The pianos and harpsichords are primarily for School of Music use. Outside use is occasionally necessary and governed by the same policies. If you are not sure that your proposed use is appropriate, please check with the Associate Dean, Concert Manager and/or the Piano Technician. Everyone is charged with the responsibility of fundamental instrument care.


All classrooms, nearly every studio, and most practice rooms have a piano available for use. Everyone is responsible for any damage that may occur. Your cooperation is needed to minimize this.

  • Please do not use the tops of pianos for bookcases, storage or sorting tables. In addition to the potential for damage, misusing the piano in this way makes the instruments more difficult and time-consuming to service.
  • Food and Drink: No food or drink is allowed on the pianos or harpsichords. Pianos and all keyboard instruments are very vulnerable to damage from liquids. One spill can easily cause thousands of dollars in damage! Greasy and sticky food makes for a lousy feeling instrument so keep these items away from the instrument. In case of a spill, contact the piano technician immediately.
  • Covers: Our concert stage pianos have covers. Please use them. When you remove the cover to use the piano, put the cover in a clean location. The floor, while convenient, is not a good storage place for the cover. Please find a chair or stool on which to store the cover when using the piano.
  • Locks and Keys: Only our performance pianos in the recital halls are kept locked. All faculty that use these instruments can check out a key from the piano technician. If you are a student in need of the concert piano for recital rehearsal, you must sign out a key from the Concert Manager.
  • It is essential that you return the key to the Concert Manager after your recital.
  • Lock and cover the concert pianos after use.
  • Abuse: Extreme and outright banging can be damaging to any instrument and will not be tolerated.


Non-traditional piano use requires the performer to produce sound from means other than, or in addition to, playing the keys. Techniques employed are strumming and/or striking the strings and also the case. This can be done with either hands or hand held objects. Prepared piano use generally requires adding objects to the string system. Non-traditional and prepared use often requires marking parts and strings.

Non-traditional use may only be performed on a designated piano after consultation with the piano technician and must follow these guidelines:

  • The piano technician must approve all structural changes to any piano. This includes removing the lid or other case parts and attaching anything to strings or soundboard to modify the sound.
  • Marking Strings:
    • Sticky note paper, label strips, or small dot labels are preferred material to use for marking dampers, agraffes or strings.
    • To mark a string node a thin (1/8”) strip of the adhesive part of a sticky note should be worked around the string and stuck to itself.
    • Chalk may be used on the plain wire but never on the wound bass strings.
    • Never use masking tape or any other adhesive that may leave a residue.
    • The performer is responsible for removing any stickers immediately after any performance. Care must always be used when touching dampers as they are easily bent.
    • Other than small stickies and chalk, there should be nothing applied directly to the strings. This includes whiteout, tape, crayon, stickers, nail polish, etc.
  • Striking and Plucking Strings:
    • Strings may be struck or plucked with fingers or guitar pick. Other devices must always be a material that will not mar or scratch strings.
    • On steel strings only materials that are softer than the steel string may be used, such as brass or aluminum.
    • Copper wound bass strings (copper is much softer than steel) must also be struck or plucked with a material softer than the copper.
    • Acceptable material include wood, plastic, rubber, felt mallets, etc. Never use a steel chisel or screwdriver on piano strings.
    • The piano technician will help any performer in selecting materials that will not damage the piano.
    • In some cases, literature calls for the insertion of screws or mutes between piano strings. Proper protocol must be followed when inserting screws. Please consult the piano technician regarding this procedure.
  • Common Sense:
    • Most damage to our pianos can easily be avoided by using good judgment. Please consult with the piano technician before using unconventional techniques. Usually an alternative can be found to satisfy both the performer and this policy.