The purpose of this blog is to help both new and established players understand the importance of Concert Pitch, especially if you are teaching. We have seen a huge increase in people believing that if a piano makes a sound then it must be OK for playing in any setting. It can be easy to assume that if the piano is functioning, it is at the correct standard. This is not always true.
What Is A440?
In 1936 the American Standards Association recommended that the A above middle C be tuned to 440 Hz. This standard was taken up by the International Organization for Standardization in 1955 (reaffirmed by them in 1975) as ISO 16.
Why Does A440 Matter?
With A440 being the musical pitch standard, it allows other instruments and vocalists to be in harmony with each other more easily when playing together. This is not the only reason as to why it is important to use A440.
When teaching, it is essential that all new players are taught to this standard. If the piano is a half tone flat for example, note D after Middle C will be heard as C Sharp/D Flat. This means that the player is getting the wrong impression of pitch and how each note should sound. If a new player develops like this without knowing what is happening then they will be surprised when they try to play their pieces on a piano that is correct, causing them to have an incorrect impression of music and it’s correct pitch and in some cases may cause a young player to fall out of love with music.
Always ask your tuner to tune your piano to A440. In some cases, a piano may be a full or half tone flat. If the player is happy with the piano as it is then your tuner will tune it as it is found – this is OK for established musicians in some cases but more generally, people who have a deep family connection to an instrument will choose to have the piano tuned as it is found as the pianos age and a lack of upkeep over many years may not allow it to achieve the A440 standard anymore.