Fun and Helpful Piano Facts Everyone Should Know

Posted by Gordon Bolton

Music is an integral part of our world. It transcends cultures and generations and can have a profound effect on people. Listening to and playing music has been found to calm the nerves and soothe the soul. Studies show it can improve creativity and academic performance among children while helping people to recall lost memories and potentially overcome severe and chronic pain.

Based on some accounts, there are more than 1,500 standard musical instruments in use today not including unique homemade versions some people enjoy toying with. Of course, the human voice can’t be left out of the mix, either. Still, one of the most popular and widely recognizable is the piano. Take a look at these fun, interesting, and helpful facts about the piano everyone should know.

Pianos Are Wildly Popular

It’s no secret that pianos are common, but most people don’t realize just how popular they are. Despite declining sales over the past decade, more than 20,000 acoustic pianos were purchased in the United States last year alone. After adding in all those sold in previous years, it makes for an astounding number of households that own an acoustic piano. Keep in mind, that doesn’t account for battery-powered keyboards and digital models.

Additionally, an estimated 21 million Americans currently play the piano. Millions of others are interested in learning, and some are even secretly using online tutorials and other resources to teach themselves to play. All those factors come together to make the piano the most highly sought-after instrument in the world.

Pianos Should Be Moved with Care

Many household items are tough enough to handle the abuse of being dragged around, shoved into a moving truck, bounced along rough roads, and carted into a new location. Even some musical instruments fall into this category especially if they have protective cases to soften the blow. That’s not necessarily the case with pianos.

In fact, pianos are particularly delicate. Treating them too roughly during a move can easily damage their internal components. Laying traditional upright models on their backs during transport or failing to cushion them properly could end in disaster. Moving grand pianos and baby grand pianos is an even more precarious process.

With all that in mind, it’s best to hire professional, trusted piano movers to safely get a piano from one location to another. This is true whether it’s a grand piano, an acoustic upright, or a high-end digital model. Professionals know how to move all types of pianos properly without causing any damage or unnecessary stress.

Pianos Should Be Tuned Regularly

Most people are aware that pianos require occasional tuning to keep them in good shape and get the best possible sound quality out of them. Their strings are under tremendous stress with most having about 168 pounds of pressure on them. All this tension can cause the strings to stretch over time.

Other factors can also affect a piano’s sound quality and functionality. Moving them can send their internal components off-kilter. Environmental elements, such as moisture and temperature can affect them as well. At the same time, being played frequently or not being played at all can further cause them to end up out of tune.

Experts recommend having a new piano tuned four times during its first year in a home to keep it adjusted to changing environmental elements. After that, having the piano tuned twice per year is advised. At the very least, pianos should be tuned annually and following a move. Regular tuning sessions will help keep them in top-notch condition and ensure they retain their value.

Piano Keys Were Once Made From Real Ivory

When the piano first came to pass, its keys were made of ivory from elephants’ tusks. Ivory was considered an elegant, high-end material, and it helped to give pianos a luxurious appearance. Players also pointed out that it felt more satisfying under their fingers than wood. Ivory also lasted a long time and could hold up to the wear and tear of frequent playing.

This custom stretched from the 1700s until the 1970s. At that point, exploiting elephants for their ivory was outlawed. Now, piano keys can be made from a range of materials. These might include plastics, ebony for the black keys, and spruce or basswood for the white ones. Wooden keys are typically covered with plastic. Famed modern piano maker, Yamaha has even developed a synthetic material known as Ivorite that’s designed to look and feel like ivory.

Piano Prices Vary Greatly

Dozens of varieties of pianos are on the market today from miniatures and toy keyboards to intricate setups made from high-end materials inside and out. Because of that, piano prices can vary greatly. Outside of toy models, pianos range from a few hundred dollars to $200,000 or more. To date, the most expensive piano on the planet is the Crystal Piano built for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. After its debut, it sold at auction for $3.2 million.

Pedals Have a Purpose

Many non-players wonder about the pedals pianos are equipped with. They’re not just for decoration or to fill an empty space; they have distinct purposes. On the far right is the damper, also known as the sustain pedal. It holds out the notes being played so they don’t sound short and choppy.

To the left is the una corda pedal. It shifts the internal mechanisms of the keyboard to the right, changing the way the hammers strike the strings. This makes the notes sound a bit softer than they would be otherwise. In the middle is the sostenuto pedal. It works in much the same way as the damper pedal, but it only affects the notes played at the time the pedal is depressed. It’s basically a more targeted version of the damper pedal.

Carrying on the Longstanding History of the Piano

Since being invented by harpsichord builder, Bartolomeo Cristofori in the early 1700s, the piano has certainly made its way into the spotlight. Originally known as the pianoforte, it has branched out into a long list of brands, styles, and models. It’s constantly gaining popularity and continues to make appearances in homes, churches, schools, concert halls, and recording studios across the globe. No doubt, this long-running history will continue well into the future.

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