Five Fast Facts You Didn’t Know About The Piano

piano-facts

Learn some fun facts about the piano that are sure to help you impress your friends the next time you hang out!

In a world where technology and information is at the tip of your fingers, it feels like people value fast information and trivia more than ever.

However, there’s still a lack of piano related trivia floating around on the internet. Fear no more, I’ve crafted a list of fun, little-known facts about the piano.

Whether you consider yourself a piano playing newbie or expert, I’d be surprised if you knew all these fun piano playing facts. Read on to learn some fun facts you can use to impress your family and friends or simply to gain a little more info about an instrument we all love—the piano!

horizontal_rule

1) The World’s Longest Piano Piece Is….

Looking for a new way to motivate your children to complete their chores? Consider offering them the option of cleaning the bathrooms or having them sit through a rendition of Erik Satie’s (1893)Vexations.”

It’s a 180 note composition played through 840 times. That’s right, 840!

If you were to sit down and play this piece completely it would take you over 18 hours to complete. The full piece was recently performed in New York City by a team of 10 pianists. They actually took turns playing throughout the performance.

By the end of the concert, only a few critics  remained and several of the remaining audience members had fallen asleep, but one critic shouted “Encore!” (Which is one of the funniest things I’ve heard in a long time… My kind of humor. Hilarious!)

vexations

2) What Does Tin Pan Alley Have To Do With The Piano?

Believe it or not, Tin Pan Alley’s name was actually derived from the piano. Tin Pan Alley describes an area in New York City around 28th Street and Fifth Avenue where long ago many music publishers set up shop to produce piano sheet music.

Musicians would audition for publishers by playing their new songs. Tin Pan Alley was a lively place. Day and night, passersby could hear musicians pounding away on cheap pianos. The old pianos sounded like someone was beating on an old  tin pan. Thus, Tin Pan Alley’s name was born.

So, don’t forget to tune your piano twice a year if you don’t want your neighbors to coin your home, the new Tin Pan Alley!

Check out Tin Pan Alley in its heyday!

Check out Tin Pan Alley in its heyday!

 

3) Piano—King of Instruments

A piano can cover every note in an entire orchestra. That’s right, a piano can match the lowest note of a double bassoon to the highest note played on piccolo. So learn how to play the only instrument that has the same note range of an entire orchestra—the piano!

4) Orchestra Or Piano?

Why is a piano better than an orchestra? Maybe because it can cover every note in an orchestra.

That’s right, a piano can match the lowest note of a double bassoon to above the top note of a piccolo. So go to a piano concert to save money, you’ll be hearing the same note range, anyways!

5) Come One, Come All, Gaze Upon The World’s Largest Piano

largest piano
Right now you’re looking at a Challen Concert Grand. It’s one of the world’s largest grand pianos and spans a total of eleven feet. It weighs a ton … No literally, it weighs over a ton. This giant has a total string tension of over 30 tons. I don’t know about you, but I would imagine that our childhood storybook character, Chicken Little, would be more afraid of this piano falling from the sky, than the sky itself!

I hope you enjoyed these fun facts, and learned a few things you can take to your friends!

Hey, while you’re here, don’t just learn fun facts about the piano, learn how to actually play the piano today…

Try Piano In A Flash for free!

41 Comments
  • Helen Smoot
    Posted at 11:34h, 16 November Reply

    I am enjoying your articles. I have changed a bit of my teaching approach by letting students play what they want- and they love it. But I can have too many of them playing Fur Elise- or I’ll go crazy. Thanks for you suggestions. We’re never too old to learn -and I am 68!!.

    • Scott Houston
      Posted at 12:51h, 16 November Reply

      Ha! Agreed on the Fur Elise comment… That’s too funny! Fur Elise is the piano teacher’s version of Piano Man for cocktail piano players. 🙂

  • Helen Smoot
    Posted at 11:37h, 16 November Reply

    I meant “can’t” have too many…. I’ve been teaching for 54 years and my brain is a worn out.

  • Sharon Gawenda
    Posted at 12:07h, 16 November Reply

    Do you ever offer hands-on instructions at any of your of your seminars ?

    • Scott Houston
      Posted at 12:52h, 16 November Reply

      By “hands-on” do you mean “sitting in person with student?”

  • Kurt Krenzischek
    Posted at 12:34h, 16 November Reply

    Happy Thanksgiving Scott!

  • rodger
    Posted at 13:34h, 16 November Reply

    Make them all play “Moonlight Sonata”!

  • Esaud Maldonado
    Posted at 14:48h, 16 November Reply

    I enjoy learning about the piano. I’m 70 years old and have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Learning things is very troubling but I keep practicing.

