classical piano composers

Test Yourself: 10 Classical Pieces Behind Modern-Day Songs

Don’t care for classical? You might be surprised at how many modern-day singers and bands have borrowed from famous classical composers, and how many classical songs you’ll instantly recognize because of it! Read on as Chicago, IL piano teacher Erin W. shares a few examples…


Regardless of your musical background, you may be more familiar with classical music than you think! Throughout the centuries, composers have created timeless works of art that continue to capture our hearts and minds to this day. Below, we are going to explore 10 examples of modern artists of various genres who borrowed ideas, chords, motives, or direct quotes from classical piano composers. Can you hear the similarities?

1. Dave Matthews – “Love of My Life”

In 1999, Dave Matthews teamed up with Santana to write “Love of My Life” for the album “Supernatural.” It’s a hauntingly beautiful and inspirational melody borrowed from the 3rd movement of Johannes Brahms’s “Symphony No.3″ (1883). Matthews and Santana changed the rhythm a little, but the resemblance is clear. Skip ahead to 22:04 of the second video for Movement III.

2. Perry Como – “Catch a Falling Star”

Speaking of Brahms, those of you working through the Piano Adventures series for adults may recognize this piece. Many of my students have asked me about the origin of this song, and I give them this answer: singer/songwriter Perry Como wrote “Catch a Falling Star” in 1957, which borrows a melody from Brahms’s “Academic Festival Overture Op.80″ (1880). The whole piece is worth a listen, but if you skip ahead to 4:22, you will find the part that Como borrowed.

3. Disney’s “Once Upon a Dream” from “Sleeping Beauty”

A few years later, Disney released the film “Sleeping Beauty” (1959), for which most of the music was borrowed from The Sleeping Beauty Ballet (written in 1890 by Russian composer, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky). Below is a sample from the ballet where you can clearly hear the inspiration for the beloved song, “Once Upon a Dream.” Skip ahead to 0:32, and you can almost sing along!

4. Nobuo Uematsu – “One-Winged Angel”

Film composers and pop artists are not the only ones borrowing ideas from classical works. We can also find examples in video game music! One of the most famous pieces of video game music has striking similarities to an early 20th-century ballet. The villain’s theme “One-Winged Angel” by Japanese composer Nobuo Uematsu from “Final Fantasy VII” (1997), borrows chords from the “The Rite of Spring” by Igor Stravinsky (1913). Listen to the first few seconds of each clip for the similarities.

5. Billy Joel – “This Night”

Billy Joel once said, “I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music.” He could just as easily have said “no matter what culture or era we’re from.” In 1984, Joel borrowed the themes from Beethoven’s “Sonata Pathetique” (1799) for his song “This Night.” Listen to the chorus of the song (0:59), then listen to the beginning of the second movement of the sonata.

6. Elvis Presley – “Can’t Help Falling in Love”

There have been many versions of the song “Fools Rush In” throughout the 1900s, but perhaps the most famous version is “Can’t Help Falling in Love” (1972) by Elvis Presley. Did you know that the original melody can be traced all the way back to a French love song from 1784? Listen to “Plaisir d’amour” by Jean-Paul-Egide Martini, and you can’t help but hum along!

7. Robin Thicke – “When I Get You Alone”

The next three examples are recent pop artists who basically built their songs on top of classical pieces. The first is Robin Thicke in his 2002 song “When I Get You Alone.” He used the famous motive from Beethoven’s 5th Symphony (1808). He wasn’t the first artist to “modernize” Beethoven’s 5th, though. Thicke actually got his inspiration from Walter Murphy’s “A Fifth of Beethoven” (1976). Murphy’s take on this classic has shown up in several movies and dance recitals.

8. Evanescence – “Lacrymosa”

While Beethoven has inspired many modern artists, we can’t forget about the beloved Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. In 1791, Mozart began writing his final work, the “Requiem Mass in D minor.” Though incomplete before his early death, his Requiem has stood the test of time. In 2006, Evanescence used the eerie “Lacrimosa” movement in her aptly name song, “Lacrymosa.”

