Learning Piano by Apps on line: the new phenomenon

Learning Piano by Apps on line: the new phenomenon

In a short period of time, about three weeks, we have had five new customers call for their pianos to be tuned. All were attempting to learn playing the piano on an App, on line.

The spiel on Apps are similar: a fast way to learn – works with ANY piano or Keyboard one App says.

NOT NECESSARILY.

What this doesn’t take into account is the piano itself and that is the pitch of the piano. Explaining pitch to a non-music people is an issue all piano tuners spend half their life doing. This does not apply to electronic keyboards or electric pianos as they are not stringed instruments and the pitch is set at the correct level.

To use all Apps to learn piano you need to have a piano that is tuned regularly and stabilised at A440 concert pitch. To put it bluntly, when you put your Tablet/I phone on the music stand and it plays you a “ C” you cant use the App to learn when you play the same note on your piano and it sounds like a “B” or “B flat” or something in between. So when this happens the person calls the piano tuner to correct the problem.

There are so many instances when a person gets Great-grandma’s piano, often over a hundred years old that has not been tuned to the correct pitch for forty or fifty years. Or alternatively a person buys a cheap piano on eBay or similar site and the piano is one tone or one semi tone below concert pitch. That is the sound on the “C” note on the App that will sound like a ‘B” or “B” flat on your piano when you press the “C” note on your piano.

It is not a simple task to raise pitch on a piano. Most modern pianos if a little below pitch can be raised to A440 concert pitch. Depending on how low the pitch is several tunings may be required.

NB A piano is a stringed instrument with approximately 230 wire stings of different lengths and diameters. Recommendations by piano manufacturers are that the piano should be tuned at least once a year minimum, to keep the strings stretched to the correct so that the pitch is A440 concert pitch. Most times however, people who are wanting to learn via the App have a much older family piano that hasn’t been tuned for decades.

Only an experienced piano tuner can decide if a hundred-year-old piano can be raised to concert pitch. Only with extensive experience with pianos of all brands and ages can you make a decision to raise pitch on an old piano and even then, you have to go on a gut feeling created by past experience.

The issues such as:

  • Are the tunings pins tight enough?
  • Is there any rust on the strings?
  • Is the piano a full iron frame, under damper action?
  • Is it a brand you are familiar with?
  • Is the customer prepared to pay for strings that break?
  • Is the customer prepared to pay for another three or four tunings to stabilise the piano at the higher pitch of concert pitch?
  • Is the customer prepared to have their piano tuned annually? If not, it is a total waste of time and money raising pitch in the first place.

It used to be over the past few years that it was teenagers who wanted to learn by the App method. However, since the Covid-19 virus lockdown period, it appears that much older people with time on their hands have now shown an interest in this method.

If you are fortunate enough for your piano to be at the correct pitch then the App system might be convenient for a lot of people.
If, however you have got your App up on the music stand and the notes do not correspond then the piano you have will not be suitable unless the pitch is able to be raised.