Thursday, October 29, 2009

H1N1 Precautions for Piano Teachers

I recently received a forwarded email with some useful information from Ian Fennell, President of JJH McLean Pianos in Winnipeg regarding how piano teachers can disinfect their studio pianos:

In response to a growing concern regarding the H1N1 flu threat in Manitoba, J.J.H. McLean & Co. Limited has been recommending to teachers, families, and institutions to use a 1 part vinegar and 3 parts water solution to clean their piano keys on a regular basis. This tried and true (and old) mixture can disinfect both plastic and ivory keys. The store has been very diligent in cleaning its in-stock inventory keys on a very regular basis now since early July and is encouraging all to practice this very easy preventative measure.

Sarah Luebke on the MTH blog also lists some useful precautions:

  • Wipe down piano keyboard
  • Wipe down music stands
  • Wipe light switch
  • Wipe doorknobs and entrance

In my studio, I've been noticing that students are canceling more often at the first sign of sickness. Ironically, there are fewer sick students at lessons than  in previous years (so far at least). 

Should piano teachers receive the H1N1 vaccination? Since the facts aren't yet fully known on the effectiveness of the first and second generation vaccines currently available in Canada and the U.S., I won't comment on this issue until there is more information available.

What are your thoughts on the H1N1 threat as it applies to the busy studios of piano teachers? Do you have any further thoughts on how to make your studio a cleaner environment?


  1. Thanks for the vinegar/water tip. I've been wondering what I should use for the keys. I also have a bottle of hand sanitizer in the studio and I always send the kids to wash their hands after they sneeze or blow their nose. I've had surprisingly few cancellations so far...knock wood.

  2. Thanks for the info - I am actually home sick today...our whole house has been sick this week! My university students have been dropping like flies too. It is incredibly difficult to see progress when a student is perpetually sick - especially since my students are singers!

    As for the flu vaccine - I have very strong views BUT encourage people to make the decision not based on fear tactics but real, concrete proof.

  3. I've been tempted to cancel all lessons w/rampant flu reports from all the school districts represented by my students. Instead I opted for conservative guidelines for my parents (don't come to lesson if anyone in the family has had a fever in 48 hours, and don't come w/any coughing or sneezing). So far this week 90% of students have canceled w/those guidelines (studio represents students from Delaware and southeast PA). wowzas!

    p.s. thanks for the vinegar tip!

  4. Trudy Harris10:07 AM

    I sanitize my plastic piano keys using a small rag with rubbing alcohol because it disinfects and also evaporates quickly. I also require my younger school-aged students to wash their hands with soap and water before lessons.

  5. Vinegar truly does work wonders. I've been using it for years and have recently switched to using it as my primary house cleaner (natural and effective).

    I had been using microfibre cloths to wipe surfaces down last year but have gone all out with super potent vinegar mix and hand sanitizers are located at several strategic locations.

    I am glad to see that students are washing and sanitizing more regularly now.

  6. Anonymous4:09 AM

    .., helpful tips for the pianos and the children, this is my first time to heard about vinegar and water as cleanser for piano keys.. :)

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  7. Anonymous10:15 AM

    Thanks for the vinegar tip, I'm sure it's easier on the piano than Lysol. Speaking of Lysol, I give everything in my studio a spritz after every lesson. I urge my students to wash their hands in the kitchen before even entering the studio, and I wash mine, too. Set a good example for your students- if you have to sneeze, don't touch the piano afterward. Sneeze into your elbow and then still wash your hands anyway.

  8. How true Anonymous. We must lead by example.

    Vinegar works well when you have a sore throat. Here's one recipe:

    I've grown up on white vinegar mixed with salt and a bit of water. I wound up doing a science fair experiment on it too. Extremely effective.