9. Weezer – “The Greatest Man That Ever Lived”

This next one uses a very familiar melody. The hymn “Simple Gifts” can be traced all the back to the mid 1800s, though it was made famous by Aaron Copland’s use in “Appalachian Spring.” Fast forward to 2008, the rock band Weezer varied the melody slightly for their song “The Greatest Man That Ever Lived.” The “Simple Gifts” melody shows up at 18:10 in this clip of “Appalachian Spring.”

10. Vitamin C – “Graduation (Friends Forever)”

Finally, modern artists have reached all the way back to the late 1600s for inspiration. The famous and highly recognizable chord progression of Pachelbel’s “Canon in D” (1680) has inspired many artists throughout the ’80s, ’90s, and 2000s. Some examples include “Forever Young” by Alphaville, “Hook” by Blues Traveler, “Don’t Look Back in Anger” by Oasis, “I’ll C U When U Get There” by Coolio, “Basket Case” by Green Day, “Cryin’” by Aerosmith, “Let it Be” by the Beatles, “Push” by Matchbox 20, “Sk8tr Boy” by Avril Lavigne, “Welcome to the Black Parade” by My Chemical Romance, and “With or Without You” by U2. Perhaps the most obvious example is “Graduation (Friends Forever)” by Vitamin C from 1999.

Implementing ideas from classical piano composers is a great way to honor the greats of the past and add a unique flair to their own repertoire. Perhaps you can borrow ideas from your favorite composers in your own work!

Erin W.Erin W. teaches in-person piano, singing and music theory lessons in Chicago, IL. She earned her Master’s degree in vocal performance at North Park University, and lived in NYC as a singer, actor and arts instructor. She has performed in many theatre productions, including “Phantom of the Opera in Concert” in NYC and “Into the Woods” in Chicago. Learn more about Erin here!


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Fun Improvisational Tips for Pianists at Any Level

4 More Improvisational Tips for Piano Players at Any Level

Fun Improvisational Tips for Pianists at Any LevelWe’ve covered how to improvise on a piano before, but there’s always more to explore! Learn about four more piano improvisation exercises to try in this guest post by Long Beach, CA piano teacher Lynda A...


Improvisation is the technique of making up music on the spot. Most music students think piano improvisation is only for advanced students and professional players, but everyone has the ability to create music spontaneously. I’ve seen many beginner piano students come alive with a little structure and guidance using some of the simple ideas below. I have also observed students who blossom more from improvisational learning than from music reading and lesson books. In any case, I think it is important to have a balance between musical exploration and fundamental keyboard skills to become a well-rounded piano player.

1) The Beauty of One Note

This is a very simple exercise. Start by playing one note with the pointer finger of either hand. Hold the note down, and listen until it fades away. Then, choose another key to play. Continue to freely play notes one at a time, slowing down or speeding up at will. Remember, there are no wrong notes!

2) Create Some Clusters

Beginner musicians learn how to play piano with both hands by forming a five-finger position, like C Major for example. This exercise uses both hands on the piano. Place your hands on the keyboard, and play all 10 fingers at the same time wherever they fall on the keyboard. You do not have to play keys that are next to each other, just play all 10 fingers and create clusters of tones all around the keyboard. You can also play one finger at a time, going from lower to higher pitch, or vice versa. Feel free to make music that sounds great sometimes and maybe has more dissonance at other times. You may accidentally play something that you love and eventually work that into your own piano composition.

3) Create a Black or White Key Song

I often start my first lesson with a beginner student with a black-key, four-hand improvisation. This simply means that we both jam on the black keys at the same time. It’s one of my favorite exercises. The black keys create a pentatonic scale. Even if you don’t know what it means, just know that everything you play will sound great. In a duet, I play chords in the low end, and the student will play a melody that fits with my rhythm and pattern. At home, the student can experiment on his or her own, creating chords or melody or trying to do both. The beauty is that there are no wrong notes!

