glass.
It allows sunshine and fluctuating temperatures to impact the room.
So, there is no way you can make it work by placing your piano next to a window.
Can You Place A Piano In The Basement?
The good thing about basements is that there is not much of a temperature problem, and it doesn’t have direct sunlight incoming either.
Thus, the temperatures remain somewhat stable and safe for your piano.
However, basements can be too humid sometimes.
If not high, the moisture levels are very unstable and significantly impact the instrument from the outside and the inside.
As mentioned earlier, the wood swells up, the strings change their tension, and the tones start to change.
Furthermore, continuous exposure to moisture can also ruin your instrument’s finish and slowly destroy the wood.
Moreover, if the humidity gets to the metal elements, they are prone to rust as well.
Overall, the lifespan of your piano will decrease dramatically.
Pianos are a key and integral part of an orchestra.
They are one of the main instruments that is needed when setting up an orchestra and if you look at an orchestra layout, which I will be discussing about below in this article, you will notice that there is a designated space for pianos and keyboards in an orchestra.
The most common type of piano used in orchestras is the grand piano which is an instrument that stands on 3 legs
It has a row of 88 black and white keys and comes with an extreme wide range of playing possibilities because of it’s seven octaves.
With it’s many possibilities, the piano is simply like an orchestra within an orchestra
What this means is that, using the piano or the grand piano in this case you can easily simulate the sounds of different instruments
And when you look at this critically, you discover that it has the makings of a full blown orchestra
The keyboard instruments that have been used with orchestra are the harpsichord, organ and piano.
Each instrument is vastly different from the other, but they are all related as keyboard mediums.
Within the orchestra they take on different roles than their solo function, some cases have them interchangeable with one another for the same purpose.
Now for this question, we are going to be grouping the piano as a percussion instrument.
Now I know there is a major debate on whether this is true or not but bear with me here and just go with the flow.
So as to what section the piano is in an orchestra, I will say it is in the percussion instruments section.
The percussion section usually has the highest members in an orchestra.
Percussion instruments basically are any instrument that makes a sound when it is hit, struck or pressed down.
And this is where you have the most dedicated set of musicians because learning to play a percussion instrument is really difficult and not many people go through with it.
Some percussion instruments are tuned and can sound different notes, like the xylophone, timpani or piano, and some are untuned with no definite pitch, like the bass drum, cymbals or castanets.
Percussion instruments keep the rhythm, make special sounds and add excitement and color. Unlike most of the other players in the orchestra, a percussionist will usually play many different instruments in one piece of music.
The most common percussion instruments in the orchestra include the timpani, xylophone, cymbals, triangle, snare drum, bass drum, tambourine, maracas, gongs, chimes, celesta, and piano.
How many Pianos are there in an Orchestra?
While trying to come up with a specific answer for this question, here is what I found out – it really depends on the composer and the kind of sound they want to achieve.
Generally a modern full scale symphony consists of approximately one hundred permanent musicians, most often distributed as follows: 16–18 1st violins, 16 2nd violins, 12 violas, 12 cellos, 8 double basses, 4 flutes (one with piccolo as a specialty), 4 oboes (one with English horn as a specialty), 4 clarinets (one with bass clarinet as a specialty, another specializing in high clarinets), 4 bassoons (one with double bassoon as a specialty).
Furthermore 5–8 horns, 4 trumpets, 4 trombones (one with bass trombone as a specialty), 1 tuba, 1 kettledrum player, 3–4 percussionists (of whom at least one must also play kettledrum), 1–2 harps and a keyboard player (piano, celesta, harpsichord, etc.).
What this means is that a percussionist (in this case a pianist) is needed in just one place – meaning only one piano is needed.
But I have seen cases where there were as much as 4 to 5 pianos in the orchestra and the harmony was simply beautiful
So like I said earlier, it totally depends on the composer and what they want to achieve.
As a composer, you can go for as many pianos as you want as long as you get the right kind of music that you desire.
What Instruments are not used in an Orchestra?
While we have seen that the piano is a key instrument in an orchestra, there are other instruments that are not used as much.
Here they are
Harp – This is one instrument that is rarely used in an orchestra. This is because it is considered as being awkward and a bit difficult to master.
Saxophone – The saxophone is quite popular and widely used in several music genres; particularly jazz. However, very rarely will you hear it or see it used for a classical composition. It wasn’t until recently that some composers began to add the sax in some of their works.
Wagner Tuba –Not to be confused by the Tuba, the Wagner Tuba is a totally different instrument. The instrument was created at the behest of the famous German composer Richard Wagner. The Wagner tuba combines both the trombone and French horn tonal elements. Although called a tuba, it is considered sort of a horn by many. Even though you may not hear it or see it used too often, it is still used as an alternate doubling instrument.
Alto Flute – From the woodwind family, the alto flute is a type of Western concert flute. It gives out a mellow, distinct and deeper tone like the Piccolo. One way to think of the alto flute is that it’s much longer than the traditional flute. Throughout history, there have been many famous composers who used the alto flute in some of their works.
The Organ – while this is one of the oldest wind instruments known today, it is rarely being used in orchestras these days. This is because the modern day pipe organs and it’s likes are much more sophisticated and have a wide range of uses. Still when it is used, the organ provides really impressive and beautiful music.
Pianos are used in an orchestra because they provide harmony to the presentation.
They can also be used as a solo instrument to play the melody or harmony.