Got an idea for a holiday? Send it to us

Submit Now

Old Time Player Piano Day – May 27, 2023

Old-Time Player Piano Day is celebrated every year on May 27. Taking place in the United States, it shows appreciation for the fun musical instrument. An old-time player piano is simply an unusual type of piano that plays by itself. Player pianos are also known as pianolas. Old-time player pianos read notes from tiny perforations on rolls of paper. The rolls are changed to allow the piano to play different songs. Suction powers the pianos as two-foot pedals are pumped by a pianist. The pianist can also use levers to affect the sound.

History of Old Time Player Piano Day

Old-Time Player Piano Day is celebrated on May 27 annually. It is a special holiday observed to show appreciation for the musical instrument, also known as the pianola. A prototype for the instrument was created in 1895 by Edwin Votey. His version set the template for most player pianos that followed. In 1897, the Aeolian Company, the largest musical instrument producing firm at the time, acquired the rights to Votey’s piano design. They made the decision to market it as the pianola.

The early player pianos were also known as push-up players or external players. They had a separate component that could be rolled up to a piano to make it into a player piano. Player pianos were big business in the early 1900s and were widely popular for about 30 years. The instrument started to lose popularity in 1929 after the Wall Street crash. By the 1930s, there were only a few companies still making the instrument. Sadly, there aren’t many player pianos that play music rolls available on the market today. There are, however, electronic players like the Yamaha Disklavier available that are capable of reproducing ‘high-resolution’ piano performances.

Old-Time Player Piano Day is known to have been celebrated at least since 2011. The day occurs around the same time as the World Championship Old-Time Piano Playing Contest and Festival that occurs around the same time as the holiday. The festival is mainly about piano playing and attracts a lot of talented players from around the world.

Old Time Player Piano Day timeline

1880s
Player Pianos are Born

Old-time player pianos are created and developed.

1950s
Player Pianos are Rescued

After a dip in popularity, player pianos are rescued by a number of musical instrument collectors.

1960s
A Museum is Formed

Frank Holland forms the British Piano Museum in Brentford, which is now the Musical Museum.

1961
“Player Piano Treasury”

Harvey Roehl publishes a book titled “Player Piano Treasury.”

Old Time Player Piano Day FAQs

How is its volume controlled?

The player piano has a pneumatic player mechanism that is divided into two parts. The operator can control the volume of each half of the piano in order to create musical effects.

Are they automatic?

There are versions of the player piano that are fully automatic and require no manual human control.

Who makes player pianos?

There are various companies that make the instrument using different technologies. The first successful instrument was launched by Welte in 1904 and was called the Mignon.

Old Time Player Piano Day Activities

  1. Listen to music

    Player pianos are a representation of advancements in music. You can enjoy your favorite music to celebrate the day.

  2. Use a player piano

    If you have an old-time player piano or know someone who has one, you can use it. Have fun experiencing the old musical instrument.

  3. Watch videos

    You can watch videos of player pianos as they create beautiful music. You can also watch tutorials on how they work.

5 Fun Facts About Player Pianos

  1. Player pianos became popular

    Old-time player pianos were mass-produced in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

  2. Gramophones took over

    Old-time player pianos became less popular in the 1920s when the gramophone was invented.

  3. People bought sheet music

    People bought sheet music to play on the old-time player pianos in their homes.

  4. It is similar to the piano

    The player piano is like other pianos except it has a pneumatic player action that plays paper rolls.

  5. It covers all the notes

    The player piano has 88 pneumatics that represent each note on the piano.

Why We Love Old Time Player Piano Day

  1. It is fun

    Old-Time Player Piano Day is a fun holiday that is all about music. Music has a way of bringing happiness and improving people’s moods.

  2. It encourages creativity

    Old-Time Player Piano Day marks musical advancement that inspires creativity. It shows people that they can invent new groundbreaking instruments and other technology.

  3. It preserves culture

    The old self-playing musical instrument is an important part of American culture. The holiday helps preserve this cultural treasure.

Old Time Player Piano Day dates

YearDateDay
2023May 27Saturday
2024May 27Monday
2025May 27Tuesday
2026May 27Wednesday
2027May 27Thursday

Want to sponsor this holiday?

Holidays Straight to Your Inbox

Every day is a holiday!
Receive fresh holidays directly to your inbox.