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Budgeting for Tuning & Maintenance

Students

If you are a piano student or playing is your hobby, it is as with any hobby, allowed to cost money.  How serious a student you are, or take your hobby, reflects on how much you love music, the amount you practice, the quality and condition of the instrument you play, and the amount of money you are willing to spend on lessons, tuning and maintaining the mechanism.

It is not uncommon that a student has a better quality piano, in better condition, than their teacher.  In other words, some teachers have a poor or good quality piano, but often are in neglected poor mechanical condition and not tuned frequently enough.  Going to such a piano teacher for a lesson is not going to help you develop good mechanical and aural skills, let alone having to do an exam on such a piano.

Teachers

If you are a piano teacher and your piano is used to teach others, you can claim the cost of tuning, repairs and maintenance, and depreciation of your piano off your taxable income.  You can also claim a portion of your cooling and heating expenses off your taxable income, to protect your piano from a hot/dry and cold/damp environment.

Your piano is a "tool" to teach others, and needs to be in tune and on pitch A440 hertz.  The keys and action mechanism will also need to be maintained for it to remain in very good playing condition.

The condition of your piano reflects on your standard of teaching, your reputation as a professional teacher, and the tuition fee you charge.

Budgeting

Consider how committed and passionate you are about piano playing and/or teaching, and decide on a care-plan for your piano. Remember, even if the piano is not played at all, it still needs tuning, and is prone to be invaded by moth or other pests.

Piano manufacturers recommend a minimum of four tunings per year because there are four seasons in a year.  This may seem very often, but a piano is a sensitive string instrument, which by nature always wants to drift off-pitch.  A tuning every three months allows the piano to return to its previously in-tune state after being altered by both playing and daily climatic changes, and this regularity will ultimately extend its life.

The table below is a guide to minimum tuning requirements, if you want the piano to be in good tune all year round.  More frequent tunings may be required if your ears tell you so.  Constant daily Relative Humidity changes and the amount of use the piano gets during the time between tunings, is long enough for a piano to be out of tune, and enough time for a problem to develop with the action mechanism, keys, or elsewhere, but is normally not enough time for irrepairable damage to occur.

Maintenance such as cleaning, moth treatment, lubricating, repairs, regulating the keys and action mechanism, and replacement of parts, is usually covered for an extra $1 per hour of playing.  Except for tuning, the piano may not need any maintenance for a few years, but a piano should be serviced once every 3 to 5 years.

It is not a bad idea to make automatic weekly transfers into a separate “music savings bank account.”  Weekly savings will avoid having to find a larger amount of money when the piano is in need of thorough cleaning, repairing and regulating.

For example, if you play one hour per day, 365 days a year, and were to put aside $2 for tuning and $1 for maintenance (less than a cup of coffee) for every day the piano is played ($21 per week), it would cover four tunings a year and most maintenance.

Hrs play
per day
Hrs play
per year
Tunings
per year
Cost
tuning
Tuning cost
per day
Maintenance
cost per day.
Total daily
cost
Hourly
cost
0 0 1 $  190 $ 0.52 $ 1.00 $ 1.52  
0.25 91.25 2 $  375 $ 1.03 $ 0.25 $ 1.28 $ 5.12
0.5 182.5 3 $  555 $ 1.52 $ 0.50 $ 2.02 $ 4.04
1 365 4 $  730 $ 2.00 $ 1.00 $ 3.00 $ 3.00
1.5 547.5 4 $  730 $ 2.00 $ 1.50 $ 3.50 $ 2.33
2 730 4 $  730 $ 2.00 $ 2.00 $ 4.00 $ 2.00
2.5 912.5 4 $  730 $ 2.00 $ 2.50 $ 4.50 $ 1.80
3 1095 5 $  900 $ 2.47 $ 3.00 $ 5.47 $ 1.82
3.5 1277.5 5 $  900 $ 2.47 $ 3.50 $ 5.97 $ 1.71
4 1460 6 $ 1065 $ 2.92 $ 4.00 $ 6.92 $ 1.73
4.5 1642.5 6 $ 1065 $ 2.92 $ 4.50 $ 7.42 $ 1.65
5 1825 7 $ 1230 $ 3.37 $ 5.00 $ 8.37 $ 1.67
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