    • Scott Houston
      Posted at 07:41h, 18 November Reply

      My warmest healing, comforting, and peaceful thoughts go out to you Esaud. My Father too is dealing with the same thing but he is still spending a little time banging away at his piano every day. Fight the good fight my friend…

  • Hugh
    Posted at 14:59h, 16 November Reply

    Not to worry as to who is listening or if I am good enough.Piano is my anti depressant drug.
    As soon as I touch the keys my mind is released from that dark sessional thinking, transformed and, on the highway to a more acceptable harmony and discord.

    • Scott Houston
      Posted at 07:38h, 18 November Reply

      Nicely said Hugh. Playing just for myself is also something I am convinced has kept me (at least a little) saner throughout my life. I’d have to add working out to that as well though… I’ve always felt like exercise works out my body and piano works out my brain, and when both get used strenuously I am much more peaceful.

  • Glen Davis
    Posted at 15:53h, 16 November Reply

    Scott,

    Just purchased your course yesterday, and I’m looking forward to it. I’ve played piano for many years by ear, but want to progress. Thanks in advance for your help!

  • Carl Watson
    Posted at 16:00h, 16 November Reply

    Several years ago I began using your learning method and now can play most of the music in all 6 volumes of the Hal Leonard “Real Books”. I realize now that I should have practiced proper fingering rather than using any available finger in playing melody.

    Any ideas or suggestions?

    • Scott Houston
      Posted at 07:33h, 18 November Reply

      I would first ask what is the issue you are having that is causing you trouble? If it is simply not being able to get through some melodic passage smoothly, just re-look at what it is you are doing (finger wise) and logically figure out a better choice. There is nothing scientific about fingering choices. It is just about what works best for your hands. Now having said that, I grant you that if you’ve played something a certain way a hundred times and it turns out you need to re-think it and change it, it will be laborious as heck at first and you’ll just need to play it the new way a hundred times to get it down. But again, nothing you have done previously is locked in stone enough that you can’t decide now to try it some other (possibly smoother or faster) way.

      One other thing comes to mind here as I am writing this… If you have not yet gotten comfortable with the “crossing your thumb under your 3rd finger” thing when moving up step-wise (and the inverse coming down), that single technique will get you a huge bang for your efforts buck… To describe it briefly:

      If you try to play every white note from a C up to the next C an octave higher with your RH, finger it like this: 1,2,3,1,2,3,4,5 (your thumb is 1, pinky is 5)

      If you play that fingering you’ll need to pass your thumb under your index and middle finger to get your thumb on the F note to continue on up. Getting comfortable doing that both going up, and then in reverse back down where your middle finger will pass over the top of your thumb, will be very helpful.

      It’s kind of like some “oil” that will make your efforts to get around melodic lines a lot more smoothly.

      Hope that helps!

  • Philip Potter
    Posted at 17:30h, 16 November Reply

    Isn’t #3 and #4 the same?

    • Scott Houston
      Posted at 07:20h, 18 November Reply

      Same as I replied a couple of times here:

      Why yes – in hindsight they pretty much are… Ha! Sorry. It gets brutal trying to come up with some of this content continuously and that very much slipped past the “Doh!” filter. Oops..

  • susan clarke
    Posted at 17:38h, 16 November Reply

    Thanks for the fun facts. I want to add another fun fact and that is this: because of you I am playing piano better than I ever would dare to dream and I am having more fun playing and it is all because I happened to come across your PBS series years ago. I want to take this chance to thank you from the bottom of my heart. You have made a difference in my life.
    Sincerely,
    Susan Clarke

    • Scott Houston
      Posted at 07:21h, 18 November Reply

      Well that truly warms my heart to hear that. Thanks so much for sharing the nice words. It really keeps me going some days when it seems the whole world is swimming in the opposite direction. Couldn’t be happier for you!

    • Berneda Volpone
      Posted at 23:39h, 19 November Reply

      Hi Scott, I would like to respond on Susan’s comment. I also happened to run across your program on PBS. I bought your chord finder and it has made a world of difference in my playing. I have always felt that teaching myself new chords has been good for my memory. My biggest issue has been sitting down playing and learning new songs and to not feeling guilty leaving housework undone. Thank you so much for sharing your gift. Berneda Volpone

  • Fumtu
    Posted at 17:42h, 16 November Reply

    You do realize that #3 and #4 are the same, right?

    • Scott Houston
      Posted at 07:20h, 18 November Reply

      Same as I replied a couple of times here:

      Why yes – in hindsight they pretty much are… Ha! Sorry. It gets brutal trying to come up with some of this content continuously and that very much slipped past the “Doh!” filter. Oops…

  • Charles Casteel
    Posted at 18:15h, 16 November Reply

    Where and when are your.next seminats

    • Scott Houston
      Posted at 07:18h, 18 November Reply

      I am not doing any live workshops any more since we got the online method here at pianoinaflash.com going … This just seems to be such a superior experience for students that I have cut way back on those live shows I used to do all the time. Having said that, we are contemplating putting together another one of the week long master classes we do at some nice vacation spot. When that happens we’ll be getting the word out in all our usual channels…

