By Brendan Lai-Tong
There are few activities more rewarding than learning to play the piano. While it is an amazingly complex instrument that takes years to master, it can also be fun for players of all levels. One of the greatest aspects about the piano is that it is immediately approachable and very versatile.
This is due in part to the wide selection of music available for piano, which spans many different styles and genres. There will most certainly be piano sheet music to play whether your interests are tuned to classical, jazz, pop or rock. Additionally, there are many great piano method books that make it really easy to teach yourself how to play piano.
Here are 10 unique and interesting facts about the piano that you may not know:
- The famous Steinway pianos that have become the benchmark for well-crafted pianos could have had a completely different name. Henry Steinway changed his name from Engelhard Steinweg after arriving in the United States and starting his own company.
- While a piano may seem like a simple instrument to operate, it has more than 12,000 parts, 10,000 of which are moving. The extensive number of moving parts is one reason why tuning a piano can be such an involved process.
- Every piano has a mechanism that moves the hammers back to their original position as soon as they touch the strings. Without this mechanism, the hammers would simply sit on the strings and dampen the sound.
- In comparison to many other instruments, the piano is relatively new. It was invented in 1698 by Bartolomeo Cristofori in Italy.
- The piano has earned the moniker “The King of Instruments” primarily for its wide tonal range. The piano can reach the lowest note of the contrabassoon and the highest note of the piccolo. There is no other orchestral instrument that can match its complete tonal range.
- There are more than 10 million pianos in homes, businesses, and other institutions throughout the United States.
- A standard piano has about 230 strings, each of which has about 165 pounds of tension. The combined tension of the strings is more than 18 tons. For the concert grand piano, that number increases to more than 30 tons.
- Piano inventor Bartolomeo Cristofori made very few pianos and instead chose to focus on the harpsichord.
- Piano keys were originally made from ivory, thus the origin of the phrase, “tickle the ivories.” This lasted until the 1950s, when cost and environmental concerns caused piano makers to switch to plastic keys.
- A new piano needs to be tuned at least four times in the first year. Seasonal changes in temperature and humidity will cause the piano to go out of tune. After the first year, it should be tuned twice a year.
Brendan Lai-Tong is the Assistant Marketing Manager at Sheet Music Plus and holds degrees in trombone performance from University of Miami and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.