Archive for July, 2008

There have been many pianists in the 500 years since the piano was invented. However, the majority of them were mediocre, some were good and a very few were absolutely stunning. Many of those who made it to this list began their musical training at a very young age which allowed them to perfect their talent early on. This article will take a look at a handful of the most amazing pianists ever.

1. Sergei Rachmaninoff. Known for having the largest hands of all the most famous pianists, Rachmaninoff was able to span up to 14 notes at a time and he made use of this ability in his compositions, Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, 8 Preludes, and others.

2. Josef Hoffman. This young prodigy began performing piano concerts at the tender age of six and at 12, he was the first recorded musician, working with Thomas Edison to create the first musical recordings.

3. Ludwig Van Beethoven. This young German composer and pianist was famous for his talent on the piano and the fact that he continued to both play and compose after losing his hearing at the age of 26.

4. Vladimir Horowitz. Perhaps one of the best known pianists of the 20th century, Horowitz studied under Felix Blumenfeld and Sergei Tarnowsky. He is well known for his ability to play strong pieces creatively rather than simply banging away on the keys.

5. Fredric Chopin. Chopin is often one of the first composers that young piano students play. He was also a child prodigy, often compared to Mozart. Steeped in the world of music from a young age, he was already playing and trying to compose at the age of six.

6. Wolfgang Mozart. One of the most famous child prodigies, Mozart was playing piano at age three and by five, he had begun to compose songs which were written down by his devoted father. He went on to give concerts from a very young age.

7. Franz Liszt. A virtuoso pianist, this Hungarian began his career at a fairly young age, though little information is available during this period of his life. It is known that not only was he an excellent pianist, he could also play several other instruments, including the cello.

8. Walter Wilhelm Gieseking. Gieseking was unique in that he supposedly never practiced on a piano. Instead, he would sit for hours in complete silence, playing the songs in his mind. Mostly self-taught, the pianist would then perform the piece flawlessly.

9. Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli. A more recent pianist, Michelangeli honed his talent to perfection, producing recordings that were nearly perfect even when unedited. He was notorious for randomly canceling concerts and for his intense focus on the tiny details of the music, often forgetting the big picture.

10. Alfred Cortot. Well known for his amazing recordings and variations of the likes of Chopin, Brahms, Liszt, and many other famous composers. He also added his own variations and twists to the most common of compositions, turning them into something unique and special.

Any list of the greatest pianists is going to be somewhat subjective. Each person has their own preference and there are plenty of great pianists who simply didn’t fit onto this list of the top ten. However, you can be sure that the ones who did make it here are truly great pianists and definitely worth listening to when you have the chance. Many of them dedicated their lives to their music and some died while still playing and recording it.

The Merriam School of Music is one of the most renowned piano stores in Toronto. Also offering music lessons Toronto and drum lessons Toronto to students of any age and skill level.

Acoustic pianos have been around for about 500 years, giving the piano a long history of providing music. Despite numerous attempts to create an instrument that involved strings and a hammer, Bartolomeo Cristofori was the one who is credited with actually inventing the first acoustic piano.

The First Pianos

Cristofori built several pianos, but no one is precisely sure of when the first was created. We do know that the Medici family had one of the pianos in 1700, and evidence suggests that it was built in 1698. These early pianos were quite different from those of the modern music world, but they were a truly great invention for their time.

The difficulty with pianos was that the hammer needed to hit the wire, then return to its original place without bouncing and yet be ready to go again within moments. This was finally achieved and Cristofori managed to find a way to create this effect.

The Growing Popularity of the Piano

Despite his hard work, Cristofori was not able to make his new instrument famous. Then, in 1711, a diagram of his design was distributed and more people began to build pianos. One of them was a man named Silbermann who added the first damper pedal to enhance the sound. It was he who showed Bach his first piano, though Bach decided he didn’t like it at the time and only showed interest much later, once the instrument was refined.

In the 18th century, the Viennese began to construct pianos. These were built differently, with dual strings for the notes, leather covered hammers and elegant wooden frames. The keys were the opposite colors of today’s pianos, with the regular keys being black and the others white. Mozart used these Viennese pianos to compose his music at the time. These are now referred to as fortepianos, to differentiate them from the modern piano.

Modernization of the Piano

As the Industrial Revolution made new technology available, it became possible to build pianos with heavier strings, made of stainless steel, for a fuller, stronger sound. The size was also amplified, making it possible to have seven or more octaves, as opposed to the original five or the fortepiano.

Broadwood was the first company to build these more complex pianos, though the Viennese piano makers quickly followed suit. It wasn’t long however, before France got involved in the creation of bigger and better pianos. In 1821, Èrard began to manufacture the pianos that would be used by the likes of Chopin.

