The earliest version of the piano was invented in 1709 in Florence, Italy
The harpsichord was a popular keyboard-like string instrument of the Renaissance and Baroque eras that involved plucking strings to produce sound. The problem with the harpsichord, however, is that it only had one volume. Wanting a way to be more expressive, Bartolomeo Cristofori, a harpsichord maker and “Keeper of Instruments” for the Medici family, introduced the earliest version of the piano around 1709 in Florence. In Cristofori’s piano, the keys were struck with a hammer rather than plucked with fingers.
Grand Piano, 1720 by Bartolomeo Cristofori.
Source: Metropolitan Museum of Art
Speaking of Bach, playing keyboard instruments rarely involved the thumb prior to his introduction of technique
The famous musician and composer actually popularized the use of the thumb as opposed to the traditional fingering method (which employed the middle three fingers on each hand) on the organ. Though the wind instrument predates the piano, Bach’s innovation had great influence on the development of modern techniques used on the piano.
Bad musicians were publicly shamed using a medieval torture device called the “Shame Flute”
Piano is considered the king of instruments
There are over 18 million non-professional piano players in the U.S alone!
The world’s longest piano piece is a 180-note played through a baffling 840 times
Playing piano reduces stress, anxiety, and depression
Being a good note reader is not a requirement for becoming a good piano player
The “words” for modern music don’t exist in the language of traditional music notation
For non-classical styles of music, even if you become a good notation reader, traditional sheet music will not give you the information you need to play the style correctly due to the lack of “words” in traditional notation to describe non-classical techniques. Let there be no mistake, notation is an incredible aid in telling you what notes to play. It just can’t tell you how to play them.
Don’t forget the ultimate goal is to become a good player, not a good reader. I have found lead sheets to be a great way to get the majority of people to a point where they can have fun right away. For anyone who doesn’t know what a lead sheet is, it is simply a modern, straightforward type of music notation that only contains one line of music and chord symbols. If you want to dive deeper into lead sheets, as well as the secrets I use for teaching adults, click on the button below to start a free online piano intro course.