Jeff Bauer (Keyboard Concepts ) gives expert video advice on: Is it hard to learn to play the piano?; What are the health benefits of playing the piano?; What makes the piano such a popular instrument? and more...
Is it hard to learn to play the piano?
No, it's not hard to learn to play the piano. The piano's probably one of the easiest instruments to learn because it's so visual. Unlike the guitar, flute, or saxophone, where you really can't see what you're playing, you actually have to feel it, as the piano has a very set pattern of how the keys are oriented. the piano has black and white keys, so you see the chords you're playing and you see the notes that you're supposed to hit. It make the piano really, really easy to figure things out. That's why people who learn how to play piano by themselves have an easier time playing the piano than probably most other instruments because of that visual nature.
Where does the name piano come from?
The name piano comes from a term, pianoforte, which is it's original name for the piano and what it meant was soft-loud. It was one of the first instruments made in the day that could actually play softly and loudly unlike it's predecessor, the harpsichord, which could only be played at one dynamic level. In a sense they didn't, the word pianoforte came basically from truncating the forte out of the pianoforte and they just called it a piano.
When was the piano invented?
The piano was invented in the early 1700s by a man named Cristofori. And basically it was a improvement on an earlier existing instrument called the harpsichord. Instead of plucking the strings, the piano used hammers to strike the strings which allowed for a better control of dynamic range when played soft and loud hence the name pianoforte which means soft and loud.
Where did the idea for the piano originate?
The idea of the piano came from the harpsichord, which was basically laid out very similar to a harpsichord with black and white keys. In the olden days they were actually inversed where the keys that we know as white keys were black and the ebonies were white. However, the harpsichord had limitations in dynamic range and tonal ability and the piano was invented as an improvement on that - a better mousetrap, so to speak - and has become one of the staple instruments of culture today.
Is the piano a string instrument or a percussion instrument?
The piano is technically a percussion instrument even though it uses strings. And the reason why this is, is because it uses hammers to strike the strings. Much like a drummer hits a drum head with a drumstick, or a vibraphone player hits the vibraphone with a mallet, the piano is viewed as the same thing. And in an orchestra setting or a group like a rock band or a jazz band, the piano is considered part of the rhythm section, and so in that case it's actually designed to be percussive in nature and keep rhythm.
What is the range of a piano?
The piano has 88 keys, and so the range of a piano is pretty expressive. It encompasses going way below what the human voice can sing and way above what most human voices can sing, and so as an instrument its dynamic range and also its range of notes enables it to cover a lot of ground.
Why is the sound of the piano universally loved?
Listening to the piano, and listening to the piano sound can have a number of effects, because the sound is so versatile. It can be extremely jarring, and in terms of a movie score, it could be a block chord of notes that are very dissonant and come crashing down. It can create an effect of panic or calamity. Or it can be soothing. It can be very legato, and it can actually create calm and peace, and everything in between. That's where a piano's versatility really comes into play. It's used in so many different types of music, and it really is a versatile instrument for the reasons that I mentioned.
What are the health benefits of playing the piano?
There's a few different things that a piano does for somebody. Number one, it helps build strength and dexterity in their fingers as a physical form of therapy, so people with any kind of muscle problem in their fingers might take on the piano to help build strength and use that as a form of building strength in your fingers. As far as mentally, the right kind of piano music can really calm somebody and could be a form of anger management or help somebody take their mind off of stress, so it can act as a stress reliever.
What makes the piano so versatile?
What makes the piano so versatile is its ability to play. You can play a wide range of music on it. You can play soothing, relaxing music. You can play percussive, rhythmic, pulsing music and everything in between. So, as an instrument, somebody who plays the piano can be backing a band as a rhythm section. They can also just be out playing solo and not need any other instruments to help them play along, and they can be a total experience just by itself.
How do pianos merge various aspects of music?
Various types of music being played on a piano is really realized through the pianist, so, because we have ten fingers and the piano has 88 keys, there's almost countless possibilities of what can be done on a piano, given enough technique and training. So, most of the time when we're listening to piano music, we're hearing classical music. This is music written, and the people are playing based on the notes that were written and people are playing to a particular form. Then we have rock and improvisational music and jazz, where there is no pre-written form. he pianist is feeling the music and going with the flow, and so as far as what we actually can hear from a piano, it's limitless.
What makes the piano such a popular instrument?
What makes the piano so popular is that it appeals to so many different people. You have so many different varieties of music that you can learn to play on the piano. So whatever your musical style you can find something for you. In addition to that, it's pretty easy to learn because it's very visual. It's easy to look at the keys, make a pattern and learn to play a song based on the patterns you see. And then thirdly, playing the piano requires no real effort to get a good sound. All you need to do is play a note. The hammer does the rest by striking the string, and getting the sound. As opposed to, for example, a saxophone, where there's a technique to blowing into the saxophone to get a good tone. So for those reasons, the piano is a pretty easy instrument to pick up. And it's a good basis for learning music theory and going onto other instruments in the future.