There are not many places that feature these wonderful player pianos anymore, but I can name one antique store in Kansas that still has one – and it works! At Two Sisters Antique Mall in Newton, Kansas, the player piano (photo on today’s banner) lights up when it’s in use with a gorgeous stained glass panel. Considering the age of the instrument, the tune is not that bad and all the keys work as far as I can tell. It’s a joy to put a quarter in it and hear an old standard played as only a player piano can. They even provide the quarters – is that nice or what?
As I watch the keys fly, I think to myself, “If I practiced every day for the rest of my life I couldn’t play like that!” I love player pianos. If I had room in my house, I’d try to get one. Of course, as time goes by there will be fewer of them around. What a sad thought. 😦
Here’s the facebook page for 2 Sisters – go over and give them a LIKE! https://www.facebook.com/2.sisters.antique.mall/
Edwin Votey is credited with inventing this awesome piano. He constructed his prototype system in 1895 in Detroit. As he built it in his workshop, it took the form of a large wooden cabinet, much like the old upright piano, but a bit taller. From the rear a row of felt-covered wooden fingers protruded that were aligned with the keyboard. These fingers activated the piano’s keys in the same manner as a human pianist.
The paper rolls that are loaded onto a player piano look like they contain a code – and I suppose you could say they do. Each little note that gets played on the piano is represented on that paper. That’s why the player piano can do things that human hands many times cannot. We have ten fingers, but those paper rolls can have as many notes represented as the arranger wants! It’s amazing how much can go on at one time – it boggles the mind really. Fascinating!
The last time we heard the player piano at Two Sisters, it was playing “In The Good Ol’ Summertime”, yet it was April – which struck me as funny.
I guess the most popular tune is “The Entertainer” by Scott Joplin.
I know player pianos seem to be from an era gone by, but they have always interested me. If you have a chance this weekend, go out and listen to some good piano playing – and take plenty of quarters with you! 🙂