Piano Humor and Trivia

For those of you who practice too much (or not enough), here's a page to tickle your funny bones. And for those of you who ever wondered what a 64th note is called, here's where to find out!
For more music humor, I recommend many of the amusing books by David W. Barber, and Victor Borge.


Piano: A cumbersome piece of furniture found in many homes, where playing it ensures the early departure of unwanted guests. -David W. Barber, The Musician's Dictionary.

Piano. n. A parlor utensil for subduing the impenitent visitor. It is operated by depressing the keys of the machine and the spirits of the audience. -Ambrose Bierce, American journalist, The Devil's Dictionary.

piano tuner: A person employed to come into the home, rearrange the furniture, and annoy the cat. The tuner's chief purpose is to ascertain the breaking point of the piano's strings.


"I always make sure that the lid over the keyboard is open before I start to play." -Artur Schnabel, Australian pianist, asked the secret of piano playing.

"Nothing soothes me more after a long and maddening course of pianoforte recitals than to sit and have my teeth drilled." -George Bernard Shaw, Irish playwright and music critic.

"When she started to play, Steinway himself came down personally and rubbed his name off the piano." -Bob Hope, American comedian, on comedian Phyllis Diller.

"Claire de Loonie." -my band teacher, after hearing a student play Clair de Lune.


What do you get when you drop a piano down a mine shaft?
      -- A flat minor.

What do you get when you drop a piano on an army base?
      -- A flat major.

Why is an 11-foot concert grand better than a studio upright?
      -- Because it makes a much bigger kaboom when dropped over a cliff.

Why was the piano invented?
      -- So the musician would have a place to put his beer.

The audience at a piano recital were appalled when a telephone rang just off stage. Without missing a note the soloist glanced toward the wings and called, "If that's my agent, tell him I'm working!"

Why did they say that the pianist had fingers like lightning?
      -- They never struck the same place twice.

What did they find when they dug up Beethoven's grave?
      -- He was decomposing.

Why did Mozart kill his chickens?
                  -- Because they always ran around going "Bach! Bach! Bach!"

Bach had 22 kids because he had no stops on his organ.

What’s the difference between a pianist and a large pizza? -- A large pizza can feed a family of four.

Q: Imagine a singer, a piano player, a bass player and a drummer sitting around a table. now if you drop a hundred-dollar bill right in the middle and tell them they're free to take it, who's getting it?
A: The piano player. Why? The bass player is too slow, for the singer it's too little money and the drummer didn't get the assignment.

The Piano is celebrating its 300th anniversary. It's also the 300th anniversary of the phrase "But I don't want to practice".

Here's one for your page-turner:
(Thanks, Brian, for turning the pages for me in the Christmas Concerts, Dec. 4-18 1999.)

The following program notes are from an unidentified piano recital.

Tonight's page turner, Ruth Spelke, studied under Ivan Schmertnick at the Boris Nitsky School of Page Turning in Philadelphia. She has been turning pages here and abroad for many years for some of the world's leading pianists.

In 1988, Ms. Spelke won the Wilson Page Turning Scholarship, which sent her to Israel to study page turning from left to right. She is winner of the 1984 Rimsky Korsakov Flight of the Bumblebee Prestissimo Medal, having turned 47 pages in an unprecedented 32 seconds. She was also a 1983 silver medalist at the Klutz Musical Page Pickup Competition: contestants retrieve and rearrange a musical score dropped from a Yamaha. Ms. Spelke excelled in "grace, swiftness, and especially poise."

For techniques, Ms. Spelke performs both the finger-licking and the bent-page corner methods. She works from a standard left bench position, and is the originator of the dipped-elbow page snatch, a style used to avoid obscuring the pianist's view of the music. She is page turner in residence in Fairfield Iowa, where she occupies the coveted Alfred Hitchcock Chair at the Fairfield Page Turning Institute.

Ms. Spelke is married, and has a nice house on a lake.


A 64th note is called a hemidemisemi quaver.

There are as many constellations in the sky as there are keys on the piano!

In the 18th century (around Mozart's time), some pianos had a knee pedal that has the same function as today's pedal but were operated with the knees.

The great pianist Anton Rubinstein has trouble getting up in the morning. Every morning Mrs.Rubinstein would wake him up by playing a dischord on the piano. Not being able to stand the sound, Rubinstein would run to the piano and resolve the chord properly, while Mrs.Rubinstein run to the bedroom and take all the sheets and blankets off the bed. That's how the day of the great Rubinstein gets started. - Victor Borge, My Favorite Intermission.

The average medium sized piano has about 230 strings, each string having about 165 pounds of tension, with the combined pull of all strings equaling approximately eighteen tons.

The oldest piano still in existence was built in 1720.

No one knows where Mozart is buried.

Each American president has had a personal piano -- with the exception of Gerald Ford and George Bush.

Mozart once composed a piano piece that required a player to use two hands and a nose in order to hit all the correct notes.

When Beethoven was writing his 9th symphony he requested a piano that had a percussion pedal on it.

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