It's exceedingly important to have your piano in tune, especially if you have children who are learning how to play the piano and are relying on listening to the sounds they make when they strike the keys in order to know that they are playing it correctly. Here are some tips for checking to make sure that your piano is in tune and detecting if it is out of tune.
1. Use a Tuning Fork or Online Tuning Fork to Test A4
The first thing that you are going to want to do is test one of the notes to make sure that it is vibrating at the correct frequency. Traditionally, the note that you should be playing is the A that is just above middle C, also known as A-440 or A4. You can test the frequency of this note's vibration by using a tuning fork that is designated to match the A frequency or an online tuning fork with speakers. To test, either hit the manual tuning fork so that it starts to vibrate or turn on the vibratory noise of the online tuning fork. While the items are vibrating, hit the A above middle C and check to make sure that it sounds the same. If you hear an inconsistency between the tuning sound that you are playing and the A4 key itself, there's a good chance that your piano is out of tune.
2. Check the Strings
Next, you are going to want to make sure that each of the strings that makes up each of the notes are in tune with one another. To do this, start on middle C. Hit the note and hold it, listening for any wavering in the pitch. If you hear wavering, then one or more of the strings is not taut enough or is too taut and is going to need to be adjusted. Play from middle C up two octaves and then play from middle C down two octaves in order to hit the most commonly used notes.
3. Play Basic Thirds
Finally, you want to check to make sure that the notes are in tune with one another. To do this, start at middle C. Play a third from middle C, meaning that you play the C and the E above it. Hold it down until the sound drains away. Make sure it doesn't sound as though the notes are clashing. Move up and play a D and an F. Continue moving up the notes and check to make sure that each third sounds harmonious. If it sounds like the notes are clashing, then that is a good indication that you are going to need to get your piano tuned. You can use an online tuner or keyboard to check these harmonies as well.
If you're unable to tell on your own or if you need help tuning your piano, talk to a company that specializes in tuning pianos, such as Arin Piano Co.