From a wide array of music instruments on offer to students of music, my ultimate choice was the piano. My primary reason for choosing this instrument is because my six- year old daughter took to it at a very young age after developing a key interest in it. I come from a musical family which values music and seeing my young daughter give her all in her quest to perfect her piano playing skills motivated me to also pick it as my instrument of choice. It is the drive and dedication that she displays in wanting to learn how to be an expert and hone her skills in playing this beautiful instrument that made me a piano lover. Most recently, she enrolled in a local Music Center for beginners and also spends two hours every day at home practicing on the upright piano that her grandmother bought. Additionally, I chose the piano because of the soothing and relaxing nature that it has, especially for someone like me who is an ardent follower of yogic transcendence and meditation. Learning how to play the piano would be a feat, providing feelings of fulfillment for achieving what my little girl has been able to thrive in and being able to play the tranquil music that I have always sought.
Many are surprised when they come to the realization that the piano is actually a stringed instrument. Its strings produce sound when struck by miniature hammers that bolt into action after pressing the keyboard. The piano’s keyboard is a row made up of keys that the player has to press to produce sound. It is important to note that a piano player can choose to use their fingers or thumbs. Moreover, in playing the instrument, the sound that is produced is in direct response to the pianist’s touch and the pressure applied on the keys. Greater velocity by a pianist’s key press means that the force of the mini-hammer hitting the string is high, producing a sound that is very loud( fortissimo), with the opposite action producing a sound that is very soft( pianissimo). What interests me the most about the piano is that the strings are of varying thicknesses because if they were all of the same thickness, the lower strings would be at least 30 feet long, while under the same amount of tension. It is for this reason that lower strings in the piano are often weighted using copper wire which is wrapped around the core wire. Another aspect of the piano that interests me is that it is a tuned instrument and totally complete thus requiring no help from another instrument. On the flipside, almost all instruments require the piano for accompaniment, singers inclusive.
The piano is also a component of a full orchestra though debate still rages on over whether it is a string, percussion instrument or even a standard orchestral instrument. Within an orchestra setting, the piano acts as a support for the harmony. During other occasions it also acts as a solo instrument, playing both the melody and the required harmony. It is perhaps better known in the symphony orchestras as a supplementary instrument that accompanies all the other instruments during those crucial moments when a solo melody is playing. There are also those instances when a piano takes the role of playing the melody in an orchestra, especially during a concerto, where it becomes the epicenter of the piece. These types of musical pieces involve one piano being played by a virtuosic player who is then accompanied by the larger ensemble(orchestra). Additionally, the first orchestra often uses the piano as it adds a unique timbre or tone color to the whole ensemble. It is also used in double percussive lines as it gives a sharp and clear sound especially vital in Classical music. There have been numerous occasions when the piano has been used to reinforce the strings or harp line that is in most cases too soft for the listener’s ears to pick. It also has a wide pitch range, giving it the freedom to play simultaneous harmonic and melodic lines together with its sheer ability to easily play in the available octaves, making it a versatile orchestral instrument. My aim is to set my eyes on the goal and ensure I achieve a Grade 6 in piano prowess in the near future.
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