This is also the time when the double pilot action was invented by Sebastian Èrard and incorporated into the grand piano, making it possible to hit a key again even if the hammer had not yet returned to its place. This mechanism is used to this day in grand pianos.

Modern Piano Innovations

The modern piano uses a soundboard and a metal frame that allows for heavier string tension resulting in stronger sound. This has allowed for string tension of up to a combined 20 tons, something that never would have been possible in the earlier wood frame pianos.

In 1826, the usual leather covered hammers were replaced with felt covered ones by Henri Pape. This allowed for more uniform sounds and the ability to experiment with different hammer types.

A few years later, in 1844, Jean Louis Boisselot introduced the sostenuto pedal which made drastic improvements to the piano sound quality. Around this time, there were experiments being done with the methods of stringing the piano. Eventually, a new method was developed that involved three strings per note and a special double level soundboard to allow for the fit of longer strings.

The piano has come a long way in the past 500 years. From a simple, soft instrument that was a novelty to a strong and very popular one, the piano has really come into its own.

Merriam Music is one of the most respected and renowned music stores in Toronto. When researching for piano stores Toronto be sure to check out Merriam Music’s huge selection of digital and acoustic pianos. Merriam’s Music School also offers piano lessons Toronto to students of any age.

The piano has come a long way since it’s invention 500 years ago. The original version has now been replicated and improved countless times, resulting in a large number of different piano styles and with the latest technology, digital pianos have cropped up and become a popular alternative. But which one is right for you? That depends greatly on what you intend to do with your piano playing and what your budget is. However, there are many pros and cons for both sides.

Acoustic Piano

The acoustic piano is a complicated structure. Touching the keys results in a hammer hitting a string, which then vibrates and the sound produced is amplified by the piano`s soundboard. This provides a rich, true piano sound, which is quite valued at concerts and recitals. However, an acoustic piano requires a lot of space, upkeep and money.

Things to Consider When Choosing an Acoustic Piano

• Acoustic pianos need regular tuning, particularly if there are changes in the weather or if the piano is moved.

• Nothing compares to the full-bodied sound provided by an acoustic piano.

• These pianos allow the artist to play softly or loudly, depending on the mood of the piece . . . the piano responds to the touch of the pianist.

• Acoustic pianos are large, weighing between 450 and 1,000 pounds and take up a large part of a room.

• Affordable acoustic pianos are usually wrought with flaws and not worth buying . . . but for many, a true, good quality one is simply beyond their budget.

Digital Piano

A digital piano is one that is a replica of an acoustic piano. Rather than contain the strings and mechanisms to produce the sound, digital pianos just use recorded notes from a real piano. There are definite advantages to using one of these instruments and they are often used by bands who need an easily portable instrument, but there are definite down sides, as well.

Things to Consider When Choosing a Digital Piano

• Digital pianos are considerably cheaper than acoustic.

• There is very little sensitivity in the digital key, meaning that true interpretation of many piano pieces is simply not possible.

• Some piano teachers will not teach students who only have access to a digital piano.

• These instruments are quite light and portable, some even come in their own carry bag.

• A high end digital piano offers a wide range of styles and features, including drum tracks and recorded notes from a variety of other instruments and types of pianos.

• Digital pianos don’t need to be tuned, making them very useful in humid areas or where the weather changes drastically.

The debate of traditional acoustic pianos vs. digital ones has been around as long as digital pianos. Classical piano students insist that an acoustic piano is the best and to be honest, the digital piano is only an imitation, albeit a very good one these days. Even with the best technology, digital pianos are simply not able to live up to the original acoustic.

However, this doesn’t rule out digital pianos completely. They are still extremely useful for the piano student on a budget or for anyone who has little space in their home for a large acoustic piano. Bands also find the more portable version to be easier to use, since it doesn’t require tuning and can easily be packed up and moved to the next gig. In the end, it depends on your intent, as well as a few other factors, such as budget and space, as to whether or not you will go with an acoustic or a digital piano.

Merriam Music School is one of the most respected music lessons Toronto locations. They offer drum lessons, singing lessons, guitar lessons and piano lessons Toronto to students of any age.

Anaheim CA, January 17, 2008—Roland is proud to announce the new AT- 900/AT-900C/AT-800 organs. Embodying Roland’s world-leading technology, MUSIC ATELIER organs inherit the full, rich sounds and elegant design of a traditional organ combined with the most expressive and advanced digital-organ features.

With a new “Articulation Voice” sound set, driven by Roland’s new proprietary SuperNATURAL technology, the AT-series breathes unprecedented sound into the Violin, Trombone, Cello, and Tenor Sax voices, while new physical Harmonic Bars provide authentic, hands-on control of expressive organ playing with new organ tone sets. The D BEAM controller lets you wave your hand over the invisible infrared beam to alter the sound for greater freedom of expression. To make operation even easier, all models feature a large color touch-panel LCD. With an USB memory key, a high degree of data compatibility ensures that registrations can be exchanged between different models and even from floppy disks.

