Before you can start beginning piano lessons, you’ll need to have the right equipment–yes, that means more than just a piano or keyboard! Here, New Paltz, NY teacher Cheryl E. shares five helpful tips to keep in mind…
Getting your first piano is an exciting time! It’s like meeting your first pet, finding a new roommate, or buying the most amazing piece of furniture you’ll ever own. My first piano was a 1950s Henry Miller upright I bought for $200 in Manhattan. It sits in my Harlem apartment against a living room wall. I was also given a family friend’s 1980 baby grand Steinway when they were downsizing and it is placed in a separate “parlor” room where I teach lessons.
If you’re wondering how to set up your piano and what supplies you’ll need, I’ve found these five tips helpful:
1) Your biggest “accessory” is the piano’s location: Ideally, the piano should be placed close to an inside wall to keep changes in temperature and humidity to a minimum. This will not only keep the piano in tune longer but also help lengthen its life. You will want it to look natural with the room, and most likely have it be the focal point of the room. Upright pianos tend to go up against a wall, though you can also use it as a room divider. Grand pianos are generally placed so that the player has some line of sight to people sitting in the rest of the room. Visit my Pinterest board on piano rooms for some inspiration!
Also, resist the temptation to put your piano centered on a carpet or rug (unless you live in an apartment building and need to dampen sound). The natural way to listen to orchestral instruments, including a piano, is on hard floor. The ear simply wants to hear the reverberation off hard surfaces–this dates back to the baroque and romantic eras of classical music where all concerts were payed on ballroom floors and large stages, all with bare floors around them.
2) Lighting: Table lamps on pianos often cause glare and get in the player’s eyes. I’ve found that a standing light to the side or slightly behind the player is ideal for seeing the keys without casting shadows. Natural light is always a favorite, and overhead lights can also be pleasant for the player and others in the room. Resist the urge to put (and light) candles on your piano! Even if you never light them, the wax is NOT your piano’s friend.
3) Other accessories: I tend to keep my piano clutter-free. No vases, picture frames, or other things on the piano, especially the grand. I like the option to open and close the top for both pianos. Upright pianos are easier to accessorize, though, since they tend to have more flat surface to play with and you are less likely to open the top.
4) Walls: Putting art on the wall, centered above the piano, brings attention to the area and can inspire the player. Choose something you will enjoy looking at as you sit and practice! You can also paint the piano wall a bold color, making it an accent wall within the room and drawing the eye to it.
5) Bench: The bench can be a part of the piano’s style and your design expression. Reupholstering it to add a colorful cushion or painting the top can add a burst of character to the piano room without altering the piano itself.
Whether you’re taking beginning piano lessons or you’re playing at a professional level, trust yourself in what feels right when you are sitting at the piano. If the placement, accessories, lighting, and bench inspire you to play more, than you’ve done the perfect job placing and accessorizing your piano!
Cheryl is a film and TV commercial composer and singer/songwriter with multiple tours, records, and TV placements under her belt. If you turned on your television this year, you’ve definitely heard her music. She teaches piano and voice in addition to composition and arrangement in New Paltz, NY. Learn more about Cheryl here!
Photo by Joe Buckingham