When performing music that asks for extended techniques, the safety of the piano is a primary concern. Following are the rules that I follow to be sure that the piano is exactly the same when I am finished as when I start. Piano technicians: please feel free to contribute if you have more thoughts. A world filled with well-treated pianos is one to strive for! (A note about the bowed piano program: The piano bows are made of fishing line, and are woven underneath the strings and pulled to create the sound. I have performed the pieces many times without problems, but I am always very willing to meet with the technician, go through the score, and find alternate solutions if there are concerns about any of the techniques that are asked for in the score).
1. Always wash hands
2. Stay away from dampers (though I do need to mark them, I avoid them when actually playing. When I mark them I use post-it flags because they are removed easily and leave no residue).
3. Never force things between strings (though I do insert things, when inserting I make sure that it is done gently – and I can usually do it without touching the string with my hands).
4. If using objects to pluck or strike the strings, make sure that they are made of a softer material that the strings themselves so that they won’t scratch the strings. I am especially careful around the bass strings, as copper is quite soft.
5. When marking, don’t use any materials that can’t be completely removed. For example, I mark harmonics with embroidery thread tied loosely around the string, and it can be removed easily. This is in contrast to pianos that are left with pen marks on the strings to mark harmonics. I make sure that when I am done with a piano nobody would be able to tell that I was there.
6. If inserting anything between the strings, always lift the dampers first to avoid any pinching of the felt.