The same exercise is great with the white keys, too. The white keys represent the first key we all learn on the piano, C Major. Although a little more complex than the pentatonic scale (seven notes versus five notes), you will soon learn what notes sound great together. Use your imagination while playing piano by ear, and don’t worry about making mistakes.

4) Explore Tones with the Sustain Pedal

Try any of the above piano improvisation ideas with the sustain pedal. The sustain pedal creates a beautiful echo when notes are played and offers the opportunity for students to enjoy this wonderful sound. Start with the “Beauty of One Note” exercise, and listen to each note as it fades away. Create some clusters to hear how the notes clash or create a pleasing sound as you let your hands fall spontaneously with a big echo. Applying the sustain pedal to your black or white key improvisations is fun, too. Create space between your notes or chords, and enjoy the resting as much as the action of playing.

Lynda A.

Lynda A. teaches piano, guitar and singing lessons in Long Beach, CA. She earned her B.M. in Music/Business from DePauw University and her B.S. in Recording Arts from Ex’pression College for the Digital Arts. In addition to her private lessons, she has also performed music internationally and has release multiple albums. Learn more about Lynda here!


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How to Make Scales and Arpeggios FUN

4 Ways to Make Practicing Piano Scales FUN! [Infographic]

Tired of practicing piano scales over and over… and over again? While repetition is great for your muscle memory, getting bored won’t do you any favors. Here, New York, NY piano teacher Nadia B. shares four ideas for how to practice scales in new ways…


It’s no doubt that learning the fundamentals of piano — like major and minor scales, arpeggios, and so on — make a huge impact on your success as a musician. However, these exercises are often avoided at the piano, out of fear that they will be boring and useless. How many times have you done all your major scales, over and over, in the same rhythmic pattern and tempo, two hands at a time, two octaves, and with the same articulation? Practicing in this way can leave little motivation to repeat this sequence every day, as it can be boring, unmusical, and stiff.

Fortunately,  there are many different ways to practice that can really shake things up! Piano practice should be deliberate, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be boring!

The following ideas will show you how to practice scales and other piano fundamentals in a way that is fun, inspiring, and useful. And once you see the door that scales and arpeggios open, you will want to “play” through them, over and over, deepening your understanding of the fundamentals and the musical expression they enhance.

Ready to get started? Here’s how to practice scales in new ways…

4 New Ways to Practice Piano Scales

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Take pleasure in your exploration of your scales and arpeggios; as your fingers and brain become more nimble, it will feel more and more like play at the piano. You will be able to express more and more musically with less effort.

nadiaBNadia B. teaches flute and piano in New York, NY, as well as through online lessons. She acted as principal flutist of the orchestra and wind ensemble at California State University, Sacramento, and then went on to receive her degree in Music Performance from New York University. Learn more about Nadia here!


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Is Your Child Ready for Piano Lessons This Infographic Will Help

Quiz: Is Your Child Ready for Piano Lessons?

You’ve no doubt heard about the benefits of music education for kids, often leading to higher math and reading scores, improved memory and concentration, and even higher SAT scores later in life. Plus, learning how to play an instrument is just plain fun!

If your child is already showing an interest in music, perhaps you’re considering signing up for piano lessons, a common introductory instrument for kids. However, you’ll want to consider a few important things before booking the lessons. While there’s no hard-and-fast rule when it comes to the right age for piano lessons, a few factors come into play. The infographic below will help you decide, “Is my child ready for piano lessons?”

Is Your Child Ready for Piano Lessons

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So, how did you do? If you think your child is at the right age for piano lessons, the next step is to find a great piano teacher. Need some help? Begin your search here!  

Not quite there yet? Don’t fret — there are still opportunities to engage your child in music, including playing rhythm games, dancing, and singing along to songs – in the meantime. Music is a lifelong adventure — enjoy it together!

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Tricks for Beginners to Visualize Piano Major Scales

Piano Tips: 3 Smart Tricks to Visualize Major Scales

Tricks for Beginners to Visualize Piano Major ScalesAs a beginner learning to play the piano, you might feel overwhelmed by all of the new information — major scales, minor scales, and triads, oh my! How do you remember it all? Start with major scales and check out these tips from St. Augustine, FL piano teacher Heather L...

