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What's the Difference Between a Piano and a Celeste?

January 24, 2017
By Dr. Gail Looney - Musical Chairs , OVParent

Pianos are one of the largest instruments. Some are VERY large - concert grand pianos are 9 feet long. And baby grands are about 4 feet long. Some pianos are tall and some are much shorter - these are called upright pianos.

Whether they are tall or long, they all have strings inside that are connected to the keys. That's how the sound is made.

If you have a piano, let your child look inside to see the strings and watch what happens when you play a key. If not, type "inside the piano" in your internet search engine to see the strings on both a grand and upright as well as the hammers that strike the strings.

Article Photos

An electronic piano is much smaller and is called a keyboard.

Because it is electronic, it does not have any strings but can make many different kinds of sounds. It can sound like an acoustic piano (one with strings), like an organ and even like a celeste.

A celeste has keys like the piano and the keyboard and is so small that it looks almost like a child's toy piano.

The celeste has no strings like the piano and no electronics like the keyboard. So, how does it make its sound? The keys are connected to hammers that strike metal plates inside. Can you imagine the sound of the celeste? It has a lovely tinkling sound like bells that is very soft.

I know you have heard the piano. And I bet you also have heard the celeste. If you have heard the "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" from Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker Suite," then you have heard the celeste.

Your child will be delighted to hear the celeste, so you might want to listen to and watch "Tchaikovsky: Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy from the Nutcracker, Nina Kaptsova, ballerina" on YouTube.

Dr. Gail Looney is the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra historian.



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