Saturday, October 29, 2011

Polite Piano Parenting: As flu season approaches...

We are passing some sort of bug around my house, and all of us are in some stage of illness, which has me thinking about germs and where they gather. When I was cleaning the computer keyboard in our home it occurred to me that I haven't even touched the piano, and then I got a little grossed out because I realized that aside from my weekly dusting, I haven't really gotten in there and cleaned it in a considerable while. 

Piano keys can be a haven for germs. Sweaty hands and skin oils bind dust and dirt to keys, and their porousness allows grime and germs to build up and feed off each other. Frequently used notes are especially vulnerable. 

Most teachers usually have a plan of preventative action for keeping their piano keys clean and trying to stave off germs. It's a good idea, especially during cold and flu season, to have a routine in place at home, especially if more than one child/person in the home is using the piano.

How To Clean Your Piano Keys:

  • Some store-bought chemicals and furniture polish can be too abrasive, and can lead to grainy textures and discoloration. Use mild soap heavily diluted with filtered water.
  • Use a soft cloth such as cheesecloth, flannel, or chamois.
  • Cloths should be only slightly dampened, and keys should be wiped towards you. Wiping side-to-side can allow moisture to seep between keys and cause damage.
  • Clean one octave at a time, and dry immediately before moving onto the next octave.
  • Avoid colored cloths that may bleed when moistened. Colors can easily transfer onto the white keys, causing a discoloration that is very difficult to remedy.
  • Always use separate cloths on black keys, or simply clean them last. Paint from the black keys or unseen dirt can be transferred onto the ivories.

How to Disinfect Piano Keys

  • Never use spray disinfectants on your piano keys. They destroy the texture allowing for further damage, and can be carried by air onto other delicate parts or surfaces. 
  • Disinfect keys using a solution comprised of 3 parts filtered water to 1 part white vinegar, using the general cleaning tips mentioned above. At your personal discretion, if you don't mind doing so, some people use commercially available disinfectant wipes on their piano keys. Do so using the method recommended above. 
When it comes to lessons and illness, it's just a good idea and good manners to keep your child at home if he/she is ill. Most teachers would prefer a child stay home and recuperate than attend a lesson while ill. One sick child in the studio can spread germs to everyone else taking lessons, and to people who live or work around the studio. 

Many teachers request that you keep sick students at home in their studio policy, and some reserve the right to send a child home if they are showing signs of illness. To save everyone time and trouble, keep your child at home. When you do so, you are respecting the health of everyone involved.


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