The piano is probably the most popular instrument in the world. It is able to do things that no other instrument can do. It has 88 keys and produces the widest range of notes and dynamics of any instrument. That means it can play the lowest and highest notes that a single instrument can play and it can play them both loudly and softly (and everything in between).
The piano was invented by Bartolomeo di Francesco Cristofori around 1694 and it became the most popular instrument of the Classical Period. Cristofori invented the piano because he was frustrated that the harpsichord couldn't make as many sounds as he wanted. He came up with idea of using hammers to hit the strings inside of the piano instead of pluckers to pluck them like in the harpsichord.
Types of Pianos
There are two main types of pianos. Grand Pianos have a horizontal soundboard and strings which means they jut out from the keyboard and take up a lot of space. They are used in concert halls and other large spaces. Upright pianos have the soundboard standing up so that the piano can fit into a smaller space. They are the pianos most people have in their homes.
What's in a Piano
The piano is a really complicated instrument. A piano can have more than 10,000 parts! The part of the piano that we all recognize is the keyboard. Those black and white keys that we press to make notes.
But a piano is much more than a keyboard. Inside of the piano there are strings, a big piece of wood called the soundboard and a lot of mechanical parts called the action.
How Does It Work?
The key of a piano is actually really long, it's kind of like a see saw or a lever.
When you press on the key of a piano the opposite end of the lever (hidden inside the case) jumps up in the air, pushing a small felt-covered hammer to hit the piano strings, which makes a musical note. At the same time another part called a damper is also pushed up into the air. When you let go of the key, the hammer and the damper fall back down again. The damper stops the string from vibrating which makes the note end.
If you want to learn more about how the piano works click on these links Making Music Fun, Explain That Stuff and Ducksters. You an also play a game about the parts of the piano on Go Classical for Kids.
Here are some great videos about the piano. There also a video in which The Piano Guys use all the different parts of the piano to create a cover of the One Direction song, "That's What Makes You Beautiful"