Maybe the beginning of your piano studies has gone just swimmingly. Perhaps note reading is coming easily to you. You’re a natural at technique and posture. But you’ve really hit a wall with those major scales. It can be tough to see which keys belong in that specific order. (“Where’s the black key, again?”) Have hope! There are easy ways to remember your scales. Here’s a list of tricks for beginners to visualize piano major scales.

Use colored objects

This terrific blog entry from The Teaching Studio highlights some great ways to have fun and learn a lot, too. One way is to take little colored fuzz balls that you can get at any craft or dollar store and, using a different color for every key, place the balls on the correct keys first before playing the scale. If you need help remembering at home, you can check out the free printables Jenny offers, including fun piano games and exercises.

Remember where your “neighbors” live

Pictured above is an illustration from Emily Clark Music of a keyboard and a description of a major scale. The idea here is that you can start anywhere on the piano and build your scale, key by key. For example, begin on an E flat. Every scale is made up of both whole steps and half steps (also referred to as “tones” and “semitones”), and major scales have their own order. It goes like this:

whole – whole – half – whole – whole – whole – half

This means that, beginning on E flat, you would play:

E flat – F – G – A flat – B flat – C – D – E flat

Remember, a half step is when two keys are neighbors. There’s no other key between them. A whole step is when two keys have one other key between them.

Another way to think of this is to remember that in major scales, there’s always a half step between scale degrees three and four and between seven and eight. The only neighbors are between the third and fourth keys and the seventh and eighth keys.

Highlight the keys

highlight- Tricks for Beginners to Visualize Piano Major Scales

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Over time, you’ll begin to see and “highlight” the keys of each scale, as if they’re lit up from the inside. Until then, there’s a really neat tool from that you can use to highlight the keys for you! Just enter the name of the scale that you’d like to see, and the tool will color the correct keys of that scale for you to see. It’s a great reference for those days when you’re just stumped.


One or more of these tricks for beginners to visualize piano major scales will surely help you. If you’re still having a difficult time visualizing the scales on the keyboard, then it could be that you simply aren’t a visual learner. Some people are, while others are aural learners (who learn best through sound and words), while still others are kinesthetic learners (who learn best through motion and muscle memory). Talk with your school music teacher or your piano teacher about it. He or she may be able to help you find out which kind of learner that you are. Once you know, you’ll be able to set yourself up for success by finding different ways to approach your piano studies.

Looking for a piano teacher in  your area? Start your search here!

HeatherLHeather L. teaches singing, piano, acting, and more in St. Augustine, FL, as well as through online lessons. She is a graduate of the prestigious Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey, and has performed with the New York and Royal Philharmonics, the New Jersey and Virginia Symphonies, the American Boy Choir, and the internationally renowned opera star Andrea Bocelli. Learn more about Heather here!


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piano practice

Infographic: How to Practice Piano for Your Best Results

piano practiceWhat’s the best way to practice piano? If you really want to become a better piano player, you’ll need to have a plan in place when you sit down at the keys. Here, online piano teacher Crystal B. shares her recommendation for breaking down a 30-minute practice session…


Whenever you sit down to practice piano, it’s important to make the absolute best use of your time. For beginners, 30-minute practice sessions are a great place to start! Here are some tips to ensure that your practice time is effectively helping you become a better musician. Let’s break down a 30-minute practice time:

5 minutes: Warm up – Spend this time getting your fingers and wrists loose and ready to play! Your instructor will be able to provide you with some great exercises for this.

Tip: This is also a great opportunity to check for things like correct posture, that you’re sitting centered at middle C, and that you’re holding your hands/wrists in the correct position. If you’re not sure, imagine that you are resting your hand on top of a tennis ball. This is how your hand should look — and make sure to keep your wrists straight.