  • Ralph Lauretano
    Posted at 18:42h, 16 November Reply

    Enjoy all of your e-mails and piano lessons Scott. Have been with you for several years, and altho’ I don’t practice enough to get really good, I do enjoy myself, playing the songs that make me happy, with your help. Thank you for your diligence and desire to make the world a happier place with piano music. I originally took piano lessons as a young boy, from the “Flying Fingers” school in Massachusetts. As soon as I played my recital piece, I told Mom and that I didn’t want to take any more lessons. (They were hard and such a bore). For most of my life, I regretted not sticking with it, so I could be a fairly decent pianist now, in my later years, but you have helped me so much to make music come out of my piano, and I thank you very much. Can’t say enough, how much I enjoy what you’ve taught me to do. God bless you my friend.

    • Scott Houston
      Posted at 07:15h, 18 November Reply

      Nice testimonials like this keep me going Ralph! Much appreciated, but more importantly, i am THRILLED you are having fun. Keep at it!

  • Tim Korb
    Posted at 07:27h, 17 November Reply

    Aren’t three and four the same fact?

    • Scott Houston
      Posted at 07:14h, 18 November Reply

      Why yes – in hindsight they pretty much are… Ha! Sorry. It gets brutal trying to come up with some of this content continuously and that very much slipped past the “Doh!” filter. 🙂

  • Craig Kramer
    Posted at 08:34h, 17 November Reply

    I played for awhile as a youngster and hated it. Why? Because my piano teacher hit my fingers with a ruler
    If I hit the wrong notes. (After that I couldn’t play.
    I bought a DVD set of yours from COSTCO last year.
    I also bought a Yamaha DGX-650 piano. (I always loved music. In school it was , String Bass, Cello, Baratone
    and sousaphone.) Well, you inspired me. It had been
    Over 43 years since I last played any instrument. With
    your DVD set I picked up playing better than I ever did.
    It’s been a year now and I am 60 years old and having
    A blast. I also got 3 of your books. The fun continues
    and I am working on some of the tricks and techniques
    From the video set. BEST purchase I ever made.
    Thanks for The inspiration Scott. This will last a lifetime.

    • Scott Houston
      Posted at 07:07h, 18 November Reply

      Great to hear Craig! Thanks for the nice words…

  • Scott Petrie
    Posted at 12:36h, 17 November Reply

    Loving the courses Scott and the articles, they really make learning the piano fun without the old style of “Scales, scales and you guessed it – more scales!” Just started learning the keyboard back in September and at 51 wondering why I didn’t start earlier.
    Thanks again and Happy Thanksgiving to you from across the pond in UK.

  • Marty
    Posted at 16:33h, 17 November Reply

    I really, really want an electronic keyboard with 88 keys, but I don’t want to spend and fortune. Definitely under $500, and if it would also sound like other instruments, and have some canned beats, that would be great. I really want to take your classes, but I don’t think my iPad or laptop will work. Can you suggest anything?

    • Scott Houston
      Posted at 07:11h, 18 November Reply

      I don’t want to get into the habit of recommending one specific instrument (as I endorse different cos. pianos now and then …) but if you look here and check out some of the choices you’ll see there are some options just as you are requesting that are really “a lot of piano for the money”:

      http://www.sweetwater.com/shop/pianos/

      Hope that helps!

  • linda delisle
    Posted at 09:53h, 18 November Reply

    Scott
    My love for Barry Manilow’s music is the reason I purchased my most treasured possession, an upright disklavere piano in 89. I took lessons for a few years but a crazy work schedule and raising a family not to mention l had no idea there was a better way——yours, impacted my desire to get serious. I have enjoyed my pianos talents to play itself over the years but still want to play it myself. and last year stumbled across your DVD series at Costco. best purchase ever!!! A whole new world has opened up for me that is fun and not boring or so difficult. I’ve learned 5 Xmas songs and although Barry’s music is a way off I have zeroed in on a few of his easier songs. I wish I had known about you years ago. Can’t thank you enough. You are quite an inspiration for those of us who have suffered through those awful lessons as kids and struggled as adults. Thank-you so very much!!
    Linda

    • Scott Houston
      Posted at 14:49h, 18 November Reply

      Why thanks Linda! So nice of you pass along those thoughts. Having said that (and for fear of sounding too commercial, which is not intended…), you should consider signing up for the online method here at pianoinaflash.com because it sounds like you have proven to yourself this style is working for you. You’d be fine skipping Course 1 and starting in at least Course 2. I cover a lot more thorough and sequenced amount of material throughout the method and dare I say (with a wink) you’d be playing Mandy and Copacabana in no time. Ha! 🙂

  • samia
    Posted at 09:10h, 28 February Reply

    Piano is so fun

  • samia
    Posted at 09:10h, 28 February Reply

    Piano is so fun to learn and enjoy playing it makes me calmer and makes me meditate and helps me grow!

Post A Reply to susan clarke Cancel Reply