The flagship AT-900 offers the stately beauty of an impeccably crafted organ console. Crafted in America from seasonal natural wood, this organ is the genuine article.

roland atelier at 900 graphic

The AT-900C is similarly gorgeous and stately, but this smaller unit is portable enough to be taken on the road. The contemporary, streamlined cabinet design combines an elegant Polished Cherry finish with eye-catching silver accents. Specially equipped XLR outputs facilitate professional setups for concert performances.

roland atelier at 900c graphic

The AT-800 model offers a beautifully crafted cabinet finished in natural wood, a softly lit control panel and an advanced sound source. AT-800 ATELIER organ provides an outstanding organ playing experience at an affordable price.

roland atelier at 800 graphic

Options include the BNC-23 (for AT-900C) or BNC-27-WN (for AT-800) organ benches, the PK-25A (for AT-900C) 25-key pedalboard, PK-7A (for AT-900C), SA-1000 Stage Amplifier for recitals and concerts in small-to-large halls, RH-300 headphones, and much, much more.

Roland is a world leader in the design, manufacture, and distribution of electronic musical instruments, professional audio equipment, multimedia products, and music accessories. For more information, contact Roland Corporation U.S., 5100 S. Eastern Ave., P.O. Box 910921, Los Angeles, CA 90091-0921, (323) 890-3700 (x3718 – for media use only),

zaizai_sn posted:

i’m 21 and used to have piano lessons back when i was in high school. i’m planning to go back to playing the piano and am planning to buy a keyboard. which is better keyboard the casio or yamaha?

easy piano lessons

Have you ever wondered how the piano came to have both black and white keys?

And why? Why should there be two different groups of keys? Why not just have an unending row of white keys?

The answer lies in both the physics of acoustics and the construction of the human hand.

The first keyboards were derived from an ancient Greek water organ called the Hydraulis. This organ-like instrument had in essence a uniform group of levers (think “all white”) that you pushed to make the sounds on the organ.

Although it was not always true, the keys on a Hydraulis were generally organized in groups of seven keys, corresponding to the seven white keys of any modern scale or mode. (A scale or mode is the rationale that governs how much higher each key will be in pitch than the previous key.)

But soon, composers wanted to go beyond the limitations of the seven keys, and began to add another key, which usually was colored differently from the others and set apart slightly.

Starting with one black key, composers eventually discovered that there were five (black) keys that could be added to the original seven (white) keys.

The $64,000 question, though, is how the black keys came to be grouped in twos and threes.

The answer lies in the construction of the human hand, but to understand that we must first examine the keyboard itself.

Imagine, if you will, an imaginary piano keyboard that has alternating white and black keys across the entire 5-foot length.

You can visualize this if you take a piece of paper or cardboard and hold it perpendicular to the keys, masking your view of the black keys. What do you see? A mass of white keys with no way of distinguishing exactly which white key is which.

Now imagine again the keyboard as described above, an imaginary piano keyboard that has alternating white and black keys across the entire 5 foot length.

Even with black keys, one is still lost, as there is no pattern in the white-black arrangement that will allow you to consistently pick out any particular black or white key. All the eye can see is white-black-white-black endlessly, with no way of finding any pattern to the arrangement.

Sometime around 1400, some very clever person realized that if you put the black keys into groups of two and three, (2+3=5) a recognizable visual pattern emerged that allowed a player to easily distinguish each key, white or black.

History does not record who this genius was.

Next, after many years people had played the keyboard long enough to develop considerable skill.

The result of this was the raising of the black keys slightly above the level of the white keys, and then came the most revolutionary idea of all: make the black keys shorter than the white, only slightly further away from the player.

But why? The answer lies in the human hand.

We have five “fingers” but they are not equal in capability at the piano.

The thumb is dominant and yet it is the shortest finger on the hand.

Thus the piano keyboard fits the human hand by making the white keys closer to accommodate the shorter thumb, and the black keys further away to accommodate the longer “non-thumb” fingers.

You can see this by simply putting your hand on a keyboard. Your thumb will comfortably reach the white keys and the other fingers are easily within reach of both the black and white keys.

Name another machine from the Renaissance with thousands of moving parts that has survived like the unique design of the piano keyboard.

No other device except perhaps the glove fits the human hand so perfectly.

By John Aschenbrenner Copyright 2000 Walden Pond Press

John Aschenbrenner is a leading children’s music educator and book publisher, and the author of numerous fun piano method books in the series PIANO BY NUMBER for kids. You can see the PIANO BY NUMBER series of books at

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