Why Should I Tune My Piano?

Painting by Diana Ballard  (watercolor)

Painting by Diana Ballard (watercolor)

As a piano teacher, one of my most difficult and delicate tasks is to help (you!) my students understand why your piano should be tuned.  For me, tuning is an obvious necessity.  Out-of-tune notes are like fingernails on chalkboard for me, and I can’t possibly imagine that the true beauty of music can be enjoyed when a piano is screaming wrong notes.  If you are put off by the cost or just don’t think your piano needs to be tuned, read on.  You may become be compelled at the following five reasons to tune your piano!

Why You Should Tune Your Piano

1.  Your Kid is Learning the Wrong Stuff

When you play and “A” and it doesn’t sound like an “A”, that’s a really bad thing.  Imagine that your grew up being told that the color yellow was named purple.  Essentially, the same thing happens when your piano creates the wrong notes. It "tells" you bogus info.  I like what my piano tuner says: “You don’t give a kid a deflated basketball and expect him to get good at basketball.  So why would you give a kid an out-of-tune piano and then ask him to get good at piano?” 

2.  Piano Becomes More Fun

This one is a “no duh.”  Music is more fun to play when it sounds correct.  In my years of teaching I have seen many students go from apathetically playing the piano to enthusiastically loving the piano, essentially overnight....thanks to a simple piano-tuning.

3.  You Are A Frog in Boiling Water

Drop a frog in boiling water and it will jump out right away.  But it you put a frog in cool water and then slowly bring it to a boil, the frog will never notice.  Unless you are a musician or have very sensitive ears, you might not know if your piano is out of tune.  Sure, it started out great, but over time it slowly slipped out of tune. The day-to-day changes were so minuscule that they remained unnoticed.  Don’t wait to notice the cranky notes--be proactive and call your piano tech.  Not sure if your piano needs tuning?  Chances are, if it hasn’t been tuned in the last 12 months it needs a little lovin’.

4.  Return on Investment

Practicing on an out-of-tune piano means you aren’t getting your money’s worth from piano lessons.  Sour piano notes mean your child isn’t loving piano as much as he should, and isn’t progressing as fast as he could.

5.  Your Piano Is Like a Car

Your piano can be likened unto a car in that it needs regular tune-ups to stay in shape.  Allowing your piano to go untuned for too long could require special tuning techniques called “pitch raises".  Pitch raises can be expensive, requiring several visits by the tuner or very long tuning sessions that add to the normal cost of tuning.  

Not sure how often your piano should be tuned? Check out this helpful article: How Often Should I Tune My Piano?

~Adam Bendorf

Adam Bendorf and his wife, Anna, are private piano teachers.  They also are the founders of Alberti Publishing, a digital sheet music company for piano teachers.