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J' Lighting: Until you’re in a dark, smoke-filled bar, in front of hundreds of adoring fans, always play with good lighting. Not only is it easier to see the non-colorful black and white keys, but reading music is next to impossible in the dark. You can set a lamp on or near your keyboard, but 1 don’t advise the clip-on kind — they can damage the keyboard’s finish.
J' Neighbors: Consider how the location of your piano or keyboard might impact your relationship with your neighbors. For example, don’t put your keyboard in the room right over your downstairs neighbor’s bedroom. All those late-night practice sessions will soon be history.
Making It Shine
Keep your baby clean. You don’t need to give the instrument a Saturday night bath every week, but make sure to keep your keyboard free of dust and dirt as much as possible.
And don’t be afraid to be mean about keeping your instrument clean — insist that no one (not even you) eats or drinks around your keyboard. A spilled drink in the back seat of your car is one thing; a spilled drink on your keyboard can be fatal (for the keyboard, that is). And do you really want to clean out old cracker crumbs from between the keys once a month?
Chapter 17: Raising Your Keyboard
In addition to keeping food and drink away from your keyboard, don’t allow dust to build up on your instrument. Dust buildup in electric keyboards may eventually short out the circuitry or cause the keys or buttons to stick. Either of these results is bad news. Dust buildup in acoustic pianos is not as critical, but constant sneezing can be a drawback while playing.
The two most important cleaning tools to have near your instrument are a feather duster and a small, medium-bristle paint brush. Yes, you read that correctly. Use the feather duster for an overall dusting, followed by a “get in all the grooves and between the keys” detailing with the paintbrush at least once a month. Simply press down each key and clean both sides before moving to the next one. If you’re in a hurry, just jam the brush in between the keys and give it a better, more thorough cleaning later.
Be careful what cleaning solvents you use on your keyboard’s finish. For most keyboards (electric or acoustic), I recommend a cloth that is slightly damp with plain soap and water. Don’t be embarrassed to ask the dealer what cleaning products are advised and exactly how to use them. The finish on many grand pianos can be ruined by normal furniture polish.
When using a liquid solution on the finish, whether soap and water or window cleaner (sometimes recommended, but ask first!), use an old T-shirt or newspaper instead of a paper towel. Newspaper won’t leave those little white fuzzballs as you clean. Get enough of those fuzzballs and you may as well not have dusted!
Don’t spray liquid cleaners directly on your instrument. Spray first onto your newspaper or cloth and then wipe the instrument. Continue again and again until the instrument is clean.
Secret revealed: Special Piano Cleaner
Your dealer may suggest you buy a "special cleaner” packaged in a very handy and attractive bottle. Having just written a very large check, you jump at the chance to protect your investment, never mind the added cost.
You get home and decipher the scientific ingredient names on the label, only to discover that you just purchased some expensive soap and water. Save your money; make your own using the following tools:
An empty spray bottle I A marker i1 Liquid soap J1 Water
Rinse out the spray bottle until it's free of residue from any previous products Use your marker to write "Special Piano Cleaner" or "Baby Shampoo" on the outside. Add four or five squirts of soap to the bottle. Fill the plastic bottle with clean water. Shake well.
262 Part VI: So Many Toys, So Little Time___________.
Catting Or. Help for a Check-up
Playing the keyboard is one thing. Knowing how to repair and maintain one is another. You should leave such matters to a qualified professional, a person I like to call Dr. Help. You have enough to worry about with playing, reading music, and touring around the world.
This section gives you tips on hiring piano tuners, piano technicians, keyboard technical support people, and others who can help you maintain and prolong your instrument’s life.
Tuning acoustic keyboards
Okay, so your friend can tune his own guitar, as can your friends with violins, clarinets, and kazoos. But keep in mind how much larger your piano is, how many parts are inside, and how much more you probably paid for it. Swallow your pride, pick up the phone, and call a piano technician when it’s time to tune your piano.
Piano technicians are skilled professionals with years of education and experience. And this kind of doctor still makes house calls. It may look like they’re just playing separate keys and tightening screws, but you won’t even know where to begin if you try to do it yourself.
Don’t think that you’ll suddenly hear your piano go out of tune one day. Loss of intonation is a gradual process that takes place over a long period of time. Your tuning will be much overdue if you actually say to yourself, “Wow! My piano’s out of tune.”