10 minutes: Technique/Theory – Technical exercises are so important to your development and improvement as a pianist. Unlike the warm-up time, this is the opportunity to really push yourself! I include piano theory during this time because so many times, these things can work hand in hand. For instance, you can incorporate things like practicing scales and chord inversions into this time. Doing this will not only help you solidify your theory knowledge (which is so important!), but you’ll also be working on strengthening your fingers and becoming a more versatile player.

Tip: Make sure you prioritize note accuracy,  correct fingering, and playing evenly over speed while working on technical exercises. You should try to increase your speed eventually, but only after you’re able to play the exercise correctly and evenly.

10 minutes: Song Assignments – If you’re taking piano lessons, most likely your instructor will have assigned you a song (or songs) to practice during the week. These song assignments will usually be given to help reinforce what you are learning in your lessons. If you have been given more than one song, try to spend some time playing each one so that you don’t lose any ground you’ve gained during previous practice times. Typically you’ll be working on songs longer than a week, so remember, just make sure you are making progress and having fun!

Tip: When working on songs (especially if they are difficult), don’t feel like you need to attack the whole song at once. Many times it’s best to work on songs in sections, and your instructor can help you in deciding how much is appropriate to tackle each week. Also, don’t forget you can start with hands separately at first, and then try them together. This will make learning new songs much more manageable.

5 minutes: Free Play – You’ve worked hard, and during this time I recommend playing something just for your own enjoyment. This could be anything from a song that you’ve already mastered to trying to write a song of your own! Doing this is a great reminder of why you play piano in the first place — because you love it!

Are you a more visual learner? Check out this handy infographic to learn how to break up your piano practice for maximum efficiency:

How to Plan Out Your Piano Practice for Success

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CrystalBCrystal B. teaches piano online. She has been teaching all ages and levels for more than 15 years. Learn more about Crystal here!




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How to Play Loudly and Beautifully at the Piano

3 Tips for Playing Loudly (and Beautifully) at the Piano

How to Play Loudly and Beautifully at the PianoPiano dynamics indicate more than just playing softly or loudly — there’s actual technique involved that you’ll need to learn! Here, New York, NY piano teacher Nadia B. shares her tips to keep in mind…


You’re approaching a passage with the word ‘fortissimo’ written on the music, and you’re building up to a musical climax. As you feel the power of the music, you want to play loudly, but when you do, it doesn’t sound as beautiful as you imagined. Playing loudly at the piano is easy; to play loudly, beautifully, and with emotion at the piano can be challenging. With the following tips, you will be able to create a sonorous and beautiful sound at a loud volume, something all pianists desire.

It’s About the Connection

One of the keys to playing piano dynamics — and playing loudly, in particular — is to understand the relationship between your body and the piano. You may imagine that the piano alone is responsible for creating the sound, but actually, the openness of your body influences the sound the piano creates. If you are over-contracting large areas of your muscles in your body (especially the hands, wrists, and arms), the connection you make with the keys will not allow for a loud and beautiful sound. Rather, the sound will be dampened by the tension you are exerting within your own body and into the keys of the piano.

When playing the piano loudly, a good way to think of creating sound is to draw the sound out of the keys by striking them from an angle, not from above, and with an action similar to that of a cat pawing. Allowing your body to stay open and elastically braced (meaning both strong and flexible) will allow you to make a resonant sound at the piano and also ensure that you don’t injure or hurt yourself as you play a loud passage.

Set Your Intentions

Another element of playing loudly and beautifully at the piano is to always set a musical intention. The reason for playing loudly at the piano should never be to play loudly; rather, there should be a musical intention or expression of feeling that is desired. Dynamic markings at the piano are relative; just as a piano marking could be played very softly or or a bit more loudly but with the sentiment of hushed and quiet, a forte marking can be played a bit less loudly but with a feeling of expansion, power, and volume.

Keep it Loose

Now that you can think in terms of expression rather than absolute volume, the following idea can also be helpful. A good rule of thumb for loud playing at the piano is to only play as loudly as you can without feeling tense within your body. If you feel tightness in your neck, or shaking in your arms, or other signs of excessive tension in the body, that’s a sign that you should back off a little and allow for more ease within the body. While this may mean playing a little less loudly, it will result in a more satisfying and full expression of the music and a more comfortable experience in your body.

