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How To Care For A Piano
By William H. Damon
The most important thing in the preservation of a piano is to avoid
atmospheric changes and extremes and sudden changes of temperature.
Where the summer condition of the atmosphere is damp all precautions
possible should be taken to avoid an entirely dry condition in winter,
such as that given by steam or furnace heat. In all cases should the air
in the home contain moisture enough to permit a heavy frost on the
windows in zero weather. The absence of frost under such conditions is
positive proof of an entirely dry atmosphere, and this is a piano's most
dangerous enemy, causing the sounding board to crack, shrinking up the
bridges, and consequently putting the piano seriously out of tune, also
causing an undue dryness in all the action parts and often a loosening
of the glue joints, thus producing clicks and rattles. To obviate this
difficulty is by no means an easy task and will require considerable
attention. Permit all the fresh air possible during winter, being
careful to keep the piano out of cold drafts, as this will cause a
sudden contraction of the varnish and cause it to check or crack. Plants
in the room are desirable and vessels of water of any kind will be of
assistance. The most potent means of avoiding extreme dryness is to
place a single-loaf bread-pan half full of water in the lower part of
the piano, taking out the lower panel and placing it on either side of
the pedals inside. This should be refilled about once a month during
artificial heat, care being taken to remove the vessel as soon as the
heat is discontinued in the spring. In cases where stove heat is used
these precautions are not necessary.
The action of a piano, like any other delicate piece of machinery,
should be carefully examined, and, if necessary, adjusted each time it
is tuned. The hammers need occasional and careful attention to preserve
original tone quality and elasticity. Never allow the piano to be beaten
or played hard upon. This is ruinous to both the action and tuning. When
not in use the music rack and top should be closed to exclude dust. The
keyboard need never be closed, as the ivory needs both light and
ventilation and will eventually turn yellow unless left open.
The case demands careful treatment to preserve its beauty and polish,
Never use anything other than a soft piece of cotton cloth or cheese
cloth to dust it with. Never wipe it with a dry chamois skin or silk
cloth. Silk is not as soft as cotton and will scratch. A dry chamois
skin picks up the dust and grit and gradually scours off the fine
finish. In dusting never use a feather duster, nor rub the piano hard
with anything. The dust should be whipped off, and not rubbed into the
varnish. If the piano is dingy, smoky or dirty looking, it should be
washed carefully with lukewarm water with a little ammonia in it to
soften it. Never use soap. Use nothing but a small, soft sponge and a
chamois skin. Wipe over a small part at a time with the sponge,
following quickly with the wet chamois skin wrung out of the same water.
This will dry it immediately and leave it as beautiful and clean as new.
Never use patent polishes. If your piano needs polishing employ a
competent polisher to give it a hand-rubbing friction polish.
The highest mountain on the globe is not, as is generally supposed, Mt.
Everest, that honor belonging to a lofty peak named Mt. Hercules on the
Isle of Papua, New Guinea, discovered by Capt. Lawson in 1881, According
to Lawson, this monster is 32,763 feet in height, being 3,781 feet
higher than Mt. Everest, which is only 29,002 feet above the level of
the Indian Ocean.
Note: The highest point in New Guinea is Puncak Jaya
(Mount Carstensz or the Carstensz Pyramid), at 16,023 feet.
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