Pianos that are purchased for institutions fill a very special, very necessary niche. They are used for many different purposes: leading congregations in church hymns, teaching children how to sing nursery songs, allowing aspiring music students to polish their Chopin and Debussy to perfection. The music that fills the hallways, chapels, and practice rooms of these institutions come from pianos that are stoically performing their duties, despite years of use so heavy that it can almost be qualified as abuse. Combine this with the fact that the physical environment in these buildings usually presents a climate that is at best unfavorable for a piano, and it quickly becomes clear that frequent maintenance efforts must be made to keep these pianos in good shape.
In these institutional settings – schools, churches, and colleges – pianos have to endure not only several dozens of people playing them, but oftentimes very repetitive playing as well. This creates wear and tear on certain parts of the piano at a much faster rate than any piano that has the luxury of resting in a private home. Each grand piano has thousands of working parts. When treated well, these materials can last years, even decades, before needed to be replaced. This of course means regular maintenance by skilled technicians. The important thing is to get these visits scheduled and to not let them fall by the wayside – this will only end in neglect of instruments that are quite possibly top-notch pianos, but will quickly deteriorate when no regular care is dedicated to them.
If possible, the climate of a room containing a piano should be steady at 68°F and 42% relative humidity. Of course, this is nearly impossible to maintain throughout the year, especially in large buildings often prone to drafts, and in areas of the country that experience high fluctuation in temperature and humidity throughout the various seasons. But with scheduled daily climate monitoring, it should be manageable enough to keep it under control.
Since many people have access to these pianos, as they are often a community commodity, ground rules must be established and followed. It is almost a no-brainer, but stands to be stated regardless: food and liquids should never come near a piano, and piano moving should only be done by professionals. Following these guidelines in addition to the suggestions mentioned above will ensure a longer life for pianos in an institutional setting.