Another way you can learn to play loudly but without more tension than is needed is to play the passage at a lower dynamic, and then slowly increase the dynamic. After each iteration at an increased dynamic, check in with yourself. If you feel that you added extra tension, stay with that level of dynamic until you’ve reached a level of ease before you move on.

Playing the piano dynamics in the music is a very important tool in your musical toolbox. Taking time to master the technique of playing loudly and beautifully is worthwhile, and keeping these tips in mind as you explore the range of louder dynamics will help you become a better piano player!

nadiaBNadia B. teaches flute and piano in New York, NY, as well as through online lessons. She acted as principal flutist of the orchestra and wind ensemble at California State University, Sacramento, and then went on to receive her degree in Music Performance from New York University. Learn more about Nadia here!



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High View Farmhouse

14 Common Musical Terms All Piano Players Need to Know

As you’re learning how to read music on the piano, you’ll come across a lot of different words and terms that will seem like a foreign language. And that’s because… they are!

Most sheet music terms you’ll see are Italian, or have Italian roots, while others are taken from French, German, Latin, or Spanish. But don’t worry — you don’t need to learn how to speak Italian fluently to be a good piano player. There are many piano terms and symbols, but the 14 listed in the infographic below are some of the most common. If you understand these, you’ll be able to play many famous piano pieces in the way the composer intended — and become a better piano player as you continue learning!

piano terms

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*Special thanks to online piano teacher Crystal B. for her help with these music term definitions!*

What other sheet music terms have you come across? Do you have any tips for memorizing them? Leave a comment with your questions and advice!


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How to Measure the Success of Your Child’s Piano Lessons


Piano lessons for kids are an investment — so how do you know your investment is worthwhile? Here are some tips for checking in and making sure your child is learning piano at the right pace, courtesy of Brooklyn, NY teacher Liz T


If your child has recently started taking private lessons, there are certain benchmarks you can follow to assess musical progress as he or she is learning piano. Many parents are unaware of how to track and measure their child’s musical abilities. These guidelines will help you understand what level of theory comprehension and performance standards your child and his or her teacher should be striving for in the first year of piano lessons.

First Month

Students should begin learning piano by focusing on the right and the left hands, with their correlating numbers for each finger (1-5). Students should begin reading music with these numbers only. This will help train them how to read music and play the piano comfortably at the same time. Students should practice both the left and right hands, starting with 1-3, their thumbs on middle C, playing the white notes on the keyboard, and then using their 4th and 5th fingers.

Three Months

Now that your child is comfortable with identifying their fingers with numbers, they should be moving on to learning the actual note names on the staff paper. They should be familiar with the lines (Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge) and spaces (FACE) in treble clef and the lines (Good Boys Deserve Fudge Always) and spaces (All Cows Eat Grass) in bass clef, to quickly identify the notes. Students will also start to interpret simple rhythms, such as half notes, whole notes, quarter notes, and so on.

Six Months

At this time students will be introduced to scales, starting with the easier scales (C, G, F). Learning these scales will also help your child become familiar with the accidentals (sharps and flats). The combination of analyzing the correct note names and rhythms will help students learn simple songs to play.

One Year

At this time, students should be comfortable with reading the notes on the page and practicing their scales. This is also a good time to introduce chords, playing multiple notes in the chord triad in the right and left hand. It may take a while for your child to learn chords, depending the size of their hands. Some students love hammering down on the piano playing chords, while others can be intimidated!


All students have different learning styles and paces. Depending on the age of your child, these timelines could vary. Some students may hit these target goals months before the average student is expected to comprehend these subjects, while others may need a few more weeks or months to develop their skills. I wish your student all the success, and if you want to make sure your student is on the right track in their piano lessons, find a great teacher today at TakeLessons!

LizTLiz T. teaches singing, acting, and music lessons in Brooklyn, NY, as well as online. She is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music with a B.M in Vocal performance and currently performs/teaches all styles of music including Musical Theater, Classical, Jazz, Rock, Pop, R&B, and Country. Learn more about Liz here!



