Imagine the excitement on the faces of your youngest piano students when you open up your piano, give them a mallet (xylophone…not kitchen!) and tell them to smack those strings. While a mallet in the hand of the wrong student may be inviting disaster, exploring the inner workings of the piano can be a valuable learning experience.
Every Pianist Should Know Their Instrument
Every week your students come to piano lessons, strike some keys, and make some sounds. But do they know why those keys make the sounds they do? If not, then spending time inside the piano can be a valuable learning experience.
But it’s not enough to simply open the piano and give them a guided tour. Discovery through exploration is always the best learning tool. So, under careful supervision, let your students use their mallet to explore the piano.
Encourage them to strike a low (bass) string. Encourage them to strike a high (treble) string. Discuss the appearance of each of these strings and why they make the sounds they do.
Ask your students to step on the right pedal while striking a string. Discuss the effects of the pedal on the dampers and of the dampers on the strings.
Now get your piano students to drop their mallet (not into the piano) and strike a key. Discuss the effects of the key on the hammer and of the hammer on the string. You might also point out that the hammer striking the strings has led to the piano being labeled both as string and percussion instrument…or you can get really fancy and break out your use of the words “keyed zither”.
Now that the mallet is out of your piano students’ hands, it is a great time to close the lid and get on with your lesson. Hopefully, like me, you will discover that your piano student’s new knowledge will lead to improved touch and use of the pedal.