Apple Valley Guitar and Piano Academy
Essential Piano Accessories
1. An Adjustable Bench
As children grow in height, the non-adjustable bench provided with many piano/keyboards may be too low or too high. This can make playing the instrument unnecessarily difficult, and may negatively affect technical development in the most crucial early stage of study.
Therefore, an adjustable bench is highly recommended.
In addition, try to find one that adjusts up to 24 inches or more. This allows the smallest children to sit high enough to keep their elbows level with the tops of the keys--the standard recommendation in most piano methods.
2. Pedal Box/Riser
Until a child grows to approximately 5 feet in height, and depending on the length of their legs, they will not be able to reach the pedals of the piano/keyboard while sitting in a normal and proper position on the bench. In addition, their legs will dangle above the floor, destabilizing their bench position and making playing the instrument more difficult.
The solution to both these problems is a pedal box/riser. It's essentially a height-adjustable footstool with higher pedals that activate the lower ones on the piano/keyboard.
After the first year of lessons, when DAMPER pedaling will be commonplace, lack of this accessory for younger children is MASSIVELY DETRIMENTAL to their advancement in piano study. In particular, they adopt a posture where their legs and torso are in a straight line, thereby pulling their arms away from the keyboard. We can't imagine a better way to ruin a piano student's prospects for success than doing this on a regular basis.
IMPORTANT NOTE TO PARENTS: In light of the above, we will not teach music requiring the damper pedal to shorter students without a pedal box/riser at home.
This device is essential to keep a steady beat, and to calculate basic rhythms. Our recommendation, which we use, is the Korg TM-50. (This unit includes a tuner, which you can use to determine when your piano has gone significantly flat or sharp and needs to be tuned.)
4. Humidity Control (For Acoustic Pianos)
In Minnesota, humidity within a home can fluctuate from around 20% to 80% throughout the year. Specifically, it can rise or fall by 10% or more in a very short timeframe, which causes two major problems for acoustic pianos:
1. The soundboard (a large harp-shaped sheet of wood in a grand, and a rectangle in a vertical) absorbs or loses moisture accordingly. As a result, it rises and falls well unequally altering the tension on the strings. This throws the piano out of tune in matter of days.
In particular, most "notes" or keys on the piano are linked to two or three strings. These are tuned exactly alike as unisons. They usually go out of tune first, and can sound twangy, metallic, or even buzzy. (Think "Old West" piano sound.)
2. The wooden parts of the piano that allow the hammers to strike the strings (called the action) also gain or lose moisture. As a result, they swell or shrink continually throughout the year. Eventually, the action will not work properly and will need expensive repairs.
Note: The minimum fee for a piano technician to come to your home a fix a single key is now around $100.
Therefore, it is essential that you consult with your piano technician or the dealer for advice on how to maintain safe humidity levels for your acoustic piano. In Minnesota, this will involve both humidification and dehumidification functions.
Generally, we do not recommend that you devise your own system, as maintaining steady humidity levels in this case is very difficult. As a result, the piano will still get too wet or dry--the problem one is trying to eliminate in the first place.
WARNING: Never use a wet or visible mist humidifier to humidify an acoustic piano, which will cause considerable and perhaps irreversible damage to the instrument.
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