You know the sound a piano makes. You love the way it makes you feel when you hear a pianist really play the right notes with that special touch. You can easily tell the difference between a ‘real piano’ and a cheap keyboard. But do you know how a piano works? Have you ever looked inside and examined the hammers, backstop, tuning pins and seen the action move? Here’s a chance for you to discover what’s inside a piano.>
My Early Piano Introduction
My Granddad was an amazing pianist, composer, musician and piano technician. My first memories of a piano are of the two of us sitting at the keyboard with him teaching me something new. I would hear my Grandmother from the kitchen telling him “Roger, don’t make Sharon stay at the piano any longer; She’s probably ready to play with the kids!”. But, I was always ready to learn something new. And Granddaddy could always find something to teach me.
Even after he had suffered multiple strokes and could no longer move his hands on the keyboard, he was still a brilliant musician. I can remember him telling me I was playing “The Flower Song” in the wrong key while he sat there in the nursing home unable to play even a note. Guess what? He was right!
When the pianos in his home, church or environment would be out of tune or need repair, I was often right beside him – watching him take it apart and asking questions. He was my first teacher telling me how the action works and showing me how to find what makes a key stick.
Discovering inside a piano
This last week I took the cover off our piano so my kids could discover the insides themselves. I have shown hundreds of my piano students the action and now it’s time for my kids to see.
We just opened up the top so the kids could see the hammers work. It’s always amazing for kids to realize that when you push the key, it causes a hammer to strike the string. The vibrations of the strings cause the sound we love.
I sometimes allow the kids to carefully pluck the strings so they can see how the thickness of the strings changes the pitch – the sound is deeper as the strings get thicker and longer.
I love it when the kids make the connection of how the pedals work. Each of the pedals is connected to a vertical bar under the piano that moves the action to change the sound.
Seeing and discovering how things work is an important part of life. Have you ever seen the insides of a piano? What do you think is the most fascinating thing about this favorite instrument? I’d love to hear!