Mention upright pianos, and for many people thoughts turn to that old wooden box situated in a corner of their grandparent’s home. Often little used, but always much loved, pianos are frequently handed down from one generation to the next. It’s not surprising then that the piano is often looked upon as a member of the family.

When making home visits to view pianos, it’s very important to be sensitive to this fact – it’s definitely not a good idea to voice any uncomplimentary thoughts about an old instrument which has perhaps seen better days. It’s funny how often I find that on arrival, the top of the piano is festooned with picture frames, old sheet music, ornaments, perhaps a fruit bowl and usually a (heavy) table lamp. One of the first things I need to do when examining an upright piano is to have a look inside, so all of these items have to be very carefully removed. This is frequently accompanied by proclamations from the owner that “I really should have taken these things off before you arrived”. Any piano tuners still reading this will be very familiar with this scenario. After five minutes or so have been spent clearing everything, the front panel (aka top door) can be removed and it then becomes clear if all of the effort has been worthwhile.

Finally, in a reverse of the process, the challenge is to replace these items back on top of the piano so that everything is in its special, rightful place. As I haven’t received any feedback on this, I’m going to assume that I’ve never broken any of my customer’s belongings!