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how to restore a piano

How to Tell if Your Old Piano is Worth Restoring

how to restore a pianoAre you curious about how to restore a piano that’s been sitting in your basement or storage unit unused? Was an old piano passed down to you, and you’re not quite sure how to make it playable? Here, Katy, TX music teacher Zachary A. shares his advice…


A piano is not only a part of the art of music, it is also a work of art itself. The machine is extremely complex and has thousands of moving parts. The piano is also one of the few instruments out there that has stood the test of time. It has a beautiful framework and a sound board supporting tremendous string tension, all concealed by a beautiful finished cabinetry. The piano is not as fragile as other instruments, but it is still subject to deterioration over time. The felt wears, strings break, wooden structures weaken and crack, and the beautiful exterior cabinet loses its finish and elegance.

So what should you do if you have an old, used piano that needs some TLC, and you’re interested in starting to play it?

When discussing how to restore a piano, experts generally use two terms, reconditioning and rebuilding.


The easier of the two, reconditioning is done by cleaning, adjusting, repairing, and replacing parts when absolutely necessary. Reconditioning only focuses on the parts of the piano that are highly damaged and in high need of repair for the best or desired performance.


Rebuilding, for the most part, involves a completely disassembling inspection — repairing parts that are in need of repairing, including the replacement of ALL worn, damaged, or deteriorated parts! Rebuilding focuses on the entire structure, including the sound board, bridge, pinblock, and strings, as well as the action, ivory keys, and case refinishing. Rebuilding is a total overhaul of the piano, completely restoring it to its original state, or better! Rebuilding a piano is usually most practical for high-quality instruments, where maximum performance and longevity is required.

How to Know When to Recondition or Rebuild Your Piano

Most pianos can go years without needing to be reconditioned or repaired, although the quality of the tone, touch, and outer appearance of the piano will continue to decline with age. This can be really agitating to someone trying to learn the piano. But ultimately, when regular maintenance that you perform on your piano (such as cleaning, regulating voicing, and tuning) can no longer provide a satisfactory performance, then it might be time for your piano to be reconditioned or rebuilt.

Now, whether your piano is in need of a little reconditioning or a total overhaul of rebuilding depends on its original quality, its surrounding climate, and its usage and performance requirements. One piano may need rebuilding after 20 years of use, but another may last over 50 years. Maybe the most important factor to some will be whether or not the piano has sentimental and personal value. If the instrument has historical value, this can be a key factor in deciding whether a piano should be rebuilt or repaired.

How to Restore a Piano With a Professional

The best thing that you can do is seek out a professional piano restorer — one who has the judgment, experience, and expertise to advise you when making such an expensive and important decision. Remember, when seeking out a professional, always ask for referrals and get a handful of opinions. Do not accept the first opinion of one professional and make up your mind from there!

The key decision: when are major repairs appropriate? When you are seeking out a professional, keep in mind a few important factors:

  • The overall condition of the piano. Pianos that are subject to severe fire, flood, or moving damage may not be repairable, depending on the damage to the instrument.
  • The quality, size, and type of the piano. In general, low-priced, smaller pianos of a poorer quality and design have limited potential. It might be more viable to buy a new piano of better quality and design.
  • Does the cost of repairs exceed the price of replacement? This usually depends on the quality and size of the instrument. Smaller, lower-quality pianos may exceed the replacement price, but high-quality, large pianos may only cost half of the price to replace the instrument.

These guidelines should aid you in trying to decide whether or not a piano is worth rebuilding or reconditioning. Again, always seek out advice from several professionals if you are considering rebuilding; they have the experience and expertise that will help you make your decision. Ultimately, this could help you save money in the long run, not needing to repair your piano again if it’s done right the first time.

Zachary A

Zachary A. teaches guitar lessons in Katy, TX. He is currently working on his Bachelor’s degree in music theory, and has also been playing piano for four years. Learn more about Zachary here!



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Photo by Quinn Dombrowski