Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Emily. Emily Wonders, “How do you play the piano” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Emily!

Do you need a feather to tickle the ivories? Nope! But you do need keys…88 of them, to be exact. What are we talking about? Playing the piano, of course!

Do you know how to play the piano? It’s a popular instrument among children and adults. Many people who take lessons as children continue to play for the rest of their lives. Much of the world’s most famous pieces of music feature the piano!

Italian Bartolomeo Cristofori invented the piano in the 1690s. It soon surpassed the harpsichord in popularity. The new instrument allowed a musician to play both soft and loud notes. They could do so by pressing the keys with more or less force. This made it different from the harpsichord, in which a player plucks the strings.

This distinction from the harpsichord gave the piano its original name: pianoforte. This name came from the Italian words for soft (piano) and loud (forte). Over time, the instrument came to be known simply as the piano.

A piano’s sounds are created by strings vibrating. When you press a key on a piano, the key moves a tiny hammer inside. That hammer then hits a string. When the string vibrates, it creates sound.

Each of the 88 keys on a piano plays a different note. More than one key can be played at the same time. This can create chords and harmonies.

Some of the keys are black, while others are white. The white keys on a piano are sometimes called the “ivories.” This is why the phrase “tickling the ivories” means playing the piano.

Although there are 88 keys on a piano, there are more than 88 strings inside the piano. Most pianos have over 200 strings! Very low notes usually have only one string. Higher notes can require as many as three strings.

To play the piano, you have to use more than just your hands, though. Did you realize you also have to use your feet? Pianos usually have two or three pedals that can be pressed with your feet. These pedals have different purposes. They allow the player to play softer notes or to sustain (lengthen) notes that have been played.

Pianos come in different shapes and sizes. Some pianos are called upright pianos because they sit upright and take up less space. Grand pianos are much larger and produce a much higher quality sound. Grand pianos are complex instruments that can be made up of over 7,000 different parts!

The piano is sometimes called the “King of the Instruments.” From its lowest note to its highest note, a piano can produce a wide range of tones. In fact, a single piano can cover the entire range of notes that can be played by every instrument in an orchestra.

Do you play the piano? Would you like to learn? It’s a very powerful instrument that can play beautiful music. If you start practicing now, maybe you’ll one day be as famous as Beethoven or Mozart.

Standards: CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.SL.2, CCRA.W.2, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.L.2

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